5. Burn Witch Burn (1962)
Norman Taylor (Peter Wyngarde) is a psychology professor at the local university. He’s a logical man with no time for superstitions, religion, or hocus pocus. If it cannot be explained, then it must not be real. When he discovers that his wife Tansy (Janet Blair) has started to practice a form of witchcraft, he becomes incensed and immediately forces her to burn all her magical nonsense. Uh oh.
Before the embers can cool, tragedy begins to stalk Norman around campus. One of his students accuses him of rape, and a university secretary threatens his life. Before long, his skepticism gives way to a true believer. Burn Witch Burn, also known as Night of the Eagle, is a moody, atmospheric British thriller, perfect for a dark and gloomy autumn evening. (Chris Coffel)
4. Night of the Creeps (1986)
In 1959, a stray meteorite harboring a parasitic space slug crash-lands near an American college town. After a short-lived reign of terror in lovers’ lane, the squirming creature winds up frozen for thirty years. Thawed out by two dorks hoping to overachieve on a fraternity pledge, dozens of reanimated brain-drinking critters explode out of their host’s noggin. As they squirm off in search of new vessels, it begins: the titular Night of the Creeps.
Giddily underlining the parental relationship between 50s and 80s B-movies (with a dose of noir pastiche thrown in for good measure), Night of the Creeps is a practical effects-riddled rollercoaster of dumb jocks, hot girls, and cringe (but heroic) dweebs. Rounded out by Tom Atkins’ scene-stealing turn as a guilt-wracked, booze-chugging detective, Night of the Creeps is a love letter to the brain-sucking joys of campus living. College: it’s where you’ll meet new friends, fall in love, and serve as the living-dead breeding ground for a slimy horde of parasitic slugs from another planet. (Meg Shields)
3. Scream 2 (1997)
Sidney Prescott has been through hell. Her boyfriend and his best friend were serial killers who killed not only some of her closest friends, but her mom, too. She deserves a fresh start as she moves off to college. But sadly for Sidney, Ghostface has other plans for her. Wes Craven returns with the incredible sequel to his 1996 meta-slasher Scream and shows that Ghostface is not just a single person but a frame of mind. An incredibly violent, destructive frame of mind that follows up highschool terrors with one of the very best college horror movies.
Craven even one-ups the shocking cold open of the previous film, this time setting it in a crowded movie theater where the adaptation of Sidney’s trauma, Stab, is screening. Everyone is wearing a Ghostface mask, which makes it all the more terrifying when The actual Ghostface stabs Maureen (Jada Pinkett Smith). As she screams for help in front of the screen and the crowd cheers, thinking it’s all part of the show, a sinking realization sets in for the viewer. We would be cheering, too, if we didn’t see the violence occur ourselves. Here, Craven is building on the world he created previously, creating a rare instance where a sequel is perhaps better than the original film. (Mary Beth McAndrews)
2. Pieces (1982)
When you find a movie that discovers new ways to exploit exploitation genres, you know you’re in for a good time. Pieces, which riffs on everything from the splatter flicks of Herschell Gordon Lewis to Italian Giallo, takes place on a Boston campus where tennis-playing co-eds are getting hacked up left and right. Filmed near the director’s home in Spain, the film has a certain European exploitation flare, and a willingness to sink just a touch lower than most other slashers of the era would dare. With the best waterbed death scene this side of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and a final shot too good to spoil here, Pieces is a semi-intentionally hilarious bloody romp worth its status as a cult classic. (Anna Swanson)
1. Black Christmas (1974)
Before Black Christmas becomes the utterly iconic slasher movie that we know it to be — and the best of the college horror movies — the film is beautifully dull in its college life honesty. These are not sorority sisters that you typically see in university movies. While probably not of your education era, these sorority sisters seem reminiscent of the types of students that you regularly encounter in real life, no matter the era. Their wants and desires are basic, their dreams achievable. The only problem is that there’s a man in their attic. And that man will steal their ordinary dreams from them. And that ordinariness accentuates the film’s tragedy. (Brad Gullickson)
Related Topics: 31 Days of Horror Lists