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.
26. The Butcher (2005)
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.
25. Blood Ranch (2006)
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.
24. Small Town Folk (2009)
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.
23. Broken (2007)
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.
22. Hell's Ground (2008)
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.
21. The Old Dark House (1932)
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).
20. Monster Man (2003)
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.
19. Spider Baby, or the Maddest Story Ever Told (1964)
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.
18. Severance (2006)
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.
17. Storm Warning (2008)
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.