Movies teach us plenty of valuable lessons: Don't split up, don't run in heels, and always carry a cell phone. That last one comes in very handy in the new thriller "The Call," in which Abigail Breslin is abducted from a mall parking lot. She's able to call 911 (and reach sexy operator Halle Berry), but if she'd followed these simple cinematic tips, she could have (possibly) avoided being kidnapped in the first place.
We offer this handy list of things not to do in the movies -- some of which might actually work in real life. Remember, It only takes a moment to let your guard down and find yourself in the back of a creepy van or in a trunk. Then you've got to count on your own ingenuity and pray that Halle Berry, Jodie Foster, Liam Neeson, or Denzel Washington are on the case.
Without further ado, here some movie-provided tips on avoiding an abduction:
1. Don't help a stranger load anything into a van.
An extremely valuable lesson: Serial killers (real and fictitious) have pretended to be injured so they can ask for help loading something into their car. Do not be fooled! Keep walking past all men with an arm in a cast, as we kept yelling at Brooke Smith in "Silence of the Lambs."
2. Be alert at all times, especially in parking garages.
In "The Call," Abigail Breslin gets grabbed in a mall parking lot after the villain nearly hits her with his car. He takes the opportunity to overpower her and throw her into the trunk. We could just as easily advise "Never shop alone," since he zeroes in on her after her ditsy friend abandons her in the food court.
3. If you see a van parked in a narrow alley, walk around it, not past it.
Since 1965, when "The Collector" showed beautiful Samantha Eggar getting snatched in broad daylight by creepy Terrence Stamp, women have (we hope) learned not to walk down any alleys with inconveniently parked vans, skipping the alley all together.
4. Don't get into a car with a stranger, especially when you haven't told anyone where you're going.
In "The Vanishing" (both the <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlO2oIieI44">Dutch original</a> and the American remake, the heroine is lured to the villain's car at a rest stop. She's lulled into a sense of security by the photos of his children -- before he chloroforms her. Since she didn't tell her boyfriend where she was going, she disappears without a trace, in full view of dozens of people.
5. Don't accept rides from truckers.
In "Breakdown," the trouble starts when Kurt Russell foolishly lets his wife hitch a ride with a friendly trucker after their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. The trucker later denies ever having seen her. Creepy.
6. Don't tell strangers where you're staying.
Maggie Grace makes several key mistakes when she and her friend go to Paris by themselves in "Taken." At the airport, they split a cab with someone who happens to be a human trafficker, then tell him where they're staying and that they'll be there alone. Big mistake! Good thing dad has a "special set of skills" and daughter gets to make that all-important phone call before she's taken.
7. Never go with a hippie (or kidnapper) to a second location.
As Jack Donaghy of "30 Rock" once advised Liz Lemon, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-jXS-TcLSk">"Never go with a hippie to a second location."</a> The lack of taking such advice was illustrated in "The King of Comedy," where famed comedian Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) gets into a car because crazed fan Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) pulls a gun on him. He probably could have made a run for it since a) the gun was fake and b) there were plenty of passersby.
8. When Denzel Washington tells you to run, RUN!
You can hardly blame Dakota Fanning for stopping to make sure Denzel is OK after he shoots it out with her would-be kidnappers in "Man on Fire," but if she'd listened to him and kept running, maybe they wouldn't have grabbed her.
9. Don't work after hours, especially if you're all alone.
As we learned in "P2," a deserted office building -- and its underground parking lot -- can be a scary prison after hours if you're trapped there alone with a psychopathic security guard. So be smart and leave at quitting time along with everyone else. Also, get that car battery checked on a regular basis!
10. Don't make a kidnapper's job easier (Part 1 of 2).
When two masked men break into Midwestern housewife Jean Lundegaard's house in "Fargo," she thinks fast, locks herself in the bathroom, and fools them into thinking she's gone out the window. But definitely try your best not to get entangled in the shower curtain, fall down the stairs, and knock yourself out in the process of making your escape.
11. Don't make a kidnapper's job easier (Part 2 of 2).
Make sure you've got good locks and a security system, and, oh yeah, <i>don't install a huge aquarium at the bottom of the stairs</i>, as Ashley Judd found out the hard way in "Kiss the Girls." She ran full tilt into it while trying to escape from murderous kidnapper Casanova.
12. If you are kidnapped, try your best to get nabbed by idiots.
And here's a "what not to do if you're the kidnapper" tip from Woody Allen in "Bananas." If you're going to subdue your victim with a sedative, be sure not to also inject your fellow abductors in the process.