Sun’s out, knives out. Summer is the time for a lot of things—trips to the beach, early morning walks in the woods—but most importantly, summer is the time for slashing. As the weather heats up and the blood starts to boil, plenty of masked maniacs are eager for the opportunity to start hacking and slashing their way through past grievances. Here, we’ll be looking at six of the best summer slashers to start the dog days of the season off right.
I Know What You Did Last Summer
While many slasher aficionados might look at the Kevin Williamson-scripted I Know What You Did Last Summer as a lesser iteration of his seminal slasher classic Scream, it’s worth noting that Williamson began script development here before Scream. A July 4th perennial, Williamson’s loose (loose) adaptation of Lois Duncan’s novel of the same name is a restrained, character-driven slasher with a committed cast and some of the best hazy summer chases around.
Robert Hiltzik’s Sleepaway Camp might principally be a groggy, humid exercise in bad taste. But, there’s no denying the enduring appeal of one of the greatest summer camp slashers around. Horror icon Felissa Rose is sensational as Angela, a young girl bullied at the titular sleepaway camp as bodies drop all around her. Someone is knocking off campers and counselors, leading to a shocking reveal that remains a heated point of contention among horror fans decades on.
Party Hard, Die Young
I Know What You Did Last Summer with a German bent, Dominik Hartl’s Party Hard, Die Young is the Scream riff slasher fans didn’t know they needed. As a class of graduating seniors jet off to Croatia for some time in the sun, someone is dead set on reminding them of their past sins, chasing them down and knocking them off in frenzied fashion. The kills are exceptional, the cast fantastic, and the Croatian seaside setting elevates the subgenre’s more conventional elements. There’s plenty of bloodshed here to appeal to even the most hardened slasher fans.
The Final Girls
Todd Strauss-Schulson’s The Final Girls is as likely to tug at the heartstrings as it is to incite riotous laughter. Strauss-Schulson’s meta-riff on the slashers of yore follows Taissa Farmiga’s Max Cartwright and friends after they’re inexplicably transported into the world of “Camp Bloodbath,” the slasher that cemented Max’s late mother Amanda (Malin Åkerman) as a scream queen. The cast is top-tier and writers M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller understand the pathos of slashers better than most self-aware horror outings. While the PG-13 rating might discourage some horror fans, it ends up working to the movie’s benefit. With this much heart, who needs more gore?
Fear Street Part Two: 1978
While Fear Street Part Two: 1978 works best when viewed within the chronology of Netflix’s entire Fear Street trilogy, it’s also the only entry that maintains its bloody efficacy independent of the larger story. Stranger Things’ Sadie Sink stumbles around a cursed campground as axe-wielder Tommy Slater (McCabe Slye), the latest in a long lineage of Shadyside Killers, annihilates anyone in his way. It’s a no-holds-barred slasher abounding with carnage and is easily the strongest of the three Fear Street movies.
Speaking of Scream riffs, Boris von Sychowski’s German (though English-language) slasher The Pool might well have hit copy-paste on Craven and Williamson’s classic. A killer dons a skull mask to target a group of graduating seniors after they break into an indoor water park in Prague. Intending to celebrate their time together in boarding school, it instead becomes a fight for survival after it becomes clear someone with a bone (or several) to pick has infiltrated the titular pool alongside them. While the mystery falls flat, the unique setting and assemblage of familiar faces, including Isla Fisher and James McAvoy, make this a slasher worth diving into.
What do you think? What’s your favorite summer slasher movie? Let me know over on Twitter @Chadiscollins!