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Lumber mills are dangerous places, especially to the people who aren't supposed to be there. It doesn't matter if you're taking part in a massive firefight, running from the local slasher or just trying to navigate the place with your limbs intact. Nobody goes into a lumber yard expecting a safe haven if a better alternative is available.

Unfortunately, most times there isn't a better alternative, and with all those deadly power tools scattered about, lumber stacks waiting to collapse on someone, and enough saws to shred a small town, you can expect a high mortality rate whenever one of these places shows up.

To count as an example, a lumber mill or at least a lumber yard motif must be used. Characters don't have to die or suffer serious injury, but must be menaced or endangered by the lumber mill in some way. This trope sometimes involves a nasty-looking saw and some poor schmuck tied to a Conveyor Belt of Doom or power tools being used as improvised weapons during a fight or interrogation.

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A staple of many old-timey Dastardly Whiplash cartoon villains.

Note that although "trouble at t' mill" is a cliché of dramas set Oop North, the mill in such cases is a textile mill, not a lumber mill, and the trouble is of a different kind.


Examples

Comic Books

Film - Animated

  • In Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tale, the Dog gets chased through the Murphys' sawmill by the Murphys' dog, narrowly avoiding the whirring buzzsaws.
  • In FernGully: The Last Rainforest, young Zack has been shrunk to 3 inches high, and is stuck in a spider's web. As the fairy Krysta struggles to free him, the Leveler begins devouring the tree they're on. The Leveler is a gigantic tree harvester that moves on caterpillar treads, felling trees with chainsaw pincers, debarking the trunks, and cutting the wood into 2-by-4s and plywood sheets. Batty Koda plucks Zack and Krysta from the trunk before it reaches the whirring steel teeth.
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Film - Live Action

  • The final showdown of Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil takes place in an abandoned lumber mill, and it features both a Conveyor Belt of Doom and improvised weapons. The hero gears up with all kinds of protective clothing and arms himself with a chainsaw, while the Big Bad resorts to using a metal bar.
  • In The White Ribbon, a farmer's wife dies at the sawmill when rotten floorboards give way.
  • The climax of Walking Tall (2004) takes place in and outside the town's defunct lumber mill, as the bad guy tries to kill the hero with an axe he took out of the workshop.

Literature

  • The fourth book of A Series of Unfortunate Events, aptly titled The Miserable Mill, sees the Baudelaire orphans shuttled to a lumber mill owned by their current guardian. The book involves hypnotism and cruel deaths by buzzsaws.
  • In Paddle-to-the-sea by Holling C. Holling, the eponymous toy canoe gets trapped in the bark of a log that is being slowly fed into a saw in a sawmill. The canoe is spotted by a mill worker who rescues it a releases it back into the lake. Theis scene also appears in the 1966 film version.

Live-Action TV

  • In The Adventures of Superman episode "The Perils of Superman", the Villain of the Week ties Perry to a log in a sawmill.
  • Twin Peaks even shows said lumber mill in its faux-kitsch opening sequence, which becomes increasingly relevant as the plot progresses. There's the subplot with Jocelyn Packard which culminates in the lumber mill being set on fire, and another seemingly unrelated character being chained up inside as a Two Birds One Stone gambit.
  • The MacGyver (1985) episode "Log Jam" climaxes in a fight between Mac and the bad guys in a sawmill, with the chief villain trying to kill Mac with a chainsaw.

Music

  • The Dastardly Whiplash version is lampshaded in Along Came Jones by The Coasters (among others).

Theme Parks

Video Games

  • Super Meat Boy: The first level takes place in a forest that has some sort of lumber-cutting operation going on. Naturally, our hero must dodge saw blades to survive.
  • Grand Theft Auto V: Michael, Trevor and Franklin pay a visit to one of these during a late game mission when Lamar gets kidnapped by the Ballas. The level doesn't feature too many environmental hazards, but still counts as the mill is the site of a massive firefight that leaves several people dead.
  • Deadly Premonition: York traverses a lumber mill populated by shadows during an early level of the game. Unfortunately, the local ax murderer seems to use it as a base of operations.
  • ATV Offroad Fury: An abandoned lumber mill can be seen in one level, though it can't be fully explored. The player can still wipe out on it if not careful.
  • Subverted (?) in Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, which has a level set in a lumber mill, but the only thing unusual about it is that your sight is always blocked by all the lumber stacks.
  • Team Fortress 2 has the aptly named map "Sawmill". Complete with uncovered huge spinning saw blades that surround the control point.
  • Blood has a level set on a lumber mill repurposed to saw human bodies into zombie chow. Plenty of scenery depicting sawed human bodies abound.
  • The whole seventh segment of Sly 2: Band of Thieves is set on a lumber camp owned by Jean Bison, one of the villains. During the missions the player is dodging not only saws and drills, but also laser beams, which are apparently also used to cut lumber. However, this trope turns into an advantage for the heroes in the Boss Fight at the end of the episode, where the player is to defeat Jean Bison by utilizing sawmill machinery.
  • Alan Wake has the Biltmore Logging Camps and The Sawmill from The Signal, where Alan has to navigate various hazards and fend off Taken.
  • The level "Sawmill Thrill" in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a giant sawmill with a minecart ride in it. Obstacles include giant saw blades (obviously), a giant saw blade chasing the Kongs cutting the track into pieces that somehow happen to land neatly on the track in front of the Kongs, and flying pieces of track cut by the same saw blade that the Kongs have to jump between mid-air.
  • Just Cause 2 has Seabreeze Sawmill, a large lumber facility that the Ular Boys task Rico with destroying due to it endangering their sacred burial site. Not only do the workers carry heavy weapons during the mission, but they even have snipers working with them. After finally causing enough chaos, the player then has to kill the foreman... who has an attack vehicle with a mounted turret on it!
  • The first DLC of Borderlands, The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, takes place on a forested island where the Jakobs corporation set up a lumbermill to help build their weapons. All the workers were turned into zombies though, and the one responsible for doing that, Dr. Ned himself, sets up his main laboratory inside the sawmill itself.
  • Watch_Dogs has a gang takedown located at a lumber mill outside the city. The local hotspot found just outside even pokes fun at this trope in its description.
  • Mortal Kombat: Armageddon has an arena called The Lumber Mill, and it has a nasty Death Trap (sort of like a Stage Fatality, but can be used any time during the match). It doesn't involve a rotary blade, however, but giant combines.
  • Killing Floor 2 has this show up as the first part of its new Krampus Lair map. One of the side missions requires the player to kill zeds with deadly blade traps to earn a pajama suit.
  • Far Cry 5 has a large lumber mill under cult control in Jacob's region of the map that serves as an outpost. Killing the cultists and freeing the prisoners earns the player a nice little mountain base and a new GFH along with some new sidequests.
  • The Simpsons Game has this in the fourth episode Lisa The Tree-hugger where Bart and Lisa have to fight off disgruntled Loggers and avoid giant saw blades in order to shut down a deforestation operation.
  • One level in Outlaws takes place in a lumber mill which is full of labyrinthine water currents, but lacking in wood logs or sawing equipment... Until the level boss meets his demise on a log heading straight for the buzzsaw.
  • Fallout 76 has several of these scattered all over due to its West Virginia setting. A large camp in the northwest corner of the map is infested with a gang of super mutants for example.

Western Animation


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