Everything I need to know…

Life is full of wonderful lessons that we learn throughout the years. Don’t cut in line. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Eat your vegetables.

All of these are wonderful lessons except for one simple fact: No one has ever died a painfully gruesome death for not following them.

Life’s real lessons are the ones whose consequence for not following are a chainsaw wielding maniac, a blood-sucking fiend or even a massive great white shark chasing after you.

Everything you need to know in life can be found in Hollywood’s favorite black sheep family member: the horror film. By following these 13 simple life lessons, you are guaranteed to live a life free of educated cannibals, satanic little girls and razor-fingered nightmares – until the sequel, of course.

Life Lesson No. 1: Don’t pick up hitchhikers. As Learned From: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

They say what goes around comes around. Good begot more good. Tell that to the five teenagers who, out of the kindness of their hearts, pick up a sick and demented hitchhiker (who knows more than he should about the process of slaughtering cows) who starts off their wonderful road trip together by slicing himself and one of the kids with his already-bloodied knife. After dumping out the lunatic hitchhiker, they stop to get help and gas at a back-road (see Life Lesson No. 3) clapboard house, home to the warm-welcoming Hewitt family: a cannibalistic clan of chainsaw-wielding maniacs led by the infamous "Leatherface," who just happens to be the brother of a certain deranged hitchhiker. I guess what goes around really does come around.

Life Lesson No. 2: Always test the water As Learned From: Jaws (1975)

While it may be important not to eat before swimming, this life lesson will keep you from being eaten while swimming. This Steven Spielberg classic shed a new light on beach-bound fun as a great white shark capable of swallowing people whole terrorizes the residents of the small island community of Amity. So next time you decide to skinny dip into the beautiful blue waters of your favorite summer beach spot, always dip a toe in first. If you manage to get your foot back as more than a bloody nub, you’re good to go.

Life Lesson No. 3: Never take back-road shortcuts As Learned From: The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

There is no road short enough in this world that’s worth being terrorized by a gang of mutated cannibals who are still annoyed that your government has been testing nuclear bombs in their backyard. Sure, it may save you a mile or two, cut your travel time by an hour or so and maybe even save you a few gallons of gas – but when you’re fighting for you life to be keep from becoming a mutant family’s next entr’eacute;e, you’ll wish you would have stayed on the Interstate.

Life Lesson No. 4: Be nice to your little brother As Learned From: Halloween (1978)

There is no greater sense of power than the one that comes with being an older sibling. Still, while Michael Myers’ sister was upstairs canoodling with her boyfriend instead of taking him trick-or-treating, his response was a tad more intense than running to mommy. Instead, he put on a clown mask and butchered her, kicking off a life of mental institutions and countless more victims. So next time your brother asks you to take him to the movies or to play basketball, think twice before telling him to "get lost" – or at least hide the butcher knives before you do it.

Life Lesson No. 5: Prioritize your responsibilities As Learned From: Friday the 13th (1980)

Poor little Jason Voorhees would have never drowned at Camp Crystal Lake if his camp counselors weren’t hiding in the backrooms having sex instead of watching the kids. And, perhaps more importantly, poor little Jason’s mother wouldn’t have been urged to go on a murderous rampage throughout the camp, killing those responsible and urging her not-quite-so-dead-son to continue her killing spree from the Camp Crystal Lake to New York City and even beyond to space. A simple prioritization of responsibilities can sometimes be the difference between life and death – literally.

Life Lesson No. 6: Don’t let your kid sit too close to the TV. As Learned From: Poltergeist (1982)

When you notice that not only is your youngest daughter sitting directly in front of the television, but she’s also watching nothing but a dead channel, it’s time to try throwing a book in her direction. Books never harmed anyone – they never allowed menacing ghosts to escape or trees to become dangerous killers or macabre dolls to come alive. So, next time your child is sitting in front of the television and announces that "they’re here," turn off the tube and try to convince them that they were talking about the pizza guy at the door.

Life Lesson No. 7: When showering, always lock the bathroom Door. As Learned From: Psycho (1960)

The only thing worse than jumping into the shower while it’s still cold is having a dress-wearing mommy’s boy swing over the shower curtain and fillet you with his dead mother’s butcher knife. Still, Marion Crane could have avoided this unfortunate "misunderstanding" had she simply locked the door and hung a "Do Not Disturb" sign outside of her room. Even caretaker Norman Bates has to keep his guests happy.

Life Lesson No. 8: Don’t do drugs. As Learned From: Saw (2004)

When drug addict Amanda awoke to find that Jigsaw, the latest soul-redeeming serial killer, had chosen to punish her for a life of abuse with an elaborate contraption built to rip her head into pieces, she was probably thinking: "Why didn’t I just say ‘no’?" It’s amazing how a little abstinence can go a long way in this world.

Life Lesson No. 9: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. As Learned From: The Shining (1980)

It’s one thing to love what you do for a living, but when it drives you to the point of becoming an axe-wielding psychopath that stalks hallways, quotes late-night talk shows and intends on murdering your family, maybe it’s time to get out of the house and take a vacation.

Life Lesson No. 10: Go to church. As Learned From: The Exorcist (1973)

It’s hard to imagine that Satan could have possessed young, sweet Regan had she been in the front pew of her local Church. A pea soup-free life of devotion is the only way to steer clear of misused crucifixes, rocking beds and eternal damnation – but keep a good priest on speed dial just in case.

Life Lesson No. 11: Always keep a nice Chianti on hand when you have friends for dinner. As Learned From: The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

The good Dr. Hannibal "the cannibal" Lector will attest that no great meal is complete without some fava beans and, of course, a nice glass of Chianti. The splendid red wine really brings out the flavor of that mysterious meat you’re having for dinner… By the way, has anyone seen George?

Life Lesson No. 12: Sleep all day. Party all night. As Learned From: Dracula (1931)

There is not a better horror character for college students to relate to than the original vampire king himself, Dracula. This man, quite literally, parties until the sun comes up. He lives in a wicked-cool castle on a hill with several gorgeous vixens just waiting for you to spend the night – Dracula is the Hugh Hefner of the horror movie universe.

Life Lesson No. 13: When home shopping, always get a good realtor As Learned From: A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

No true professional realtor would allow his or her clients to move onto a street infamous for burning a child molester to death – at least not without giving a good price. When moving into your local suburbia, always make sure you check the street’s history of nightmare-haunting, knife-fingered monsters before moving in, settling down and falling asleep.

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