The Ugly American: 10 Movies that Ruin Travel for the Rest of Us

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1. Wolf Creek


Backpackers in Australia get stranded in the Outback and are brutalized by a misogynistic psycho who, at one point, taunts a victim for being a “head on a stick” after he severs her spinal cord, thereby rendering her paralyzed from the neck down. Rent this movie and I will personally come to your house and slap the ass off your face.

2. Human Centipede


This is a serious actual movie in which two airhead young-girl tourists driving through the Bavarian landscape literally stumble into the lair of a mad scientist who has a hankering for sewing unwilling victims together via their respective oral and anal orifices. Don’t you dare watch this movie. It’ll cremate your corneas.

3. Green Inferno


This gore fest centers on a group of do-gooders who travel to Peru only to end up prey to the very tribe of rainforest cannibals they are trying to protect from corporate rape. They end up getting gutted and stewed in ways that will haunt your heart into the next decade.

4. The Descent


Girl getaway goes awry when a spelunking excursion of female cave aficionados encounters a long-lost society of blind, murderous mole people who subsist by ripping apart and eating the bodies of innocent visitors. Awesome.

5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre


A group of young adventurers embark on a trip to investigate a grave robbing at a family cemetery, only to get creatively murdalized by a family of psychotic Appalachian inbreds. I’m a fan.

6. Open Water


A scuba-diving couple on holiday gets left behind in the middle of the ocean by their idiot instructor and a suspenseful circling of carnivorous sea creatures ensues. Hell to the yes.

7. Psycho


An embezzling secretary on the run stops for the night at a nondescript hotel only to encounter a homicidal momma’s boy who hacks her up like an Easter ham. Love it.

8. You’re Next


A visiting New Zealander travels to the States to meet her boyfriend’s family only to face a family feud that literally leaves body parts in its wake. The heroine is so unexpectedly and hilariously badass that this movie became required viewing for my 15-year-old daughter.

9. Into the Wild


A nature enthusiast shirks all monetary entanglements and embarks on an enriching adventure that lands him in an abandoned bus on the outskirts of the Alaskan wilderness. You want to wonder how this kid got this far without someone driving a spike into his head, but he’s so engaging that instead you feel for him and his family. Ugh, I hate feelings.

10. Hostel


College boys abroad get sidetracked by promises of a secret All-You-Can-Rape buffet at a human trafficking hub in Eastern Europe. The place instead turns out to be a Slovakian snuff palace that caters to two kinds of visitors; the ones who pay big bucks to act out their murder fantasies, and the ones who subsequently get murdered in a number of imaginative ways. Guess which category our college boys fall into. It’s frat-boy revenge porn at its best.

Photo: Courtesy of Six Entertainment

Hollis Gillespie is Paste Travel’s The Ugly American columnist. She is a writing instructor, travel expert and author of We Will be Crashing Shortly, which is on bookstore shelves now. Follow her on Twitter.

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