Small Town Horror

Hey IHSFF Fans. Matthew Robinson from joins the conversation today with a list about small town horror. Matthew is the organizer of the Arizona Filmmaker Showcase which meets once a month to showcase some of Arizona's best independent films. He is an avid horror movie buff as well. Check it out. - Monte Yazzie, IHSFF Festival Director

Name: Matthew Robinson

Title:   Founder

Organization/Outlet: Dark of the Matinee

List Subject:  Small Town Horror

  • What do these films mean to you? Why are they important? How have they influenced you?

Growing up in a fairly large city, Phoenix AZ, I find there is something inherently creepy and unsettling about small towns. A large portion of my family live in small towns, ones with one stop light, and so I am no stranger to them. One reason I think they make such wonderful settings for horror films is there is a strong sense of disconnection from the larger world in small towns. You can believe that some horrible occurrence might happen and the rest of the world wouldn’t know about it for weeks. While there are plenty of horror films set in small towns, the ones I pick have a strong sense of the dynamics of such a place, the ways everyone knows everyone and there is a certain rhythm to life. When faced with a problem, the locals band together and make a stand together. Small towns seem to have secret rules that only the locals know about. These films explore some of those dynamics.


The Mist

Stephen King loves to write about small towns and Frank Darabont adds a master’s touch to this adaptation. I love the ways in which the townsfolk devolve while trapped in a grocery story. The religious element adds an extra layer to the horror and the ending packs quite the punch. Check out the black and white cut of the film for an extra special experience.



Before Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn wrote and directed this hilarious horror comedy that uses the small town dynamic for laughs as well as scares. This film is a throwback to creature features. The small town is the perfect setting for an alien invasion, letting things play out slowly before getting absurd.


The Blob

While I enjoy the original, I really do love Chuck Russell's remake from 1988. The make-up effects are truly wonderful here but that’s not the only thing that seriously improves from the original. The film has a real sense of urgency and terror unlike the B-movie feel of the original. Again this movie plays off the way in which something awful can be happening in a small town and the rest of the world would never know.

The Fog

While certainly not John Carpenter’s best film, The Fog often gets overlooked. There is a great sense of location here being a coastal town. I really like the sense of myth building in this film. This feels like a ghost story that would be specific to the area. The Fog is like an urban legend that comes to life.


Tremors has it all. There are laughs, great creature designs and huge entertainment. What I like most of all is the sense of the whole town banding together. Unlike in The Mist where the small town nature tears everyone apart, here there is a strong sense of community. In the end I think that element is what makes this film work so well.


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