Bleeding out? Cauterize that wound with gunpowder.
A survival movie is only as good as its best self-administered medical procedure. In Cast Away, Tom Hanks fixed his toothache by hitting himself with the blade of an ice skate. In 127 Hours, James Franco chopped off his own arm. In The Revenant, Leonardo DiCaprio goes full-Rambo III by cauterizing his own throat wound with gunpowder and a flame.
Is this safe? No. Is it possible? Certainly. A detailed post on the Stuff You Should Know blog points out that this is an incredibly painful procedure that should only be attempted as a last resort. “In terms of cauterization, it becomes a viable option when you can’t stop the bleeding any other way, like when using pressure or tourniquets,” writes author Chuck Bryant. “If you’ve cut a major blood vessel this could very well be your situation.”
Let’s say that like Leo, you’ve reached the point of no return, you’ve got vengence to take care of, and you have gunpowder handy. What do you do? According to Bryant, “Pour a thin covering of gun powder onto your wound, light it with a match, and let it flame up for a couple of seconds before putting it out with a damp cloth.” Ouch.
In addition to the pretty exciting example of the method in action via Discovery's Dual Survival embedded above, you can also find a helpful video guide on the subject from the Medicine Journal here.
When in doubt, nap inside a dead horse
In one of the movie’s most breath-taking scenes, DiCaprio barrels over the side of a cliff on horseback in a Point Break-worthy feat of extreme equestrian sports action. Sadly, his horse does not survive the fall, so he ends up pulling a Luke Skywalker and using his horse as a Tauntaun sleeping bag. If you remember one moment from this movie, it will probably be seeing Gilbert Grape stripping down to nothing and getting intimate with the insides of a dead horse.
Given how strange the scene is, it’s not surprising that critics have already questioned its veracity. Writer Laura Bradley over at Slate got to the bottom of it by e-mailing wildlife experts who confirmed that a dead animal like a horse could provide some useful residual heat for up to six hours. Robert Reed, a research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey quoted in the article, has an even more helpful tip: “I'd pull out the guts but keep the liver with me as a late night snack.”
So what do you do if you’re lost in the wilderness with only a dead animal for warmth? Climb inside that carcass and start praying for that sweet, sweet Oscar.
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Dan Jackson is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment and he still thinks DiCaprio should've won his Oscar for Wolf of Wall Street. He's on Twitter: @danielvjackson.