The Top Backwoods Horror Movies

What is backwoods horror? The formula should be familiar to even casual horror fans: city slickers traveling through rural territory ("these parts," in local-speak) run head-long into deranged, frequently inbred and unhygienic, country folk seeking to give 'em what for in as grisly a manner as possible. Think Deliverance with cannibalism.
of 28

The Butcher (2005)

© Lionsgate
Six teens taking a back road to Vegas (?) are menaced by a pickup truck. When they crash, they trek towards a house and are somehow surprised to find that it's owned by the truck driver. Turns out he and his wife are deranged killers, and they have a daughter who suckers people in with her innocent appearance, like the Osmonds. The Butcher is an above-average straight-to-video production with decent acting.
of 28

Blood Ranch (2006)

Blood Ranch
© Xenon
In this low-budget tale, a group of college students on their way to the Burning Man festival pick up a hitchhiker fleeing from a maniacal cult. They proceed to seek help at...the cult's headquarters. Oops. This standard setup is buoyed by an array of perverse characters, solid performances and surprisingly semi-intelligent dialogue, which occasionally makes you forget how cheap it all is.
of 28

Hunter's Blood (1986)

Hunter's Blood
© Embasy Home Entertainment
More of a survival thriller than a horror movie, this film finds a group of city folk on a hunting trip having a run-in with backwoods poachers. Entertaining, if a bit slow in stretches, due in large part to a great cast of recognizable character actors (plus a small role by a young Billy Bob Thornton).
of 28

Small Town Folk (2009)

Small Town Folk DVD
© Xenon
Despite obvious budget limitations -- including egregious overuse of CGI -- there's obvious skill involved in this British horror-comedy about a backwoods family looking to breed, by any means necessary. Strong acting, zany characters and kinetic direction reminiscent of early Sam Raimi propel this flawed but fun effort.
of 28

Broken (2007)

© Dimension
This well-made little British film is more realistic than most of its ilk. There's no inbred mutants; just a wilderness-dwelling survivalist who kidnaps a woman to make his wife. He "breaks her" like one does a horse, then chains her up in his camp and makes her cook for him. Try getting a horse to do that.
of 28

Hell's Ground (2008)

Hell's Ground
Billed as Pakistan's first splatter film, Hell's Ground takes the traditional backwoods plot of a group of teens taking a shortcut on their way to a concert (evidently, a universal theme) and running into a rural band of crazies (one of whom wears a burqa while wielding a mace) and mixes in zombies for no apparent reason. It isn't as outrageous as you might think, but it's a fun hybrid of slasher, zombie movie and backwoods survival horror told from a Pakistani point of view.
of 28

The Old Dark House (1932)

The Old Dark House
© Kino

In this lesser-known entry in Universal's golden age of horror, travelers trapped in a torrential downpour one dark and stormy night stop to ask for shelter in an "old dark house" occupied by a strange, twisted family -- including an abrasive religious zealot, a 100-year-old patriarch and a homicidal pyromaniac, not to mention a monstrous, lumbering, violent butler (Boris Karloff).

of 28

Monster Man (2003)

Monster Man
© Lionsgate
Despite some annoying characters and uneven humor, Monster Man delivers a fun, blood-soaked tale of a pair of friends driving to a wedding (Has no one heard of the highway?) who encounter a mutant driving the coolest monster truck this side of Bigfoot. His inbred family is into witchcraft and seeks a new body for the maimed, undead older brother. Not that excuse again.
of 28

Spider Baby, or the Maddest Story Ever Told (1964)

Spider Baby
© Image
This ahead-of-its-time shocker, made in 1964 but not released until 1968, features an aging Lon Chaney Jr. as the caretaker of an inbred family suffering from Merrye Syndrome, which makes them regress to an increasingly violent, childlike state as they age. When a pair of distant relatives arrive looking to take over the aging, remote estate, they fall prey to the murderous family, including the more deranged folk in the basement.
of 28

Severance (2006)

© Magnolia
In this darkly humorous British outing from the director of Triangle and Black Death, a company team-building retreat in the wilderness turns into a bloodbath when masked assailants target them for death.
of 28

Storm Warning (2008)

Storm Warning
© Dimension
In this Australian entry, the backwoods take the intriguing form of an island where a yuppie couple gets stranded while boating. Unfortunately for them, the isle is home to a barbaric family out to protect their marijuana crop from interlopers.
of 28

Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964) / 2001 Maniacs (2004)

Two Thousand Maniacs
© Image
Created by wizard of gore Herschell Gordon Lewis, the story of Two Thousand Maniacs! and its sequel centers around the town of Pleasant Valley, whose ghostly inhabitants use their Southern charm to lure in Yankees and kill them in as cartoonishly violent a manner as possible in retaliation for the town being ravaged in 1865 by Union soldiers.
of 28

Frightmare (1974)

© Shriek Show
A seemingly kindly old lady living on a remote farm is in fact a bloodthirsty cannibal with a fondness for brains. Her husband tries to keep her at bay, but he's inept at preventing her from luring in young women with the promise of a Tarot card reading -- at which point she breaks out her electric drill and...well, you get the picture.
of 28

Trapped (1982)

© Code Red

Also known as Baker County, U.S.A., this surprisingly dramatic, not overly exploitive backwoods survival thriller about a group of city folks who run afoul of some country yokels when they witness a murder. It's Backwoods Justice 101, but it refreshingly doesn't paint all of the country folk as uniformly bloodthirsty, ignorant heathens.

of 28

Wolf Creek (2005)

Wolf Creek
© The Weinstein Co.

Dark, disturbing and brutal, Wolf Creek takes advantage of the vast expanse of the Australian Outback, the perfect setting for a sociopath with a tow truck to lure in a group of young people whose car has broken down and then proceed to torture and kill them. And so he does.

of 28

Motel Hell (1980)

Motel Hell
As much a dark comedy as a horror movie, Motel Hell follows the exploits of a deranged brother and sister team who trick people into staying at their hotel (in one scene, using a hilarious fake cow to block the road), where they quickly remove their vocal chords and "plant" them in their garden for later harvesting as part of their award-winning smoked sausage.
of 28

We're Going to Eat You (1980)

We Are Going to Eat You
© Tokyo Shock

In this campy farce, a small rural village whose inhabitants have developed a taste for human flesh struggles to keep everyone well fed. Iconic Hong Kong filmmaker Tsui Hark mixes horror with slapstick comedy, martial arts and a little bit of roller skating action to boot.

of 28

Sheitan (2006)

© Tartan
A group of partygoers in France accepts an invitation to an isolated farm, where they encounter a Satanic hillbilly with a fondness for murder and inbreeding.
of 28

Tourist Trap (1979)

Tourist Trap
© Full Moon
This genuinely creepy tale combines slasher thrills with a supernatural element, as the proprietor of a remote roadside museum (played with a brilliant weirdo aplomb by Chuck Connors) has the power to control the figures in the exhibits with his mind. Mannequins haven't been this scary since, well, Mannequin.
of 28

Wrong Turn (2003)

Wrong Turn
© 20th Century Fox
Gleefully excessive violence colors this frequently absurd (in a good way) movie about a family of inbred cannibal mutants living in the West Virginia mountains. Eat your heart out, Deliverance. Really, they'll eat your heart out.
of 28

Hatchet (2007)

© Anchor Bay
Deformed maniac Victor Crowley lives in a shack in the middle of the Louisiana swamp and will rip to shreds anyone who comes close to his turf. Unfortunately for them, a group of tourists whose boat sinks nearby does just that. Laugh-out-loud funny and splattery violent, Hatchet delivers the backwoods goods.
of 28

Misery (1990)


Based on the Stephen King novel, this thriller isn't as graphic or perverse as many backwoods movies, but it shrewdly executes all of the elements, from the stranded traveler (in this case, a bestselling novelist who crashes his car on a snowy mountain road) to the unhinged recluse (a deranged fan) to the twisted cat-and-mouse game and, of course, the torture (hobbling!).

of 28

Calvaire (2004)

© Palm Pictures
In this Belgian film, a singer on his way to a gig stops to stay at a remote bed and breakfast when his car breaks down. The seemingly harmless owner is an old man who, it turns out, just wants a wife. If you happen to be a man, well, he can make it work. Warped and shocking, Calvaire moves slowly to a powerful climax.
of 28

The Cottage (2008)

The Cottage
© Dimension
This is backwoods horror-comedy at its best, as a pair of bumbling kidnappers take their victim to an isolated rural area that's inhabited by a crazed, homicidal farmer. Bad stuff goes down.
of 28

Frontier(s) (2008)

© Lionsgate
This over-the-top French fare finds a group of looters at an secluded hotel that turns out to be run by neo-Nazis intent on using the guests to either procreate the master race or feed it.
of 28

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) / The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre movie poster 1974
Movie Poster Image Art/ Moviepix/ Getty Images
The influential original set the standard for modern backwoods horror, with its tale of an insane family of slaughterhouse workers who enjoy killing, skinning and eating any outsiders who happen by. The remake was a solid expansion of the storyline, despite Michael Bay's involvement.
of 28

The Hills Have Eyes (1977) / The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

Hills Have Eyes
© Vanguard
Wes Craven took The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and added the perverse streak of his own The Last House on the Left for the cult classic original, while French director Alexandre Aja managed to deliver a worthy reimagining.
of 28

Friday the 13th (1980) et al.

Friday the 13th
© Paramount
The genius locale of a summer camp serves as the setting for this classic series of unusually consistent films featuring Jason Vorhees (and his mother) dispatching of horny counselors and partygoers who dare set foot on his land: "Get off my lawn!" (I like to envision Jason with Clint Eastwood's voice.)