Hillbilly Horrors

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, deserts, 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.
  • Alan Moore's Providence being a Deconstruction of H.P. Lovecraft and Lovecraft Country tackles this trope:
    • The fish-people of Salem resent how the townfolk and in general tourists see them as hicks because they are mixed-raced, with the narrative comparing their prejudice to be similar to anti-semitism.
    • Garland Wheatley and his family also resent how the people of Athol and the Stella Saps (as he and Boggs call the Order) are treated as low-down hicks. So, what does Garland Wheatley do to prove that he and his family are not low-down hicks who are unworthy of the knowledge of cosmic force, he proceeds to summon Yog-Sothoth and impregnate his daughter with abominations for twins:
  • 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.

  • Alien Abduction (2014) looks like it will have elements of this as the Morris family gets lost in the forest on Brown Mountain, but the sole local they meet, Sean, is ultimately helpful as they try to escape the aliens pursuing them, despite his initially greeting them with a shotgun.
  • The Cabin in the Woods has the Buckners, a pain-worshiping redneck zombie family who are a cross between this trope and Evil Dead. Of course, The Buckers are merely pawns, who are summoned to the cabin by random chance. It could have been any number of horror cliches
  • Children of the Corn The small Nebraska town of Gatlin, which is home to a child cult that worships the corn surrounding the town and a demonic entity known as He Who Walks Behind the Rows. it was originally a normal small town, but the children were influenced by a child preacher named Isaac who led them to massacre the adults.
  • Children of the Night: A vampire terrorizing a small country town.
  • Deliverance. While the wilderness itself is portrayed as a far greater threat, the film's human villains, a group of hillbillies who hunt and rape the protagonists, quickly became one of the most iconic elements of the film. Banjo music has never been the same.
  • The Devil's Rejects
  • Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th films often has elements of this trope, though later films turned him into a straight-up zombie.
  • The Hills Run Red: A film student is obsessed with a legendary lost film named The Hills Run Red, and sets out to discover the truth behind it, which leads him right into something that deliberatly plays up the idea of hillbilly horror. The original movies director has basically created his own hillbilly horror setting just so he could make a "perfect" movie.
  • The Firefly family in Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. In the first film, they hunt, torture, and kill a group of young people going through their neck of the woods, while in the second one, they become the Villain Protagonists on the run from the law.
  • The Hills Have Eyes (2006): A family on vacation runs afoul of a clan of degenerate cannibals in the Nevada desert, who have become hideous mutants due to a combination of the radiation from nearby nuclear weapons tests and inbreeding.
  • Pumpkinhead: Revolves around a monstrous apparition named Pumpkinhead that haunts the backwoods of the Midwest and will kill anyone whom its summoned to destroy.
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series has Leatherface and his family, the Sawyers, who became the Trope Codifiers for this. They're from rural Texas, they're cannibals, and they check off every box on the list of hillbilly stereotypes.
  • Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil is a Deconstructive Parody of the genre. A group of college students are vacationing in a cabin, but run afoul of two creepy hillbillies who kidnap their friends. Or so they think. In reality, the true protagonists of the movie, Tucker and Dale are a pair of Good Ole Boy guys who are out on a fishing trip. The misunderstanding is due to Tuckers social awkwardness and the college students being firm belivers in this trope. Ultimatly played straight as it turns out the true villain of the movie is the result of a hillbilly horror event several decades before
  • The Wicker Man Slightly less monstrous than its U.S equivalent. A pagan cult belives that the only way to ensure that its next apple harvests succeeds is through a human sacrifice.
  • The Wrong Turn series. A group of deformed cannibal siblings live in the backwoods of the northeastern U.S, and prey on anyone who ventures near their territory. The gas station attendant who sends travellers that way is the cannibals father.

  • 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.
  • H.P. 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.

Live-Action TV
  • Numerous Criminal Minds episodes, the most obvious being "Blood Relations", featuring the deformed Mountain Man/Killer Woodsman.
  • 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".
  • In the Supernatural episode "The Benders," Sam and Dean investigate a "phantom abductor" causing people to vanish from a rural town. It turns out that the monsters responsible for the disappearances are just...people, hillbilly humans who like to hunt people for sport.
  • In the Torchwood episode "Countrycide," the team investigates strange disappearances in a rural area. The perpetrators turn out to be completely human cannibals rather than the alien activity more typical for Torchwood.

Tabletop Games
  • 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.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse features several groups that fit this trope.
    • The Genetic Irregulars are a group of ronin Garou and Black Spiral Dancers who live in rural areas and indulge in cannibalism and Garou-Garou mating.
    • Rage Across Appalachia features a rural clan of fomori called the Bledsons. The Bledsons are a squalid family living near a polluted pond that is infested with banes. All Bledson males are compelled to enter the pond as a rite of passage, infecting them with banes.
    • Rage Across Appalachia also features the Pigeon River Howlers, a bluegrass band composed of Black Spiral Dancers who use music to spread Wyrm taint.

Video Games
  • 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.
  • Cousin Eddy from Twisted Metal Head-On is a parody, whilst Billy Ray, driver of Junkyard Dog, is a subversion, he is a deformed murderer, but is sympathetic once the player finds out why.
  • The upcoming Outlast2 will be set in a countryside that's populate by murderous hillbillies who also worship Satan. The scariest thing, however, is how organized they are compared to many other examples as well as the Variants of the previous game; they cooperate and thoroughly search the farm for the player character using flashlights and seem to have a sacrificial system.

  • 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.

Western Animation
  • 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.
  • Downplayed in the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Swamp", where the swamp is possibly sentient and provides hallucinations to our heroes but the hillbillies are relatively friendly (even if they did try to eat Appa). Even less so in the sequel series, where Toph has taken up residence there, spending her time terrorizing the aforementioned hillbillies and generally being herself.

Alternative Title(s): Backwoods Brutality