There are plenty of reasons not to send your kids off to camp in this day and age, first and foremost being that I don’t think summer camp exists anymore. But back when I was a kid, summer camp was all the rage. I remember my summers at camp; we did arts and crafts and nature hikes. I got to swim in the lake and eat s’mores before bed almost every night. The only down-side was when my camp, Camp Nightengale, was shut down because a bunch of counselors got extremely high one night and thought Jason Voorhees was real and chasing after them. Two of them drowned in the lake, one girl died in a cabin she set on fire for protection, and one guy impaled himself on a tree branch with his pants down. Of course, there is no such thing as Jason Voorhees; it turned out it was just the original owner of the camp terrorizing people. His wife had died there years ago and he was determined to kill anyone who came near the place she was buried. You probably read about it in the papers…
Just kidding, I lied about all of that. I never went to camp myself. Instead, I used my summers to stay up late watching horribly good scary movies on late night TV. I learned a lot from those summers, partly that nearly every summer camp horror movie follows the same formula, but mostly that I was really glad I was never sent to summer camp. It spared me the opportunity to be slaughtered out in the wilderness because a bunch of horny teenagers wanted to get laid.
I’ve compiled a list off the 10 Best Horror Movies that perfectly explain why if our parents loved us, they should never have sent us to summer camp.
10. Cheerleader Camp (1987)
My my, there sure are a lot of reasons not to send your kids to cheerleading camp – mostly because it’s a camp for cheerleaders. But if you can get past all the rah-rahs and sis-boom-bahs, you’re likely to discover that a camp full of preppy girls in full competition mode may be the scariest place ever. Cheerleader Camp is all about the young ladies who head to camp for the summer, but wouldn’t you know it, a bunch of them starting gruesomely dying as the central character begins to suspect her boyfriend of foul play. Either that or she has multiple personalities.
9. The Burning (1981)
It is important to know that, in horror movies, teenagers are dicks; 9 out of 10 show no remorse for horrible things they’ve done, even if they killed someone. Or at least think they killed someone. Enter The Burning. In this summer camp blood bath a former janitor who was believed to have perished in a fire years earlier returns to the camp he was burned at for revenge. Think I Know What You Did Last Summer meets Friday the 13th.
8. Campfire Tales (1997)
This one is less of a summer camp precautionary tale, and more of a fun anthology of classic urban legends. The stories are being told by some creepy guy who wanders up on a bunch of camping teenagers. I don’t know about you, but if some derelict walked up on me and my friends in the woods and started telling us stories about a bunch of unsuspecting people who were gruesomely murdered, I’d be pretty freaked out. And I’d probably suspect that guy of killing aforementioned people…
7. Summer Camp Nightmare (1987)
This is not your typical summer camp movie. In fact, it’s like nothing else on this list. This movie is scary because it focuses on how dark and fucked up people get when they think they are in control of anarchy. In Summer Camp Nightmare, the kids at the boys’ camp overthrow the strict man in charge, and then take over the girls’ camp. It’s misogynistic and horrifying, and it does not take long before the boys in charge of the camp’s liberation become sick dictators themselves.
6. Camp Slaughter (Camp Daze) (2005)
Camp Slaughter is another unique addition to the list because it is a sci-fi horror crossover. A group of stranded motorists stumble upon a summer camp that appears to be stuck in the 80’s, where the same day repeats itself over and over. It seems they are stuck in a time loop on the very day where the entire camp is slaughtered by some maniacs. Think Groundhog’s Day with a whole lot more blood and gore.
5. Bloody Bloody Bible Camp (2012)
Catholicism is scary enough as it is, but imagine what would happen if a nun called Sister Mary Chopper went crazy on a group of campers to cleanse them of all their evil doings. Now imagine if some people with a sin or two under their belts and lead by a priest return to the camp assuming that same nun is long dead and gone. There stands Bloody Bloody Bible Camp. Beware the axe of God…
*Note: Before anyone gets all uppity about it, I was raised Catholic and therefore can say from experience that shit is scary.
4. Stage Fright (2014)
Full disclosure: This is not a very good movie. Stage Fright takes place at a musical theater camp, and is a lot like Glee except there are sexual favors being traded for lead roles and then people start to die. As a former theater geek, this plot sounds disturbingly feasible. Down side, there’s a lot of singing. Up side, super annoying theater kids die.
**Note: Before anyone gets uppity about this one I was a theater geek and I know damn well some of those kids deserve a punch in the face. I’m pretty sure I was one of them.
3. Friday the 13th (1980)
Some people consider this THE summer camp horror movie. It’s hard not to see it that way; it basically created the genre and paved the way for every other film on this list. Jason Voorhees became an icon, and far too few people remember that Kevin Bacon got murdered while boning. Friday the 13th has basically no character development, so it’s honestly just fun to watch all the idiot teenagers die. Nowadays the bloodbath is funny, but in 1980, when no one was ready for it, this movie scared the shit out of promiscuous teenagers everywhere.
2. Madman (1982)
This is one of my favorites. Sure, it’s still people getting killed at summer camp, but this time it’s by a man called Madman Marz who is similar to the Candy Man or Bloody Mary. He exists somewhere between reality and the supernatural realm and when you summon him he’ll show up and kill you and apparently a bunch of either people because… well, why not? When in Rome, right?
1. Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Sleepaway Camp is still credited as having one of the most shocking endings ever. People are capable of anything, and nothing is ever what it seems. And if you don’t accept those two truths you just might get slashed up at summer camp by the girl you thought you could pick on for for being different.