Summer is right around the corner and with it tons of kids around the country will be attending summer camp. Tons of teens are also going to be horrifically murdered at those same summer camps for indulging in premarital sex, smoking a little reefer and drinking cheap beer. Well, at least that’s how it goes in the horror movie universe. There is a long list of campground horror movies and trimming the list of potential candidates down to only 10 was much more difficult than I expected but I tried to keep a good mix of new, old, good, bad and obscure.
Some honorable mentions include Camp Hell, both Bloody Murder movies, all seven Camp Blood movies, Sleepaway Camp 3 and the original Friday the 13th. Look, I could have included that movie as it is a top-notch summer camp horror movie but we all know about that one and to me, it’s better to include some lesser known movies and support independent horror. Besides, there are two others from that series on this list. Including the original is unnecessary.
NUMBER TEN - Bloody Bloody Bible Camp
Do I need to write any words about this? Ok, here’s all you need to know: Ron Jeremy plays Jesus. The killer is a nun called Sister Mary Chopper. And the priest’s name is Richard Cummings. Fucking Troll. This movie has so much gore, so much sex and so much violence, so much so that I am surprised that Troma isn’t attached to this at all. This one definitely leans more towards being comedy, but it also leans more to being a splatter film and that’s what lands it on the Top 10 Summer Camp Horror Movies list.
NUMBER NINE - Friday the 13th Part 2
Ok, I said I wasn’t including the original I never said anything about the sequel, which is in my opinion the superior of the two films. An interesting fact is that not many of the films are set in a summer camp in fact only three of them are. The first two movies in the series are very similar, the sequel though sees the introduction of Jason, but a mask-less, running Jason. There are certain aesthetic things from the original that are superior like the bruised fingernail holding the knife, but the deaths in this movie are some of the best in the series like the upside-down throat slashing and the axe to the face runaway wheelchair death. This movie also has one of my favorite scenes in the whole series in the dark cabin where Ginny yells, “There’s someone else in this room” and Jason pops out of the shadows. Perfectly Amazing!
NUMBER EIGHT - Cheerleader Camp
So, this movie is absolutely absurd. It has some horrific bloody disgusting murders but the premise and the acting in this one is rough. But the final act is something absolutely fantastic and worth the watch! An outstanding and obscure 1980’s horror film about a slasher targeting innocent cheerleaders competing for the top spot at a cheer camp. More peeping toms and panty raids than a John Hughes movie and about as much unnecessary nudity as one would expect from a horror movie in a cheerleader camp. Overall, this is a fun movie that is definitely worth the watch, especially if you don’t mind the low-quality version that exists on YouTube. Only place to watch it unless you want to spend $40 on the DVD.
NUMBER SEVEN - Madman
A lot of people were recently introduced to this 80’s gem on an episode of The Last Drive-In on Shudder as well as treated to Joe Bob singing the theme song to this film. Madman is an amazing summer camp movie because it’s based on the spooky campfire stories told around the fire that exist at every camp across the country. Speaking of camp, this is probably the campiest of the films on this list. The goofy acting, the weird musical interludes and a bizarre story are what elevates this near forgotten 1980’s gem. A big thanks goes to Joe Bob Briggs for bringing this film back into the mainstream discussion and saving it from obscurity. There is some talk of a remake, hopefully it includes weird musical interludes at a minimum, a gratuitous hot tub scene.
NUMBER SIX - Summer Camp
This is an interesting one. Not set in America, not set at a traditional summer camp, no tents, no canoes. Most important difference being - no slasher. Instead of the young camp counselors being stalked by a masked killer, they are battling a virus which turns its hosts into aggressive psychopaths that drool black blood. Think, The Crazies taking place at Crystal Lake in Spain. This is an amazing movie! Super aggressive, spooky and highly underrated. While the gore and insanity is present, it’s the little things in the plot that are what you really have to love about this one.
NUMBER FIVE - Sleepaway Camp
Sleepaway Camp isn’t even top 3? Are you crazy? Perhaps, but let’s look at this one objectively, completely ignoring that shocking final scene. The deaths are not very good. The tension is near absent. One person is killed by a bee hive dropped into the bathroom? I get it, Angela’s mangled dick is legendary but the film overall, I find lacking, especially in comparison with other 80’s horror movies. Beyond comparisons to other films, Sleepaway Camp is a classic horror movie that really nails the look and feel of a summer camp. Is it the best summer camp horror movie? No, but it’s certainly on the list. The only reason it doesn’t rank higher is because the sequel is the superior film.
NUMBER FOUR - Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers
The sequel is superior in every way imaginable in comparison with the original, save the shocking finale. The deaths are more brutal and there are more of them. In the original, they drop a beehive in the bathroom stall and someone dies. In the sequel, Angela drowns a girl in the outhouse. Yes, it’s a better death. Yes, that makes it a better movie. Not to mention gratuitous nudity which is a staple of 1980’s slasher in a summer camp movie which just doesn’t exist in the original. Sleepaway Camp is incredible, the ending is one of the greatest shocks in horror history but as a complete movie, Sleepaway Camp 2 reigns supreme.
NUMBER THREE - Stage Fright
Wow! I was not aware of this film until I started making this list. Whenever I make a top 10 I always open the Horror-Rolodex and ask Uncle Google for suggestions for things I haven’t watched. This one popped up and at first, I was uncertain it would be worth my time. A musical slasher set at an acting summer camp? As the credits rolled and I noticed Meat Loaf was attached to this movie my hopes increased and by the end of the film I was completely blown away. Stage Fright is a fantastic flick about a doomed play Haunting of the Opera in which the main actress was murdered on opening night, fast forward 10 years and the actress’s daughter finds her self taking the lead role in the same play. Fantastic imagery, outstanding score, and an insane amount of gore which really caught me off guard. This is a must watch!
NUMBER TWO - The Burning
What an amazing film The Burning is. This, much like Madman, is based off the campfire story of Cropsey. Unlike Madman, they were able to use the character name Cropsey. This is a fantastically gory film! The over the top gore landed this movie on the Video Nasties list specifically for one scene The Raft Massacre Scene. The Burning is criminally underrated and should have been made into at least four sequels but that wasn’t in the cards. Other than the over the top gore, this movie also includes an iconic and memorable slasher and the first staring role for Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame. This movie perfectly nails the summer camp look and feel and is only second to one.
NUMBER ONE -Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives
The best Friday the 13th movies are Part 3, Part 6 and Jason Goes to Hell, in that order. The others in the series simply don’t measure up to those. Of those three films, only one takes place in a summer camp and that’s Jason Lives. Not only is it one of the few Friday films to take place in a summer camp, it’s the only one where there are actual kids at the summer camp. If you ever played the NES game, the climax of this movie is basically that. Jason sneaking through the campground towards a cabin full of terrified kids as the camp counselor’s rush to protect them. This is the first in the series to portray Jason as an unstoppable force of evil as he is resurrected accidentally by arch-nemesis Tommy Jarvis during the opening sequence of the film. This is also the film in the series with one of the highest body counts topped only by Jason X and in my opinion the best deaths of the whole series. Jason rips out people hearts, decapitates three people in one swipe, rips one person’s head clean off, crushes the head of another and breaks a guy in half. How bad ass! Unfortunately, this was the movie that sparked the downfall for the series as the following saw Jason fight a psychic, go to Manhattan and finally Go To Hell before disappearing from the screen for many years. This is mainly because Jason Lives was such a hard act to follow. Great story, great pacing, great kills and great scares, Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives is the best summer camp horror movie of all time.
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