We’ve compiled a list of some of the best camp horror movies for your weird pleasure! When most people think of horror films, they picture a maniac hidden in the forest with a mask and a knife. Summer camp horror movies are connected with a whole genre for a reason. Movies about camping were popular in the 1980s and have since become a mainstay.
To celebrate the start of the summer season, we’re spotlighting some of our favorite slashers, each telling us about a scary camping trip. We compiled a list of the finest camping horror movies that we suggest watching. There are summer horrors for everyone, whether it’s camping in a haunted forest, being gutted by a madman with a scarred face, or getting kidnapped by a cult. We’re counting down twenty-five of the best movies to watch while camping, so grab your bug spray and goggles.
1. Sleepaway Camp
In our opinion, Robert Hiltzik’s Sleepaway Camp (1983) is a fantastic summation of 80s slasher movies. It’s filthy, vicious, and campy (pun intended) with a killer twist. Young Angela (Felissa Rose) and Ricky (Jonathan Tierston), her cousin, are transferred to Arawak camp. A series of killings is taking place on the campsites while they are there.
A bee colony was tossed into a bathroom stall, hot water was poured directly into someone’s skin, and a gruesome beheading. Felissa Rose’s portrayal of Angela is understated yet effective. To say the least, the film’s direction is weird, but you’ll enjoy it.
Angela’s coming-of-age narrative may turn out to be a bit darker than anybody could have thought. The surprising ending of Sleepaway Camp has also created a lot of discussion in the online cinema community. Sleepaway Camp was a surprise hit with horror movie fans. It made 30 times more money than it cost to make.
2. Camp Slaughter
This is one of the great slasher films and is a lovely throwback to the 1980s. Camp Slaughter embraces its cinematic ancestors’ wacky, over-the-top, and utterly gore-filled roots.
Camp Slaughter does offer a sensational twist that some will like and some will mock. It’s like a cross between Timecrimes (2007) and any horror film set in a camp! If that isn’t enough to convince you, Camp Slaughter has thirty-seven on-screen killings. It seems to be divisive among audiences; you determine whether or not this summer camp slasher deserves to be featured in the list of great horror movies.
3. The Burning
The Burning, released in 1981, is a summer horror movie and a gruesome slasher from one of the genre’s golden eras. The Burning is a film directed by Tony Maylam and starring makeup artist Tom Savini. It follows the story of an ex-summer camp caretaker who gets horrifically burned as a result of a prank gone wrong. Years later, he returns to the scene of the tragedy, hell-bent on murdering the youngsters who caused his scarring.
Jason Voorhees meets Freddy Kreuger, however, instead of a machete or a knife glove, he uses garden shears. If that wasn’t enough to frighten or tempt you, The Burning became one of the first slashers to be included on the UK’s Video Nasties list, owing to the raft slaughter sequence. This isn’t the only raft fatality on the list. The Burning is terrifying, visceral, and epitomizes the horror of the 1980s.
4. The Ritual
The Ritual, released in 2017, might not be your first option when it comes to summer horror flicks. However, David Bruckner’s The Ritual is all about trekking into the woods and coming across something horrible.
The film depicts a group of old friends who meet for a backpacking vacation in Eastern Europe, only to be stalked by a malevolent apparition. If you liked VHS’s Amateur Night (2012), you’ll enjoy The Ritual, which brings Bruckner’s devilish penchant for horror to a whole new level. The film is rich in mythology and legend, making you desire to learn more about the sources of its inspiration.
5. The Cabin in the Woods
Isn’t summer camp incomplete without some filthy, frightening cabins? The Cabin in the Woods elevated meta-horror to new heights. It capitalized on the genre’s conventions to deceive genre movie enthusiasts worldwide.
Five friends travel on a vacation to a rural cottage, where they receive more than they bargained for, uncovering the reality behind the cabin, directed by Drew Goddard. Isn’t this something you’ve already heard? If you haven’t seen this film yet, trust us when we say that now is the time to do so.
In the commentary, Drew Goddard said that his inspiration for the movie came from residing in Los Alamos, where he saw scientists and coworkers going about their daily lives despite the fact that they were working on nuclear weapons that might have potentially destroyed the entire world. Do watch this movie!
6. The Evil Dead
If you want to see a legendary horror film, look no further than Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1981). With The Evil Dead, Sam Raimi made a huge impact on the horror genre. It pushed the genre’s bounds and brought it to new depths. Five friends go to a cottage in the woods and unintentionally unleash flesh-eating creatures.
In Germany, the film’s release date was delayed for over eight years by government officials. The film’s original theater and video releases were confiscated, making it a cult favorite. On your secluded cabin retreat excursion, you certainly don’t want to see this scary film.
7. Evil Dead II
It is probably the greatest of Sam Raimi’s films. Set after the events of Evil Dead I, the sequel continues just where we left off, with the Deadites doing all they can to physically and emotionally destroy poor Ash. And, of course, here is where Raimi’s fondness for humor shines through.
This also has the famed laughing furniture, as well as a possessed hand! According to Sam Raimi, Stephen King is also credited with bringing Evil Dead II to life. Raimi couldn’t get enough money for the project, but Stephen King made a few phone calls because he was a big fan of the original. The financiers agreed to give Raimi the required funds.
8. Evil Dead (Remake)
Looking at the original in a more serious and bloody light. The remake by Fede Alvarez follows the same course as the original, with a few notable differences. Our unfortunate heroes are on hand to assist with detox/cold-turkey, which lends more serious/suspicious overtones to the proceedings and the budget.
Director Fede Alvarez shared in an interview that the closing sequence alone required 50,000 gallons of water. When compared to the 200 to 300 gallons utilized in the first Evil Dead, this is a significant increase. If Raimi had the funding back then, this is undoubtedly the film he would have made. Do watch!
The movie “Madman” was made around the same time period as “The Burning”, and both had been inspired by the Cropsey Maniac urban legend. However, since The Burning was already in production and featured a similar narrative, writer/director Joe Giannone modified it, and the result was more of a blend of Friday The 13th and Candyman. And any narrative that starts with an urban legend, or simply a legend in general, needs to be viewed, in our opinion!
10. Friday the 13th Part I
This was always going to be on our list. Apart from Evil Dead, this slasher made summer camps genuinely terrifying, and it also spawned one of the most enduring horror series of all time. Isn’t it true that this is the Summer Slasher King? On its first day of release, the picture grossed $39,754,601 on a $550,000 budget!
11. Friday the 13th Part II
This is the film that created slasher history since it was the first time we saw Jason Voorhees himself, but one of the Holy Trinity of horror movies is seen wearing a sack rather than the well-known hockey mask for his initial appearance.
The movie is still rollicking fun and a great horror movie for the summer. In part II, the first Jason scene is a shot of Jason’s legs going across the street toward Alice’s home. This is when Jason was portrayed by a female, Ellen Lutter, the costume designer of the film, for the first and only time in the series.
12. Friday the 13th Part III
Here is the first time we see Jason Voorhees wearing his iconic hockey mask, a mask that will be remembered in horror history as a distinctive look, even being utilized in the Slaughterhouse games. The film stands apart from the other two, not merely because of the mask, but also because it is the first one in the trilogy to be released in 3D to date.
Part III is different from the other two parts in the series because it shows a wounded and more vulnerable Jason, which we would lose in the next two parts.
13. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
This is the final film in the franchise to star Tommy Jarvis (Thom Matthews)! This is our personal favorite since it features the 100 percent superhuman, resurrected, undead, nightmare version of Jason Voorhees. Do we need to say anything else?
14. Friday the 13th (Remake)
For horror fans, the early 2000s were quite a strange period. Michael Bay’s production company, Platinum Dunes, was in charge of a series of remakes of iconic horror films that began with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 2003 and ended with A Nightmare on Elm Street in 2010. However, Marcus Nispel’s 2009 remake of Friday the 13th is an odd beast of a film, mixing the first four original films and adding flashier killings and spectacular effects. It is truly an amazing horror movie and the right one to use as an intro to Jason and the series.
Jason has killed about 200 people in the “Friday the 13th” series, including this one!
15. Creepshow II
Even though it is not as wonderful as the original Creepshow (1982), the sequel’s version of Stephen King’s The Raft is excellent
Daniel Beer, who played the role of Randy, nearly died of hypothermia. His body became green since the water was so cold. Daniel was taken to the hospital, where he recovered completely and went on to finish “The Raft”
16. Stage Fright
Stage Fright is a Canadian comedic horror movie released in 2014. The movie is also a musical and features the talents of Meat Loaf.
A teenage girl, Camilla Swanson, desperately aspires to be an actress just like her late mother. She auditions at a performing arts summer camp, where she works as a cook, for a musical production.
Ten years after her mother was murdered after she had performed “The Haunting of the Opera”, Camilla gets the same lead role. The blood starts to spill as the show goes on.
17. Twisted Nightmare
Isn’t it true that the 1980s were the golden age of slasher films? Producers, directors, and writers learned that all it took to generate money was a lake, a campground, nubile teenagers, and copious quantities of blood on Friday the 13th. In 1987, Paul Hunt changed the formula by including Native American spirits. It’s not the finest, but it’s still entertaining.
18. Summer Camp
This Spanish film from 2015, the first directed by Alberto Marini, a long-time writer/producer, tackles all the standard cliches of camp horror films and flips them on their heads. The main concept is that four American summer camp counselors are caught in the midst of a rage-inducing pandemic that began with the animals. What follows isn’t your typical camping horror film, and the twist with the pandemic elevates this one above the others.
19. Cheerleader Camp
This slasher involves a competition, a cheerleader camp, and a gory murder. What else do you want from a slasher film from 1988? Betsy Russell, who portrays Jill Tucker in the famous Saw series, also plays the primary character. Bloody Poms Poms was the initial title for this movie.
Ari Aster’s second film, which takes a somewhat different approach to camping, achieves something that most horror films avoid: it is set in broad, blazing daylight. This eliminates the customary safety of light that we see in most horror films in an instant. Midsommar lives up to the famous H. P. Lovecraft quote: “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”
This slasher also shows the audience a side of human psyches that we do not see on screen often.
21. Summer Camp Nightmare
Summer Camp Nightmare, released in 1987 and inspired by both William Butler’s 1961 book The Butterfly Revolution and William Golding’s 1954 classic Lord Of The Flies, asks the age-old subject of what happens when a bunch of boys are left alone.
The brutality on show, as well as the fact that the lads voluntarily inflict it, distinguishes Summer Camp Nightmare from The Butterfly Revolution or even Lord of the Flies. It does, however, remind us of the Kamp Krusty episode from The Simpsons.
22. Cabin Fever
Eli Roth’s directorial debut has taken the typical notion of a group of friends going out into the woods for a camping vacation that goes tragically wrong and added a body-horror twist with a deadly flesh-eating virus. This is on par with Evil Dead in terms of gruesomeness, and if you’re looking for an early Eli Roth flick, you can’t go wrong with this slasher.
23. Bloody Murder
When Friday the 13th is mixed with Scream, what you get is 2000’s Bloody Murder. Camp Placid Pines, the location of a series of gruesome murders perpetrated by a hockey-masked murderer, is reopened by a new group of camp counselors.
The young counselors’ plans for a summer filled with romance and fun turn to terror and bloodshed.
Piranha, Joe Dante’s second film, was one of the first to capitalize on Jaws, and Steven Spielberg was fortunate enough to watch it ahead of time and give it a favorable review.
Two young backpackers find an abandoned military post in the woods that also has a man-made reservoir. Accidentally, flesh-eating piranhas are released into the rivers and the guests happen to be their next meal.
25. Cannibal Holocaust
Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 Italian cannibal film has been the topic of much discussion. It is perhaps one of the most notorious horror films ever made. While recording a documentary on indigenous cannibal tribes in the Amazon jungle, an American film team went missing.
During a rescue mission, a professor stumbles across lost footage shot by a documentary crew that has been missing, and this is where the thriller starts.
One of the finest ways for die-hard horror fanatics to start off the summer months is to watch camp horror movies set in a cabin. Let us know what your favorite summer camp slasher is in the comments below. Campers, be careful!