It’s a Cruel Summer: 10 Horror Films to Watch Before the Season’s Out

It’s a long time coming, but The Void has returned, better, bigger and ready to knock some spooky socks off. The summer solstice occurred around ten days ago, thus begins the creaking of cabin floorboards and the slaughtering of camp counselors. While people associate horror films with the upcoming spooky season, there is no need to wait. There are so many films made for this sweltering season, and it’s time to talk about some of them.

Friday The 13th: How Many People Jason Voorhees Killed In Every Movie -  GameSpot
A sweet family portrait… Friday the 13th is definitely an honorable mention.

I mean think about it: how many films contain a brutal slaughter of a camp counselor? How many takes place in some random cabin in the woods? Therefore, follow along and jot down some picks for these post-fun-in-the-sun, cool summer nights. If I happen to miss any that you would like to share with the troop, comment down below and I’ll be sure to endorse them.

The Cabin In The Woods

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I love my horror comedies. The Cabin in the Woods falls under one of my praised gems. Aging gracefully, The Cabin in the Woods is one of those meta-horror comedies that could easily fall into the spoof genre. However, it keeps the stakes high enough to be considered a traditional horror film. Therefore, we have a film packed with scares, laughs and creativity.

Review: The Cabin in the Woods - Slant Magazine

With a killer cast and horror veteran director Drew Goddard and writer Joss Whedon, it is a witty bash that pokes fun at itself as well as the horror genre as a whole. I mean, seriously, how many bad occurrences in random cabins have to happen before we start drawing connections?

The main reason you should watch this one: The elevator scene–never will you ever see so much ludicrous carnage in one place again.

Where to watch: Rent/Buy on Amazon Video, Apple TV, or Vudu.

Tucker and Dale VS. Evil

Another classic that has been in my rotation for over a decade now, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a prime example of completely subverting a trope and turning it into genius. Two loveable yet painfully odd guys end up in a very odd situation that makes victim look like foe, all due to a boatload of ignorance and a whole lot of college aged ego. It’s a hoot, and definitely will cheer you up if you’ve had a doozy of a day.

Movie Review - 'Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil' - Deliver(ance) Us, Y'all : NPR

While more funny than scary, Tucker and Dale vs Evil really stands its ground as one of the best horror films of the decade and definitely one of the best horror comedies of all time. It floats around on streaming platforms, so it should be an easy viewing, and while it is moderately gory, it is a good starter horror for those that want to indoctrinate their young ones. Do that too early, however, they may become a horror blogger (thanks Mom).

The main reason you should watch this one: The woodchipper scene. That or the ultimate bromance that is Tucker and Dale’s relationship–they are truly friendship goals.

Where to watch: Free with Ads on PlutoTV, Tubi, and Vudu. Rent/Buy on Amazon Video, Apple TV and Vudu.

Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn

How could I praise any other horror comedy without featuring the best of the best? I have mentioned this film many, many times, and this is not the movie if you’re looking for a genuine scare. If you’re looking for that, watch The Evil Dead (the first one). However, they are basically the same movie and I honestly love watching Bruce Campbell overacting to a perfect extent.

Evil Dead II (1987) - IMDb

This is a horror fan essential, and I encourage following it up with its sequel, Army of Darkness. This is the year to celebrate Sam Rami anyways–he’s the one responsible for Marvel’s first horror-ish film, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. I hope readers of this enjoyed that post credit scene as much as I did.

The main reason you should watch this one: Groovy.

Where to watch: Rent/Buy on Amazon Video, Apple TV and Vudu.

Fear Street Part II: 1978

Apparently, I have a knack for including second installments, but I have my reasons. While I enjoyed and thought Fear Street Part I was one fun ride, the second one stands out to me. Not only was it scarier, but it felt like a love letter to those summer camp slashers that came before. This was definitely one of Netflix’s good risks that they’ve taken in the last few years, and boy was it a bloody good time.

Fear Street Part Two: 1978 Review | Movie - Empire

Fear Street comes from R.L. Stine, the same guy responsible for the childhood staple Goosebumps. This is not suited for kids however, as these are some of the goriest horror films I’ve seen recently. It’s also worth noting that the actors in this film really do a great job, especially Sadie Sink. It’s a horror movie with quite a bit of heart, both in the plot and in its homage to what inspired it.

The main reason you should watch this one: It’s definitely one of the more intense entries on this list, so if you’re looking for genuine guts, gore and ghouls, this is the pick for you.

Where to watch: Only on Netflix.

It: Chapter One

Finally, I’m in the right order it seems. IT: Chapter One soared to box office breaking numbers back in the day, so it wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve seen this one before. A truly terrifying treat from Stephen King, the Muschietti duo really put a refreshing spin on the source materials and created something heartfelt and brutal all twisted together. This movie takes place during the summer of 1989, so I just associate it as a summer horror film.

It (2017) - IMDb

This movie has no brakes, as it contains one of the most notorious openings to a horror movie/novel ever with the Georgie scene. Definitely have some childhood trauma rooted to that scene (thanks to Tim Curry), but it shows the powerhouse that Bill Skarsgard is in the titular Pennywise role. All the child actors are absolutely incredible as well, and the dynamics between the characters really adds some light to this otherwise dark tale.I’m also a Chapter Two defender, I really enjoyed it and it is worth the watch primarily for Bill Hader. That man will make you laugh and make you sob.

The main reason you should watch this one: If you’re looking for scares, the sewer and basement scenes are quite up there. If you’re looking for laughs, I have one word for you: Gazebos.

Where to watch: Streaming on HBO Max.

Stage Fright

Now this suggestion is purely on laughs. This movie is something else, and if you’re not a musical fan, I suggest maybe skipping this one because you will hate it. However, if you’re in the niche like me where you’re an avid horror AND musical fan, this film will get a few laughs out of you. Stage Fright is something else, and while it’s not the greatest film, it definitely has some peak moments that are worth the watch.

Stage Fright: Film Review – The Hollywood Reporter

This is a cheese fest, so if you’re looking for a B movie that breaks out into song and dance, this might be the movie for you. Just don’t take it too seriously and be on the lookout for easter eggs in reference to your favorite horror films and musicals. I’ve been able to look back on this film with kinder eyes, and it still has its hilarious moments that outweigh the otherwise mediocre moments.

The main reason you should watch this one: Purely for the song “Where We Belong.” Especially if you were a queer kid into performing arts, because the cringe attack is oh-so-sweet and ridiculous.

Where to watch: Rent/Buy on Amazon Video.

You Might Be The Killer

This one is a fun indie film starring some familiar faces: Fran Kranz, who is the epic stoner from The Cabin in the Woods and Alyson Hannigan, known as Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Kranz is a camp counselor who experiences chronic blackouts and has found himself surrounded by dead bodies. He calls Hannigan, who is a horror movie fanatic, to possibly find out who did this and why he was spared.

summer

A hilarious and odd whodunit kind of movie, this film leaves you twisting and turning with plenty of laughs. It also has a unique way of storytelling, with majority of the conversation taking place over the phone and shot in close ups rather than narrative shots, which gives the film the unreliable narrator feel that they are going for, as Kranz is suspect number one.

The main reason you should watch this one: Kranz and Hannigan’s performances are brilliant and are sure to keep you entertained, even if the film can be rather predictable at times.

Where to watch: Streaming on NBC.

Cabin Fever

Eli Roth’s directorial debut is as gritty today as it was back in 2002. He recently remade this one, which upped the gore but downgraded everything else, so I suggest sticking with the original. A group of friends decided to take a vacation up in the woods and succumb to a flesh-eating virus that attract the attention of some unwanted visitors. It’s an interesting story full of body horror and ultimately is an early 2000s classic.

summer

This film features decently strong acting that makes such a seemingly ridiculous concept so real. It is a gruesome, bloody film that has scarring scenes, so if you’re not a gore fan, this one might be a skip for you. However, it is a defining film for 21st century horror, so you might have to bear with it just to say you’ve seen it.

The main reason you should watch this one: Other than it being a modern classic, the shaving scene will definitely scar you or meet the gore quota that you’re looking for.

Where to watch: Rent/Buy on Amazon Video. Free with Ads on Tubi.

Summer of ’84

If you’re looking for a movie with twists and turns galore, this is the one for you. Summer of ’84 was one of those films that creeped in on people’s radars with the release of the top horror streaming service Shudder. It operates in the same way as IT, in which it’s a blend of nostalgia, coming of age and horror. Instead of a story we’ve heard before however, this one is sure to lull you into a false sense of security before ripping the rug right out from under you.

Summer of 84 (2018) - IMDb

This film’s strengths lie in the younger actors, who play a group of teenage boys who take their suspicions into their own hands when one of the boys suspects a police officer as a serial killer. They conduct an investigation of their own which gets them into quite the situation.

The main reason you should watch this one: It runs in the same vein as IT and Stranger Things, as far as group of friends hunt evil. However, this adds a bit more edge and gets quite dark in the last quarter of the film.

Where to watch: Rent/Buy on Vudu. Stream with a Shudder subscription on Amazon Video,

Midsommar

Not only does it have it in the name, but this is probably the ultimate summer movie just in regard to the season. The bright colors, the clear blue sky and warmth amid the atrocities that occur during Ari Aster’s second feature film give off those summer vibes, ya know?

summer

In all seriousness, Midsommar is one of those modern horror masterpieces that could be hit or miss for some people. It embraces its arthouse narrative style while displaying some of the most grotesque images to grace the silver screen. Despite its disturbing nature, this movie is the ultimate breakup movie and has its comedic moments. It’s okay to laugh at the absurdity. This film also is a reflection on what grief without support can do to someone, as Dani traverses an extreme loss with her boyfriend and his friends on a summer trip in Sweden.

The main reason you should watch this one: It’s always good to know whether or not you’re vulnerable to cult induction.

Where to watch: Streaming with subscription on Showtime. Rent/Buy on Amazon Video, Vudu and Apple TV.


Well, that’s the list! I know I missed a few obvious ones, but everyone and their grandma knows that Friday the 13th is the movie of the summer screams. I personally would love to hear your favorite summer horror films–it doesn’t necessarily need to be framed around the season. What spooky movies do you go reaching for as we reach these hotter months? Let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to add them to my personal list.

Anyways, thanks for spelunking this void with me. If you’re new to the Void of Celluloid, welcome. Feel free to spelunk some other voids while you’re here and follow me on other platforms by clicking the buttons below. We post regularly and stay up to date about what’s going on in horror today, reflect on what went on yesterday, and plan for a better, horrific tomorrow. See ya next time.

Anthology Horror: Short Stories Unfolded

Anthology horror has risen to one of the more popular subgenres of horror, and it is easy to see why. With television shows such as American Horror Story and Black Mirror in high demand during the 21st century, the idea of shortened, contained scares are appealing to both the binge watcher and the casual TV viewer. The subgenre has such beautiful roots too, since anthology horror found its home in the imagination of Rod Serling in 1959 with his groundbreaking series, The Twilight Zone. With the new release of the Fear Street anthology, I decided to take a dive into the void and well, I was feeling quite opinionated. It is truly a range of films, with attempts of sprinkling in some cult classics amongst household names.



Anthology Horror: Not Great to best

All of the films and television I am putting up here are definitely watchable, and are based on my personal feelings, as well as what I perceive as quality entertainment. They are not everyone’s cup of tea, however. I will also describe an age range for these films if you are looking for something more intense for yourself, or something tame to show some curious kiddos. Let’s get on with the ranks, starting of with films that I think you should avoid.

Utter Garbage: Holidays, THe ABCs Of death Series

Photo example of anthology horror Holidays
Seth Green in Holidays (2016), XYZ Films

I do understand that I stated these are watchable, and while these pain me deeply, they’re not unwatchable. Some may debate with me, and while there are good individual stories in these films, they’re not really worth your time. It was especially disappointing, because Kevin Smith did the Halloween short for Holidays. Now, one of my favorite directors meets my favorite holiday should have been an easy knockout for me, and I was ready to grant it a little grace, but oh boy, it was bad. As for The ABCs of Death, I admire the concept of a collection of international short horror films, but some of the films were either A) too disturbing, or B) way too ridiculous (for example, F is for Fart). Don’t waste your time, and kindly avoid these films.

AMerican Horror Story seasons 3-9

Photo example of anthology horror series American Horror Story
American Horror Story: Coven (2013), FX Television

Now, these are enjoyable, don’t get me wrong, but oh boy, is it Ryan Murphy television to a tee. Ryan Murphy has a certain style, and while I can appreciate the humor and the excessive musical numbers in Season 4 (not necessarily dissing these, I enjoy them, but a major turn off for a lot of fans), these seasons are not as strong as the first two, and even die hard fans can agree with this. They are fun and full of bitchy dialogue, darker humor, and heart wrenching tragedy, but overall, they are way more soapy and not everybody’s cup of tea. Also, he needs to stop killing of my favorite characters, and maybe I can forgive these seasons more.

Twilight Zone: The Movie

Photo example of Twilight Zone: The Movie
Dan Aykroyd in Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Warner Bros.Studios

Yeah, this film. This film suffered in production hell and was shadowed by the tragic, notorious helicopter accident that occurred on its set, but that doesn’t stop it from being a decent film. With a story from Steven Spielberg as well as memorable moments from Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow, it is sad to have this movie go under the radar so often, but also completely understandable given the nature of the accident. The stories are good retellings of classic Twilight Zone tales, and John Landis has a good prologue as well as a predictable first segment, but it is an uncomfortable viewing, especially after having looked at the details of the accident. If you want to continue not having a knot in your stomach when you hear John Landis’ name, I suggest not deep diving into the details of what happened.

Creepshow 2

Photo example of Creepshow 2
Creepshow 2 (1987), Laurel Entertainment

Creepshow is admired for its cheesiness, but this sequel doesn’t hold a candle to the first one. While its budget quadrupled from the first and the special effects seemingly improved, it is extremely campy and leans more on the comical side. It is not bad, but rather quite enjoyable, given that Stephen King and George A. Romero were still behind the wheel (quite literally in King’s case). Approach this one with a not-so-serious mindset, and enjoy another journey with The Creep.

Cat’s Eye

Anthology Horror
Drew Barrymore in Cat’s Eye (1985), MGM

Awe, isn’t lil’ Drew Barrymore adorable? Cat’s Eye is a more accessible anthology film by Stephen King, in which the viewer follows a cat around through three chilling tales, which seems to be the magic number for King. I remember watching this when I was younger, around age 10, and remember it being rather tame. It’s quality short stories from King, and was the groundbreaker for a flowing anthology film rather than broken up, separate stories–a format featured in a few films on this list. However, it was not as memorable as other starter-horror, at least from my childhood, so it goes here.

Fear Street Series

Anthology Horror
Fear Street Trilogy (2021), Netflix

It was exciting to see R.L. Stine’s name attached to a modern production, especially one that was promising some gory, grown-up scares. These movies are fun and have a few creative tricks of its sleeve (yes, THAT misfortune in the bakery) but overall, it is an homage to the ones that came before. It’s campy and predictable, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fun romp for sure. It’s a surprisingly brutal installment to the seasoned anthology horror genre. I am curious to see what else the creators plan on dishing out in the rumored future installments. Also, it is the only film on this list to have LGBTQ representation–something the horror genre struggles with–so major props to them.

The Mortuary COllection

Anthology Horror
Jacob Elordi in The Mortuary Collection (2019), Trapdoor Pictures

The newest addition to this list as well as the only one tied to an exclusive subscription, this is a fun and creative–though predictable–horror film through the subscription Shudder. Shudder just recently did a revamp on Creepshow, and while it is not on this list, it is a worthy revival that I cannot recommend more. Anyways, I just watched this recently and really enjoyed it! It has a lot of good twists and turns, and is one of the more gorier ones on the list, so if you’re into more intense horror, especially body horror, this one should be on your watchlist.

American Horror Story Seasons 1 & 2

Anthology Horror
American Horror Story: Murder House (2011), FX Television

Finally, here is the beginning of the series. I absolutely adore these first two seasons and their rewatchability factor is extremely high. I’ve seen the first season multiple times, so much so that it has become a comfort show of mine, and as far as critical acclaim goes, the second season is the best of the whole series, even with its wacky tangents. There is also a complexity in characters between the first two seasons, brilliantly acted by Zachary Quinto, Jessica Lange, Lily Rabe and Evan Peters. It has its touch of cheesiness, but that can be expected from a horror series made the same creator that made Glee. Nevertheless, this was and still remains to be highly influential horror television.

V/H/S

Anthology Horror
V/H/S (2012), Bloody Disgusting

This film started the reign of Brad Miska in regards to horror anthology of the 2010s. Miska served as producer of this iconic found-footage anthology film and with the involvement of Bloody Disgusting, this film was met with wide acclaim from horror audiences. With the most notable segment “Amateur’s Night” being the launchpad of director David Bruckner, it is one of the more disturbing films on this list and definitely doesn’t fall into a “starter-horror” situation. Instead, this is catered to the commonly-desensitized horror fan that is looking for a good scare.

Southbound

Anthology Horror
Southbound (2015), Willowbrook Regent Films

As I mentioned in the previous segment, the films from this team are not for the faint of heart. Southbound is more of a flowing cinematic anthology rather than the found-footage format that Miska started out with. It brings back most of the directors from V/H/S as they tell ghastly stories centered around a wild batch of characters. In describing the impact of this film, I have only watched once, which was about five years ago. The visuals and stories were so impactful, that it skyrocketed to the top of my mental list when brainstorming for the topic. This was definitely a sleeper hit in 2015, and I encourage the strong stomached to check it out.

Goosebumps/Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Anthology Horror
Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1990-1996), Nickelodeon Productions

This is as “starter-horror” as it gets. Both Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? established whether or not millennials liked to be scared or not. Both mild yet creepy, it is no coincidence that both have experienced reboots in one form or another to enlighten today’s younger audience. They offer nostalgia to many audiences and most people under the age of 35 can say that one of these series got them into horror.

Tales from the Crypt

Anthology Horror
Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996), Home Box Office

A classic serving us an icon that was The Cryptkeeper. Horror fans and 90s kids alike remember Tales from the Crypt fondly. It was an anthology series based of the same comics that inspired other works such as Creepshow. It also brought in a multitude of talent to tell different stories each week, hosted by the iconic puppet host The Cryptkeeper. With tales laced with cheesiness, every episode I watched held up brilliantly. Therefore I consider it still a delight to watch as a horror fan.

V/H/S 2

Anthology Horror
V/H/S 2 (2013), Bloody Disgusting

This is one of those sequels that improves upon the original. In this film’s case, it gets scarier and to put it in to crude terms: it goes batshit crazy. Even more creative short films with all the knobs that made the previous film function turned up to 11. V/H/S 2 will stand as a staple for the cross between found footage and anthology, and while there are some that have come after that have tried to out do it (i.e. The Poughkeepsie Tapes, which is just tasteless gore and disgusting just to be disgusting), none will make your heart thump like this one.

The Haunting Series

Anthology Horror
The Haunting of Hill House (2016), Netflix

The only horror series that I will ever advise to have tissues with you at all times is the Haunting stories. Mike Flanagan–our modern horror saint–takes the chilling classic tales of The Haunting of Hill House and The Turn of the Screw and with his careful personal touches, crafts terrifying, melancholic masterpieces. The Haunting series have loveable characters, terrifying ghosts and is also one of the most diverse casts in the horror scene as of late, including a beautiful Sapphic love story in The Haunting of Bly Manor. Again, bring tissues with you, especially for Bly Manor.

Tales from the Hood

Anthology Horror
Tales from the Hood (1995), 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks

This film has been and is currently seeping with social relevance, that it deserves a high spot on this list. The first story is particularly disturbing following the recent events that occurred in 2020 and sadly has become a classic that has been swept under the rug. The director and writer Rusty Cundieff would go on to direct Chapelle’s Show ten years later, which was a brilliant choice given his stylistic directing showcased in this film. Much like the other films that came out in the 90s focusing on the Black community, it is a direct reflection on today’s times and how things have not changed that much. Please go watch this film if you haven’t.

Creepshow

Anthology Horror
Creepshow (1982), Laurel Show Inc.

A-ha, the blueprint of anthology horror as a singular film makes its appearance in the top three, of course. This lovely brainchild of Stephen King and George A. Romero is a cheesy delight, and remains the posterchild of anthology horror. The use of original storytelling in the height of Stephen King adaptations paid off well for the movie’s success and budget. While you’ll giggle at times, it remains one of those cult classics that will stand the test of time, which its sequel and its very recent reboot through Shudder proved. You can’t wear your horror badge too proudly if you haven’t sat through this one.

Trick ‘r’ Treat

Anthology Horror
Trick ‘r’ Treat (2007), Legendary Pictures

This film has a very special place in my heart and the fact I’ve seen a rapid increase of merchandise come Halloween time proves it has found its footing in more mainstream horror. This is one of those films that survives the phenomenon of straight-to-DVD due to its creative storytelling, format and aesthetic. Michael Dougherty is responsible for this film, with it being a precursor to his more well known holiday horror Krampus. Upon my discovery of this movie in 2009, there is not a Halloween that goes by that I do not watch this movie at least once. Please watch it if you haven’t, and for those that have made it tradition like me, rock on. Now let’s hope that sequel comes out soon.

The twilight Zone

Anthology Horror
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), CBS Productions

It was mentioned in the introduction, therefore it needs to top this list. This is the only suitable place for this revolutionary TV show to go, as we would not have the formatting for anthology horror without it. Rod Serling was a master storyteller, providing nearly every story for the show in its 150-plus episode run. His craft proved brilliant by the generations that The Twilight Zone crosses, whether it be copious amounts of reboots trying to revive that originaal charm or a kid recognizing the theme song from Disneyland, The Twilight Zone will forever remain a classic as well as the golden standard on how to put short story to screen.


Thus the epic (but limited to my personal knowledge) list comes to a close, with the reminder that there is so much more to come from this genre and what we can hope for in regards to innovation in the subgenre of anthology horror. That’s it for this journey, but definitely not the last you’ve heard of these films from me. As we depart the void, let me know in the comments what films I missed and I’ll make sure to check them out and update the list as time goes on. Until next time…