Horror movies come in all shapes and sizes these days, with some becoming increasingly gruesome in new, disturbing and deviant ways. Gone are the days of good old Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th), Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street) and Michael Myers (Halloween) replaced with the grossest, most disturbing movies of late, bringing to mind the Human Centipede, among others.
Although horror movie creators strive to stretch the limits of sinister gore, I am sure you can agree that there is nothing like a classic back road or road trip horror flick to leave you screaming “Don’t go in there!” or “Of course you’re going to pick up that hitchhiker!” or even “Don’t take directions from that guy!”
In the spirit of Halloween and combining our love of the outdoors and freakishly spooky and disturbing movies we bring you BRMB’s Top 10 Backroad / Road Trip Horror Movies, straight from the folks at Backroad Mapbooks HQ.
1. Deliverance (1972)
Probably the most well-known backcountry horror movie is Deliverance. Starring Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and more, this film tells the story of four Atlanta city slickers who embark on a multi-day canoe trip on the Cahulawassee River in Northern Georgia, one of the last completely natural and pristine locations in the state which is slated to change with the building of a dam on the river. With only a couple of the explorers experienced in backcountry survival, the trip (of course) goes horrible awry when they enter an area that is populated by generations of isolated, inbred mountain dwellers who stalk, hunt and attack the group while they attempt to claw their way out of the wilderness.
2. Psycho (1960)
An all-american classic, Psycho, written by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leah, is a classic horror movie that has stood the test of time, as has the authentic Bates Motel backdrop on the Universal Studios tour.
Fed-up with the way her life has turned out, office worker Marion Crane is trusted by her employer to deposit a hefty sum of money. Instead of heading to the bank, Marion heads out of town with hopes of starting a new life. On the road to her lover’s California store and tired after a long drive and stormy weather, she pulls into the Bates Motel, managed by a quiet young man named Norman, who appears to be severely dominated by his mother — an unrelenting psycho.
3. Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Hardly as predictable as the Movie’s title, this isn’t your regular old cabin, woods or plot. 5 teenagers embark to a cabin on the lake — after a creepy road trip stop at a gas station, their vacation starts to go downhill when they arrive at the cabin and begin to play truth or dare. As one of the guests choses “dare,” the door to the basement flies open and they all head downstairs to some creepy antiquated archives, marking the beginning of the end for these unlucky travellers.
4. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Inspired by the brutal murders committed by Ed Gein in Wisconsin during the 1950s, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is another road trip story gone wrong when 5 friends go to investigate the vandalism of a grave of one of the their grandfathers at the old family homestead.
Along the way they pick up a deranged hitchhiker who talks about his family and how they used to work at the local slaughterhouse (oh yay). The hitchhiker tries to swindle the group but, with no luck, they force him out of the car and drive on to the next gas station, only to find out there is no gas available. They head out to the family homestead where more bloody madness and terror ensues. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was an exceptionally gory movie at the time it was released, in 1974, and was the highest grossing horror movie in history, at 30 million dollars, until it was overtaken by John Carpenter’s Halloween in 1978. Banned in several countries until 1984, this movie was later used as inspiration for Silence of the Lambs.
5. Wrong Turn (2003)
The first installment in the Wrong Turn Series tells the story of 3 college students rock climbing in a remote forest in West Virginia. While scaling a cliff, the first student reaches the top only to be suddenly murdered. The other student cuts the rope and ends up at the bottom of the cliff, running for her life through the forest only to trip on some barbed wire and end up being dragged back into the woods. Then a few more victims are hunted and slaughtered by horribly disfigured Cannibals who have been living off hundreds of unknowing travellers over the years. Will they survive?
6. House of 1,000 Corpses (2003)
Written and directed by Rob Zombie, this story takes place on Halloween 1977, with a group of friends on a roadtrip to write a book on offbeat roadside attractions. During their trip they happen upon a gas station/monster museum where they learn of the local legend of Dr. Satan, who was hanged in a tree close by. As they take off in search of the hanging tree, they pick up a hitchhiker who says she lives nearby, right as their car coincidentally breaks down. The are saved by a charming family who invites them to dinner and a night of disturbing, deviant murder and horror.
7. Jeepers Creepers (2001)
When two siblings head home from college for spring break, driving through the Florida countryside, they encounter an old rusty pickup trying to run them off the road. They later see the driver of the pickup parked next to an abandoned church where he is sliding what looks to be a dead body covered in bloodstained sheets into a large pipe sticking out of the ground. When they go back to investigate they enter a spring break full of not just murder, but inhuman hunger that won’t stop until it’s satisfied.
8. The Shining (1980)
Probably one of the most referenced horror flicks of all-time, The Shining was written by Stephen King and directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick, starring the legendary Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duval and others. The story starts with the arrival of a new caretaker and his family to the remote mountain-isolated Overlook Hotel, which is 25 miles from the closest town. Planning to use the time in solitude to write, main character Jack Torrance discovers the previous caretaker developed cabin fever and killed his family, and himself. The remote hotel closes from October to May — becoming heavily snowed in and even more isolated over time. With no way to escape, the family falls victim to the hotel’s hauntings which eventually tear them apart.
9. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Originally released in 1977 by Wes Craven, this movie was remade and released in 2006. The film begins with a group of scientists who are killed by mutants. Then enters the Carter family, on a road trip from Ohio to San Diego to celebrate their parent’s silver wedding anniversary. After stopping at a gas station and getting directions to a short cut, the family runs over a spike strip with their trailer rendering them stranded. As family members go to find help, they are plagued throughout the movie by attacking mutant humans who have been living off the land near an old nuclear test site.
10. Evil Dead (1981)
This classic horror film and predecessor of horror comedy Army of Darkness revolves around the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, an ancient Sumerian text. A group of college students staying in a cabin near Tennessee discover a book (The Necronomicon), along with an audio tape. After playing the audio translation of the book — a powerful evil is awakened leaving each of the college students to fight for their lives until morning.
Now before you head out on your next backcountry adventure or road trip, let’s take some lessons from our list of top 10 horror movies and employ the following logical rules…
1. Don’t pick up that hitchhiker!
2. Don’t go in the basement!
3. Always have your BRMB GPS Maps on hand to safely steer you out of the deep dark woods.