The Burning (1981)
Some shithead teens decide to pull the totally normal teen prank of leaving a rotting skull full of bugs and candles next to the camp’s sleeping caretaker. Wouldn’t you know it, the prank goes horribly sidewise and leaves the caretaker (named Cropsey, yes, that Cropsey) horribly disfigured and filled with an insatiable need to murder as many campers as possible with garden shears.
Fun Freaky Fact: Features some early Jason Alexander and Holly Hunter performances and the goopiest Tom Savini effects the 80s could muster.
Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Another literally and figuratively campy slasher flick? You betchya. Sleepaway Camp is an odd, at times disturbing cult classic with a notoriously shocking twist. While the film’s curtain yanking conclusion might not have aged well, its genuinely upsetting deaths and great (and so-bad-it’s-great) teen performances make it well worth the watch.
Director:Robert Hiltzik, who shot the film at his childhood camp.
Fun Freaky Fact: 30 Rock’s Jane Krakowski almost played the role of mean girl Judy.
Creepshow 2: “The Raft”(1987)
Some might blame Jaws for a crippling fear of open water. I blame “The Raft,” a.k.a. the scariest horror anthology segment of all time. Based off the Stephen King short story of the same name, “The Raft” sees four college kids take a dip in a remote lake where they swim out to a wooden raft to kick back and enjoy the summer sun. Then a big black murder blob shows up and eats one of them. And it only gets worse.
Director:Michael Gornick, the cinematographer from the first Creepshow.
Fun Freaky Fact: Oh, hello Page Hannah sister of Daryl Hannah. Sorry you got consumed by an angry oil spil.
Not only is this loving B-Movie tribute about giant man-eating sand-worms totally a horror movie (with sci-fi and comedy elements), it’s also one of the driest horror flicks out there. Nothing says “parched’ quite like the gooey innards of a Graboid caked in Nevada dust.
Director: Ron Underwood
Fun Freaky Fact:Tremors was originally going to be named “Land Sharks,” but was edged out by an SNL parody of Jaws.
Piranha 3D (2010)
Consider your expectations for a horror comedy about killer prehistoric fish run amok on a resort full of dumb drunk teens surpassed! Sure, there’s the requisite nudity and gratuitous gore, but Piranha 3D has a beachfront charm to it that cannot be denied. And yes the film is set during spring break not summer, but my frigid Canadian ass can’t tell the difference. I’m too busy delighting in the film’s shameless glee for bikini-feasting fish murder.
Director: Alexandre Aja
Fun Freaky Fact: No cuts were demanded by the MPAA which —for a film featuring a woman getting scalped by a propeller—is a big-honkin’ surprise.
It Follows (2014)
While the season It Follows takes place in is a tad ambiguous, it certainly feels like late summer. There’s a sense of encroachment, of dwindling days, and anxiously twiddled thumbs that’s at home in lazy late August evenings. And in being stalked by a murdering STD ghost.
Director: David Robert Mitchell, who cites horror greats George A. Romero and John Carpenter as major influences.
Fun Freaky Fact: Mitchell drew inspiration for the film from a recurring childhood dream.
Enjoy the spooky summer film season, y’all!