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The Best Summer Vacation Horror Movies

By Kristy Puchko | Lists | June 29, 2016 |

By Kristy Puchko | Lists | June 29, 2016 |

It’s summer! So let’s celebrate with Vacation Horror movies that will convince you to stay home. Inside. Forever.


Set in the quiet seaside town of Amity, Steven Spielberg’s iconic creature feature made whole generations fear the water. Sure, statistics show you’re more likely to be crushed by a vending machine than bitten by a shark, but that won’t stop your brain from playing the Jaws theme when you dip your toe in at the beach. Or maybe that’s just me.

Escape from Tomorrow

What could go wrong at the Happiest Place On Earth? Plenty, according to this Sundance selection surreptitiously shot in the heart of Disney Land.

A Perfect Getaway

A Hawaiian honeymoon sounds like the ideal setting for romance. But in David Twohy’s taut thriller, the untouched beaches of a remote island prove the perfect setting for terror. Milla Jovovich and Steve Zahn play a pair of newlyweds whose dream vacation is threatened by two pairs of creepy couples. Kiele Sanchez, Timothy Olyphant, Marley Shelton, and scruffy Chris Hemsworth co-star in this twisted and underrated thrill ride.


Have you ever thought about how easily we surrender control when we board a ski lift? Like, what if it got stuck? What if that one last run left you stranded stories high in a resort that’ll be empty for days? With the temperature dropping and wolves circling, three abandoned snowboarders are forced to make some gruesome life or death decisions.

Donkey Punch

Named after an apocryphal sex stunt, this sea-set thriller follows a fleet of fit Brits whose steamy night aboard a yacht turns into a fight for survival when an orgy goes fatally awry. I know. It sounds totally bonkers. Yet writer/director Oliver Blackburn manages to infuse the sleazy premise with a dark wit, sharp scares, and serious sex appeal.

The Descent

Want to talk someone out of a thrill-seeker excursion? Sit them down for Neil Marshall’s sinister and suffocating story about a sisterhood of spelunkers who descend into the wrong underground cave. Bonus points if you avoid the American edit.

Cabin In The Woods

There are scads of movies about the dangers of camping in the woods from Friday the 13th to Evil Dead and Cabin Fever, but never has a horror offering given us such a wide array of things to fear as Joss Whedon’s and Drew Goddard’s meta masterpiece. It starts off with the oversexed and stoned college co-eds we know all too well. But from the moment they dare to peek into the creepy basement, things get deeper, darker, and more deranged!

Troll 2

Gleefully regarded as the worst sequel of all time, Claudio Fragasso’s infamous monster flick follows the Waits family on a home exchange vacation. The happy-go-lucky suburbanites head to the rural town of Nilbog, and soon learn one of the local customs is to have newcomers for dinner. Literally. But between the stilted acting, atrocious costumes, and sexy sorceress, the cannibalism angle is just about the least crazy part of this campy cult classic.

The Ruins

The “Ugly American” subgenre of vacation horror is vast, consisting of many tales of oblivious American tourists trouncing through a foreign land, paying no respect to its culture, or attention to its dangers. That is until it’s too late. In this skin-crawling flick, some spunky twenty-somethings wander “off the beaten path” and into Mexico’s Mayan ruins. It’s a day-trip diversion they won’t live long enough to regret.

An American Werewolf in London

“Ugly American” becomes literal in John Landis’s classic creature feature, when two overzealous backpackers come across a monster of myth. You say you want a vacation that’ll be life-changing. Maybe be more careful what you wish for.

Wolf Creek

Based loosely on real events, this Outback adventure follows three backpackers on a doomed trip to Australia’s Wolf Creek National Park, home of a massive meteorite crater with a cryptic reputation. When their car dies, the trio must rely on the kindness of a truck driver who spots them in the wilderness. But kindness is the last thing Mick Taylor has on his mind. Beware: this horror flick’s violence is not for the faint of heart or stomach.

Did we miss your favorite bit of vacation horror? Share in comments.

Kristy Puchko is the managing editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.