Summer is one of my all-time favorite times of year to watch movies. Of course, the other seasons have their place, but there is something about watching movies in the summer that takes me back to my childhood more than anything. We didn’t have central air in my house, so trips to a cool dark theater in the summer was not only an escape, but a respite from the heat. It’s the time when I had the most sleepovers, stayed up late, and watched the most movies. There’s something about watching a movie with friends and then going for a late night swim in the pool or riding bikes around the neighborhood afterwards. 

In this first post, I am focusing on summer slashers. Slashers are my jam. I love all sorts of horror movies, but I’ve always been drawn to slashers since seeing Halloween premiere on the NBC as the Friday Night movie on October 30, 1981. After that,it set me on a mission to devour all the slashers I could get my hands on. Here are some of my summer favorites!

I was late to the party on this film. For some reason none of the video stores I frequented had it available and I only learned about it in the late 90s/early 2000s. I ended up downloading a copy from Kazaa and watching it on my computer. Wow, this movie ticked all of the boxes for me…summer camp, great kills, boobs…it had everything! It quickly made its way into my summer rotation. That said, with all that has happened with Harvey Weinstein over the past few years, subsequent rewatches reveal the problematic nature to much of the “romantic” subplots between the characters. Let’s face it; the guys were assholes to the girls. It gets a little too rape-y in scenes and while it helps justify what happens to the guys, it can be hard to overlook. That aside, I do feel many of the other characters are well acted. Of course, the movie benefits from having people like Jason Alexander and Fisher Stevens but overall so many of the interactions felt authentic; like I was actually at a summer camp…a place I longed to go to when I was a kid but never did. 

Ok, I know what you’re thinking…Jaws isn’t a slasher film. Some people don’t even consider it a horror film. However, I beg to differ. It’s a killer stalking a small town and killing the townsfolk. While it may have been one of the first ever films to be considered a summer blockbuster, it certainly made plenty of people scared to go in the water afterward. I remember seeing Jaws on network television during most summers. It was edited for tv, and I only watched it in parts here and there. I did, however, see Jaws: The Revenge in theaters in 1987 and was legitimately afraid to go in my pool that night. 

I finally came around to the original in my early/mid teens and watched the film in its entirety. Since then, I have seen it countless times in several different iterations; an original 35mm screening, in beautiful 4K, and even at the beach by the lake. It just never gets old…the cinematography, the acting, the pacing, Jaws is a perfect film. I never tire of it, and always welcome a viewing when this time of year rolls around.

Honestly, this is one of my all-time favorite films. On a list of “films to get to know m” this is near the top. The camp setting, the brutal and inventive kills, the dark humor, and the soundtrack. And yes, boobs again... 

I saw this on VHS back in 1990, shortly after it had been released. We were visiting family friends in Georgia (where it was filmed) and he had suggested watching it. At that point, I hadn’t even seen the first one yet, though I was familiar with the box art and the basic premise…even though the ending still shocked me when I saw it a year later!

This is a tight 80 minutes, and even has a flashback scene to the beginning of the movie. It gets in, does its thing, and gets out…no lengthy exposition, meandering subplots, nothing. It’s just a classic. I do love part one for what it is, but it’s a vastly different film. And part 3 is great as well; from what I know, they shot part 3 the week after part 2 and all the victims from part 2 were crew on part 3. 

Pamela Springsteen is so great in this role; I’ve heard she’s embarrassed by it but little does she know the amount of people that would come from all over to meet her at a convention. I’m certainly one of them.

FUN FACT: Sleepaway Camp II is the first ever license I signed; just two months after starting Fright-Rags. I tracked down Michael Simpson and we did a deal over email and then he faxed his copy to where I was working full time and I had to sneak into the supply closet, sign it, and fax it back. Yeah, fax. That’a how long ago it was…

To be fair, this entire list could just be Friday the 13th and its sequels. Any one of them (save for maybe Jason X) fit what I would consider to be a perfect summer slasher. However, if I have to pick just one, it has to be the third film. I think this may have been the second Friday the 13th film I ever saw; possibly the third behind part one and part 6). I had finished the 5th grade and it was summer of 1988. My friend Ryan was sleeping over and we spent most of the evening running around the woods at the end of my dead end street. Then we broke my parents’ rule of leaving the neighborhood and rode up to the convenience store to stock up on candy. We stuffed it all on our shorts and socks; Lemondheads, Boston Baked Beans, Cherry Clans, and anything else we could afford from the $0.25 boxes of candy. We sounded like human maracas walking into the house but my parents never caught on. Earlier that evening we had rented the movie of choice for the night: Friday the 13th part 3. The back of the cover was enough to tantalize our 11 yr old brains. Jason grabbing someone through a car window! And I even heard that this is where he gets his mask! Wow, we were in for a treat. 

My parents went out for the evening but my older brother was around with his friend. We set up in the living room; all of our candy, I'm sure whatever soda my mom had bought, and of course a large bowl of popcorn. A few minutes in, we were hooked. When Edna looks out the window and sees Jason walking among the laundry, it freaked us out. Then she turns the tv off and goes back to the window; he’s gone. Just at that time my brother and his friend burst through the sliding door across from us, his friend wearing my hockey mask I used for my Halloween costume in third grade. Perfect timing. Our popcorn was no longer in the bowl, but all over the floor. Talk about a 3D experience… 

Since then, it just became a favorite of mine. I love the summer feel to it; the bright sun, the heat. I love the setting with the barn, and the house as well. I also like it that the kids were just up there to hang out and it wasn’t an actual camp. I know Friday the 13th The Final Chapter gets a lot of love, and well deserved too. However, part 3 will always be my favorite Friday the 13th film. 

FUN FACT: I did finally see it in 3D on the big screen in 1998 and then again a few years ago. I’ve owned several copies of it over the years but my favorite way to watch is in my theater room in full 3D. However, my favorite copy is my VHS. Not just because it’s an original copy, it’s THE copy I rented that fateful night. When my local video store was going out of business in the early 2000s I visited them to see about buying that specific copy. I had probably rented it 50 times since that night, and sure enough, when she checked the logs, I was the last one to have rented it. The best $7 I ever spent. 

Stay tuned next month for some of my other favorite summer films!