Sons of the Forest: 5 Horror Movies You Didn’t Know Inspired the Game

Sons of the Forest it may not come with a grainy VHS filter (yet), but the moment you run it, it’s clear Early Access on Steam survival game is one foot in the 80’s. The theme of the menu sounds like it was ripped straight out of a mid-range VHS movie, one that was made to satisfy hungry video owners.

Its influences, however, are more specific than the general 1980s shlock. The Forest, and by extension, Sons of the Forest, owes much to shocking 1980s such as the infamous Holocaust of Cannibals. Oh, and Disney – but we’ll get to that later. So let’s take a look at the five videos that the developer has confirmed End of the nightThe Sons of the Forest would not exist without him.

Can you see the horror influence in the trailer as well?

The cannibal holocaust (1980, directed by Ruggero Deodato)

This is one of the more tame screenshots we could use.

An infamous nasty movie, Cannibal Holocaust is one of the first movies found and has muddied reality long before Project Blair Witch. It tells the story of four filmmakers who go to the Amazon rainforest to make a documentary about cannibal tribes. They never return, but their footage is found and doesn’t tell a pretty story.

While this may sound like a clue to the history of cameramen vs. cannibals, the Cannibal Holocaust story is a bit more complicated. It becomes obvious that all but one of the filmmakers did some horrific things to make their supposed documentary. This in turn led to their brutal deaths.

Director Ruggero Deodato even went so far as to make the stars of the film disappear from public view. He was later arrested for murder but released when he proved the actors were still alive. However, the film does contain actual torture and slaughter of animals, which has rightly been removed from some current releases. It was banned in many countries at the time.

In Sons of the Forest, you may not have a camera, but you are an invader. As Ben Falcone of Endnight notes, “You invade their forest, you murder them, you cut down all their trees. Maybe they’re just trying to survive in this forest. Maybe you’re the bad guy.”

Available on: Amazon, Thrill

The hills have eyes (1977, directed by Wes Craven)

Contrary to popular belief, hills have eyes.

The heroes of Wes Craven’s 1977 film, another inspiration for Endnight, meet the same misfortunes as Sons of the Woods. Trapped in the Mojave Desert (Nellis Air Force Base will be familiar to anyone who has played Fallout: New Vegas), they are kidnapped by a group of cannibal villagers. They eventually fight back, but by then the body count is quite high.

It’s not as gruesome as Cannibal Holocaust, but it’s cruel and brutal in other ways. Like the movie, Sons of the Forest emphasizes that no matter how well you arm yourself, that’s not your thing. And while the jury is debating whether the game’s cannibals qualify as mutants, some of them are just as impressive as Pluto, Michael Berryman’s formidable antagonist.

Available on: Amazon, Screambox, Shudder

I spit on your grave (1978, directed by Meir Zarchi)

Even the scenery itself is reminiscent.

I Spit On Your Grave wasn’t banned in as many countries as Cannibal Holocaust, but in the 1980s this exploitation movie was very much considered nasty. Critic Roger Ebert called it “…a disgusting piece of garbage…a film so sick, reprehensible and contemptible that I find it hard to believe it’s being played in respectable theaters.”

Was he right? Let’s say even today it’s a tough watch. It features an extended sequence of sexual assault that, while fueling the character’s quest for bloody revenge, is still hard to justify. The Forest starts with your son being kidnapped, so the desire for revenge is strong in this game.

You’re just some guy in Sons of the Forest, so his influence there is less obvious. But the game reflects the rawness and brutality of I Spit in Your Grave, to the point where you can feel really uncomfortable after what is probably self-defense.

Available on: Amazon

Bambi (1942. Supervision, dir. David Hand)

Yes, it’s horror.

No, you didn’t go to another article. Admittedly, Endnight may not have a particularly vetted Bambi name, but they listed Disney movies as a major influence. In an interview on this site, Creative Director Ben Falcone explained:

“Disney stuff was the inspiration for a day in the woods. There are divine rays from the sky everywhere, butterflies and generally lovely areas. One of the things I don’t like about horror movies is that they’re all one-tone, when they’re always just dark and depressing.”

It’s true, the world of Sons of the Forest looks absolutely gorgeous, at least during the day. There are even cute touches like a butterfly landing on your axe, or a bird perched on a skull. Were it not for cannibals, mutants and helicopter wrecks, you could almost be on vacation.

Available on: Disney Plus, Amazon

Descent (2005, directed by Neil Marshall)

*pantomime password*

The Descent is not an ’80s movie, but its influence on The Forest and Sons of the Forest is very evident. As beautiful as jumping over trees and streams, in the dark is a different story.

In the film, a group of cavemen enter a previously unexplored cave system only to discover that it is home to a group of blind, flesh-eating humanoids. Things are going as you’d expect, and if you head underground in Sons of the Forest, you can expect a similar reception.

You will meet mutants in the open, but at least there you will have somewhere to run. Without an automap and with minimal lighting, you can lose a life. And given that some of the game’s more useful items are hidden underground, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the risk.

Available on: Amazon

There are other works that Endnight drew from. I Am Legend (the book, not the Will Smith movie) is another inspiration, and aside from Cannibal’s Holocaust, Endnight was also inspired by other Italian cannibal/zombie movies of the era. But if you want a taste of the movies that shaped Sons of the Forest, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into here.

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