By Chris Bucholz.
The world is, by design, a pretty nice place. After years of effort, humanity has managed to fill it with things humans enjoy, like parks and moving sidewalks and brothels. Go almost any place humans have settled, and before too long, you’ll be able to figure it out. Everything is familiar, comfortable and, for the most part, safe.
Except when it isn’t. Because if there’s one thing mankind is known for more than its taste for brothels, it’s its ability to mess things up. Sometimes, due to selfishness, stupidity or simple hubris, our nice safe world goes spectacularly wrong, and we find ourselves surrounded by people who want to eat our skin.
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Because we’re never not thinking about fighting hundreds of people at once, Cracked has collected a great deal of humanity’s wisdom on how to deal with sudden mass attacks. We’ve taken this knowledge and compiled it into a list of behaviors that movies warn us are signs that the townspeople are about to turn violent. We offer these tips in the hope that you’ll use them to stay safe, or better yet, to decide to never leave home again and just read
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When visiting new places, pay attention to how you’re received. Obviously, this will vary widely even amongst “safe” environments; some small places may have so few visitors that they’ll treat all newcomers with great suspicion. Even larger, well-trafficked places can feel cold, places where the locals have grown resentful of the endless parade of tourists; Paris is notorious for giving off this kind of vibe.
But perhaps even more dangerous are the communities that greet you too warmly. If your reception in town goes way beyond the limits of mere hospitality, it might be time to get back in the car, sharply.
As Seen In: Two Thousand Maniacs!
In Two Thousand Maniacs! a group of northerners visit a small southern community, to find themselves mobbed the second they pull into town. With big, terrifying smiles, the townspeople let them know just how incredibly welcome they are; in fact, they’ll be the guests of honor at the town’s “centennial” celebrations.
The centennial in question is the centennial anniversary of the year that Union troops destroyed the town. And the celebrations in question are, as you’d expect, a series of games loosely based on the theme of murder.
A Practical Example:
Chad: Why is everyone smiling at us?
Nancy: They’re just being friendly.
Chad: It’s creeping me out.
Nancy: You said the same thing about Paris because they wouldn’t smile at you.
Chad: That waiter put out his cigarette on my arm there. That wasn’t creepy, that just hurt. This place is creepy.
Smiling Villager: Welcome Friends! We’ve been waiting for you.
Nancy: Really? How did you know we were coming?
Smiling Villager: -toothy smile- Why, through various means, of course!
#4. They All Disappear
Let’s say you’re walking through this new, slightly menacing town, and happen to duck into an abandoned chapel or disused bowling alley or something. Finding it depressing and kind of shady, you return to the streets where you notice something really unusual.
The once bustling streets are now completely empty.
People disappear all the time. Whether it’s because an important sporting event is on TV, or its nighttime, or everyone just had to go to the bathroom, there are many reasons why the streets might suddenly clear. But the most likely reason by far is that the townspeople have just toddled off into the shadows, ready to pounce on and murder any outsiders who stray past.
As Seen In: Various Resident Evil Games
A few seconds later, you hear the sound of a siren in the distance, because this is a Resident Evil game and that’s going to happen. You turn around to find the streets empty. It’s unsettling to say the least, and leaves absolutely no doubt that they will be back, this time with murder.
(Incidentally, the exact opposite happens in Resident Evil 4, where the townspeople have already turned on you, when a bell in the distance causes them to disappear. Don’t worry though: they also come back, murder-laden.)
A Practical Example:
Nancy: Hey. Where did everyone go?
Chad: Somehow this is even more suspicious than all that smiling and hair-stroking.
Nancy: Hair stroking? I thought that was you!
Chad: Why would I stroke your hair? We’ve been married for four years Nancy. No, it was the dude who never blinked who was doing that.
Nancy: And you didn’t stop him?
Chad: YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT CONFRONTATION. Come on, let’s get out of here.
-they return to the car-
Nancy: Oh no! All of our tires have gone missing too! I wonder if this is related to the townspeople going missing.
Chad: … Seriously?
#3. There Are A Lot More Pitchforks and Torches Around Than You’d Suspect.
If you’re reading this in the twenty-first century — and we suspect you are — then you probably don’t come across pitchforks or torches very often. Which means that if you come across any quantity of pitchforks or torches, that should be cause for concern. And if you happen by chance to be in a place where pitchforks or torches are possible, like Kansas, at least take note of the fact that they’re almost never used at the same time. Pitchforking is almost always a daylight activity, in the same way that torching is not. Any gathering or event where both pitchforks and torches are present should get the hair on your toes standing on end.
As Seen In: Beauty & The Beast
The pitchforks and torches bit has been around for a while, but was seen quite prominently in the animated Beauty & The Beast. There the townspeople gathered their implements of lighting, forking, and destruction, and set to hunting down the Beast, all just because he had started cruising their women.
A Practical Example:
Nancy: Oh look! Here they come.
Chad: That mass of flickering lights and shouting? Yes, I suppose that is them. Oh look. Pitchforks. Well, check that one off the list.
Nancy: Do you think it’s some kind of harvest festival?
Chad: Well, it’s May, so no, I don’t think it’s some kind of harvest festival.
Nancy: They’re going to murder us aren’t they?
Chad: If we’re lucky yes, they’ll murder us and eat our faces.
Nancy: That’s lucky?! What could be less lucky than that?
Chad: If they reversed the order.
#2. They Discover Your Special Powers
Let’s say you’re in a small, fairly conservative community. And, let’s say you’re special, in a really frightening way. Like you have a tail or two asses or something. How will the townspeople react when they discover your secret? Will they celebrate your diversity, and summon their best carpenter to craft an honored perch for you? Or will they try to string your assorted asses up on a pike, to serve as warning to others of your kind?
As Seen In: The Highlander
In an early part of The Highlander, a young Connor MacLeod goes to war, where he’s fairly quickly turned into a Scottish popsicle, an experience which he somehow doesn’t die from.
After recovering his not dead ass from the battlefield, his clansmen decide that this is a sign of witchcraft, and to be honest, they’re probably right to do so. (Taking several feet of steel between the ribs is not something that can normally just be walked off.) Convinced he’s a Manwich, they threaten to burn him at the stake, and only agree to reduce his sentence to banishment when they realize how long it would take to get the smell of burnt Scotsman out of their town.
A Practical Example:
Nancy: Hurry! The bridge is going to collapse!
-the bridge collapses-
Chad: Damn you bridge! -turns to watch as the townspeople draw closer- I‘ll have to jump it.
Nancy: You’ll never make it!
Chad: I might! I made varsity in long jump in my senior year. -he backs up a short distance, takes a deep breath and runs for it, just barely clearing the gap-
Villager: He’s a witch!
Chad: No, I’m just in shape!
Villager: Burn him! Burn him in the faaaaaaaaace!
#1. They Get A Little Bitey
There are few situations in which it is acceptable for one human being to bite another, outside of the confines of a really healthy marriage. It’s just one of those things which people across all cultures seem to have agreed on, which means when someone violates it, it’s pretty much an open admission that they’re no longer playing by the rules.
As Seen In: Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, and every other zombie franchise ever…
The opening scenes of Zombieland establish the familiar framework of a zombie universe. A zombification disease spreads rapidly throughout civilization, communicated primarily through the means of biting.
The rest of Zombieland explores the fallout from this zombie apocalypse, in particular the weighty issues of how survivors will isolate themselves emotionally in such a scenario, and how baseball bats can be applied topically to skulls in such a scenario. But the lesson for us, in our (hopefully) still pre-zombie world, is that if you ever witness anyone biting anyone, you should sprint like hell to the nearest sporting goods store to arm yourself.
A Practical Example:
Nancy: Ow! He bit me Chad! -she wrestles a villager off of her-
Chad: Oh no! Nancy! They got you!
Nancy! What! No! He just bit me is all.
Chad: You’re doomed Nancy. I can’t believe this. You’re going to be a zombie. Or a moleman, or whatever these things are.
Chad: You bit her and spread your terrible disease to her and now she’s doomed. I won’t let this happen to you Nancy. -he points his shotgun at her-
Villager: No. She was just… winning the fight is all… and I kind of panicked. Sorry. We’re not zombies. Holy crap. Don’t shoot her.
Chad: Then why are you trying to kill us? Talk damn you! -he points the shotgun at the villager and works the action. It makes a cool noise, and ejects an unspent shell, which clatters to the ground. Everyone turns to watch it roll around in a lazy circle on the floor-
Villager: To rob you.
Chad: -trying to drag the shotgun shell back towards him with his foot- What?
Villager: We’re really poor here.
Chad: Is that all? Oh man, that’s awful.
Villager: This economy, right?
Chad: This economy. -shakes his head- Look, I think I can help. -tucks shotgun under his arm, withdraws his wallet, and starts counting out bills silently- Forty… Sixty… Eighty… Two hundred. Twenty. There. Two hundred and twenty dollars. Take it. We weren’t gonna spend it wisely anyways.
Villager: Wow. Thanks!
Chad: Come on Nancy. Let’s go.
Nancy: -long appraising look at Chad- You were going to kill me.
Chad: It would have been justifiable, AND I would have regretted it. I think that’s enough to end the conversation right there, but we can talk about it later if you wish.
-Chad & Nancy get back in the car and drive off, finally safe, though they do not, curiously, live happily ever after.-
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