-> ''A Rakdos party is a flop if anyone lives to talk about it.''
-->-- "[[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=97073 Slaughterhouse Bouncer]]", ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering''

Even a TownWithADarkSecret likes a good party now and then. But being the kind of place it is, the town's big event probably wouldn't be the sort of thing you'd want to attend. Oh, yeah -- face painting, parades, that's how it always starts. But then there's running and screaming. And you're the one doing both.

Perhaps you're [[ImAHumanitarian first on the menu for the bake sale]], maybe you're the winner of a LotteryOfDoom, or maybe - and this one's popular - you're going to be [[HumanSacrifice sacrificed in a fertility ritual]]. Either way, expect your impending [[ColdBloodedTorture horrible death]] to be offset by bunting, may poles and dancing.

It's a common trope, of course, and with good reason; the idea of a bizarre town conspiracy that kills outsiders is creepy enough, but to have that turn into a big celebration that you can bring the kids to adds an extra level of twisted terror to the proceedings. It also provides a useful way to get all your creepy village extras in one big scene and emphasize that whatever is going on is happening with the full consent of ''everyone'', except possibly the protagonist.

A variation on the trope is that the killings are performed by a minority and that the rest of the town is oblivious. This, too, has a twisted horror to it - the idea that families are participating in a horrible murder without realizing is very creepy.

Not to be confused with FateWorseThanDeath, though the two can overlap. Or with CrappyCarnival.

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime & Manga]]
* In ''VisualNovel/HigurashiNoNakuKoroNi'', a young boy discovers that the village he has just moved to suffers mysterious deaths and disappearances after every Watanagashi Festival.
** The way Watanagashi apparently was originally celebrated. Wata can mean "cotton" and "intestines".
** The spiritual successor, ''VisualNovel/UminekoNoNakuKoroNi'', tries hard to follow in its predecessor's footsteps. During the ending of the second arc, Beatrice throws a ball and gets her new slave, [[spoiler:Battler]], to dress her up for it, then brings him down to the ball to show off to all of her {{mook}} guests. After that, [[spoiler:he and his grandfather [[ImAHumanitarian become the main course]]]].
* In ''Manga/OnePiece'', the town of Whiskey Peak seems like a constant pirate boozefest, but it's actually a pirate trap, run by a large group of bounty hunters. They get pirates to pass out drunk, then kill them.
* The manga ''UmiNoMisaki'' has this same eerie flavor for a little while, until the main character [[spoiler: realizes that it's more a case of AGodAmI]]. [[spoiler:The Rising Dragon Festival, which culminates in a MurderSuicide, is a straight example.]]
* In ''PandoraHearts'', [[spoiler: [[FauxAffablyEvil Isla Yura]]]] throws Oz a second Coming-of-Age party since his initial ceremony was interrupted. At first, the party proceeds as normal with friends, family, and members of [[BlueBlood high society]] showing up to congratulate Oz and celebrate the occasion. Cue the discovery of [[spoiler: a [[ReligionOfEvil crazed religious cult]] that worships [[EldritchLocation the Abyss]], a slew of BrainwashedAndCrazy {{Evil Orphan}}s, and the [[SerialKiller Headhunter]] who's been killing off members of the Nightray family, all within the mansion where the party is being held, and you get this trope. Turns out, Yura plotted the whole thing as a means to recreate the Tragedy of Sablier by using Alice and Leo as sacrifices and having Oz unwillingly perform the role of the treacherous friend.]] Suffice to say, it was one of the more tragic and disturbing story arcs in the series.
* Subverted in the second season of ''MushiShi''. A sake brewer gets lost in the mountains, and ends up stumbling on a mysterious gathering in the middle of the forest where strange, glowing sake is being served. Years later his son manages to brew seemingly identical sake and ends up stumbling on the same gathering, where possession of the sake makes people assume he's one of them, until it becomes clear that his sake doesn't have the mystical properties it's supposed to have, and he finds himself chased through the woods by an angry crowd of sinister mystics. [[spoiler:It turns out that they were simply ''Mushi Shi'' who were miffed that he unintentionally cheated them with what they considered a fake medicine, and the series' protagonist, Ginko, who is among them, lets him off with a warning and revelation that his sake does have ''some'' supernatural qualities that the ''Mushi Shi'' would be willing to pay for as long as he's being honest about it.[[/spoiler]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comic Books]]
* In ''Franchise/TheTexasChainSawMassacre - Cut!'', a town's Meat Fest turns out to offer a [[ImAHumanitarian very special kind of meat]].
* A town in ''ComicBook/{{Hellblazer}}'' accidentally causes one of these when they don't realize the pagan costume festival they're reviving is causing everyone to go insane (example: a man in a baby outfit reveals he's jealous of the attention his infant son gets from his wife and kills them both; a person with a RictusGrin mask makes sure everyone around him is ''smiling''...). Constantine and a friend figure out that loud Punk Rock can disrupt the effects [[spoiler: but are too late to prevent the entire town from being blown up, along with Constantine's friend.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* A classic example is the original version of ''Film/TheWickerMan'', in which a policeman investigating a girl's disappearance finds out that she is going to be sacrificed by pagan villagers. But the truth is even worse...
** The remake does much the same thing, although much less believably. Don't watch it without the Podcast/RiffTrax!
* ''TwoThousandManiacs'' is based on this; the murderous celebration in question is an instrument of revenge for a Southern town's destruction in the [[UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar Civil War]] a century earlier.
* In ''Film/HotFuzz'', someone is murdered at the village fete by having part of the church tower land on their head and tear it apart. The headline? "A fete worse than death."
** Of course it should be noted that the person killed was in charge of the local newspaper and [[DisproportionateRetribution very frequently made spelling mistakes.]]
* In ''Film/{{Dagon}}'', a Spanish town looks to be harmless enough... until its populace comes to drag you to their temple for a ritual sacrifice [[spoiler: in the form of breeding if you're female, or being skinned alive if male]]... props for the "God" being actually there to savor the sacrifice.
* In the 2007 movie ''Film/{{Cthulhu}}'' (also loosely based on ''The Shadow over Innsmouth'') the May Festival is both mentioned and seen, but plays little apparent role in the apocalyptic events and HumanSacrifice that follow.
* [[InvertedTrope Inverted]] in ''Population 436''. In that movie, the founder of the town decided that everything was fine and there were no problems in the town as long as the population remained at 436 exactly, but if it ever went higher or lower, disaster would strike; also, punishment would fall on anyone who deliberately messed with the status quo. To that end, when the census taker sent to investigate gets there, they won't let him leave...and they have a big sendoff party for a woman from the town (who goes to the gallows happily!) to balance him out. Near the end, the census taker escapes town with a young woman who was being held captive. In an unexpected twist, [[spoiler: the rule proves correct, as he and the girl are killed when they're hit by an oncoming truck.]]
* In the ''Film/JamesBond'' flick ''Film/LiveAndLetDie'', there's a scene in the opening where a British agent is watching a somber funeral procession in [[TheBigEasy New Orleans]]. When he asks a stranger whose funeral it's for, the stranger says "Yours," then stabs him right in the middle of the street. The procession casually walks over to the body and places it in the coffin, then breaks out in celebration in a dark twist on the tradition. Mind you, this is happening on Bourbon Street in broad daylight and the funeral goers are all ages.
** It later happens again to an American agent.
** The "celebration" is actually a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz_funeral jazz funeral]], a New Orleans tradition.
* In the film and musical of ''Theatre/SweeneyToddTheDemonBarberOfFleetStreet'', the entire number "God, That's Good!" is a celebration of this trope. Slicing up the odd barbershop customer for meat pies is bad enough, but watching the patrons of the pie shop devour the delectables with insatiable mirth is very eerie, no matter how cheery the music.
** The masked ball in "Poor Thing" might also qualify. Nobody gets killed, but everyone has a good laugh over the rape of Lucy Barker.
** If anything, [[LyricalDissonance the cheery music makes it that much more haunting]]
* Averted in ''Film/JoeVersusTheVolcano'', where the eponymous Joe knows about his fate going in; he volunteers to go anyway because he thinks he's going to die of a "brain cloud" anyway.[[spoiler: While the volcano did wanted a willing sacrifice, the volcano spitting Joe out, with the ensuing destruction of the island showed that it apparently didn't want a deceived sacrifice.]]
* And then there's Jack Sparrow in the beginning of ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanDeadMansChest'', where he's being honored by a primitive tribe as a god who they intend to "free"... by roasting and eating his corporeal "prison".
* Way, WAY before that, ''Star Wars Episode VI: Film/ReturnOfTheJedi''. Han is spared this ONLY because Luke sets up C-3PO as a shiny, flying, wrathful god-being of his own (much to C-3PO's surprise) with a little help from Force-levitation and Force-shoves. It is noted that the Ewoks do get their feast at the end of the movie. [[FridgeHorror After all, what do you think were the original contents of their "drums" that they're playing?]]
* The 200th Anniversary celebration in Film/{{Batman}}, where the Joker hosts the party--and then releases the Smilex gas.
* In the 1990 black comedy ''Film/QuickChange'', three bank robbers are trying to flee the seemingly infinite sprawl of [[BigApplesauce New York City]], while pondering their next move, they suddenly realize that they're in a very poor and squalid Hispanic neighborhood, where two men are staging a barbaric "jousting match" for the entertainment of an unsmiling audience. It gives one of our anti-heroes the heebie-jeebies.
** "It's bad luck to even ''see'' somethin' like that!"
* In the future depicted in ''Film/LogansRun'' everyone looks forward to their renewal in a celebration known as Carousel. Unfortunately [[spoiler: Carousel is actually a brutal form of population control, where you obliviously sacrifice yourself as your friends and neighbours cheer you on.]]
* ''Film/TheCarsThatAteParis'', by Peter Weir, is a classic example.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* In Creator/ShirleyJackson's short story "Literature/TheLottery", a village holds a village event in which families draw straws to see which family - and which family member - is the winner. [[spoiler:That member is then stoned to death by everyone else.]]
** This was parodied at the end of the ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' episode "Britney's New Look", where a [[OffWithHisHead headless]] Britney Spears is [[spoiler:photographed to death by the locals.]]
*** [[spoiler: In fact that's what celebrities are for: SACRIFICES, which [[FridgeBrilliance makes sense.]] ]]
* In ''Literature/AmericanGods'', the protagonist visits a small town in which, every year, a child goes missing. At roughly the same time, [[spoiler:the people of the town play a game in which an old car is left on a nearby frozen lake and they bet how soon into Spring it will be before it sinks.]] The protagonist puts two and two together and [[spoiler: opens the trunk of the car to find a murdered girl inside. Even worse, he's swum to the bottom of the lake to do this and can see ''all the other cars down there''. The killer is a [[PhysicalGod small god]] who sacrifices the children to himself in exchange for keeping the town prosperous.]]
** An extra dark example, because ''the townsfolk don't know the significance of their own ritual''.
* In Creator/StephenKing's ''Literature/WizardAndGlass'', the people of Mejis celebrate a harvest festival which culminates with the burning of an effigy. Until, that is, TheDragon convinces the townspeople to substitute [[spoiler:Roland's girlfriend]]...
* Inverted in the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' novel ''Discworld/SoulMusic'': the Band with Rocks In is seemingly about to get eaten in the sinister town of Scrote, but avoids this fate by performing a rock concert.
** Used straight in ''[[strike:Faust]] Discworld/{{Eric}}'', where Rincewind and Eric visit the Tezuman Empire (a FantasyCounterpartCulture of the Aztecs), are first welcomed with a tribute, but then the trouble starts.
* ''The Book of Three'', the first entry in LloydAlexander's extremely Welsh ''ChroniclesOfPrydain'' series, briefly involves [[TheDragon the Horned King]] building a bunch of big, anthropomorphic wicker baskets, and then filling them full of peasants... This scene got completely omitted from Disney's adaptation, for [[{{Bowdlerize}} obvious reasons]].
* In Robert [=McCammon=]'s short story, residents of a certain small town are all prosperous and successful. But a few days before Hallowe'en they receive a list from the Devil, requesting various treats from each house. A few of the treats are small pieces of their bodies, toes and the like. Refuse to provide them, and "He'll Come Knocking On Your Door".
* The ''auto-da-fé'' in ''{{Candide}}'' is depicted as one of these.
* ''Harvest Home'' by Thomas Tryon features [[TownWithADarkSecret a quaint little New England town called Cornwall Coombe]] that celebrates a harvest festival involving [[HumanSacrifice fun activities]] that will insure the life of the corn crop. Attending this particular festival uninvited [[AndIMustScream carries a pretty steep penalty]].
* The titular winter solstice rite beneath the town of Kingsport in Creator/HPLovecraft's short story "The Festival". [[spoiler:The town is made up of [[TheWormThatWalks monstrous worm creatures]] posing as human who, yearly, go beneath the earth to engage in [[ReligionOfEvil various unspeakable rites]].]] However, it is never made clear [[OrWasItADream whether or not the protagonist was dreaming]].
** Also, the Mirocaw slum denizens' "inner festival" in ThomasLigotti's "The Last Feast Of Harlequin", which is a direct {{homage}} to the aforementioned. Possibly even more nightmarish, by dint of [[spoiler:involving the [[HumanSacrifice sacrifice of selected female townsfolk]]]], as well as being [[spoiler:[[RealAfterAll indisputably real]]]].
*** Semi-subverted by the main festival in the latter story; [[spoiler:their own "scary festival" is a frightened mimicry of the ''actual'' ritual]].
* Invoked in ''Literature/TheHungerGames'', where the Capital forces the districts to treat two of their children being forced to fight to the death as a festival.
* The novel ''Wringer'' by Jerry Spinelli is about a town who's big annual festival centers on the slaughter of pigeons. The protagonist is a young boy who has reached the age where he gets the privilege of becoming a "wringer," wringing the necks of pigeons who are wounded by shooters. He's less delighted about it than most boys his age.
* The Global Gala in the Literature/LeftBehind book ''Assassins'' was purposely arranged to take place in Jerusalem around the same time that the Two Witnesses in the BookOfRevelation were supposed to end their prophesying, with Nicolae Carpathia making a public spectacle of killing the Two Witnesses by his own hand to enforce the law of the Global Community. (It also served as an opportunity for Nicolae to quietly dispose of Pontifex Maximus Peter Mathews through a private little NastyParty held in his honor.) In fulfillment of what [[Literature/TheBible the Word of God]] says, the bodies of the Two Witnesses were [[DeadGuyOnDisplay left in the street unburied]] for 3 1/2 days [[AndThereWasMuchRejoicing while the people celebrated their demise]], but then they were dramatically resurrected and brought up to heaven in a cloud. At the same time, an earthquake caused a tenth of Jerusalem to fall and seven thousand people have died.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* In ''Series/TrueBlood'', the maenad Maryann tries to [[spoiler:sacrifice Sam's heart to Dionysus, the Greek god of intoxication and drunken raves. The sacrifice ritual itself plays out like a [[MarriageToAGod white wedding]]/orgy combo.]]
* In "A Man of Substance", an episode of the 2000 remake of ''Series/RandallAndHopkirkDeceased'', Randall goes to a small village where [[spoiler:visitors are killed and cannibalised as part of a ritual to stop the village from being sucked into Hell]].
* In "Our Town", an episode of ''Series/TheXFiles'', Mulder and Scully's investigation into a series of murders in a small town reveals that the residents engage in a cannibalistic ritual borrowed from primitive tribes.
** And then [[spoiler: they ate someone infected with [=CJD=].]] Karma's a bitch.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** "The Awakening": A small village's celebrations of an historic anniversary incorporate ritual prompted by the evil being sleeping beneath the village church. The Doctor's companion, Tegan, is offered the Guest of Honor's place - on top of a pile of kindling, tied to a stake.
** In "The Daemons", the Third Doctor gets this role.
* ''MidsomerMurders'' paid homage to ''The Wicker Man'' in an episode [[spoiler: where TheVicar is burned alive inside a straw effigy during a village festival]].
** There's quite a lot of this in Midsomer. The wannabe-druid expy in ''The Fisher King'', the (hilarious) Illuminati expies (I forget the episode), so on and so forth...
* In ''YoungDracula'', the Count threw a traditional Hunt Ball in which the Branaughs were invited to a party where all of the other guests were vampires. At midnight, the vampires would reveal themselves to the 'breathers' and hunt them down.
* In the ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'' episode "Countrycide", we meet a Village of Cannibals that seasonally prey on people passing by. The episode has been described as "''The Hills Have Eyes'' with fat Welsh people"
* In an episode of ''Series/{{Angel}}'', Doyle attends his ex-wife's fiance's bachelor party. He knows in advance that the man is a demon, but his family has assimilated into human society. Then he finds out that they have a custom whereby they eat the brains of the previous spouse to ensure a happy marriage.
* In the ''[[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries Star Trek]]'' episode "Return of the Archons", Landru's mind-controlled followers have a regularly-scheduled Festival where they ''really'' blow off some steam.
* The ''{{Smallville}}'' episode "Harvest" has Lois Lane invited to share dinner with a very nice family in a small town -- which plans to sacrifice her in a ritual to insure a bountiful harvest.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* ''{{Exalted}}'' features the Republic of Chaya, a ''country'' where this holds sway. The people of Chaya have what may be the closest thing to a truly representative democracy in the game, and there's a heavy emphasis on community and celebration. But when the fire-trees are in the bloom, the citizens go into an orgiastic fury and tear any outsiders to shreds.
* Played for laughs in ''KoboldsAteMyBaby''. Kobolds love parties and are gourmet cooks. King Torg (all hail King Torg) has decided to throw a party tomorrow. Kobolds are terrible planners and the tastiest meat for parties - human babies - is not in the pantry. The second tastiest thing in the world to a fresh baby is a fresh kobold. End result: the player characters, also known as the runtiest, weakest, and stupidest members of the tribe, better go round up dinner or become dinner. HilarityEnsues.
* As quoted above, the [[TheHedonist Cult]] [[LaughingMad of]] [[AxCrazy Rakdos]] of ''MagicTheGathering'' is ''really'' into this trope.
** They've become a bit more reasonable about it by the time of Return to Ravnica. The actually deadly parties cater to Rakdos himself (Currently oscillating between [[SealedEvilInACan asleep]] and indulging in 24-hour diversions that rival if not surpass the Cult's behavior in the first block. Parties and shows that are less lethal (to their audience, anyway) are held more regularly, [[CutLexLuthorACheck and provide the bulk of their income.]]
* In the fourth edition of TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons, the city of Neverwinter (in the already [[CrapsackWorld magically wrecked]] Forgotten Realms campaign setting) was half leveled by a volcano some thirty or so years before the in-game present. But good news! There are still great feasts, dances and other galas within Castle Never! Of course those are held by packs of [[OurZombiesAreDifferent Thayan-made ghouls]] who were trapped while exploring the ruined castle for their lich lords, and are now whiling away the hours by playing dress-up in the long-dead nobles' finery. They thank adventuring groups that dig them out about how you'd expect starving, half-intelligent zombies to...
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]
* This was the plot of Music/IgorStravinsky's ballet ''Theatre/TheRiteOfSpring'', at least the second part, which involved one of a circle of virgins being selected for VirginSacrifice to a pagan god. Though Stravinsky's music is more often heard as a concert piece than a ballet, the violence musically embodied in such sections as "Glorification of the Chosen One" is obvious.
* The Midnight Ball will be this for you in ''Theatre/TanzDerVampire'', if you happen to be a mortal, and thus on the menu. Alfred and Professor Abronisus are normal humans, so when they become trapped in the ballroom they steal vampire costumes and desperately try to dance along to escape detection, though they're always two steps behind. It works... for a while.
* In ''Theatre/{{Pippin}}'', the spectacular grand finale promised by the Players turns out to be a glorified act of SelfImmolation. When Pippin refuses to go through with it despite their encouragement, they stop the show and appeal to the audience for someone to go on instead.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/CallOfCthulhuDarkCornersOfTheEarth'', one of the most frenetic and phobia inducing moments is when you're unarmed and asleep in your hotel room in a mysterious village and the townsfolk come in for a visit... tearing the wall of your room with an axe in order to kill/[[ColdBloodedTorture torture]]/sacrifice you.
* The fete in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'' is just a show designed to draw the attention of the Insurgence.
* The final mission in ''VideoGame/RainbowSix: Raven Shield'' has a GrimReaper-shaped parade float carrying a blister gas bomb about to enter the Festa Junina parade in Rio de Janeiro.
* ''VideoGame/GoldenSunDarkDawn'' has the full moon festival in Belinsk. There will be music, dancing, food, brightly-colored furries, and any human prisoners will be subjected to death by boiling for entertainment. The one you actually attend gets even worse-- [[spoiler: the player characters rescue the doomed prisoners by activating a PointlessDoomsdayDevice, which decimates ''half the continent''.]]
* ''[[VideoGame/BioShockInfinite BioShock Infinite]]'' starts with Booker arriving in Columbia and attending a raffle, which he wins. The prize is [[spoiler: first throw in a public stoning.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' had this as the underlying motive for the entire country (world?) and its obsession with celebrity. It's gonna be a good harvest, indeed.
** ''The Wacky Molestation Adventure'', a parody of movies such as ''Film/ChildrenOfTheCorn1984'' and ''Literature/LordOfTheFlies'', features a version of "Carousel" from ''Film/LogansRun''.
* In ''TheFairlyOddParents'', Mark has F.L.A.R.G., a five day, yearly ritual of barfing, amnesia, and [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt planet-killing]], [[ForTheEvulz because if Mark does not have the joy ]] of an authentic FLARG, then his ''APP''endix (not app''EN''dix) will nuke Earth.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The lynchings in the Southeastern U.S. of the 19th-to-mid-20th centuries frequently had a celebratory, carnival atmosphere, attended by dozens of people. The often drawn-out tortures, commemorative photos and subsequent retrieval of "souvenirs" from the corpse had all the fervency of passionate social ritual.
* In 1853, before the Civil War and only five years after its admission as a state to the union, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_Wisconsin Wisconsin abolished capital punishment]], in part because of how the state's single execution, that of John [=McCaffary=] for drowning his wife, became a spontaneous celebratory spectacle.
* Public executions in Europe were a popular day out for all the family, complete with a carnival atmosphere and large, poorly constructed viewing platforms to ensure that no one missed the fun.
[[/folder]]

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