The world is, by design, a pretty nice place. After years of effort, humanity has managed to fill it with things humans enjoy, like parks and moving sidewalks and brothels. Go almost any place humans have settled, and before too long, you'll be able to figure it out. Everything is familiar, comfortable and, for the most part, safe.
""Well, we've seen the crappy melting church. Nice work, Spain. Now where's the goddamned Dunkin' Donuts?"
Except when it isn't. Because if there's one thing mankind is known for more than its taste for brothels, it's its ability to mess things up. Sometimes, due to selfishness, stupidity or simple hubris, our nice safe world goes spectacularly wrong, and we find ourselves surrounded by people who want to eat our skin.
Because we're never not thinking about fighting hundreds of people at once, Cracked has collected a great deal of humanity's wisdom on how to deal with sudden mass attacks. We've taken this knowledge and compiled it into a list of behaviors that movies warn us are signs that the townspeople are about to turn violent. We offer these tips in the hope that you'll use them to stay safe, or better yet, to decide to never leave home again and just read Cracked all day for the rest of your life.
#5. They Declare You to Be the Guests of Honor
When visiting new places, pay attention to how you're received. Obviously, this will vary widely even amongst "safe" environments; some small places may have so few visitors that they'll treat all newcomers with great suspicion. Even larger, well-trafficked places can feel cold, places where the locals have grown resentful of the endless parade of tourists; Paris is notorious for giving off this kind of vibe.
"Cafe? But of course, monsieur. And would you like some ketchup with that, you big-assed American idiot?"
But perhaps even more dangerous are the communities that greet you too warmly. If your reception in town goes way beyond the limits of mere hospitality, it might be time to get back in the car, sharply.
As Seen In: Two Thousand Maniacs!
In Two Thousand Maniacs! a group of Northerners visit a small Southern community, and are mobbed the second they pull into town. With big, terrifying smiles, the townspeople let them know just how incredibly welcome they are; in fact, they'll be the guests of honor at the town's "centennial" celebrations.
That's some assertive friendliness, especially from blue shirt there on the right.
The centennial in question is the centennial anniversary of the year Union troops destroyed the town. And the celebrations in question are, as you'd expect, a series of games loosely based on the theme of murder.
A Practical Example:
Chad: Why is everyone smiling at us?
Nancy: They're just being friendly.
Chad: It's creeping me out.
Nancy: You said the same thing about Paris because they wouldn't smile at you.
Chad: That waiter put out his cigarette on my arm there. That wasn't creepy, that just hurt. This place is creepy.
Smiling Villager: Welcome, friends! We've been waiting for you.
Nancy: Really? How did you know we were coming?
Smiling Villager: -toothy smile- Why, through various means, of course!
#4. They All Disappear
Let's say you're walking through this new, slightly menacing town, and happen to duck into an abandoned chapel or disused bowling alley or something. Finding it depressing and kind of shady, you return to the streets, where you notice something really unusual.
The once-bustling streets are now completely empty.
People disappear all the time. Whether it's because an important sporting event is on TV, or it's nighttime, or everyone's going to the bathroom, there are many reasons why the streets might suddenly clear. But the most common reason by far is that the townspeople have just toddled off into the shadows, ready to pounce on and murder any outsiders who stray past.
As Seen In: Various Resident Evil Games
This happens most prominently in Resident Evil 5: Right at the start of the game, you walk past a half dozen suspicious-looking dudes whaling on a sack of ... something.
It's not clear what the sack did, but its day looks pretty ruined now.
A few seconds later, a siren sounds in the distance, because this is a Resident Evil game and that's going to happen. You turn around to find the streets empty. It's unsettling to say the least, and leaves absolutely no doubt that they will be back, this time with murder.
(Incidentally, the exact opposite happens in Resident Evil 4, where the townspeople have already turned on you and a bell in the distance causes them to disappear. Don't worry, though: They also come back, murder-laden.)
A Practical Example:
Nancy: Hey. Where did everyone go?
Chad: Somehow this is even more suspicious than all that smiling and hair stroking.
Nancy: Hair stroking? I thought that was you!
Chad: Why would I stroke your hair? We've been married four years, Nancy. No, it was the dude who never blinked who was doing that.
Nancy: And you didn't stop him?
Chad: YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT CONFRONTATION. Come on, let's get out of here.
-they return to the car-
Nancy: Oh no! All of our tires have gone missing, too! I wonder if this is related to the townspeople going missing.
Chad: ... Seriously?
#3. There Are a Lot More Pitchforks and Torches Than You'd Expect
If you're reading this in the 21st century -- and we suspect you are -- then you probably don't come across pitchforks or torches very often. Which means that if you come across any quantity of pitchforks or torches, that should be cause for concern. And if you happen by chance to be in a place where pitchforks or torches are possible, like Kansas, at least take note of the fact that they're almost never used at the same time. Pitchforking is almost always a daylight activity, in the same way that torching is not. Any gathering or event where both pitchforks and torches are present should get the hair on your toes standing on end.
As Seen In: Beauty & the Beast
The pitchforks-and-torches bit has been around for a while, but was seen quite prominently in the animated Beauty & the Beast. There the townspeople gathered their implements of lighting, forking and destruction and set to hunting down the Beast, all just because he had started cruising their women.
"Let's get him! He's hideous! And somehow sexually threatening!"
A Practical Example:
Nancy: Oh look! Here they come.
Chad: That mass of flickering lights and shouting? Yes, I suppose that is them. Oh, look. Pitchforks. Well, check that one off the list.
Nancy: Do you think it's some kind of harvest festival?
Chad: Well, it's May, so no, I don't think it's some kind of harvest festival.
Nancy: They're going to murder us, aren't they?
Chad: If we're lucky, yes, they'll murder us and eat our faces.
Nancy: That's lucky?! What could be less lucky than that?
Chad: If they reversed the order.