I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx


by Johnathon Davis
Feb. 22, 2013
Ah hillbillies, a terrific horror plot device. Why is this you ask? Well I think their power lies in the fact that nobody knows much about them. There is nothing more frightening than the unknown or unexpected, so when you go out into the woods on a wilderness adventure and find some crazed dude with a machete or something you tend to feel like soiling yourself, right?

There’s also a control aspect. They know the land you’re on by heart day or night, while you desperately scramble around just to find a stick to defend yourself with. I know there is a perceived lack of intelligence that comes with films like this, but I feel their intelligence lies in other places, much like wild animals. I know wild animals don’t hunt down interlopers and comment on their “pretty mouths” (you all know what movie I’m talking about) but you know what I’m driving at here.

The Hillbilly is also a great symbol of social commentary, believe it or not. The film Rituals (AKA The Creeper) is a very good example. Here the menace is a sort of representation of PTSD and the horrors of medicine as much as he is a motivator for man to become savage to defeat him. This catalyst of savagery is perhaps the most used idea when it all gets down to brass tacks. As I said, man must become a beast to conquer a beast, and the hillbilly presents us with a reflection of ourselves we try to tell ourselves doesn’t exist.

To trace the history of these supposed genetic throwbacks in cinema would take a very extensive essay and this collection of trailers laid out to titillate are by no means a definitive list. I can personally vouch for several of the films listed in this collection as I own and view them on a regular basis. There’s something satisfying about films where people lay down their decency and become in touch with their baser instincts. Once again reference Rituals, this time via its tagline:

In a world turned suddenly savage the answers become...brutally simple!

Johnathon lives in Portland, Oregon. He makes collages. He also writes things for Network Awesome, as well as his weekly movie review blog which can be found at http://fshomevideo.blogspot.com. You should read it, it's really terrific.