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Lumber Mill Mayhem

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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 or damsel tied to a Conveyor Belt of Doom or power tools being used as improvised weapons during a fight or interrogation.

A staple of many old-timey Dastardly Whiplash cartoon villains. Often contains Saw Blades of Death.

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.


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    Comic Books 

    Films — Animated 
  • 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.
  • In Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tale, the Dog gets chased through the Murphys' sawmill by the Murphys' dog, narrowly avoiding the whirring buzzsaws.

    Films — Live Action 
  • In Ripper: Letter from Hell, the killer chases Chantel into a sawmill and then activates the saws: forcing her to try to escape through a now deadly environment.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In The White Ribbon, a farmer's wife dies at the sawmill when rotten floorboards give way.

  • 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. This scene also appears in the 1966 film version.
  • 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.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Batman (1966), the Riddler goes with the classics and ties Robin to a log headed towards a buzzsaw in an (naturally, because Gotham) abandoned lumber mill in Gotham City for the cliffhanger in the episode "The Riddler's Strange Notion"/"Death in Slow Motion". Fitting, as his caper is based on, and is the prelude to the attempted theft of a valuable collection of, silent movies, where this trope was stereotypically (though not in reality) thought to be prevalent.
  • In The Adventures of Superman episode "The Perils of Superman", the Villain of the Week ties Perry to a log in a sawmill.
  • 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.
  • 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 Dastardly Whiplash version is lampshaded in Along Came Jones by The Coasters (among others).


    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Alan Wake has the Biltmore Logging Camps and The Sawmill from The Signal, where Alan has to navigate various hazards and fend off Taken.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
    • Borderlands 3 also has several of these scattered about on Eden-6, which are used by the Jakobs corporation to make the trademark wooden parts seen on their guns. This being Borderlands, players will have to deal with insane cultists, superpowered freaks and various elemental Exploding Barrels when shooting their way through them.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Golf With Your Friends: One of the levels in the otherwise safe-to-build-in-real-life Forest course involves hitting the ball through a lumber mill while avoiding the saws.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • PAYDAY 2 has the "Boiling Point" heist for Jimmy that takes the crew to an isolated russian lumber mill housing a secret super soldier research facility. The map comes complete with special russian versions of the elite police units as well, making for a reasonably challenging job.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Team Fortress 2 has the aptly named map "Sawmill". Complete with uncovered huge spinning saw blades that surround the control point.
  • Twin Caliber have a stage titled "Lumbered!" set in a mill where the sawblades will automatically try to rough you up. You need to shoot the blades to push them back, before firing at three generators stopping them for good.
  • Vigor has a large forest map with a sawmill that contains some good loot but is very dangerous to explore as many rival players are likely to pass through the area in search of supplies.
  • 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.
  • The fifth level of Zapper is Cutting Edge Inc., a lumber mill that Zapper has to traverse the lower floors of by hopping across logs in various stages of being turned into boards while dodging saw blades, drills, and nail guns. The upper floors and secret areas have him hopping across gears while evading invincible vacuum robots.

    Western Animation 
  • Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: In "The Tree of Ickis", Ickis turns into a tree after he eats an acorn. Oblina and Krumm leave him in the forest while they look for a cure, and eventually find one in the form of termites. By the time they return to Ickis, they find out he has been chopped down by a lumberjack and taken to the sawmill, where the harvested trees are turned into baseball bats. Fortunately, the termites manage to turn Ickis back into a monster just before he can get cut in half.
  • The Animaniacs (1993) episode, "Up the Crazy River" features a scene where Buttons has to save Mindy when she wanders into a lumber mill that is responsible for the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest. When Buttons' antics destroy the lumber mill, the animals that live in the rainforest are able to reclaim their homes.
  • In the Looney Tunes cartoon "Lumber Jerks", the Goofy Gophers' treehouse is cut down and sent to a lumber mill, and the two try to get it back.
  • The episode "Carried Away" from Mickey Mouse (2013) features this briefly when Mickey's antics land him and Minnie on the path of a sawmill.
  • The New Adventures of Superman: In "The Mysterious Mr Mist", Mr Mist uses a Conveyor Belt o' Doom to attempt to feed Perry White into a buzz saw on his farm.
  • Rocko's Modern Life. In the carnival episode, Rocko and Heffer go on a ride version of this trope.
  • The Roger Rabbit short "Trail Mix-up" has a scene taking place in a lumber mill with a Conveyor Belt of Doom.
  • In the Terrytoons short "The Saw Mill Mystery" (1937), Oil Can Harry, the original Dastardly Whiplash, kidnaps a girl and imperils her in a sawmill.
  • Scooby-Doo has his happen on a few occasions:
    • In the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! episode "That's Snow Ghost", the titular ghost tries to kill Velma by tying her to a log and placing her on the sawmill conveyor belt with the buzzsaw at the end about to cut her in half, but Scooby saves her in time.
    • The Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo Show episode "A Gem of a Case" sees the titular dogs and Shaggy trailing the diamond thief, Fingers Malone. Fingers tries to kill the trio by tying them to a log and sending it towards a buzzsaw, but Scooby is able to stop the conveyor belt in time before their log reaches the saw.