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Campbell Country is horror that uses rural Britain as a setting.

There is a decent amount of precedent for this, and for good reason. The rain, fog, and lonely moors all give the setting a nice creepy feel. And 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." In other words, England is a much smaller country with a much longer history. It's therefore easier to believe that an English village was the site of some dreadful secret dating back to medieval, Roman or pagan times. H. P. Lovecraft, in contrast, had a more limited historical horizon (the early 17th century) for his New England tales, unless he used Magical Native American horrors.

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Lovecraft and Campbell Countries tend to differ in scale. It's much harder to believe that cosmic events could happen in the relatively small country of England with absolutely nobody noticing. note  By contrast, in 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. As a result, small European and British settings are often used for simpler horror stories, such as Haunted House tales, as there are so many old houses, castles and abbeys around the place.

Named for a suggestion to British writer Ramsey Campbell by Lovecraft follower and Cthulhu Mythos creator August Derleth regarding the logistical limits of Lovecraft Country: to create your own equivalent in a place you know, either in your home country or a place you have visited.

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For similar settings in the Deep South, The Wild West, and Central/Eastern Europe, see respectively Southern Gothic, Weird West, and Überwald. A Sub-Trope of Hillbilly Horrors.

Not to be confused with Campbell County, of which the US has five. Also not to be confused with Bruce Campbell Country,note  which has more comedy and a higher probability of survival due to, well, Bruce Campbell.


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Examples:

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    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 — Live-Action 
  • The protagonist of An American Werewolf in London gets attacked by a werewolf and infected with lycanthropy while backpacking through the Yorkshire moors with his friend (who dies during the attack and who subsequently begins showing up as a Spirit Advisor). Before the monster shows up, the heroes visit a rural village where the locals give ominous warnings to stay on the road and beware the full moon. Bonus points for the iconic pub called the Slaughtered Lamb.
  • A variation in Die, Monster, Die!, a very loose adaptation of The Colour Out of Space. The movie moves the location of Arkham to England rather than America. The town is plagued by problems caused by a radioactive meteorite.
  • When Richard Matheson adapted his novel Hell House to film (The Legend of Hell House), he moved the eponymous Haunted House from its Lovecraft Country setting to the English countryside.
  • D'Ampton in The Lair of the White Worm is a small village in England that houses a giant dragon and reptilian vampire worshippers.
  • The Lodgers is a gothic horror film set in an isolated, crumbling family estate adjacent to a rural Irish town.
  • The Monster Club features a little village just off the main road in pleasant English countryside, which has been ruled by ghouls since Puritan times.
  • The Stone Tape (1972) is set in an English 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 Wicker Man (1973) had an interesting way of giving its setting physical isolation - it was set on the (fictional) remote Scottish island of Summerisle. The story involves a policeman trying to investigate the case of a missing child and uncovering a pagan cult that's active on the island.
  • The English village of Blackmoor from The Wolfman (2010) definitely fits this trope, and it even comes complete with scary woods!

    Literature 

Authors

  • John Buchan (best known for The Thirty-Nine Steps) wrote various stories in this setting:
  • The Trope Namer is Ramsey Campbell, who sets many of his stories in the Severn Valley, a fictional region in Gloucestershire. Some notable towns located in the Severn Valley include:
    • Brichester, a university town that appears to be a counterpart to Lovecraft's Arkham.
    • Goatswood, an isolated town whose people are known for their distinctive look. This seems to be a Shout-Out to Innsmouth.
    • Temphill, a decaying town that has a sinister church located at the center of the town.
  • Neil Gaiman set some eldritch stories in his native England:
    • His story "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.
    • Most of The Graveyard Book isn't that eldritch: the graveyard's ghosts provide a friendly community for young Bod Owens, and the villains are an Ancient Conspiracy of living humans. The real Lovecraftian/Campbellian horror comes when Bod visits the oldest grave, guarded by an illusory figure covered in blue tattoos and an unseen Eldritch Abomination that awaits the return of the tomb's original owner. Ghouls and night-gaunts (both of which appear in Lovecraft's stories) also show up at one point, but the ghouls are played for laughs and the night-gaunts are surprisingly friendly.
  • Even before Ramsey Campbell, turn-of-the-century author M. R. James commonly used rural England as a setting in his horror stories. One notable example was the town of Barchester, originally created by Anthony Trollope, for the setting of a ghost story.
  • Brian Lumley created a Lovecraft Country of his own in NE England, complete with a satellite colony of Deep Ones.
  • 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.

Individual works

  • Carnacki the Ghost-Finder's titular ghost-finding adventures happen all around Great Britain and Ireland, and he's based in Chelsea, London.
  • 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.
  • Harry Potter
    • 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. 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...
    • The Isle of Drear off the northern tip of Scotland, where the deadly monsters called Quintapeds are contained.
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles is largely set in a grim, dismal little village on the brooding Devonshire moors, a place far from modern civilization where communication with the outside world is difficult, neighbours are remote, the ground under your feet is treacherous and may suddenly become a thick bog that could swallow you alive, and where any number of ancient supernatural horrors may be lurking in the long, dark night and the thick, impenetrable fog that cloaks the land. Ultimately subverted, however, since — this being a Sherlock Holmes story, after all — the true power behind the events of the story turns out to ultimately have a mundane, down-to-earth solution.
  • 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.
  • The 1922 short story by E.F. Benson, "Negotium Perambulans in Tenebris", is set in Polearn, an isolated Cornish seaside fishing village, where an eldritch horror victimises wanton desecrators of the local church, and attacks when their lights go out (prefiguring HPL's own "The Haunter in the Dark").
  • H. P. Lovecraft himself did this: "The Rats in the Walls" is about a man traveling to his family's ancestral home, which has a long history of spooky events dating back to ancient times.
  • Shadows Over Baker Street is a collection of short stories by different authors (for example, A Study in Emerald by the aforementioned Gaiman), about Sherlock Holmes investigating various Lovecraftian mysteries.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Dæmons", the Doctor and UNIT investigate strange goings-on in the quaintly named village of Devil's End, where devil-worshipping villagers led by an evil vicar are attempting to awaken an ancient evil that lies buried beneath the village church, while being opposed by a white witch who is considered the town nutter. While given a (slight) sci-fi bent, all of these elements could have been lifted out of a Hammer Horror film of the period.
    • "The Hungry Earth"/"Cold Blood" presents the dreary Welsh hamlet of Cwmtaff, apparently on loan from Torchwood, complete with mists and an old church, where the graves are apparently eating people.
  • Darkplace Hospital in Garth Marenghis Darkplace is an Affectionate Parody of this setting.
  • 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 Torchwood episode "Countrycide" involves the strange disappearances near a rural town in Wales, contrasting with the usual Aliens in Cardiff stories.

    Music 
  • The eponymous neighbourhood in Space's "Neighbourhood":
    At 666 there lives a Mr. Miller
    He's our local vicar and a serial killer

    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 
  • Barrow Hill is set in a spooky Cornwall full of creepy ruins and folklore.
  • Dark Fall: The Journal uses the fictional West Country village of Dowerton as the site of supernatural disappearances dating back centuries.
  • The Lost Crown: A Ghost-Hunting Adventure is set in the fictional East Anglian village of Saxton.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Webcomics 
  • Downplayed in Gunnerkrigg Court as it rarely employs Horror Tropes, but one can't help but wonder how Gillitie Forest's Trickster-god and his race of technophobic shadow-men have remained hidden from the rest of the UK for so long.

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