I have family who live in the mountains of Maine and New Hampshire. They are wonderful people, and they live in the closest thing to heaven you will ever find on Earth. The mountains surround them, and wild deer can be seen walking through their yards. But, even in the most beautiful and serene spots, we get that uneasy feeling now, because of cinema. The feeling that some odd, inbred freak might be watching us from the woods, breathing deep and aiming his hand-made bow. We imagine that, in the shadows of such places, live a breed of people so feral and terrifying, we only speak of them in hushed tones.
The ones I hear about in the Northeast are called Melonheads, and the most messed up thing about them is that supposedly they really exist. Here are six movies that make me dread taking long walks in the woods or having my car breakdown some place it shouldn’t.
Deliverance is the movie that introduced me to fingerpicking and anal rape.
Alright, this is one of those ” I can only watch you once” movies. Why? Because it is so realistically terrifying. This is one of those movies you watch that gnaws on your guts while you watch it because this is stuff that REALLY happens to people. Granted, this is an extreme case, but still, not a completely foreign concept, which makes it even harder to stomach.
For the two of you who don’t know, Deliverance is about a camping trip some friends go on that turns depraved really fast thanks to some creepy rednecks who have a penchant for making men squeal like pigs. The whole film has an odd sense of dread, even before things get really bad, and it is very much like Straw Dogs in the sense that it shows how human beings are capable of becoming animals when they are pushed far enough.
Deliverance set the tone for most of the films to come on this list, and did so in a ridiculously disturbing manner. No man watches this film and forgets it. And you pucker, you pucker the entire time.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Leatherface 5K had only one runner this year, but man was he determined.
In this case, unlike The Hills Have Eyes, I am going with the original and NOT the remake. In my opinion, the remake did everything wrong. The original Texas Chainsaw might be the seminal horror film for me. It shook me to my core the first time I saw it, and I think very few horror films can hit the nail on the head that directly. And while some people mistake the terror of this film to be Leatherface, they are wrong. The terror of this film comes from the dinner scene, when you realize that Leatherface is just one piece of this super f*cked-up puzzle.
While there are many films that have spun off on the “twisted family ideal” since this one, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the grandfather of them all, and the basic blueprint for all “redneck” based horror movies that seem to feature “families”.
The Hills Have Eyes
If you guys didn’t know that this big-headed-freak was a reference to Rubber Johnny, well, now you do. I think.
While I am giving a nod to the original Wes Craven film from 1977 for setting the grim tone, it was the 2006 Alexandre Aja remake that really disturbed (and kind of floored) me.
The Hills Have Eyes is about a family on a vacation in an RV who get terrorized and picked off by a group of creepy-ass mutants (who were mutants as a result of nuclear bombing fallout in the desert). A woman gets felt up and a bay gets kidnapped and Mother’s get shot in front of their kids. It is all very unsettling, but it is inbred horror at its finest, if you ask me. Which you kind of did by opening this article.
While Deliverance had some really heady themes, somehow those themes were amped up when they were happening to a whole family and not a group of male friends. I consider the scene that centers around the hillbillies lighting the Dad on fire and then brutalizing the family to be one of the most disturbing and unsettling scenes I have ever seen in a horror film. The whole film is really just exhausting, and while we all may be rooting for the Dad to get back the baby, by the end you realize, anyone who would survive this situation would be driven to suicide within a month. You would never “get over” what happened.
Yeah, that is how my mind works.
Hipster Lord of the Rings is looking good so far, but I’m still not sold.
Rovdyr is a Norwegian horror film (outside of French, my personal favorite) about a group of hipster teens who have to (take a guess) deal with some unruly backwoodsman who take to hunting them like sport. While it treads on familiar territory, it does so in frank and brutal fashion, and unlike some American horror movies, the performances here are what really drive this film. Once the hunt is on, there is a growing sense of dread. You know these people are not in their element, whereas the “hunters” are. You may know where it is going, and you may feel like you have seen it before, but Rovdyr merits a viewing if you enjoy these types of movies because at times, Rovdyr feels very real.
And whenever I place myself into scenarios where I am being hunted by rednecks, in my mind I always end up on a spigot. Fast zombies and rednecks are my weakness. I would be f*cked. Literally.