(The delightful people at Man Crates [mancrates.com], where you can get an array of manly kits and sets in wooden crates, ammo cans, or tactical bags [including zombie survival!], asked me what I would need to survive a Halloween movie. I stepped it up and went for the full horror franchise.)
So you lived through a horror movie. Congratulations. So have 1-3 people in almost every horror movie ever from the awful to the awesome. If you are going to prove you have true Halloween and horror chops, you have to make through an entire horror franchise, or in the least to the closing film (until they reboot it 10 to 20 years later).
Surviving a horror franchise is not for the faint of heart. At a minimum, it would require scraping through at least three full length films. If you are aiming to live up to Laurie in the Halloween movies or Sidney in the Scream series, you are going to have to condition, prepare, and (most importantly) fight.
Not unlike Zombieland, the #1 rule is cardio. Because you are going to be running your ass off, movie after movie, up misadvised staircase to tripping in a field. You need to be in top physical condition to sprint and run and hide from the serial killer at your heels, who will always walk faster than you can run without fail.
Take it easy now, though. A horror movie franchise is a marathon not a sprint. You cannot go blowing your whole cardio load on the first chase sequence; you are sure to end up dead before the next reel that way. Work on your interval training so that you can sprint away in an emergency but always keep running through script after script.
Helpful supplies: Workout DVDs, heart rate monitor
Closely linked to cardio, you need to take care of your body, and most importantly, you need to hydrate. Could you really run through a minimum of three films, consistently stumbling at the most inopportune moment, hurdling the bodies of your fallen castmates without so much of a swig of water? Sure, the movies make it look like their characters can do it, but the smart know better. Hydrate, snack, definitely sleep between features. In short, keep your body in peak physical condition.
Helpful supplies: Hydration pack or water bottles, iodine tablets for filtration in a pinch
We all know the old paradigm for horror movies: Those who have sex die; those who drink or use drugs die. Basically, those who sin are guaranteed a death scene. Granted, those commandments have largely been evolved from since Scream called out the genre on their existence. However, you might as well be safe because you are going to need all the help you can get. Not to mention, sins like sex, drinking, or drugs can deplete the muscles and dehydrate you or weaken your mind, all making you a much easier target. You may be able to sneak out of one horror movie with these infractions, but they are bound to catch up to you in a whole franchise.
Helpful supplies: Bible or other code of conduct (depending on who is defining “sin” in the series)
When you think horror movie, you might think big-breasted woman running (falling) stupidly as she flees a slow-walking killer. Yeah, those victims all die. Those victims do not even get to see the first set of credits roll by. Sure, those characters have their place, nameably dying before you to keep you alive, but you need to do better. You need to develop some survival skills.
Think You’re Next. Sure, that’s not a horror franchise (yet), but if anyone would survive a long-standing horror franchise, it would be Erin. If it is a tactic that could help you survive the apocalypse, there is a good chance it could help you survive a horror franchise. Plus, you never know what the set will be in the next film. Adapt and overcome!
The ability to hide or camouflage yourself is paramount. Running and cardio are great and necessary, but how monotonous would it be if that was all you did for multiple movies? You also need to be able to evade and avoid. Punctuate your sprints with an ultimately unsuccessful hide in a closet. Sure, it did not work, but at least you caught your breath as you deafened the audience with your panting.
Strategy is also key. You do not just want to be running around in a panic, running up stairs or jumping into rooms with no secondary exit. Think! Think beyond your primal fight or flight instincts and actually make decisions that will keep you alive. Maybe practice some yoga or meditation to learn how to control your physical body and still think clearly in high stress (death and murder) situations.
Helpful supplies: Meditation for Dummies book, black clothing, sound shoes
The best way to knock off victims in a horror movie is to isolate them. Of course the phone line is going to be cut; of course there is no cell signal; naturally the power has gone out. If you want to reach the outside world and rescue, you are going to need sound communications means that traverse these obstacles.
It would not be a bad idea to cultivate a personal relationship with some sort of law enforcement character. Someone who might miss you if you disappeared, someone who might exchange walkie talkies with you. Yes, this poor bastard will get snuffed out along the way for helping you, but hey, he might just save your life once before that happens. Since you have to survive multiple times, you have to take your life saving where you can get it.
Helpful supplies: Satellite phone, walkie talkies
The only way anyone is going to even remotely entertain the idea of letting you claw your way through a horror franchise is if you have a personal connection to the killer. The audiences need the drama. Plus, why else would we buy that this killer keeps coming after you movie after movie?
Take our examples of Laurie and Syndey. In the Halloween movies, Laurie is Michael Myers’s sister. Sure, she does not always know that. And sure, she vanishes for part of the franchise, but any Halloween fan pretends those movies never happened anyway. In the Scream movies, even though the killer is vanquished at the end of every film (spoiler alert!), a new killer or killer emerges in the next installment, and they are all, in some way, connected to Sidney. A boyfriend, a brother, a copycat, a cousin.
If you want to be valuable enough to be written into multiple endings, you better make yourself indispensable to your adversary.
Helpful supplies: Memento from relationship with the killer (just to remind everyone why you are indispensable)
While the running and evading and hiding is necessary for the first few movies, every horror franchise eventually culminates in an ultimate faceoff between the persistent survivor and the killer. Some protagonists may survive multiple movies just to finally be defeated at this glorious moment, but you are not trying just to make it to the last movie; you are trying to live to see the final credits of that final film (again, until the reboot). You better be prepared for this ultimate faceoff.
It may happen in each movie of the franchise. You may think you have killed the killer over and over. Whether it happens once or three or five times, you eventually will have to man up and fight the killer face to face.
By the conclusion of the franchise, the killer will have become stronger and more impervious to death with each movie. You will also get beat to hell a little more each time you escape. You may have been stabbed multiple times by this point. You need to rehabilitate your body. In your off film time, indulge in some physical therapy and some self-defense or martial arts classes. For all your running and cardio, at this point, you are going to need to be able to fight.
The fight is only over when the killer is dead (or at least when you and the audience are sneakily convinced the killer is dead). Since this killer has survived just as many horror movies as you have, you are going to have to bring out the big guns (ironically, a gun almost never works). You need to rely on your survival skills to provide you with a weapon to finally put down your killer. (If it is a gun, remember, head shot.) Perhaps a baseball bat with nails through the end? Maybe a vehicle and a large cement wall? Get creative.
Helpful supplies: Weapon of choice or opportunity
Surviving a horror franchise takes an unteachable blending of charisma and interest, physical condition and preparation, and a sound mind (not to mention current genre trends and dumb luck). If you prepare enough, you might just be able to join the ranks of those blood soaked survivors who lived through not just one horror movie but an entire series.
What do you need to survive?