Summer is a fantastic season of heat exhaustion, peeling skin, and air so stifling hot that you feel like you’re suffocating the moment you step out of the house. Toss in some burned meat from a charcoal grill, cheap booze, and the incessant need to reproduce, then you have yourselves the ultimate American seasonal bliss. But what if you’re not into any of those things? What is an introverted, heat-hating, non-drinking (mostly), non-meat eating (mostly), asexual human to do?
The best solution I’ve come up with so far: indulge in brilliantly terrible horror films.
Horror is an interesting genre of cinema for me. As a child, I hated it and felt it was immensely overrated. However, now that I’m an adult (rarely) and experiencing the real-life terror that many of us have to deal with in our day-to-day existences, I have discovered a newfound appreciation for the genre and what it tries to accomplish. Plus, it can be immensely cathartic to watch a bunch of people getting sliced-and-diced when you have rage without an outlet. Aaaaaand, it’s great mindless entertainment when you just want to lay back, cuddle with your kitty, and be a pyjama-clad potato.
Today, in lieu of my regular reading or anime-related content, I thought it would be fun to share with you the stack of horror flicks that I love watching, specifically during the summertime. I’m not really sure why I enjoy watching these titles amid this specific season. Maybe it has to do with their original release dates (most horror films are released between May and October). Or maybe it’s because a good handful of them take place in the hottest months of the year (for California). Or maybe it’s because I don’t like summer with the same passion that Darayavahoush has for wanting to be accepted and loved, especially by Nahri… Wait… what were we talking about?
Watching and re-watching these oh-so-badly-brilliantly-terrible films help me pass the long months of California Summer until my second favourite season arises, Autumn. Also, they help me completely check out of life for a couple of hours at a time; a much-needed reprieve lately that I’m wholeheartedly grateful for, even though I don’t have a whole heart (ha ha, get it because there’s a hole in my heart. Too soon?).
Anyway, here is my list of fifteen films that I’m a binge-whore for. I will openly confess that I cheated with a few of these and included the full series line-up rather than individual titles, where others are only select instalments from an otherwise long ass franchise. They aren’t listed in any particular order. I literally tossed the names into my recycled minced garlic bottle and chose them at random.
If you’d like to know if any of these films are streaming anywhere online, you can look it up on JustWatch.
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
I love this film. I love it so much that I cannot express in words just how much I fucking love it. It was one of the first slasher films that I had ever seen, and everything about it was awesome to me. It was so creepy and scary to me as a nine-year-old. Plus, I had a huge crush on Jennifer Love Hewitt at the time (Queer straight from the womb, darling). They just don’t make slasher films like this anymore and it makes me really sad.
The film revolves around a bunch of drunken teens who are celebrating their last summer together before heading off to college where they will pretend to be responsible adults. On the way home, they get into an accident and make some less-than responsible choices in the aftermath, which comes back to bite them in the arse a year later.
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
Of course, the sequel is on this list! Jennifer Love Hewitt and Brandy. My Queer, kiddy-self was in fucking heaven. I know that this film received a lot of hate, but I thought it was excellent. Maybe not quite as fantastic as the first one, but still a classic, nonetheless. Plus, I love stormy weather, especially in the summer (not that California gets many of them at all, BOO), so that atmosphere really made everything even gloomier and more sinister.
In the sequel film, the teens, who are now full adults, are still being haunted by the traumatic events of their past, following them all the way to a tropical vacation in the Bahamas.
There is some voodoo stuff in the film and I’m sure the rep for it is quite questionable, so keep that in mind if you decide to pick it up.
The quintessential horror film of the 90s, the one and only that inspired so many like it. I love this for various reasons, both from a film nerd’s perspective and someone who just enjoys watching dumbass teenagers getting mutilated (I know, I’m savage). This is an interesting title to put on the list because as a kid, I thought the film was pretty lame. Scary, of course (I was eight or nine), but not as great as everyone at school claimed it to be. It wasn’t until I re-watched it after such a long time (a couple of years ago) that I discovered a deep appreciation for it and fell in love with it for the first time.
Your typical beautifully superficial teenager gets a phone call one evening asking what her favourite scary movie is. When she gets tired of this dude’s attempts at flirting, she hangs up over and over again until her life, and the life of her beau, is threatened, kicking off a mayhem of seriously murderific shenanigans for the small town of Woodsboro.
Fun fact: this film was inspired by real-life killer, Danny Rolling, who was better known as the Gainesville Ripper. He was a serial killer in the 90s that killed a handful of kids over a few days. He later confessed to raping and killing more people in different states.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
This psychological thriller horror is one of the few instances where I shall say the film was better than the book, but only because of pacing. Otherwise the book was better because it had a lot more details and fleshed out the story of Hannibal Lecter more thoroughly. Nonetheless, it’s one of my faves to re-watch because it’s so incredibly creepy. Plus, Hannibal Lecter is hugely fascinating to me as an individual (Sir Anthony Hopkins fucking nailed that role, Holy Hell). The film really encapsulates the beauty of psychological storytelling and I hope one day I can capture a similar essence in a future novel.
It follows a green-as-grass FBI agent, Clarice Sterling, as she’s called in to speak with renown murderer and cannibal, Hannibal Lecter, with help on a recent serial killing case. If you haven’t seen this film, whether you’ve read the book or not, I highly recommend that you do. It really lays down the groundwork for psychological filmmaking.
Lake Placid (1999)
I remember getting this quite randomly from Blockbuster (does anyone even remember Blockbuster?!) on a whim. My Abbu used to take me to the video rental place every Friday to get films to watch over the weekend. It was our after-school ritual, one of many that we shared. We’d get films, then we’d come home, and I’d watch them while he made dinner and we waited for my Ammi to get off of work. I saw this sitting on the New Release shelf and felt so excited about it! My obsession for creature features started pretty early on, as you can probably tell. After watching through it, I fell crazy in love with it. Of course, I didn’t understand most of the adult humour at the time, but I liked how visceral it was and that it said “fuck” multiple times. It made me feel so grown up. Ever since then, it’s become such a splendid little gem of nostalgia for me.
The film is about an abnormally large reptile living in a murky ol’ lake in Maine. A fancy, shmancy lady squint person is called in from the big city to help investigate and catalogue the creature that is causing so much bloody havoc to the wildlife and humans in the area. Betty White’s sass is the best part of this whole damn film.
Child’s Play (1988)
I fucking hate dolls. They are creepy as hell and they have always freaked me out. Their giant, beady eyeballs always stare at you and follow you around. My favourite part about having Barbie Dolls when I was a runt (my Ammi got them for me since they were essentially a luxury toy for us being an immigrant family and she wanted to make me feel special), was giving them monstrous haircuts and drawing sunglasses over their eyes with a black Sharpie (I was a strange kid). Even so, I love this film. Chock it up to a morbid sort of fascination thanks to my fear, or maybe it’s the cheesy dialogue and grossness of the deaths—whatever the case, it’s a classic I can’t get enough of during the summertime.
The film is about a wicked mean mommy dearest who gives her kid a doll for his birthday, unaware that it’s basically possessed by a vicious serial killer.
I would like to mention that the film does have problematic representation of Haitian Voodoo, among a few other things, so if you watch it, definitely keep that in mind. It didn’t age too well in that sort of regard.
Alien is one of my favourite films of all-time and the one science-fiction film that changed my whole view on sci-fi thrillers. It also introduced me to xenomorphs, which I am outrageously obsessed with. While I watch and re-watch the Ridley Scott original many, many times throughout the year, the sequel is something that is a phenomenal jewel in my heart. I know a lot of people didn’t care for it as much as the first, and I completely understand why (I even agree with some of those sentiments), however, the action in Aliens combined with the supremely badass fight at the end is just so much fucking fun! Because of that, I tend to watch this one a tad bit more than its predecessor.
After waking up from a cryogenically induced nap, Ripley processes the trauma she underwent in Alien, and then is promptly shanghaied into revisiting the source of said trauma in order to save (hopefully) an entire colony of folx from falling victim to the same fate as her old crew.
Friday the 13th Part IV (1984)
Aside from the first film in this infamously convoluted franchise, I have been slowly watching through it this year for the first time ever! It has been such a glorious experience. It gets more and more ludicrous with each new instalment and I’m so completely down for the ride. With that being said, I would have to say that thus far Part IV is my favourite segment. The first two are really great and I enjoy re-watching them together (I’ve re-watched them a few times this year already), but this one takes the cake. I’m not sure if it’s the epically comical yet slightly hot sex scene, or the sheer pleasure that I get from watching stupid, rich kids getting axed for being… well, incredibly stupid, or if it’s the way that Jason gives the ghost—whatever the reason, it’s a glorious gig. Plus, the setting and circumstances just make it a joy for summer watching.
I can’t provide a synopsis for this film without touching spoilery bits for all its predecessors, so all I’ll say is that if they left him alone, he probably would’ve left them alone. Probably. Also, if you’re curious as to how far I’ve made it through the series thus far, I just recently finished Part V.
Resident Evil Live-Action Franchise (2002-2016)
I know, I know… These films are god-fucking-awful, but the first two or three are just so terrible that they are kind of awesome, at least to me. This one I am blaming entirely on my irrational infatuation with the gaming franchise. Feel free to ask Madame Gabs about the depth of my uncompromising, diehard affection for the games. It’s pretty hefty. While I wish the films were far better in many, many ways, I appreciate them for the popcorn action-fuelled hot mess that they are. Plus, Michelle Rodriguez is a complete badass and I enjoy watching her kick some serious butt cheeks. My favourite way to enjoy them is to marathon them, preferably on a weekend while being a complete and total pyjama potato.
The films’ story starts with a lady named Alice who awakes with amnesia. Teaming up with some beefy soldier humans from the Umbrella Corporation, they go into an underground laboratory facility thing to help contain a dangerous leak of a highly contagious bioweapon.
The Nun (2018)
When my two best friends and I went to watch The Meg in theatres (fucking love that film of cheesy and incorrect sharky shenanigans), we saw a trailer for The Nun. There’s a jump scare scene in the trailer that made all three of us completely jump out of our skins and then some. For the longest time, after the film had been released on DVD/Blu-ray, I wasn’t allowed to watch it because of my heart. Then one night, I was being such a colossal brat about it and Madame Gabs caved (mwahahaha). I didn’t care that it was part of a film franchise that I had never seen before. I merely wanted to see it so I could get context for that one scene that frightened the fuck out of me. While it wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I thought (hoped) it would be, I still liked it enough to re-watch it every now and again. The scenery is cool, and the nun lady is actually very, very creepy. It’s one of the few supernatural, haunting type flicks that I can re-watch without getting obnoxiously scared (I’m a humongous chicken shite).
The film is a prequel to The Conjuring series and follows the origins of what will eventually happen in that series later on.
AVP: Alien versus Predator (2004)
Ah, two hours of an actiony flesh fest of two alien races trying to murder the hell out of each other while humans end up being collateral damage (and also the reason things get so out of hand to begin with). I live for it. This is less of a horror flick and more of a creature feature that is hilarious, a bit over the top, and does nothing either narratively or creatively for either franchise in the big picture. It’s just a wild ride of death. I also love that the main character is a fierce Black woman, something that is still virtually unheard of when it comes to these genres. I think more than any other reason, that is what makes me love AVP so much. Also, there is this one supremely grotesque and badass scene involving my beloved xenomorph that I bleed for. It’s just pure joy.
A wealthy dude who is faced with his mortality discovers an underground pyramid out in the middle of any icy No Man’s Land and hires a group of scientists to explore said pyramid. In the process, these curious little humans get caught in the middle of a savage fight between two alien races.
Alien: Covenant (2017)
Another film that gets a gargantuan amount of crap from basically everyone that loved Alien. Nonetheless, from a storytelling perspective, when I look at the story from a bigger picture, I find Covenant to be positively brilliant. Not only does it centre on my number one favourite subgenre in science-fiction, the actor who plays the lead role (Michael Fassbender) does such an excellent job of it! I feel like I discover something new every time I watch this, so when you take that and mesh it with the fact that my first time watching this film was with some of my most loved human chums, I just can’t help but fawn over this flick and re-visit it whenever I’m able to do so.
The film is basically about colonists who end up on an unexpected planet via some unexpected circumstances and discover some unfathomable shite relating to an event that occurred many years ago. I know, this vague arse synopsis is so utterly helpful, isn’t it? I try.
Resident Evil CG Trilogy (2008-2017)
The last set of films on this list is the anime (CG) film trilogy that is directly connected to the plot from the video game series. I’m sure that some of you probably saw this coming given my prattling for the live-action titles above. My number one reason for enthusiastically re-watching the trio of titles over and over again is Leon Kennedy. I love that motherfucker to bits. The darling of my heart from the video games, Leon, is just so damn broody and filled to the brim with bad puns that it makes me melt. Plus, watching all my jaw-dropping beloved baddies from the games come to life (in a manner of speaking) in these films fills my heart and veins with lots of fluffy happiness.
The story kicks off with Leon getting called in to help contain an outbreak of the virus at an airport, where he runs into an old friend and discovers an intricate plot from a new company hoping to take the bioweapon mantle from Umbrella Corporation.
That does it for all of my favourite horror films to watch over the summer. I actually have a separate list of stuff for the winter season, which decidedly has very little to do with the actual season or the holidays that occur therein. I do hope to add some more frighty festy flicks to this list before 2020’s heat exhaustion inducing season of Hell is over, as we did recently sign up for a Shudder subscription and I’m excited to dive through its depths.