The Scary Countryside

Jason Pitzl-Waters notes an upcoming Guillermo del Toro movie:

The duo will be co-producing Born, a film adaptation of [Clive] Barker’s story about a family who gets more than they bargained for when they move to the English countryside.

The scary countryside is a staple of British–and frequently North American–film-making. Perhaps that cliché is the flip side of the Frazerian notion of the countryside as repository of ancient beliefs and practices.

In movies, ancient practices are always scary. When my book Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America was in production, the first cover design (not used) was referred to as the “Children of the Corn cover” in honor of the movie stereotype.

Urban directors make these pictures for urban audiences — who already harbor odd fears about nature and wildlife, like purse-snatching elk.

In British film, every picturesque village is controlled by a secret cabal of child-sacrificing Satanists, disguised, for instance, as the local branch of the Women’s Institute.

The editor and publisher of our county newspaper came to dinner last night (they are married to each other) and we got to talking about this very cinematic phenomenon.

We decided that the secret cabal in charge hereabouts would have to be the [Blank] County Cattlewomen. Don’t get yourself on their bad side.