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He's the hairy-handed gent
Who ran amok in Kent
Lately he's been overheard in Mayfair
You better stay away from him
He'll rip your lungs out, Jim
Huh, I'd like to meet his tailor
Ah-hoo, werewolves of London!
Warren Zevon, "Werewolves of London"

Campbell Country is horror that uses Britain as a setting. Rural areas are the most common, but urban settings (especially in decrepit neglected neighbourhoods and/or in gothic depictions of Victorian London) aren't unheard of.

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. England is a relatively small country with a long sense of retained history owing to its isolation as a group of islands. It's therefore easy to believe that an English village was the site of some dreadful secret dating back to medieval, Roman or pagan times. 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 American writer 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.

Rural variants of this trope tend to overlap with Hillbilly Horrors. For similar settings in the Deep South, The Wild West, and Ruritania, see respectively Southern Gothic, Weird West/Sinister Southwest, and Überwald.

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.


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 
  • An American Werewolf in London: The protagonist 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.
  • Die, Monster, Die!: The setting is Arkham, but an Arkham set in England rather than in the USA. The town is plagued by problems caused by a radioactive meteorite.
  • Dog Soldiers: A squad of British soldiers battle werewolves while training in the Scottish Highlands.
  • 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.
  • The Lair of the White Worm: D'Ampton is a small village in England that houses a giant dragon and reptilian vampire worshippers.
  • The Lodgers: The setting is an isolated, crumbling family estate adjacent to a rural Irish town.
  • Men is set in rural England, in a village where something strange is clearly going on, with writer/director Alex Garland stating that a big focus of the film is "the horror of rural England. It's certain kinds of churches, certain kinds of forest – the shadows within dark green."
  • 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.
  • As yet another werewolf-related example, the English village of Blackmoor from The Wolfman (2010) definitely fits this trope, and it even comes complete with scary woods!
  • Captain Clegg, like its literary source material, is a Gothic crime thriller about a gang of smugglers and ex-pirates, operating in 1790s Kent, in southeastern England, and the supposedly-haunted marshland surrounding the town.
  • Stonehearst Asylum: The titular asylum is a creepy place out in the English countryside far from anywhere else with many dark and unsettling secrets.

    Literature 

Authors

  • John Buchan 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, and, by Campbell's own admission, is heavily based on Liverpool.
    • 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.
    • Lower Tadfield in Good Omens subverts this along with Town with a Dark Secret. It's home to The Antichrist, who's also a Reality Warper. But since this kid was raised as a normal boy and doesn't initially even realise the extent of his power, he's been unconsciously "warping" the town into an idyllic English village. Some characters are unsettled by just how unnaturally picture-perfect Lower Tadfield is, but The Antichrist's goal isn't To Create a Playground for Evil, but rather to create a playground for himself and his chums.
  • 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 put a satellite colony of Deep Ones in NE England.
  • 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.

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.
  • Stephen King's "Crouch End" is a Cthulhu Mythos story set in Crouch End in north London.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Voldemort's family are portrayed as horribly inbred as a consequence of being such an ancient family.
    • 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, while the local landed gentry, the Baskerville family, are the subjects of an ancestral curse dating back to a mid-17th Century ghost story. 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, and the Baskerville curse ultimately just turns out to be a piece of colourful folklore.
  • H. P. Lovecraft:
    • "The Hound (1924)": About half of the story takes place in the protagonists' ancient manor-house on the moors in England. They live in isolation and the lack of social control suits their macabre habits expressed in the form of a museum filled with grave goods and body parts personally stolen. What they learn when they steal a supernaturally imbued grave good is that isolation also means that there is no one to stand by them when they are beset by a vengeful entity. St. John gets mauled to death one night when walking home from the distant railway station and the narrator moves to London thereafter, destroying the museum before he goes.
    • "The Rats in the Walls": A man travels to his family's ancestral English home, which has a long history of spooky events dating back to ancient times.
  • The Laundry Files: The English lost city of Dunwich is 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. Dunwich is also slowly sinking into the water.
  • The short story "The Mainz Psalter," by Jean Ray, takes place partly at a remote smugglers' cove on the Scottish coast. Soon, though, the narrator and his colleagues set sail on the titular ship, and find themselves somewhere else entirely.
  • 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").
  • 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.
  • Wylding Hall takes place at an isolated, ancient mansion in a beautiful but creepy patch of English countryside.

    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.
  • The Lakes is set in a claustrophobically close rural community in a remote part of England (Cumbria) where the psychological tension is down to everybody knowing everybody else's dark secrets - or thinking that they do.
  • 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
  • Ah-ooooo! "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon plays this trope for laughs.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Several of modules of Lamentations of the Flame Princess 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 Excavation of Hob's Barrow, which is set in the small village of Bewley on the sparsely populated English moors at some point during the Victorian times, uses the rural setting, creepy folklore, and the distrust of the local community towards an outsider from the city to create a generally eerie, oppressive, and paranoid atmosphere.
  • 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.

    Web Original 

    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.
  • In Incase's The Invitation, all but one panel takes place within a sleepy British village where our protagonist has his summer home, as well as the eldritch realm he opens up a portal to.

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