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11 Best Horror Movies for Summer Screams

Updated on June 9, 2017
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Arthur is an avid television and movie fan, with horror being his favored genre. If you can name it, he has probably seen it. Twice.

Summer is an awesome time filled with hot days and cool nights. Unfortunately, summer also brings dark and stormy nights that are perfect for a good horror flick. When it comes to summer horror viewing not just any film will do, you need a movie that reminds you that it is summer outside while giving you the chills inside. These 11 horror movies for summer are exactly what you are looking for to elicit some summer screams.

Friday the 13th

As a self-proclaimed horror expert, I would be remiss not to put THE summer camp movie at the top of the list. There have been many imitators but there has never been, and will never be another Friday the 13th. Even the sequels could never recapture the magic of the original film.

Why It's Perfect: Apart from being one of the best horror films ever made, and a gold standard for every film after it, Friday the 13th is just ideal for summer scares. It takes place at a summer camp preparing to open which sets the stage nicely. Once the killing starts so does the rain, which creates quite the ambiance for a summer night. Add in young and attractive actors wearing little to nothing (including Kevin Bacon in his first role), and you have a movie that is perfect for a summer night on the couch.

Sleepaway Camp

Sleepaway Camp is all about the camp in more than one way. This movie is such an enigma because it's bad and good at the same time. It follows a group of kids and counselors at a summer camp (original right?) as they begin to be picked off one by one by a mysterious murderer.

Why It's Perfect: This movie teeters on absurd, but still delivers the goods in the horror department. If you are looking for something a little campy that you don't need to invest in too much, this is the perfect movie for a summer night. What happens at the end of Sleepaway Camp is horror movie legend and a reason by itself to watch this film at least once.


Nothing beats summers on Amity Island, that is unless a massive, blood-thirsty great white is in the water. Jaws is often seen as one of the best films ever made, period, but it is also a fantastic film for a night on the couch when the heat gets too high. I'm not sure if I have ever met anyone who didn't like this movie, the sequels are another story, but a summer Jaws marathon wouldn't be too bad.

Why It's Perfect: Yes, technically Jaws is a creature feature, but this movie defies genre labels. It is a masterpiece like only Spielberg can provide, and it is perfect for anyone in the family 13+. Watching Jaws from the comfort of your couch will remind you that beating the sweltering heat in air conditioning has its advantages over a day at the beach.

I Know What You Did Last Summer

Come on; the word Summer is right in the title. This quintessential teen horror movie was able to be just like every other teen horror movie, yet somehow different enough to make a name for itself. It spawned two sequels that were just as cringeworthy as the first.

Why It's Perfect: This movie is just a fun film that starred all the hot young actors of the time. The movie has a great reveal at the end that most first time watchers won't see coming. Mostly, the summer theme set in a beach town will help to while away the night dreaming about the possibilities of tomorrow...without a killer, of course.


Madman is another 1980s camp slasher that is surprisingly good for what it is. You have seen it all before, and the acting is sub-par at best, yet it all seems to work somehow. If it weren't such a blatant rip-off of Friday the 13th, this movie probably would have been more popular.

Why It's Perfect: There is nothing more summery than a summer camp. This is classic 80s gore at its finest with an antagonist that is some kind of mountain man-monster. It is cheesy, campy, corny and every other word you can think of in that category; yet it is still surprisingly engaging throughout its hour and a half run time. Even though it's cheesy it will still make you lock the doors and pull the covers over your head.

Pirahna #D

Pirahna 3D is as campy as they come with cheap jump scares and unbelievable premises. The film is about a town with a prehistoric fish problem that suddenly erupts during spring break. While the whole town is strapped with terror a group of young people on a boat are our main focus as they get stranded with hundreds of the blood-thirsty fish around them.

Why It's Perfect: This movie is all about fun, sun, skin, and blood. Most of the action takes place on a boat out in the clear water which is the perfect scenery for a summer night indoors. The movie is also just as funny as it is scary which makes it a great flick for multiple tastes.

Cabin in the Woods

This movie is one of my favorite horror films of all time because of how funny and self-aware it is. Cabin in the Woods follows a group of 20-somethings who go for a weekend excursion to their friend's cousin's cabin. Unbeknownst to them, they are part of an ancient ritual that is meant to appease the gods and keep mankind safe.

Why It's Perfect: This movie has a little something for every genre lover out there, and you will laugh more than you will cover your eyes. The scenic setting shows everything that summer can provide. There are even a few night scenes that, while brutal, will awaken an urge in you to head outside and enjoy the night air.

The Burning

The burning is about a group of smart ass kids at, you guessed it, a summer camp. The problem is that no amount of sarcasm, snark, and flat out bullying will keep these kids from being picked off one by one by an unknown killer. It turns out though, that the killer may not be as unknown as you think and one of the camp counselors is hiding a deadly secret.

Why It's Perfect: You really can't go wrong with the summer camp theme. It offers plenty of bodies, lots of wide-open space, and a plethora of murder means. This is obviously a Friday the 13th knockoff, but it doesn't even matter. If you are in the mood for some summer gore this movie delivers and that is more than you can ask for from a low budget 80s horror film.

2001 Maniacs

This Robert Englund lead horror film is a guilty pleasure of mine because it is really, really, bad, but I still love it. When a group of college kids takes an unexpected detour, they end up in a backwoods town that is seemingly lost in time. They quickly learn that the city's hospitality has some underlying consequences that make them wish they had stayed on the main road.

Why It's Perfect: This movie screams 4th of July celebration...with blood and guts. I swear to you, you will leave this film craving watermelon and a game of horseshoes. Though the storyline and acting leave something to be desired, this is a great cheesy horror film for a summer Friday night indoors.

Cabin Fever (2002)

This is not to be confused with the terrible reboot that was a shot for shot remake of the original but with less talent and worse jokes. This movie follows a group of college-aged friends as the spend a secluded weekend in a cabin. Unfortunately, their drinking water has been tainted with a flesh-eating virus that slowly starts tearing the group apart, literally and metaphorically.

Why It's Perfect: Cabin Fever is a rare movie that is just as funny as it is scary. It isn't a horror-comedy, but more of a horror with comedic elements. This movie will make you shiver as you put yourself in the position of the helpless characters at their remote cabin. Cabin Fever is unlike anything else you will ever see, and it is a great movie for some mid-summer fright. I also suggest watching Cabin Fever and 2001 Maniacs back to back as they have a funny character connection.

The Blair Witch Project

Looking back this movie is a little laughable, but at the time it came out I had a friend who didn't sleep for two weeks after watching it. The movie is about a group of college filmmakers who go out into the middle of the woods to film the fabled Blair Witch. Though the kids go missing, their spooky footage is found which is what comprises the movie.

Why It's Perfect: First of all, this is the movie that made the found footage genre what it is today. Without this movie, we wouldn't have had a handful of better found footage movies that came after it. As far as summer goes, this film fits right into the summer theme with the wooded setting and camping.

All of these movies are great to stay cool on a warm summer night. They will remind you that even if the outside seems desirable you may be better off indoors with a good movie. If I missed a good summer horror movie, please let me know in the comments!


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