Cultural Gutter: Into the Woods

Stranger Things

I missed my last rotation on The Cultural Gutter due to holiday travel, so I’m overcompensating this time with Into the Woods, a meandering look at childhood in semi-rural Kentucky and a trio of films I think form a pretty solid basis for American science fiction folk horror.

I’ve spent the latter half of 2016 exploring that liminal space where folk horror and science fiction meet, typified by (mostly British) programs like the oft-mentioned Quatermass 2, These Are the Damned, Children of the Stone, The Stone Tape, and Penda’s Fen. At its core there is something very British about folk horror, so tied is it to the landscape of rural and semi-rural England, the ancient Pagan rites and cultures that, because they did not write anything down, lend themselves so readily to mystery, interpretation, and myth-making. Eventually, however, as an American lad, I started thinking about American folk horror and, as is my way, the places where American folk horror and science fiction intersect. This was an avenue of idle speculation inspired by a few things, not the least of which would be 1) the fact that I grew up in the rural countryside of Kentucky, in a place that later became suburban and was, in the day, replete with local legends, ghost stories, and folklore; and 2) Stranger Things.

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