The open road is the path to freedom. It’s also a teacher of life’s hardest lessons. Don’t wait for the next gas station. Don’t take the back road. And don’t get hacked to pieces in the middle of nowhere.
To whet your road horror appetite, here’s a collection of modern classics and some that may have fallen below your radar.
1. Dead End (2003)
In what is perhaps the least heartwarming Christmas movie ever made, a family road trip turns sour (Don’t they all?) when they decide to take a different route to a holiday gathering. Secrets and lies come to the surface along with a mysterious woman with a baby who seems to lead them deeper and deeper into the darkness.
2. Jeepers Creepers (2001)
There’s bad luck and then there’s Jeepers Creepers. What are the chances that you and your sibling would happen upon an ax-wielding demon on the last day of its annual feeding frenzy? And what are the chances that you would want to investigate the situation after your first brush with death? Perhaps it’s not as much about bad luck as it is a poor sense of self-preservation.
3. Wrong Turn (2003)
Following a tried and true road horror formula, a group of young road trippers end up stranded in the middle of the wooded West Virginia countryside. Though they suspect a trap – perhaps it’s the spikes strategically placed on the road to purposely puncture their tires that gave it away – they venture into the forest for help only to discover the cabin of some notorious and deformed mountain men who would love nothing more than to eat them raw.
4. Joy Ride (2001)
Later renamed Road Kill (a repulsive decision), Joy Ride brings yet another arena for Paul Walker to display his lack of personality. He, along with Leelee Sobieski (The Glass House) and Steve Zahn (That Thing You Do!) decide to mess with a rogue trucker’s fragile heart and smoldering libido by posing as a sultry babe over CB airwaves. We’re scared for the young road trippers but we also wonder whether the trucker’s retaliation is exactly what they deserve.
5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)
TCM is huge – it’s spawned seven sequels and counting – but this is where it all began. Two brothers and their girlfriends, on a final hurrah before their deployment to Vietnam, end up stranded in the wilderness and being abducted by the local sheriff. The events that ensue are gory bordering on comical. And that’s what we love about the franchise
6. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
A suburban family find themselves stranded in the desert after a barbed belt blows out their tires. (Sound familiar?) A family of mutants, deformed as a result of nuclear fallout, discovers them and attempts to be of assistance, which involves a healthy amount of kidnapping and impaling.
7. Carriers (2009)
A plague outbreak has wiped out most of the human race, and two brothers and their girlfriends race across country, dodging the virus and playing dirty with fellow travelers. The disease creates a Walking Dead-like eeriness and a moral ambiguity that goes hand-in-hand with survival horror.
8. Black Cadillac (2003)
Three high school students are making their way home after a night at a roadhouse across state lines. This is road horror as John Hughes might have imagined it, with a coming-of-age tale wrapped up in an ominous game of cat and mouse with the unknown drivers of a vintage Caddy.
9. Nothing but Trouble (1991)
The cast and genre classification suggests that Nothing but Trouble is a comedy. Don’t be fooled. This film is a bizarre meeting of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Working Girl and Blues Brothers. Okay, it’s probably not going to chill you to the bone, but the overriding creepiness (the same unidentifiable creepiness we witnessed in 1993’s Super Mario Bros.) is enough to elicit serious heebie-jeebies.