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Weekend at the Cabin? Sure!
July 10, 2014 11:14 AM   Subscribe

io9 offers a straight forward guide of 13 tips to help you survive a night in a cabin in the woods. posted by Atreides (60 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Obey the 10 Commandments, including not taking the Lord's name in vein.

But we rented that cabin for our freaky Gnostic blood rituals! Oh, we'll never get the deposit back this late.
posted by kagredon at 11:21 AM on July 10 [5 favorites]


Someone at io9 just learned the word 'tantamount.'
posted by shakespeherian at 11:26 AM on July 10 [3 favorites]


Nth additional rule: The world is three-dimensional, even if you and your friends aren't. Look up every once in a while.
posted by Etrigan at 11:27 AM on July 10 [4 favorites]


no one ever makes a horror movie about the nice folks who plan a fun and relaxing retreat for the whole demon-summoning cult and have it disrupted by unruly youth BUT THAT IS THE TRUE HORROR
posted by kagredon at 11:27 AM on July 10 [20 favorites]


Someone at io9 just learned the word 'tantamount.'

It's Rob Bricken. The surprise isn't that he knows the word, it's that he spelled it correctly.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:30 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]


I'M currently in this Cabin in the woods

And on the day I visited the graves of my ancestors, it turned into an actual dark and stormy night which cut the power briefly.
posted by The Whelk at 11:31 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]


no one ever makes a horror movie about the nice folks who plan a fun and relaxing retreat for the whole demon-summoning cult and have it disrupted by unruly youth BUT THAT IS THE TRUE HORROR

Well, actually....
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:34 AM on July 10 [6 favorites]


There's a Leavittown joke in there that you've prolly heard.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:34 AM on July 10


I was just about to link to Dale & Tucker vs. Evil.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:34 AM on July 10


Why would I bar the entrance to the basement? That's the best place to lie in wait for the sacrificial victims.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:35 AM on July 10


I'M currently in this Cabin in the woods

Flow chart: In cabin? Does it have a basement? If no, proceed to question 2. If yes, proceed to Step 3.

Question 2: Does it have an attic? If yes, proceed to Step 3. If no, proceed to question 3.

Step 3: Nail shut and barricade all entry ways and exits to this room.

Question 3: Is there a library of books? If yes, proceed to question 4. If no, proceed to question 5.

Question 4: Yes, there is a library, but was the cabin formally owned by a professor antiquities or religion? If yes, move to Step 4. If no, proceed to question 5.

Question 4.5: No, but it does have a library of VHS and DVDs. Are any of these tapes or discs homemade? Do any of them have Japanese writing on them? If so, proceed to Step 3 and do the opposite.
posted by Atreides at 11:40 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]


( oh and I was actually asked to investigate a strange sound in the woods and I had to pause to tell them "that's how good looking teenagers die in movies."

It wasn't a monster it was just cats fucking.)
posted by The Whelk at 11:44 AM on July 10 [8 favorites]


Tip 14: there is nothing in the woodshed so don't even bother looking. Wanting to know things is a leading cause of death in these parts.
posted by The Whelk at 11:47 AM on July 10 [3 favorites]


My family loves to rent this place to stay in when I'm home visiting family. To make it even better, the inside is decorated with a combination of pictures of the owner's Civil War era ancestors and one of those clocks that makes an owl noise at midnight. It's the worst place in the entire world.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:49 AM on July 10 [13 favorites]


all you need is a chainsaw and a can do attitude...
posted by ennui.bz at 11:50 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]


Don't look in the woodshed for fear of seeing something nasty.
posted by winna at 11:51 AM on July 10 [3 favorites]


The owl clock is a real conundrum, since I can make it silent if I turn off the lights, but if I turn off the lights, the Misfit will get me.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:52 AM on July 10


Politeness, always.
Don't go down in the basement, even if it does not exist.
posted by Pudhoho at 11:52 AM on July 10


It's the worst place in the entire world.

If I were watching a horror movie and the protagonists were checking into a creepy B&B called "The Old Place", I'd think it was a little too on-the-nose and yet.
posted by kagredon at 12:04 PM on July 10 [4 favorites]


Really, your best bet is to forgo the cabin entirely and check into that cozy little motel just off the interstate. You know, the one with that nice young man at the desk who has all those stuffed birds.
posted by TDavis at 12:05 PM on July 10 [5 favorites]


Step 14 is the most important. Glad to see Mr. Williams getting his due.
posted by stenseng at 12:06 PM on July 10


When folks hear me talking about my cabin, which I do frequently, wistfully, and with more than a bit of frustration, I often get coy suggestions that I should invite them to visit sometime. I am, of course, delighted to receive visitors, but I always feel like I need to disabuse them of any notion that it is a cute little rustic mountain getaway, because, in fact, it actually looks a bit like an abandoned meth lab rather than the set for On Golden Pond.

It's actually okay, like a big dirty tent that smells of mouse pee and mold, and you're fine as long as you keep your legs clamped while using the outhouse so ass spiders the size of a baby's hand don't get into your shirt, and if you hear growling while you're in the crawl space, you can back out very, very slowly and not get bitten.

So far, no zombies. The locals might bring you a pie and invite you to church, though.
posted by sonascope at 12:11 PM on July 10 [10 favorites]


Conventional weapons aren't going to do a damn thing against the forces of evil anyways.

PFFT. I've watched mythbusters. I'm not afraid of your so-called evil forces! Because I carry a large tub of non-dairy creamer with me at all times.
posted by barchan at 12:13 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


My wife is going to the cabin with our three year old tonight. I am supposed to meet them tomorrow. There is no way she would sleep if I sent her this.
posted by shothotbot at 12:18 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


My solution to this is "Always stay in a hotel that's at LEAST 3 stars." At least the ghosts and murderers and murderous ghosts tend to be classy.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:19 PM on July 10 [5 favorites]


It wasn't a monster it was just cats fucking.)

That's cool, whenever you investigate something scary and find out oh, it was just a cat, you're pretty much home free from there on out
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:21 PM on July 10 [27 favorites]


Because I carry a large tub of non-dairy creamer

So finally, I turn around.

"Hey, buddy!" I say, "I'm feeling pretty tense, buddy. I've got a fuckin' song in my heart, so come on—let's go! I've got a huge bucket of non dairy creamer and some time to kill, so let's do it!

We'll make some foul-smelling artificial milk and drink gallons and gallons and gallons of it. Get our bladders painfully full, then go sit on the toilet together and let the water run in the shower and torture ourselves by not letting ourselves urinate as the water rushes loudly into the bathtub, okay?

We'll do it together—writhe in utter agony just you and me and i'll even spring for some of that blue shit for the toilet bowl, all right? I mean that's my idea of a good time, so how about it?"
posted by sonascope at 12:23 PM on July 10 [3 favorites]


What I don't understand is that this is supposed to be funny but seems like common sense concerns I have when people talk about camping, or leaving their doors unlocked. Let's see, do I want to be at the mercy of nature, the supernatural, deranged violent wackos and victim-blamers all at the same time? No? Then perhaps I should only sleep behind deadbolt locks, in well-lit areas with a reasonable supply of food, water, and first aid supplies at all times? Maybe I'm just not a thrill seeker.
posted by bleep at 12:32 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


Sure, this is all good advice, if you want to doom humanity.
posted by ckape at 12:34 PM on July 10 [6 favorites]


masked chainsaw-wielding stranger gingerly backs away from sonascope
posted by kagredon at 12:35 PM on July 10 [3 favorites]


Remember to bring a chainsaw (handy in case of amputation) and a boomstick.
posted by bonehead at 12:35 PM on July 10


Years ago my brother and I were staying with an aunt in a tiny southern town in order to spend a few days going to visit my elderly grandfather in the next tiny town over. While driving down the very rural two lane highway, we saw a crude, slapdash-looking "yard sale" sign, and my brother declared, "You know you want to see what they would sell at a yard sale around here!" and he swung a hard right off the blacktop.

As we were driving down the increasingly rough, long dirt road/driveway to the house (not visible from the road at all) he then turned and said, "Also, this is totally how horror movies start."

Just for the record, mostly what they sold aside from a few kitschy trinkets and country cottage style geegaws, was homemade jellies and jams.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 12:58 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


I read this thinking, "I lived in a cabin in the woods without electricity or plumbing for 14 years, and none of this was necessary back then." Then I realised that that's because my family were some of the folks in point #2.

Though, while lost tourists occasionally turned up, I don't remember ever telling any of them, "Youse guys better be back in town before sunset." But I'll bet that I rambled at at least a few about how it's the high levels of radiation in the area that means that all the quartz is black and the quartzite grey. So, I guess I was the 'oblique warning that makes sense in retrospect to the viewers' weird kid, rather than the 'straightforward warning that gets ignored' kind.
posted by frimble at 1:30 PM on July 10 [3 favorites]


Step 14: Have fun!
posted by ian1977 at 1:37 PM on July 10


4) Bar all entrances to the basement immediately upon arrival.

I watched the re-make of Evil Dead, and while it wasn't terrible, it certainly wasn't outstanding.

Of course, at the scene where one of the protagonists descends into the now-flooded basement, the MST3K part of my brain immediately chimed in with a fake Minnesota accent:

"Oh, yah- you got some water damage down here for sure. Yah, here's your problem right here- your sump pump is busted. You're probably going to have to replace the whole unit."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:47 PM on July 10 [5 favorites]


...including not taking the Lord's name in vein.

Somewhat creepy typo, despite making no sense...
posted by Fists O'Fury at 1:47 PM on July 10 [3 favorites]


Sure, this is all good advice, if you want to doom humanity.

And increasingly, I do. So I'll print this out and keep it in my wallet for the next Supreme Court decision or the next hugely disruptive "sharing economy" tech startup.
posted by Naberius at 2:10 PM on July 10


Don't forget your two-stroke oil!
posted by Pudhoho at 2:13 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


Does this advice apply to tent-cabins, too? Because I have reservations in some sketchy canvas and platform contraption at Yosemite next week and I'd like to figure if I'm more likely get eaten by a zombie or a bear.
posted by Biblio at 2:30 PM on July 10


That's what the rangers call a false dichotomy.
posted by The Gaffer at 2:34 PM on July 10 [5 favorites]


If horror movies have taught me anything, it's that attempting to get laid while in the woods is 100% fatal.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:37 PM on July 10


If horror movies have taught me anything, it's that attempting to get laid while in the woods is 100% fatal.

The woods are for one thing, and one thing only. The bears do it without question.
posted by Atreides at 2:50 PM on July 10


...I really don't want to think about what bears do without question anymore, if it's all the same to you.
posted by dogheart at 2:58 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


1) ... you shouldn't bring any weapons — they will only be used against you. Bringing, say, a big bowie knife to protect yourself with is tantamount to walking up to the supernatural murderer who haunts the woods and handing it to him. ...

4) ... Board them up. Use chains and locks. If there's a trap door in the cabin floor, stack as many heavy objects on top of it as possible after nailing it shut ...
Am I the only one ruefully anticipating the scene where the doomed writers/campers are reviewing their checklist, and as their eyes rescan #1, they do a double-take back to their collected boards, chains, hammer, and nails they brought for #4?
posted by roystgnr at 3:01 PM on July 10


"Never, ever, ever under any circumstances say, 'I'll be right back.' Because you won't be back."
posted by entropicamericana at 3:18 PM on July 10


All I know is that I am never going camping after seeing The Blair Witch Project as a little kid when it came out.
posted by gucci mane at 3:18 PM on July 10


One of the prime rules of Gothic, as I explain to my students whenever I teach it, is that you should never leave your house. If you rent, you'll encounter a ghost, vampire, or other ghoulie. Buy a new house? Ditto. And whatever you do, don't go on vacation.
posted by thomas j wise at 3:56 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


All I know is that I am never going camping after seeing The Blair Witch Project

I thought that would creep me out more on my trips to the cabin, partly because that film, if it did anything at all, neatly captured the way the dark in the woods just consumed all light except for the pinpoint of light at the end of the beam, but mostly because the next place over, a little abandoned house in the hollow, looked almost exactly like the one in the ending scene, but I mostly managed to shrug it off.

Mind you, I wasn't horribly sad when the last remnants of Hurricane Isabel, skipping across Maryland, brought down a huge tree that crushed the place into a big nonthreatening pile of debris.

LED flashlights have changed a lot of how the darkness feels up there, with everyone in possession of pocket klieg lights, though that's magnified another unsettling thing about the woods. When I have guests who are city or suburban folks, I always caution them to keep the light focused on the little clearing around my place.

When they ask why, I send them out of the warm, cozy, candlelit oasis around the woodstove and say "Just step out on the deck and point that flashlight into the woods."

Because I am, at times, a playful dick, I like to quietly lock the door behind them.

You can hear, even through a door, the exact moment when they do this, because they go deadly silent, then start waggling the door handle, then yanking the door handle, and then cursing at me. Because I am merely a playful dick and not a meanspirited dick, I immediately let them back inside and lock us in safely.

"What the hell!? Were those eyes?"

"There are a lot of animals in the woods at night, and when they see a light, they tend to look to see what's going on."

"What kind of animals? Why are there so many?"

"It's the woods, hon. You wanna play Bananagrams again, or Connect 4?"

"Bananagrams. Why'd you make me do that? That scared the shit outta me!"

"Well, now you know why I say not to shine your light into the woods."

"But—aren't they out there anyway?"

"Yeah, but I prefer a bit of denial."

What kind of animals?

And you know, I really can't tell, but some of those pairs of eyes, shining in the light of a flashlight, don't seem that close to the ground, and there are those deep scratch marks around the back door of my place that seem awfully high up the doorframe . . . but never you mind.

Bananagrams, anyone?
posted by sonascope at 3:57 PM on July 10 [12 favorites]


OK so I have a question: the horror trope about breaking off from the group--is there evidence in the horror canon that being in a group increases your odds of survival against a supernatural threat of great power? I'm not sure there have been all that many examples where groups actually stuck together. And I'm pretty sure I've seen people picked off one by one out of groups. I'm sure there's something that is escaping me


I watched the re-make of Evil Dead, and while it wasn't terrible, it certainly wasn't outstanding.

Huge fan of Evil Dead, but frankly the original was not outstanding either, except in appreciating what they were able to accomplish with such limited resources.
posted by Hoopo at 4:24 PM on July 10


Additional rule, based on 99% of horror movies I have seen: Be white.
posted by misha at 4:36 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


Oh man I just watched the camp horror classic FROGS and there are three black characters and they all GET THE FUCK OUT OF DODGE Right as the murders start happening. It was wonderful.
posted by The Whelk at 4:38 PM on July 10 [3 favorites]


I live in rural Kansas. I take the dogs out for walks late at night because of my insomnia.

Lately, there's been strange sounds every night. Starting with the coyotes. Followed by the owls (which are probably not what they seem). And then something stranger, some beasts in the throes of terror and ecstasy.

And then the sound stops completely. The dogs and I are by the wooded edge of the football field, a place where I can let them run leashless. There are no street lights here. The dogs stare out into the silent abyss. They're on edge, hair standing up. Then my big black dog, invisible herself this night, bellows out suddenly.

I'm spooked. Shine my light out into the night. There's something sparkling in the flashlight beam, over there, by the creek. I'm not sure if these are eyes or those reflectors some farmers hang on their fences. Turn the light out, on again, to recalibrate my vision.There's nothing but the darkness of the woods.

But the dogs won't stop barking. They're backing up slowly. Turn the light on again. There are eyes. Eight pairs, maybe nine. 100, 200 feet away. The eyes get brighter as they get closer. Four eyes stay locked on my light and move to the right. Four eyes stay on me and move to the left.

They're flanking me, possibly looking to come around from behind. There's that feeling you so rarely get in Kansas, the ancient feeling of being out, exposed, in the savannah and something is coming.

And then a new sound. Mooooooooooo. Annoyed and frightened cows, now clearly in the view of the light, moving quickly, relative to a cow's sense of quickness, to a new tree to sleep under. A tree which will hopefully be free of spooky people shining a flashlight on them at 1 in the morning.

So, if something is pursuing you in the night, perhaps near your cabin, you can take comfort in the thought that it's probably just cows. Satanic cows which give the milk of demons, most likely, but just cows.
posted by honestcoyote at 4:49 PM on July 10 [9 favorites]


And you know, I really can't tell, but some of those pairs of eyes, shining in the light of a flashlight, don't seem that close to the ground, and there are those deep scratch marks around the back door of my place that seem awfully high up the doorframe . . . but never you mind.

There is a bluegrass festival in Galax, VA. One year I and some friends went and stayed at the campground nearby. It's a primitive campground, so you have to walk about a mile into the place with your packs. We showed up at twilight and walked the wrong way on the trail, only realizing our mistake after we'd actually ended up in Galax. So we had to walk back in the dark about ten miles. Unfortunately we didn't have flashlights, but the moon was full and it was a clearly-marked trail.

All went merry as a wedding bell until we reached a section of the trail with one side a dropoff to a ravine and the other a steep hill. As we stepped into the shadow of the trees away from the friendly light of the moon all the comforting sounds of the woods stopped. No crickets. No frogs. No owls or far-off dogs or wind. Just our breathing and our footsteps and a heavy, ominous silence.

So we held our breath and hands and hustled through, just fast enough not to panic into a run, but just slow enough so we could all lie to ourselves that we totes weren't running.

And as we stepped out into the light of the moon, the cheeping and chirp of the frogs and crickets came back. An owl hooted. The wind ruffled our hair. We sighed and smiled at how silly we had been.

Then I turned around to look in the dark and in the center of the arch where the trees met something with glowing red eyes was looking at me.

Yeah it was probably something completely rational like a rabbit or taillights reflecting oddly, but that didn't stop me from breaking winn-speed records away from the hellish beast that haunted that trailhead.
posted by winna at 4:51 PM on July 10 [3 favorites]


Haunted countryside stories, awesome! Please keep 'em coming.

Myself, I know of someone who went to a cabin in the woods. When the sun set and darkness fell there was a terrible deep bellowing sound that came from all around the cabin. The individual, terrified, locked the doors and hid inside a closet. The urban dweller later learned he had never heard a bullfrog before.
posted by Atreides at 5:32 PM on July 10


...including not taking the Lord's name in vein.

Somewhat creepy typo, despite making no sense...


Makes perfect sense in a cabin in the woods type setting. Look, I'm squeamish about needles and getting my flu shots too. But if you're going to experiment with the Lord, don't mess around. Just mainline that shit.

When you've got 100% pure Blood of Christ running through your veins, let's see what the monsters do then.

Oh wait, then you're just a bigger target for their blood rituals. Ooops.
posted by formless at 6:41 PM on July 10


When you've got 100% pure Blood of Christ running through your veins, let's see what the monsters do then.

someone please write a movie where the protagonists get utterly smashed on sacramental wine to ward off vampires
posted by kagredon at 6:46 PM on July 10


First time I was out camping in a hammock tent, I got the most horrifying sensation in the middle of the night of something under the hammock moving. I'm pretty sure it was a raccoon but just to be safe I decided the best course of action would be to make no sound and try not to breath and just allow myself to pass out from fear.
Because it would be better to be brutally murdered in my sleep than scream like a girl so the other two guys I was camping with could mock me.
posted by MrBobaFett at 7:17 PM on July 10


From the wording I was sure this was going to be some sort of Minecraft post. Guess not.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 8:30 PM on July 10


no one ever makes a horror movie about the nice folks who plan a fun and relaxing retreat for the whole demon-summoning cult and have it disrupted by unruly youth BUT THAT IS THE TRUE HORROR

Well, actually....


T&DvE is phenomenal, but even closer to the description is 'Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon', a "Man Bites Dog" mocumentary about a film crew following a masked slasher killer and observing the setup and execution of a classic horror scenario from the antagonist's side.
posted by FatherDagon at 3:50 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


The net effect of this thread is that now I want to go play Bananagrams at sonascope's cabin with him. But then I'd be the city-slicker visiting the salty old-timer at the mysterious cabin in the woods, and at that point, I might as well put on a red shirt and beam down with the senior officers as part of an away team.
posted by Mayor West at 6:17 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


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