When the world ends, if you survive the initial onslaught of whatever has decided to wipe out the human race, it can be hard to avoid the chopping block. There are all sorts of things to avoid such as monsters, other humans, hunger, exposure, animals, and environmental elements that are out to make sure you aren’t around to see the world restart.
However, if avidly watching horror movies has taught me anything, it’s that you should learn from the mistakes of others, and remember the tips that see people survive. This is especially important with apocalyptic horror movies, especially when it feels like the world could end at any minute these days.
So here are just 10 of the tips and tricks you need to remember when the apocalypse (inevitably) comes to help you stay alive as long as possible.
10. Ditch the Infected
It maybe goes without saying, but if you’re dealing with a post-apocalyptic event where some sort of virus or infection is involved, you need to ditch or kill the infected people as quickly as possible, otherwise more people are going to end up dead.
This is no time to get sentimental, and it’s important to recognize that it’s either you or them and with them being infected, they’re really already dead.
Ben from The Battery (2012) shows how important it is to take out an infected comrade even if it’s completely devastating. When Ben discovers that Mickey has been bitten by a zombie while trying to find their car keys, he’s angry and upset but quickly makes the right decision and shoots Mickey rather than risk being trapped in the car with a brand new zombie. Ben is then able to formulate an escape plan and make it out of the car alive, even if he does have a horde of zombies chasing him.
9. Adapt to the New World
If the world changes dramatically after the apocalypse hits, it’s important that you get used to the new way of things as quickly as possible or you’re going to get left behind or die!
In A Quiet Place (2018), the world changes hugely when a bunch of monsters with super-sensitive hearing take over the planet and kill everyone in their vicinity. The Abbott family has done a pretty good job at setting up a living situation which allows them to avoid these monsters as much as possible.
The family doesn’t talk to each other, they walk around barefoot, and they’ve created a network of sand-covered paths to allow them to walk silently from their house into town for supplies. Sure, they aren’t perfect, I mean they have to deal with a newborn crashing into their life midway through the movie, but they do a lot better than most people would.
8. Find Joy Where You Can
When the world is ending, it can be hard to maintain your will to survive. If the terrible monsters now stalking the earth don’t get you, then terrible morale might, and so it’s important to find joy in the little things where you can to keep you going.
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In 28 Days Later (2002), Jim, Selena, Frank, and Hannah are a newly-formed group of survivors on the run from the rage infected. As they make their way across the country trying to find safety, they stumble across a fully-stocked supermarket. The joy at finding all this food untouched and ripe for picking is palpable, and the gang joyfully take a trolley each before running and laughing around the aisles as they pick their favorite food.
7. Know When to Leave Your Hideout
Finding somewhere safe to hide out during an apocalypse is the ideal scenario, but sometimes, it’s important to know when to make a break for it and keep moving to survive. This can be an incredibly hard decision, and we often feel safest in an environment that mirrors home, but complacency can get you killed in these types of situations.
In The Mist (2007), a number of townsfolk get trapped in the local supermarket when a mysterious mist brings forward several creatures from another dimension. A supermarket may seem like the perfect plan to be trapped. It’s a solid structure with plenty of food, a lot of space to contain everyone, and toilets. However, it’s the people in the supermarket that soon make it a toxic environment.
David soon realizes that Mrs Carmody, a religious fanatic, is planning to sacrifice his son, Billy, to try and appease the mist monsters. As scary as the outside world is in The Mist, David knows they need to make a run for it to at least try and survive a little longer than they would at the hands of Mrs Carmody and her followers.
6. Don’t Underestimate the Enemy
No matter how long you’ve lived in a post-apocalyptic situation, and no matter how well you think you know the enemy, it’s important that you don’t underestimate the enemy and think you’re smarter than them.
In I Am Legend (2007), Robert Neville has been living in the ruin of Manhattan for around three years and has set up a number of scenarios involving mannequins around the city to give him someone to interact with. He thinks all he has to do is avoid dark buildings and get home before sundown to avoid his vampire-like enemies.
However, Robert doesn’t realize the vampires have been watching him and knows his every movement, and they use one of his mannequins to lay a trap for him. Robert doesn’t even consider the fact the repositioned mannequin is a trap until it’s too late. While Robert manages to escape the trap, his dog, Sam, is fatally injured in the fight.
5. Find Yourself a Good Gang
While it can be hard to know who to trust when the apocalypse hits, it can be a great idea to find a good group of survivors to band together. Not only is it an excellent idea for your morale, but there’s also safety in numbers to consider.
While they have some differences, to begin with, the gang in Zombieland (2009) shows why it’s so important to find good friends and form a strong group to help you fight your common enemy. While Columbus is keen to team up with others instantly because he’s quite lonely, his future teammates are all a little more resistant. However, they soon recognize that a good team will allow them to defend themselves better and they will all bring different skills to the party. It also gives them the time for a little human interaction with people who don’t want to eat them, which is sometimes all you can ask for after the world ends.
4. Never Trust the Military
The military is usually painted as the good guys in movies, but when it comes to an end of the world situation, they really shouldn’t be trusted. They’re either still working for the government, and usually have orders to indiscriminately kill anyone they see in a bid to contain the threat, or they’ve gone rogue and they’re a group of highly-trained individuals with added guns.
In The Crazies (2010) our main characters are desperately trying to escape a town that’s been overrun by infected inhabitants who are becoming increasingly violent. The military comes in to quarantine the town, and soon they have orders to shoot on sight, even if the townsfolk don’t seem infected. When David and Judy make it past the military roadblock, they find out the military has been executing the town residents who they were claiming to evacuate. After catching sight of David and Judy escaping to a nearby city, it’s implied that the military is heading in to quarantine the city as well.
Having the military turn against you and start killing civilians seems extra cruel because they are the people we expect to help and protect us. However, in the world of horror, they so often turn against civilians, with their only thoughts being of getting rid of the threat, rather than protecting all the people the threat is affecting.
3. Always Have an Escape Plan
When it comes to an end of the world situation, it’s important to have a plan. Sitting around the house and waiting to see what happens will very rarely turn out well for you, and so it’s vital to think of where you can escape to so you can ride out the apocalypse.
While his plan isn’t perfect, you’ll want to try and be as organized as Shaun from Shaun of the Dead (2004). The minute Shaun realizes that something bad is going on in the world, mainly that’s it’s being overrun by zombies, he decides to put his plan into action to try and save himself, his best friend, his girlfriend, and his mother (and hopefully kill off his stepfather at the same time).
Shaun’s plan of heading to the Winchester and waiting for it all to blow over is actually a pretty good one. It’s a secure building with food and drink supplies, as well as plenty of room for the survivors to hang out in. It’s just a shame that Shaun’s group of friends are unable to work together effectively, meaning their cover gets blown pretty quickly. So, come up with a plan as good as Shaun’s, but perhaps choose your apocalypse pals a bit more wisely.
2. Trust Your Gut
It doesn’t matter if it’s the apocalypse or not, if you think someone seems a bit off and possibly evil, then chances are you are right. It’s so important to always trust your gut and get yourself out of dangerous situations as quickly as possible.
In 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), Michelle wakes up in an underground bunker after a car crash knocks her unconscious. She finds herself under the care of Howard, who claims to have rescued her and is now looking after her to protect her from the apocalypse which is happening outside.
Michelle thinks there is something wrong with Howard right from the off, and boy, is she right to trust her gut. While Howard spends most of the movie trying to convince Michelle that he’s trying to help her and the world really is ending outside, Michelle ignores him and works on an escape plan which will allow her to leave Howard behind but still survive the supposedly toxic air outside. If Michelle hadn’t started working on her escape plan right from the start, she may have ended up in a barrel of Howard’s acid after she annoyed him or spoke to him the wrong way.
1. Pay Attention!
The final, and perhaps most important rule of surviving the apocalypse is to always pay attention. Never let your guard down and never relax, because things are looking to kill you around every corner. Unless you are locked up safe and sound in a safe house somewhere, always be on red alert.
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Zombie movies usually provide great examples of people not paying attention and immediately getting munched by some lurking zombie. In Land of the Dead (2005), Cholo loses one of his team members, Mike, during a grocery store raid when he forgets to check if there are any lurking zombies behind the shop counter. Mike leans over the counter without looking and gets bitten on the hand.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, Cholo ends up zombified in almost the exact same way later in the movie. After shooting a zombie, Cholo fails to take in his surroundings effectively and ends up getting his hand half-eaten by a zombie lurking in the bushes. Not only is Cholo extremely careless, but he doesn’t even learn from the mistakes his teammate made only a short time before.
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