“You can’t cheat death” is the unofficial slogan for the enduring Final Destination horror franchise, and its characters always die trying to do just that. The Final Destination, the fourth entry in the series and the first one in 3-D, opens everywhere August 28 and follows survivors in the stands after a racetrack crash, two of whom apparently later get stuck on a broken escalator (pictured). Death clearly has a design, and despite what the song says, you should fear the Reaper. We look back at some memorable moments from the Final Destination films to discover ways these characters could have seen the signs and saved their hides—at least for a sequel.
By Robert B. DeSalvo
Where There’s Smoke…
You’re a teacher who had to step off a plane taking your French students to Paris for a field trip. They didn’t let you back onboard and, lucky you, the plane exploded without you on it. The problem is that the other people who got off the plane are dying one by one in horrific ways. You’re understandably paranoid, so you pour yourself some vodka to take the edge off. The problem is that you dripped some into your computer. Hear that sizzling and crackling sound? I’d step away from that computer monitor if I were you—there’s a lot of thick glass in there.
Here we see Ali Larter as Clear Rivers, the only character in the Final Destination series to cheat death and come back for another face-off. Although Rivers’ luck runs out in Final Destination 2, she listens to her boyfriend in the original film and resists the urge to bolt out of a car being attacked by a live power line because she is grounded by the tires. Remember how your parents told you that the safest place to be during an electrical storm is inside a car? They were so right.
Imagine driving down a congested freeway where everything seems a tad ominous. AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” is on the radio, a bus full of cheerleaders is cheering “pileup” over and over, a truck carrying giant logs has a loose chain, and you pass some little kid who is having a great time smashing his toy trucks together. It might be a good time to take the next exit and check out that new Taco Bell you heard just opened, don’t you think?
No Loose Objects
There are all kinds of reasons to skip that high-speed roller-coaster ride. You don’t want to be seated downwind from someone with a weak stomach, for one. Remember Fabio? He still can’t believe it’s not butter, and we still can’t believe his face collided with a goose on a coaster ride. Then there are those stories about the hydraulic brakes failing and people getting stranded while hanging upside down. So when the pimply ride operator asks you to secure your camera so it doesn’t end up on the track, increase your odds of survival and do so.
Great Balls of Fire
Let’s face it—our kitchens are deathtraps. There are lots of sharp instruments about, there are gas lines, and even the food we are preparing could be killing us softly. Are you sure that kitchen magnet didn’t fall into that leftover lo mein before you started nuking it in the microwave? The next time, you better make sure before you get your arm caught in the drain while your side dish of frozen cheese sticks ignites on the range. The menu is starting to smell like teen spirit.
Say what you want about female drivers, but this one survived a nasty car wreck that ended with a white pipe impaling her back windshield and narrowly missing her head. To celebrate her brain remaining inside her skull, she lights a cigarette and patiently waits for help to come and free her legs from the debris so she can get out. Smoking kills, but so does a lack of foresight. We wonder what will happen if that air bag goes off while she is still trapped in the car and that sharp-looking pipe is behind her head. Hmm.
Black Hole Sun Won’t You Come
International cancer experts have recently moved tanning beds into the top cancer-risk category, deeming them as deadly as arsenic or mustard gas. Basically your risk of skin cancer jumps up by a whopping 75% if you try to lay an artificial base tan before you’re 30, and never mind that your skin will look like a Naugahyde handbag later in life. None of this stops teens from cooking themselves in tanning beds to a golden brown. Of course, if you get trapped in one while it’s on, you won’t have to worry about cancer because your skin will melt off your face.
Drive on Through to the Other Side
Yes, I’ll take the all-you-can-eat special for $3.99 and a side of curly fries for 99 cents. No, I don’t need to super size those fries, thanks. Oh, and a large chocolate milkshake, please. And could you hurry up with that order? I’m kind of stuck in this line of cars and there is a runaway truck barreling down the hill at us with no driver behind the wheel. Oh, hell, forget it—I’m out of here!
Pumped to the Max
We live in a culture where people can share with you the minute details of their cardio routine but would be hard-pressed to tell you the last book they read. It’s matter over mind in 2009, and what apparently matters is having a nice set of pipes, abs of steel, and buns you can bounce a quarter off of—no one cares about that Ernest Hemingway book you just read. But when you push your body to extremes, something has to give. What use is that toned bod of yours when the gym equipment rips your limbs off?
Out with a Bang
There is a reason fireworks are illegal in many states—they are explosives and, in the wrong hands, could blow off said hands or other body parts. So the next time you find yourself at a Fourth of July celebration where a tent full of fireworks has accidentally ignited, do your torso a favor and kiss the lawn. Fireworks look all colorful and sparkly in the sky, but you didn’t sign up to be a human sparkler.
No one likes going to the dentist. He’s just going to tell you that you need to brush better and floss more. He’s going to say that your gums have receded a little bit more than last time and that one of your fillings is coming out. The news is always grim. Just make sure that before he gives you a healthy helping of nitrous oxide that the goofy mobile hanging above the patient chair is secure. What if that thing falls when he is out of the room and you choke to death on a plastic fish? Your teeth were so clean, too.