October is the prime time to watch your favorite scary movies. Of course, there are a lot of options to choose from, whether you’re a classic slasher fan or a psychological thriller type, but there are several horror movies that have gone unnoticed or have fallen into the shadows of the predecessors of their respective franchises.
Nonetheless, it is the perfect time to watch all of your favorite scary movies while you’re in the safety of your dorm room or apartment near campus. That is why we have compiled five college-based horror flicks into a list that everyone should watch this spooky season. For context, college horror films are scary movies where the setting takes place on a college campus and/or the characters are college students. It can be both, or the college students are located in a different setting. Nevertheless, here is a list of the best college horror films to freak out the average college student, like yourself.
“Black Christmas” (1974)
The first horror movie on this list is the all-time classic, “Black Christmas” (1974), directed by Bob Clark. The film is set at a sorority house during the college’s Christmas break. Although some prefer to watch this horror classic during the Christmas season (like I do), it’s more chilling to watch this film while you’re on campus snuggled up in your dorm room. It’s set at a sorority house and the sorority sisters are terrorized by a stranger through the means of startling phone calls and a sense that someone is stalking them around their home.
I won’t spoil the movie (this entire article is spoiler-free, in case you haven’t watched any of the movies and plan to watch them), but there are several memorable kills throughout the film as well as visuals that haunt you after the credits roll. In my opinion, this movie is better than John Carpenter’s “Halloween” (1978), which was released just four years after the release of this film. Don't get me wrong, “Halloween” is a classic and an equally influential horror film, but the use of the first point of view shots and use of tension through the lack of score is something that I think “Black Christmas” does better than “Halloween.” Nonetheless, both films are great, but “Black Christmas” is the essential college horror film to watch this fall semester.
“Scream 2” (1997)
One of the many sequels to come from the iconic Scream franchise, “Scream 2” (1997), directed by Wes Craven, is an iconic college horror film that takes place on a college campus in Ohio. Following the events of the original “Scream” (1996), we watch as the franchise’s final girl, Sydney Prescott, goes off to college and lives a normal life, trying to heal from the traumas that took place back in Woodsboro.
Unfortunately, the past comes back to haunt her as the killer Ghostface returns to repeat the horrifying events of the first film. Although there have been mixed reviews regarding how well the movie holds up as a sequel, I’d like to think that it’s a well-rounded movie with several elements and quirks - like the “meta” feature that is unique to the “Scream” franchise and how it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Plot aside, the college campus setting is top-notch here as it shows numerous scenes around the average college campus like the dining hall, auditorium, lecture hall and the grassy areas of campus. Overall, it’s the perfect college horror film to make you paranoid while walking around college grounds.
“Happy Death Day” (2017)
Next on this list is the fun, campy college horror flick, “Happy Death Day” (2017), directed by Christopher Landon. The film revolves around a college student named Tree who finds herself in a “Groundhog Day” situation in which she repeatedly lives the day when she is stalked and eventually killed by a masked killer, a day that also happens to be her birthday.
The setting takes place on a college campus, so the film showcases a lot of college visuals such as the inside of a sorority house, their college green, dorm rooms and lecture halls. The college setting is very important to the film’s plot, especially when the killer’s mask is the college’s mascot, the Bayfield Baby (it’s a little strange, I know). This is another film that doesn’t take itself so seriously, which makes this a fun movie to watch during the Halloween season.
“Urban Legend” (1998)
Another great ‘90s college horror movie is “Urban Legend” (1998), directed by Jamie Blanks. The film is set at another college campus where a dangerous serial killer murders college students in ways that correspond to various urban legends. This film is most definitely a “Scream” inspired flick, considering the movie came out just two years prior to the release of “Urban Legend,” but this movie stands out on its own which makes it less meta and more serious. However, it’s still an enjoyable film to watch as the characters try to figure out who the killer is and the kills are memorable and unique (even if they are based on urban legends). Overall, it’s a great college horror film and I highly suggest you check it out this Halloween.
“Cabin Fever” (2002)
Last but not least on this list is Eli Roth’s “Cabin Fever,” released in 2002. Although this film is not set on a college campus, the main characters are college students who celebrate their spring break by resorting to a remote cabin in the woods. The college students slowly fall victim to a horrifying flesh-eating disease while having to fight off the homicidal locals of the area. As one could tell by the film synopsis, there is a large amount of blood and gore throughout the movie, so viewer discretion is advised.
However, if you do like gore and watching chaos slowly start to unravel, then this movie is for you. This film is very similar to another one of Eli Roth’s college horror movies, “Hostel,” released three years after “Cabin Fever.” While both are similar in the sense that the main characters, college students, travel to a different place and explore the horrors that lie there, I find that “Cabin Fever” is a lot more tasteful and entertaining while “Hostel” is straight up torture-porn (sorry “Hostel” lovers). Nonetheless, “Cabin Fever” is full of disgustingly memorable moments and is sure to give you a scare this Halloween.