Safety tips from the "Final Destination" films

Even if you're not being hunted by Death, these popcorn horror flicks have valuable lessons to share

By Drew Grant

Published August 10, 2011 12:30PM (EDT)

Should have stuck with the glasses.
Should have stuck with the glasses.

With "Final Destination 5" coming out this weekend, you may be asking yourself what's the point of it all? Not in any grand, existentialist sense, but literally... what is the point of a film franchise where the motto is "You can't cheat death?"

See, the premise of these movies are inherently flawed: why give people the power to see a massive accident before it happens and allow them to save their friends, if the outcome is invariably the same? The only interesting (and I'm using that term loosely) aspect of the "Final Destination" movies are trying to figure out how many Mousetrap steps it will take to kill off another one-dimensional best friend, jealous boyfriend or potential love interest.

The one thing that makes the latest installment of this series worth seeing is that the writers finally recognized that 90 minutes of gory deaths needed a plot twist to keep people interested. So now, "Hunger Games"-style, we learn that the survivors of the massive bridge accident can actually forestall death's angry stalker-like tendencies if they find someone to kill in their place. Let the fun begin!

This isn't to say that "Final Destination" is bereft of educational value. If anything, the plight of these expendable souls serve as a safety guide on what not to do when dealing with heavy machinery, cosmetic surgery and kitchen mishaps. See for yourself (though be warned, some of the sequences below are pretty gruesome).

1. Learn your food physics:

It's simple science folks... never put ice-cold vodka in a mug that held steaming hot tea moments earlier. Not only will it save your life, but it can really cut down on cracked kitchenware, as we learn in the first "Final Destination" film with the death of Ms. Lewton.

Another good rule of thumb is to never, ever approach any machinery that randomly starts billowing smoke. Actually, just stay completely out of the kitchen if you can help it.


2. Don't stand in the middle of a street, railroad track, etc.:

Just generally a good rule of thumb, but especially if the specter of death is hunting you.


3. Don't try to King Lear your way out of a dangerous situation

As it turns out, screaming at the gods that you are invincible will only makes them madder. Seriously, try it sometime. Go stand in an empty field during a lightning storm and scream "I AM NOT GOING TO DIE!" and then come back to tell me about it. What's that? You can't, because you have provoked the wrath of Tony Todd -- aka the physical manifestation of Death (and also Candyman) -- who has struck you down in some gruesome-yet-funny-in-an-ironic-sort-of-way to punish your hubris?

Oh well.

4. Vanity will kill you:

It doesn't matter if it's a tanning bed...

Hair salon...

Or simple laser eye surgery...

...If there is one thing that really makes you an expendable character, it's going to get cosmetic work done while everyone you know is dying under mysterious circumstances.

5. Lock yourself in a padded room:

For some reason, death apparently can't get you if you're in a loony bin, as proven by the Ali Larter's character Clear Rivers (yup) in the first "Final Destination" and its sequel. Yet for some reason you are more likely to die in a hospital bed than in a massive fireball or freak construction accident.

The takeaway here? If your friend ever has a premonition of a horrible accident, don't bother getting out of the NASCAR arena/roller coaster/plane/bridge/car/what have you. Might as well die quickly than spend the rest of your (admittedly short) life living in fear of every innocuous object around your house. Right?

Drew Grant

Drew Grant is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @videodrew.

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