It's the road less traveled for a reason...
Works where the horror lurks in the realm of rural areas where modern man doesn't belong. Expect inbreds, deranged killers, serial rapists
, and especially Cannibal Clans
Don't Go in the Woods
is the most common flavor, but other locales such as swamps
, abandoned towns
, deserted islands
, endless stretches of highway
, beneath the bustling city streets
, and even snowscapes
have seen use.
For works set in North America, there are several regional recipes:
For works set in more exotic backwaters, there's also the cuisine of the Überwald
, the Savage South
, Darkest Africa
, and the Land Down Under
It's worth noting that those who actually live
in these areas are frequently aware to varying extents
of these depictions, and tend to take them with a mix of Self-Deprecating Humor
, Cultural Cringe
, and legitimate appreciation
of their region's signature Nightmare Fuel
. On the amusing side, it's not unheard of for a bored local to get a laugh out of playing the Creepy Gas Station Attendant
with lost tourists, and for anyone with the right accent, a creepy Halloween costume is as easy as getting pair of muddy overalls and exaggerating.
On the creepy side, this can be Truth in Television
. Even in well-developed regions like the Eastern United States, one can still find the occasional isolated small town
on a postage stamp island, deep in the Appalachian Mountains
, or bypassed by the highway
with only one or two last names among the population. While it's unlikely you'll find a clan of cannibals ignorant of the outside world, generations of isolation tend to lead to a xenophobic Close-Knit Community
; even someone moving there from a nearby town might find themselves on the wrong side of a Culture Clash
. Also, many Misanthrope Supremes
and Crazy Survivalists
gravitate towards less populated areas because there are fewer people to bother them
, and similarly some serial killers choose to make their homes in rural areas because there are fewer witnesses.
The other wiki
refers to this trope as "Hixploitation
- The Punisher MAX story "Welcome to the Bayou".
- Preacher: Jody and T.C. are a pair of murderous hicks who obey the commands of Jesse's mother. Herr Starr also loses a leg after being found by a trio of inbred cannibals.
- Hack Slash featured a number of stories like this. Subverted in "Wallow In Death", in which it turns out that the undead hillbilly serial killer was driven to it by the cruelty of some arrogant student holiday makers, and that all his victims deserved it.
- Close to every novel and short story Edward Lee has ever written, which he calls "redneck horror." The Dunwich Romance in particular was based on the Lovecraft story discussed below and pretty much takes this trope to its most grotesque limit.
- HP Lovecraft was probably the Trope Codifier. (See also: Lovecraft Country)
- In "The Lurking Fear" it turns out the "monsters" are the cannibalistic descendants of a single family so heavily inbred they have all but turned into goblins.
- The Shadow Over Innsmouth is about an isolated fishing village whose inhabitants - characterized as "white trash" by a local from a nearby town - are slowly mutating into degenerate, Always Chaotic Evil Fish People,
- "The Picture in the House" is set in "the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods New England; for there the dark elements of strength, solitude, grotesqueness, and ignorance combine to form the perfection of the hideous."
- "The Dunwich Horror" is a pretty classic example of this trope. Dunwich is a decayed hamlet in the backwoods of Massachusetts. Its denizens are described as follows:
They have come to form a race by themselves, with the well-defined mental and physical stigmata of degeneracy and inbreeding. The average of their intelligence is woefully low, whilst their annals reek of overt viciousness and of half-hidden murders, incests, and deeds of almost unnameable violence and perversity.
- Most Jack Ketchum stories, the most well known of them probably being Off Season.
- Inverted in The Troop. The horror happens to them, rather than being perpetrated by them. And since it's East Coast Canada, they're Newfies.
- The Criminal Minds episodes "Open Season" and "To Hell and Back".
- The Friday the 13th: The Series episode "The Long Road Home".
- Parodied on a Saturday Night Live sketch from Season 26, Episode 14. A man is in a car accident, and when he wakes up, asks where he is. He's told, "You're tied to a bed in a shack. We're weird hillbilly cannibals and we're gonna stick things in your butt." After he freaks out, he's told he's actually in a hospital; the hillbilly cannibal thing is "an old hospital joke".
- The Supernatural episode "The Benders".
- The Torchwood episode "Countrycide".
- The X-Files episode "Home".
- The Last Reality Show features a gang of hillbilly-marauders.
- Even though it takes place in a town in rural England, The League of Gentlemen is mostly this, especially the Local Shop Couple.
- Pathfinder features the ogres, which can really only be described as demented hillbilly rapists, at best. Comes complete with Parental Incest, Brother-Sister Incest, inbreeding-fuelled deformities, Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action, a taste for human flesh, murderous sadism, a liking for making stuff out of bones & bodyparts, and a racial fondness for hooks as a preferred melee weapon. You'll need a long shower even if you ''win'' against ogres. And if you lose, well...
- Marsh Giants mix this with Lovecraftian cultish themes. They're rampant cannibals, prefer to eat their own young because they believe that children parasitically weaken their parents, and even their children who aren't eaten are left dead or brain-damaged by the mothers' habits of rampantly drugging themselves on toxic fungi for euphoric highs, which poisons their milk.
- Vampire: The Requiem offers two bloodlines who are twists on this, both of which (unsurprisingly enough) are Gangrel: the Oberlochs, an inbred family descended from cruel mine owners who cling to the backwoods and readily recruit; and the Mabrys, who bring the prey to them by running backroad watering holes and road houses.
- The Point Lookout DLC for Fallout3 has the player fighting mutated hillbillies who have formed a cult around a Mad Scientist Brain in a Jar.
- Killing Floor had an event like this, with a nearly identical name: "Hillbilly Horror". Every enemy in the game was reskinned into a named member of the "Wade Family", and a new map dedicated to said family was added.
- The island of Baldurans shipwreck in Baldur's Gate evokes this trope to some extend with the strange descendants of the surviving crew. To fans, it's commonly known as Werewolf Island.
- The moment you first set foot into Haven in Dragon Age: Origins, you know you've come to one of these places.
- Though Resident Evil 4 is set in rural Europe instead of the rural U.S., it definitely gives off this vibe to an extent, especially in the early parts of the game.
- You wouldn't know it by the high-tech gadgets they tend to use, but Will Legal's poacher gang in the roleplays of White Dark Life are hillbillies and rednecks.
- The Cleveland Show episode "BFFs".
Cleveland: Thanks, Peter! How did you know we were here?
Peter: Well, I felt bad after you left Quahog, so I called your house. Your wife said you were doing a friendship thing in the woods, and I immediately thought; "Well, this is going to end in hillbilly rape". So I tracked you down, and here I am.
- The Amazing World of Gumball subverts this in the episode "The Vacation", where the Watterson family breaks down in the middle of nowhere and are picked up by a toothless (his one tooth fell out) old hillbilly who lives in an abandoned gas station with his mother. They're friendly, outgoing folks, but the Wattersons believe this trope enough they end up running through the desert hurting themselves trying to escape. They realize the truth after falling into the 'graves' he dug for them (actually toilets, one for each of them for privacy), and apologize for their reactions. He waves it off until they mention his mother, which is the only thing they do that upsets him.