Campbell Country

Like Lovecraft Country, but overseas.

Lovecraft Country is typically set in Hollywood New England, home of horror writers H.P. Lovecraft Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Stephen King, and many of their respective followers/imitators. This makes it a difficult place for writers of Lovecraftian Fiction who do not have a New England background to write about.

The solution was suggested to British writer Ramsey Campbell by Lovecraft's follower August Derleth: Create your own equivalent in a place you know, either your home country or a place you have visited. This has led to the creation of variant Lovecraftian settings appropriate to other locales.

Shifting the setting of a Cosmic Horror Story to, for instance, England presents problems. As the old saying goes, "An Englishman thinks a hundred miles is a long way while an American thinks a hundred years is a long time." note  In other words, England is a much smaller country with a much longer history. It's much easier to believe that an English village was the site of some dreadful secret dating back to medieval, Roman or pagan times. Lovecraft, in contrast, had a more limited historical horizon in his New England tales, with the early 17th century standing as his temporal ne plus ultra — unless he wanted to invoke Native horrors (c.f. Indian Burial Ground and Magical Native American), which he didn't. However, it's much harder to believe that cosmic events could happen in little ol' England and nobody would notice note  — whereas in a big place like the United States (even in a single region like New England), isolation comes relatively cheap. (Essentially, in Lovecraft Country, the old secrets are very secret, whereas in Campbell Country the old secrets are very old.)

By contrast, small European and British settings are far better for simpler horror stories, such as Haunted House tales, as there are so many old houses, castles and abbeys around the place. As for the rest of the world, it's usually not difficult for a skilled writer to come up with a local setting that can accommodate your Cosmic Horror Story, whether in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, etc. For similar settings in the Deep South and Eastern Europe, see Southern Gothic and Überwald, respectively.

Within The United States but outside Lovecraft Country proper, a common Lovecraftian/Campbellian setting is The Other Rainforest, largely due to its environment of heavy rain, eerie fog, and dense pine forests. Such strange locations can become prominent tourist traps but are still generally remote, and the states are also known for their eccentric cultures (Keep Portland Weird indeed). What's more, Native Americans are a more prominent population in the Northwest than the Northeast, keeping ancient traditions alive and enabling today's creators to go further back in the region's cultural history.

Not to be confused with Campbell County, which can be found in Northeastern Tennessee, on the border with Kentucky, or Bruce Campbell Country,note  which has more comedy and a higher probability of survival due to, well, Bruce Campbell.

Examples

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     Anime and Manga  

     Comic Books  

  • John Constantine usually operates out of London, but he's been known to take a break from the unrelenting horrors of the city and relax with the unrelenting horrors of the countryside.

     Film  

     Literature  

  • Most obviously, Ramsey Campbell's stories set in Brichester and other fictional Gloucestershire towns. Wikipedia has an overview here.
  • Even before Ramsey Campbell, turn-of-the-century author M. R. James was exploring both English and continental-European patches of what could be called Campbell Country.
  • Most of Arthur Machen's novellas and short stories, and his novel The Great God Pan, have a rural Welsh or London background in which sinister ancient horrors lurk and are capable of interbreeding with modern people. H.P. Lovecraft acknowledged Machen's great influence on the genesis of the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • Brian Lumley created a Lovecraft Country of his own in NE England, complete with a satellite colony of Deep Ones.
  • The Hungarian village of Stregiocavar in Robert E. Howard's The Black Stone.
  • While Stephen King normally sets his stories in Lovecraft Country, his short story Crouch End was a Cthulhu Mythos story set in Crouch End in north London.
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the scenes of Voldemort's family seem very Lovecraftian/Campbellian, in that they are portrayed as horribly inbred as a consequence of being such an ancient family, a theme Lovecraft often touched upon.
    • Heck, the mere tone and description of the place they lived in sounds a little Lovecraftian itself. No wonder Tom Riddle turned out so screwed up...
    • Harry Potter also contains the Isle of Drear off the northern tip of Scotland, where the deadly monsters called Quintapeds are contained. In fact, Hogwarts' own location might qualify, set off as it is in an unregarded bit of Scotland (being Unplottable helps).
  • H.P. Lovecraft himself did this: "The Rats in the Walls" is set in England.
  • Charles Stross did a neat thing with The Laundry Files (essentially Spy Fiction meets Cosmic Horror Story): the English lost city of Dunwich (which Lovecraft used as a name for a fictional town) was not lost at all, but rather the training ground for the Laundry, a secret organization that prevents "reality incursions." Apparently someone in the Laundry noticed the very odd census reports, and the citizens were relocated and the town erased off the maps. The only way to get there is with a specially-programmed GPS unit and a key for the appropriate wards. Stross' Dunwich is also slowly sinking into the water.
  • Shadows Over Baker Street is a collection of short stories by different authors, about Sherlock Holmes investigating various Lovecraftian mysteries.
  • "Tales Of The Shadowmen", a series of various anthology crossover books, has had various stories involving known literary characters (Hercule Poirot, a Doc Savage analogue, etc.) tangle with Lovecraftian creatures in various locales around Europe and elsewhere.
  • Neil Gaiman wrote a short story titled "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar" set in the apparently original Innsmouth on the British coast, as seen through the eyes of an American tourist who isn't in the know. (The title is the name of the pub's signature beer.) The local residents have caught onto events and they don't think much of Howard P.
  • Carnacki's adventures happen all around Great Britain and Ireland, and he's based in Chelsea, London.
  • John Buchan (best known for The 39 Steps) wrote various stories in this setting, such as "The Outgoing of the Tide" and "The Watcher by the Threshold".
  • "Anneke Johansen's Portrait", an original companion piece to The Call of Cthulhu, is set in Oslo, Norway. It can be read here.
  • W.H. Pugmire is a resident of Seattle who sets many of his Lovecraftian stories in Sesqua Valley, a fictional location near Mt. Si.

     Live Action TV  

  • The Torchwood episode "Countrycide" was all about this in rural Wales, contasting with the usual Aliens in Cardiff stories.
  • The League of Gentlemen is set in Royston Vasey, in Northern England. It's... odd. Initially a comedy, the sense that the town is just a mask for insanity, evil and genuinely disturbing horror grows as the series progresses.
  • The setting of Darkplace Hospital in Garth Marenghis Darkplace is an Affectionate Parody of this setting.
  • The Stone Tape (1972) is set in a castle that only dates from the 19th century, but it turns out the foundations are over a thousand years old. And there are noises said to be caused by "rats in the walls" only it doesn't have any rats.
  • The Israeli drama series Pillars of Smoke, while not quite subscribing to the supernatural nature of other horror works, centres around a cult that formed a kibbutz in the remote Golan Heights that up and vanished mysteriously one day. The series was bought by NBC, and the remake was intended to take place in Alaska, but so far nothing has come of it.
  • The very eldritch town of Twin Peaks is located in Washington State.

     Music  

  • A rare (and extremely weird) musical example is avant-garde rock artist Bob Drake's The Shunned Country, which features 52 extremely short song narratives all taking place in Campbell Country - specifically rural France (although a few songs are set elsewhere, like "Kaziah's Pet," which takes place in Lovecraft's Arkham, Massachusetts). The introductory lyrics of the album appropriately represents what follows: "Not many normal folks live around here anymore / having had one too many strange things show up at their door / some were oozing, some were scuttling, some were shambling / some were floating, some had one too many dimensions."
  • The titular neighbourhood in Space's "Neighbourhood":
    At 666 there lives a Mr. Miller
    He's our local vicar and a serial killer

    Radio 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Several of modules of Lamentations of the Flame Princess (basically a D&D-clone with emphasis on weird-fantasy and horror) take place in a fantasy equivalent of Campbell Country, the remote town of Pembrooktonshire)
  • In Warhammer, the Bretonnian province of Mousillon is a giant poison swamp where the main industry is frog and snail catching, the populace are largely still recovering from a plague outbreak and far from the friendliest people in the Old World, every third house is empty and even the ones that aren't are rotten and dilapidated, grave-robbing is pretty much the local past-time (though sometimes the dead just help themselves out of their graves), the last Duke was murderously insane and very possibly not even human, his petty lord descendants all wear black armour and never remove their visors for some reason, and no-one in the rest of Bretonnia has any clue what the hell is wrong with the place.
    • In the Empire, Ostland is a northern province dominated by the Forest of Shadows. Villages are few and far between, and filled with grim, unfriendly people who keep strange local customs and a fondness for double-barrelled firearms and strong alcohol. When they're not bearing the brunt of Chaos incursions, they're dealing with beastmen, forest goblins and ghouls.

     Video Games 

  • Dark Fall: The Journal uses the fictional West Country village of Dowerton as the site of supernatural disappearances dating back centuries.
  • Barrow Hill is set in a spooky Cornwall full of creepy ruins and folklore.
  • The Lost Crown: A Ghost-Hunting Adventure is apparently set in the fictional East Anglian village of Saxton.
  • Averted in Scratches, which is located in Northumberland, but imported its curse-lore from the Darkest Africa trope and Madwoman in the Attic.
  • Eternal Darkness features three main locations which harbor a dark, old secret pertaining to the awakening of the Eldritch Abomination. The first is the site where Pious Augustus snags the artifact, which is later visited by an Aladdin type character seeking a jewel to win a woman's heart, a slave building a tower over the location, and a firefighter putting out Iraqi oil fires. The second is a temple in Cambodia which houses Eldritch Abomination #4, a dead, ancient god more powerful than the three primary ones of the story. The third is a cathedral in France, which is at the center of a plot to assassinate Charlemagne and is later used as a WWI hospital where they feed the wounded to the Eldritch Abomination in the basement. Yeah, full of this.
  • Judging from Gregory's implied proclivities and the uselessness of the police, Rule of Rose is set here, in some undefined part of the English countryside in the 1930s.
  • The All-Gods Village in Fatal Frame 2.
  • A good chunk of Britain in The Consuming Shadow seems to be this.
  • Quite a few episodes The Last Door has you exploring large, rundown estates around the English and Scottish countryside. There is even an episode set in Victorian London, taking full advantage of stuff like the city's labyrinthine slum and foggy streets to build an effectively creepy atmosphere.
  • Raccoon City of the Resident Evil series is located in Pennsylvania, according to the novelisations.
  • Alan Wake is set in Bright Falls, a Town with a Dark Secret within The Other Rainforest.
  • Darkest Dungeon is set somewhere in Dark Fantasy pseudo-Europe, although where isn't exactly clear, and is laden with weird eldritch stuff going on.

     Webcomics  

     Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation, being a cosmopolitan organisation, naturally has plenty of these. Of particular relevance are the Sarkic cults, which have a long history in Eurasia and mostly crop up in rural areas in Russia and Eastern Europe.
  • Welcome to Night Vale is set in the American Southwest.
  • The 'regional gothic' meme that gained popularity on Tumblr around 2015, where every location is described like this. Examples from Australia, Finland, Poland, Ireland, Southern California, and Ohio.

     Western Animation  

  • The Secret Saturdays love these places.
  • Scooby-Doo and the gang tend to visit these once in a while.
  • The town of Gravity Falls is located in The Other Rainforest. Utter strangeness and mysteries abound, from otherworldly creatures to rifts between dimensions. This weirdness and the characters that try to explain it comprise the essence of the cartoon's plot.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CampbellCountry