Going West: A Modern Perspective on Southern Gothic and West Coast Horror pt1

It’s that time of year where everyone is hitting the open road for adventure and relaxation . Winter is finally over and it’s time to get out and explore nature . I recently took a road trip with my girlfriend Andrea in New Mexico and here is how some top horror movies influenced my adventure.
In 1957 a man named Edward Gein was arrested for murder and grave robbing . Edward grew up on a 160 acre farm in the middle of no where . His life was the true house of horrors story that influenced Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While we were driving down the highway headed south out of Santa Fe, we had stopped at a rest stop and in the bathroom there was a pamphlet saying ”How to get to heaven from Texas“ complete with a logo of a shot gun and a rose . A lump formed in my throat as it made me think of the fact that there are tons of people out there (and obviously right where we were) who are intensely into religion and guns . This pamphlet and the vast flat landscape was a true reminder that we were in an area with no civilization for miles. ‘No wonder it took so long for people to discover what Ed Gein was up to’ I realized as I gazed out to the miles of desert. His farmhouse was secluded and his mother was a strict bible thumping disciplinarian who instilled in Ed that women were whores and the outside world was evil .
Even though cows were near the roadside you could not see houses or any signs of people for as far as the eye could see. No one would ever know what was taking place on these farms on a daily basis . They are truly in the middle of no where in complete seclusion, and now so were we. In reality, I’m sure nothing is going on but farm life, however I could easily see how Ed’s real life unfolded in such a horrific manner. I flinched as I reminisced over one the most iconic horror movies of all time . You could just imagine Leatherface running through the field wielding a bloody chainsaw. The only cars on the highway were primarily large Diesel trucks and old time RV’s. The trucks made me think of 1986’s Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive . The story was about a radiation storm on earth that turned the trucks against their makers . With every truck that past us a part of me would think “I wonder if someone is even in there “! As we headed back to our hotel, the scenery sparked in my mind the 1997 Kurt Russel movie Breakdown about a couple stranded In the New Mexico desert after their car breaks down . A trucker offers to take the wife to the nearby cafe for help, only to kidnap her . Everyone in town is in on it, the truckers , police and even people in the cafe all plot to rob and murder unsuspecting tourists driving through their town by disabling their vehicles .
There was 1 cafe rest stop area . It had a few billboards advertising showers , a cafe and gasoline . One stop shop for travelers . We did not stop, it looked way to creepy and I couldn’t help but think of how the Breakdown plot could happen very easily to us on this trip. We finally came across a very small town and stopped to use the restroom and get supplies . The buildings in the town were abandoned . The cars were from another era and resembled a graveyard for autos. There were buildings but very, very little civilization . My mind wandered and I thought maybe we both shouldn’t go in the store at the same time in case someone tampered with the car. Then I thought, wait no maybe we should stick together .
The town reminded me of the scene in 2005 House Of Wax, where from a distance it looked like there were people and civilization in the stores but upon a closer look they were dead bodies covered in wax. Was that what we were about to stumble upon??
The desert mountains itself reminded me of 2006’s The Hills Have Eyes remake which was based on 1977’s Wes Craven’s film of the same name. A family is driving in their camper van through the desert and they get stranded where a nuclear test site has created mutant cannibals . The mutants hide out in the hills and wait for unsuspecting tourists to fall into their traps they have set up by puncturing tires . If people were hiding in the hills you would never know it because the land is enormous and anything could blend into those mountains . I kept checking the gas gauge and how many bars of cell phone service we had just in case…
In the small towns we saw a few motels . They were all abandoned . They resembled the motel you would see in 2007’s Vacancy which was about a couple who’s car breaks down and they are forced to stay in a motel in the middle of no where where on the motel TVs there are slasher movies being shown which turns out to be real courage of the people who were killed in the motel rooms .
The biggest business in the desert towns seemed to be auto wreckage yards . There were hundreds and hundreds of broken down smashed up cars from all time eras .
One of my top horror movies is also set in a desert motel, 2003’s Identity starring John Cusack . It’s a about 10 people seeking refuge from a storm in the only motel around while a serial killer awaits trial for murdering people in a motel . The limo driver ( John Cusack’s character ) vows to find the identity of the killer but there is a huge twist at the end revealing it is him and all of his personalities.
Roswell, New Mexico had a car wreckage business on the side of the highway that had so many wrecked cars it reminded me of the closing scene of From Dusk Till Dawn when the camera showed the back of the nightclub and it was just a auto graveyard . It made me think how many accidents happen on this highway a day ? Where do people go for help ? How do you even call for help because the cell phone service goes in and out with only 1 bar at most .
Even if you are physically fit the amount of mileage between farms is FAR and the dry desert heat will quickly knock you down. Then you would still have to hike to the farm house and hope it’s not abandoned and that the people there are willing to help .
Along our journey we wanted to hike to a hot spring in Manby, New Mexico . It was listed in a tourist newspaper at the hotel . So we set off to find the otters . As we got closer on the Waze App the roads ended and turned into just skinny dirt roads only wide enough for one car to pass through .
I started to panic because we were in a topless camaro . There were houses which looked like compounds around but they were gated off and again had abandoned cars all over . There was no sign of a tourist center or sign of a hiking trail . The dirt roads got worse . Then we saw a hand written sign saying “ Four Wheel Drive Past This Point “ . Of course my girlfriend said “we came all this way let’s just keep going “. We went a little further then I noticed that we only had 1/4 of a tank of gas , the rocky road was scraping and jerking our Camaro around and that I had no cell service . I finally said no we need to turn back .When we finally got back to a real highway and stopped at a gas station i asked the Native American lady about the hot spring and she shook her head in terror and made a hand notion like the car would’ve crashed . I told my girlfriend and we continued onto a tourist center on the side of the highway and asked about the hot spring and the lady said “ Oh you would’ve definitely bottomed out” ! Great, good to know that, yet the tourist magazine doesn’t tell you that you will crash and die if you aren’t in a Jeep and that even a Jeep barely makes it down the road . Also a special Fuck You to the cuntcierge at the Hilton who encouraged this trip.
The tourist center clerk then told us that the people who live there DO NOT want tourists there so they put up cautionary signs to scare people away . They also lined the road with “ art work “ (see pictures) . CREEPY !
The houses by the hiking trail had building with religious paintings on them ( see picture ) and there were grave sites that looked like they were in a backyard . The compounds were also fenced in with tree branches linked together in a Walking Dead spike formation.
At the tourist center they had actual paper road maps and a telephone booth with a telephone book.
To young people reading this (refer to picture). It’s what we used before iPhones . Being a bartender, I always have cash on me . Imagine you need help and only have your debit card . Don’t be that person . It infuriates me that people never have cash on them . My girlfriend and I heavily debate this issue because everything is credit card based technology now . You do not interact with people anymore . Well good luck to you all when there’s a blackout apocalypse.
Me and my cash and paper maps will know what to do .
The purpose of this road trip was to see how writers of horror movies come up with their ideas. Some are completely made up and some are loosely based on real life people and events . After seeing remote highways in the desert I can easily see how our imaginations can get the best of us .
Never stop looking for inspiration and creativity .
Sometimes you just need an adventure to cleanse the bitter taste of life from your soul .
Until next time hugs and kisses xoxo Jenny

About Jenny Marie 23 Articles
Here’s my top 5 picks 1. 1931 Dracula with Bela Lugosi I am a huge fan of classic horror 2.1978 Halloween 3.1994 The Crow 4.2003 Identity 5.1973 The Exorcist ( I have only watched this movie a handful of times because it absolutely terrifies me ) A little bit about me .... I am a fan of slasher movies , in particular 70’s -80’s era . I prefer Vampire movies over Zombie movies . I will not watch anything that has to do with religion . I grew up Catholic and the Exorcist terrified me . I just don’t enjoy that type of genre . The church scared me enough growing up . Sci -Fi Horror doesn’t really interest me too much . Thrillers are my second pick to watch over slasher movies . Some of my favorite directors are John Carpenter , Eli Roth , Steven King and Rob Zombie . I look forward to sharing my experiences and opinions to all of you .... “ Welcome to my nightmare, I think your gonna like it , I think your gonna feel you belong “ - Alice Cooper