Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Friday the 13th Special: Top 5 Survivors

The attentive few among you may be aware that today is not Friday the 13th. Nor is it even a Friday. To be honest, that whole title is a bunch of filthy, filthy lies. I'm not even planning on doing a list article (more shameless Cracked plugging, because those guys really need it). I jest. Yes, this article is a little late for the titular day of unluckiness and gore and such, but I'll be damned if I'm going to give myself more work by not playing by my new posting schedule, so you'll read this five days late and bloody well enjoy it!

He's still on call for another week; don't make me page him.
To celebrate Jason Voorhees' official nameday, I thought it might be nice to commemorate his insatiable desire to horrifically murder vast swathes of people, leaving but one man (or, more likely, one buxom blonde woman) standing, usually soaked in blood and fear pee. So, for your viewing pleasure, I have collated a list of my top 5 survivors in cinema, ranked by the percentage survival rate of their situation in comparison to real world versions. A bit like if I were to suggest the least safe medical procedure performed in a film compared to your likelihood of bleeding to death while doing it in real life.

Another landslide victory for improvised amputations!
So lets get this party started with a couple hundred horrific drownings.



5. Rose Bukater - Titanic (1997)


Rose DeWitt Bukater (sadly of no relation to the father of the year) is Kate Winslet's character in James Cameron's sombre and modest 1997 Oscar trawling net. She's the one with, y'know, the naked posing and the outstretched arms and shit. She falls in love with Leonardo di Caprio's baby-like complexion and cries when it gets all covered in frost at the end while she sits on a very large door watching him freeze to death.


"Just to clarify: if this boat sinks, we'll need a piece of debris this size to fit both of us, right?"
Rose is lucky to have survived one of the largest commercial naval disasters in human history, racking up an impressive 1514 deaths out of a total 2224 passengers (yes, Wikipedia, don't judge me). That's a staggering 68.1% dead boat. Hold on, turn that around. That means there was a one in three chance of survival. There have been worse odds...

Whingy bastards.
Actually, if we delve a little deeper into the statistics, we notice some interesting stuff. Out of the 144 first class women aboard the boat, a mind-numbing 4 died. Yeah. Four people. Hell, we see one of them drown in the actual movie, meaning there are only three more spots to be filled before Rose's survival is inevitable.

Taking one for the historical accuracy team.
Survival Rate: 97% - Another reason to advocate upper-class white guilt.


4. Chuck Noland - Castaway (2000)


Castaway is a very simple concept: everyone loves Tom Hanks and movies that contain a Tom Hanks. Everyone also loves beaches. And volleyballs. Subtract all of the excess fat from the formula, like other actors, and you have the perfect Tom Hanks movie.

To create drama, remove volleyball.
For this one I looked up (read: Wiki'd) commercial plane crashes that occurred in 1995, the year the film is meant to be set. Now, firstly, I'm more than aware that the plane that crashed in the film was a cargo plane, and that only looking at one year is hardly representative of a whole, but I'm two list numbers in and I've already eaten a half pack of chocolate digestives, so screw accuracy

Out of the rather low number of 10 crashes (I have a feeling this may not be an extensive list) and a total of 646 passengers, 67 survived. Plus one dog. That's a 89.6% chance of being dead inside an exploding metal cigar. Unless you're a dog. Apparently the Hollywood invincible dog law really is true.

They don't even die when you hit them with meteorites.
However, these are all land crashes, and our good friend crashed over water. What's the score on the doors for that? There was one water crash on the list I looked at and, of the 18 passengers, not a single one of them met a grisly demise. By these numbers, Chuck was guaranteed to survive. Even if we actually take into account the plane he was on, with a crew of 4 excluding Chuck, that only brings the death toll to 4 out of 22, which ain't too shabby for a type of crash which is usually considered un-survivable. There's even been quotes in everyone's favourite dubious publication, The Economist, that "in the history of aviation the number of wide-bodied aircraft that have made successful landings on water is zero".

But then again, Tom Hanks is even harder to kill than the most adorable puppy.

Survival Rate: 81.8% - It's too bad the number isn't lower; we might have been saved from Lost.

3. Mr. Pink - Reservoir Dogs (1992)


Everyone has seen Reservoir Dogs, yes? Good, then I don't expect to have to explain the plot, characters, or why Madonna likes well endowed gentlemen. 

Hat stands.
This one was a toughie to get some nice, juicy numbers for, so I've decided to change the stipulations a bit. "Surviving" here counts as not getting caught by the police after the robbery. Now, we never find out the fate of Mr. Pink, and although it is quite heavily suggested that he might have been caught, it is possible that he might have gotten away, so survivor he is. Plus he didn't get riddled with bullets, so there's that too.

How could you shoot that adorable face?
To the number crunching! There have supposedly been 14 high profile robberies in the US in the past 80 years, including the Goodfellas Lufthansa heist. Of the total of 94 people involved in the heists, 14 were killed, 74 arrested, 5 went into witness protection and one is still as yet uncaptured. This means that Mr. Pink has a 14.9% chance of going the same way as his compatriots and getting gunned down, dismembered or, in one hilarious case, bitten by his pet snake while trying to milk it. If he's OK with prison, he's got a 79% chance of being served his meals for the rest of his life. But to get off scot free? Nah, not likely. 

Better get used to the soap never being left in the tray...
The trouble with these things is that in real life, if one guy gets busted, they all get busted, so the story seems to go that each member usually gets picked up one by one over the next few years. Luckily, in Mr. Pink's case, he's the only remaining survivor, so there's no-one left to rat on him, plus they didn't even know his real name if they could still speak through all that lead. Maybe, just maybe, he did get away with it.

Until they released the composite sketches.
Survival Rate: 1.1% - There's always witness protection if you're a great big girl's blouse.

2. Chev Chelios - Crank (2006)


Why is Jason Statham so awesome? Does he douse himself in so much gorilla pheromone that it actually seeps through the TV screen and makes everyone watching equal parts jealous and aroused?

Fight the urge to hump a table leg.
Whatever it may be, Crank is essentially the natural conclusion of distilling enough Statham and injecting it directly into your own eyeballs. Plot? P'shaw. Guns? Yes! Killing things? YES! Public sex, drug use, swearing and more guns? *noises inappropriate for children* 

The easiest way to introduce your children to the concept of sexual gratification.
This film is insane, and every last minute is absolute amphetamine-induced joy. But the climax takes the biscuit (spoilers), with Chev Chelios (Statham) chasing down the generic bad guy in typical action movie fashion. Soon, the fight takes to the air in a helicopter but they both fall out and Chelios manages to snap the generic bad guy's neck. Then Chelios smooshes into the ground AND TOTALLY FUCKING SURVIVES BECAUSE STATHAM.

So what is the actual likelihood of that happening? Well, to start, this site gives us some relatively reliable numbers for skydiving fatalities in the past ten years, amounting to a total of 557 deaths since 2004. How Stuff Works says that, in the US, around about 3 million jumps are performed every year by approximately 350'000 registered skydivers. So, by the power of maths using completely unreliable source material, that suggests that if you are a skydiver in the US, there is a 0.16% chance that you will die if you keep jumping for ten years. Not, like, jumping constantly for ten years; just, you know...fuck it.

"Question my authority and lose that adorable little hand, Timmy."
But that's not really what we're asking. How many people have hit the ground and survived? I can't find a number, but not many. A quick Google gave me about 6 people in the past ten years who have essentially hit the ground running if you will, smacking the Earth like a scolding mother, and lived to tell the tale. So if we add them to the 557 people who didn't, we give ourselves a nice 99% chance of dying horribly from the most epic head-butt of all time.

Survival Rate: 1.07% - A pretty sure-fire way of disposing of people you don't like. Unless their name is Jason.

1. Sidney Prescott - Scream 1-4 (1996-2011)


This is an article inspired by the classic slasher movie so its only fair that the winner is from the series of films that so expertly dissected, analysed, mocked and rebuilt the genre over more than a decade. I adore the Scream series; they're horror films inhabited entirely by people like me: self-aware, pop culture-literate arrogant bastards. What's not to love?

This guy. Don't love this guy.
The protagonist, Sidney Prescott, is terrorised over the course of four films by killers who don the titular Scream mask, taunting her and the other victims with horror trivia, in essence telling them how they're going to die. It is genius. And exactly how I would choose to commit serial murder.

I mean, me? Serial murder? Never.
So, horror movie trivia, kids: you have ten teenagers looking for a good time and one deranged psychopath. By the end of the film, how many people will be left? One! That's right! Everyone is dead except the sexy protagonist. Maybe, just maybe, her love interest will survive with a couple of mortal wounds, so that's two at a push. So, what do you think the likelihood is of that same person surviving the same situation four times over is? 

We'll wait.
Yeah, the chances of surviving a murderous rampage a second time over is ludicrously unlikely, but in the Scream series there are three recurring characters who refuse to die four times over! Way to ruin the formula, stupid fi- oh, I see. It takes a second for satire to catch up with me.

Why didn't I pick either of the other two for this list? Because Sidney is the target. In every movie she's the one the murderer wants to kill. And any guesses as to how many of those survive in real life?

You'll be one in the minute if you don't put that hand down, you wee bastard.
There's a hint in the crime. Murder victims ain't meant to survive, otherwise it isn't murder. Duh. There is a 0% survival rate for murder victims, but more interestingly is the likelihood of being a murder victim. This handily confusing graph gives the incidence rates for murders from 1970 to present in the US. If we take the rates from 1996 to 2011 and average them, that gives us 5.7 murders in every 100'000 of population, or in my beloved percentages, a 0.0057% chance of being killed by some dude for some reason.

"Do you see the thing that your action has influenced me to do?! DO YOU?!"
Some separate dude tries to kill Sidney four times, which means she faced those odds four times. Maths, take it away:

The likelihood of being a Sidney Prescott is 1.06x10^-9%

That means that in our current world population of 7'179'714'000 people, there are seven poor sods who have been attacked by a different murderer four times. And to you, we salute you.

Survival Rate: Negligible - The moral of the story is get killed the first time round, it'll save you the bother.

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