The Top 10 Backwoods Horror Movies

What is backwoods horror? The formula should be familiar to even casual horror fans: city slickers traveling through rural territory run headlong into deranged, frequently inbred and unhygienic, country folk seeking to show them what's what in as grisly a manner as possible. These creepy movies make the most of their deserted locales, finding ample horror in isolated cabins and forgotten towns.

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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

This tale of an insane family of slaughterhouse workers who enjoy killing, skinning, and eating outsiders created the template for modern backwoods horror. The remake, starring Jessica Biel, is a solid expansion of the storyline.

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

Hills Have Eyes
© Vanguard

Wes Craven took "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and added some of the perversion of his own "The Last House on the Left" to create this cult classic. French director Alexandre Aja managed to deliver a worthy reimagining of the story in his 2006 remake.

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Misery (1990)


Based on a Stephen King novel, this thriller isn't as graphic or perverse as many backwoods movies, but it includes 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!).

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Friday the 13th (1980)

Friday the 13th
© Paramount

A rural summer camp serves as the setting for this classic series of consistently entertaining films, which feature Jason Vorhees (and his mother) dispatching horny counselors and partygoers who dare set foot on his land.

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

Two Thousand Maniacs
© Image

Created by wizard of gore Herschell Gordon Lewis, "Two Thousand Maniacs!" and its sequel center on the town of Pleasant Valley, whose ghostly inhabitants use their Southern charm to lure in Yankees and kill them in as violent a manner as possible—all in retaliation for the town being ravaged by Union soldiers in 1865.

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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 motel (in one scene, using a hilarious fake cow to block the road), where they quickly remove their victims' vocal chords and "plant" them in their garden so that they can later be harvested and made into the couple's award-winning smoked sausage.

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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.

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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 area that's inhabited by a crazed, homicidal farmer.

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The Old Dark House (1932)

The Old Dark House
© Kino

In this lesser-known film from 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 a 100-year-old patriarch and a homicidal pyromaniac, not to mention a monstrous, lumbering, violent butler (Boris Karloff).

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The Butcher (2005)

© Lionsgate

Six teens traveling along a backroad are menaced by a pickup truck in this 2005 chiller. After they crash, they trek toward a nearby house and are surprised to find that it's owned by the truck driver. Turns out that he and his wife are deranged killers, and they have a daughter who draws people in with her innocent appearance.