9 Films About Small Town Secrets

Monday, October 4 by

Every town has a secret. While most are trivial matters, like the true age of the oldest building or the amount of led in the drinking water, some secrets are so shocking that they must be hidden from the outside world at all costs.

In Wes Craven’s new film, My Soul to Take the town of Riverton, MA, has such a secret. It seems a serial killer who died years ago is somehow managing to kill teens from beyond the grave. That’s the kind of information that, if made public, could decimate attendance at the annual Blueberry Festival. But when it comes to Hollywood towns, Riverton is not alone. Here are nine of our favorite fictional towns with secrets from the world of cinema.

Derry, Maine – IT (1990)

Not unlike the town in My Soul to Keep, Derry, Maine, has a bit of a supernatural child-killer problem. And unfortuantly, the damn thing likes to take the form of a horrifying clown named Pennywise. Rather than call in some help from…god knows where, the town pretty much just lives with IT. But a group of kids finally says enough is enough, and destroy the creature. Years later, IT comes back, so the children, who are now grown, must do battle again. I think they win, but I don’t remember for sure, as I was hiding under my bed and pissing myself after the first 20 minutes.

Largo, Arizona Territory – High Plains Drifter (1973)

The town of Largo has a dark secret: all the townspeople are pussies. That, in and of itself, isn’t so bad. But the fact that they looked on and did nothing as a marshall was whipped to death by criminals is something they’d rather not publicize. And the fact that the possible reincarnation of the marshall is back in town looking for vengence is also a sore subject. On a lighter note, this is about the only film I can think of in which the hero is also a rapist. Come to think of it, that’s not a light note at all. It’s more of a fun fact, I guess.

Gatlin, Nebraska – Children of the Corn (1984)

Want to know a secret about the town of Gatlin, Nebraska? All the adults are dead! That’s a doozy. Throw in the fact that they were murdered by the townschildren and you’ve got a real hot piece of gossip on your hands. If you stop by the town, I hope you like going to chuch, since that’s about all they do (besides killing people). Also, there’s corn.

Summerisle, UK – The Wicker Man (1973)

Not to be confused with the Nic Cage remake, the original Wicker Man is a pretty solid film, if you consider low budget, British horror films from the 70′s solid. When Police Sergeant Neil Howie arrives on the island of Summerisle to investigate a missing girl, the townspeople are less than forthcoming. Then again, if you belonged to a neo-pagan sex cult involved in human sacrifice, you’d probably keep that pretty tight to your chest, as well.

Cragwich, UK – Lesbian Vampire Killers (2009)

Did I say this list was about some of our favorite films? I lied. I’ve never seen Lesbian Vampire Killers, and I know almost nothing of the setting of Cragwich (other than it’s fake). But what I do know is the town has a secret involving lesbian vampires, which gave me an excuse to spend two-hours Googling "lesbian vampires." So it makes the list.

Twin Peaks, Washington – "Twin Peaks" (1990)

When the local homecoming queen turns up dead, it’s not long before the Feds coming snooping around the town of Twin Peaks. And the last thing a town with secrets needs is some nosy FBI agent asking questions. Beneath the town’s spotless exterior is a world of drugs, obesssion, and some wierd thing named Bob. Also, there’s a backwards talking "little person." No town wants to air that dirty laundry. (Note: the series spawned the 1992 film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with me, so it makes the list.)

Royston Vasey, UK – "The League of Gentlemen" (1999)

Royston Vasey doesn’t take kindly to strangers, probably because its secrets include murderous shopkeepers, murderous black-faced circus performers, and of course, a murderous butcher involved in a bestiality. That’s a lot of murder. No wonder they like to keep things local. (Note: Like "Twin Peaks," this show was also spun off into a movie, The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse, in 2005).

Midwich, UK – Village of the Damned (1960)

Imagine that everyone in your town passed out at the same time. Now imagine that when everyone woke up, all the women of childbearing age were pregnant. Now imagine that the children involved are all born on the same day, and they grow up to posses telepathic powers. Well that’s exactly what happened to the town of Elyria, Ohio, in 1983. Also, I’m told it’s similar to the plot of the British film, Village of the Damned, but I’ve never seen that, so I wrote about Elyria, instead. As the wise man said, "write what you know."

Sandford, UK – Hot Fuzz (2007)

When hard-nosed London detective Nicholas Angel is transferred to the sleepy village of Sandford, everything seems in order. But when people start showing up dead, Angel discovers the real reason the town is crime free: the town leaders are murdering anyone who jeopardizes the town’s title of "Village of the Year." Angel and local cop Danny Butterman blow the lid of the cabal, ending their reign of terror in a climactic shootout inspired by various 80′s action films.

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