Top 10 horror movies to watch in the dead of summer

Friday the 13th Part 4 - Courtesy of Paramount+
Friday the 13th Part 4 - Courtesy of Paramount+ /

Had a long day in the summer heat? I’ve got the perfect thing to send a chill down your spine.

Do you want to find the perfect horror movie that fits your summer vibe? Whether you’re a die-hard horror fanatic or a casual scare enjoyer, the following list should have something for everyone.

So kick off your flip flops and sip on a lemonade, here are my top 10 favorite summertime horror movies.

1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

What is commonly cited as the epitome of horror, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre gives us a well-rounded narrative along with a gut-wrenching sense of dread. When five friends take a road trip to rural Texas, they soon cross paths with a hitchhiker from a deranged family. A chainsaw wielding maniac leads a series of brutal slaughters that will make you squirm while barely showing any gore. The deeper meanings of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre only make the film more enjoyable, as the American Nuclear family is portrayed in our sadistic antagonists.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is available for free on Amazon Prime Video and Tubi.

“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” Friday, Nov. 1, 19741974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre /

2. Jaws (1975)

Amity Island is the perfect beach community, until a killer shark wreaks havoc on the tourist town’s happy-go-lucky swimmers. This summertime movie contains an expert mix of horror,  drama, and innovative filmmaking. Watching Jaws is the best way to prepare for your big beach vacation. Don’t worry, it’s extremely unlikely to be attacked by a shark, much less killed by one. Still, I bet that classic John Williams theme song will always strike paranoia into your heart.

Jaws is available with a Peacock Premium subscription, and will be streaming for free on Tubi in July. You can also rent it on YouTube and Apple TV.

American actor Roy Scheider on the set of Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images) /

3. The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

This satirical take on horror movie tropes sees five college friends take a trip to a secluded cabin which is, you guessed it, in the woods. Things are not what they seem, as a mysterious corporate entity works with unknown forces to unleash horror onto the cabin and its visitors. The Cabin in the Woods is witty, thrilling, and the perfect movie to kick back and think about the staples of the horror genre with.

The Cabin in the Woods is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV.

4. The Purge Anarchy (2014)

Nothing says the Fourth of July like this red, white, and blue dystopian thriller. You’re probably already familiar with the concept- there is one night a year where Americans can commit most any crime without consequences. Though technically the night of the purge takes place on March 21st, the series has had a long tradition of theatrical releases in the summer. Although the first film in the series, The Purge (2013), takes place in the year 2022 and stars fan-favorite Ethan Hawke, I had to put The Purge Anarchy on this list instead. It is able to expand upon the first movie’s world building in a fantastically creative and thrilling way.

The Purge Anarchy is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video and YouTube.

5. The Burning  (1981)

The first summer camp slasher on this list, The Burning is a classically underrated flick. After a former camp caretaker is brutally disfigured from a prank gone wrong, he spends years in the hospital only to be released so that he can head straight back to camp. What follows is a film with some crazy kills and the light appeal of an 80’s slasher. Fun fact, this was the start of Seinfeld star Jason Alexander’s acting career!

The Burning is available on Shudder, or you can watch it for free on Tubi.

The Burning. Image Courtesy Shudder /

6. The Last House on the Left (2009)

Let me start by saying that this movie is very disturbing and definitely not for everyone. A young girl and her friend are kidnapped and brutalized by a small gang near her family’s summer lake house. After ridding themselves of their victims, the gang is forced to escape an oncoming storm by taking cover in the lake house with the girl’s parents. What comes next? Some pretty sweet revenge. This is a remake of the original Wes Craven 1972 film, which in my opinion was less hopeful and offered less catharsis for it’s audience. If you want to get a little sick this summer, this is the movie for you.

The Last House on the Left is available through a subscription to Starz and Amazon Prime Video Premium.

7. Friday the 13th (1980)

Well, this one is a no-brainer. With a gruesome history of murder, Camp Crystal Lake opens its gates yet again to its new camp counselors. As an unknown killer stalks the sex-obsessed teens, we are treated to some campy kills along with a legendary score. Plus, we get to see Kevin Bacon in the role that began his career! In all honestly, I have never been fond of the Friday the 13th series, but I can’t deny that this first one is a great summertime horror movie. And hey, if you’ve never seen it, you might even be surprised by the twist!

Friday the 13th is available on Amazon Prime Video and Paramount Plus.

8. X (2022)

I was so excited to see X when it came out in March, and for good reason! This modern horror film set in the 70’s has an atmosphere delightfully similar to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Don’t be mistaken, this is very much its own movie. A group of young filmmakers in rural Texas stay at a secluded farmhouse in order to shoot an adult film. Their elderly hosts seem odd upon first meeting, but they soon discover that it goes much beyond that. The characters are interesting and the plot is fresh- I wholeheartedly recommend checking out this summer flick.

X is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video and YouTube.

X (L-R) ) Owen Campbell, Brittany Snow, Mia Goth, Scott Mescudi, Jenna Ortega – Photo Credit: Christopher Moss /

9. In the Tall Grass (2019)

This Netflix Original is based off a novella by Stephen King and his son Joe Hill. Drawn in by a boy’s screams from a field of tall grass, a pregnant woman and her brother become lost in a world of evil. As time stretches on, they realize that this is no normal place, and that the tall grass has distorted their reality. The summer heat only enhances our protagonist’s struggles, as she tries desperately to find a way out of the grass. This movie also stars Patrick Wilson from The Conjuring universe in a fun and eventually eerie role. Don’t believe the reviews! This movie is mysterious, interesting, and contains some chilling visuals.

In the Tall Grass is available on Netflix.

In the Tall Grass on Netflix, photo credit: CHRISTOS KALOHORIDIS /

10. Sleepaway Camp (1983)

This cult classic is a film that every horror fan should see. A shy and troubled girl is sent by her crazy aunt to a summer camp to have fun and make friends. We know what happens next – people wind up dead. Do not think that’s all there is to it. The mean girl drama is over the top, but in the most entertaining way possible. The acting is at times atrocious, but gosh is it funny. There are some insane kills, twisted undertones, and a shocking climax. The last shot and the sounds that go with it are pure nightmare fuel.

Sleepaway Camp is available for free on Amazon Prime Video, Tubi, Peacock, and more!

Next. Cronenberg’s new film Crimes of the Future is disgustingly beautiful. dark

What’s your favorite summertime horror movie? Let us know in the comments!