I Know What You Did Last Summer

Wicked Wednesday: Summer horror movie recommendations

In the summertime when the weather is hot
You can stretch right up and touch the sky

Ah. The hot and dusty days of summer. When smelly people are everywhere, and we all feel ashamed for not losing a bit more weight before squeezing back into those old shorts.

I’m not a fan of summer. I think that’s what I get extra-excited about Halloween early every year (August the 1st, thank you very much). That being said, I love summer horror movies. Give me summer camps, dying shrubbery and sweaty people running from things. It’s a very satisying asthetic.

So I’ve gathered up a few of my favourites. There’s certainly a lot missing here…and there’s a lot of “stretches” involved. But my blog, my rules.

1. The Funhouse (1981)

This little Tobe Hooper number exists in god knows what time of the year. Sometimes it feels like autumn, sometimes summer. I think we can narrow it down to Indian summer at best.

The Funhouse follows a group of teenagers who go to a seedy carnival in town. When they decide to spend the night in the funhouse, they soon find themselves being stalked and killed by the carnival workers.

I always recommend this movie to people delving deeper into slashers, as it’s a rare gem in the genre: something you can watch all the way through without getting bored. But I love the visuals as well. It reminds me of staying at the state fair late into the night, bewildered by all the strangess around me.

2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

This is, for me, the ultimate summer classic. Another one of Hooper’s films, Texas Chainsaw Massacre really needs no introduction. It’s truly a masterpiece.

The heat. The sweatiness… It imagery just reeks of summer. It also has a lot of rotting flesh, so I imagine it reeked of that too. We may all have seen it half-a-million times, but who’s to say we can watch it half-a-million more?

3. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Right. So this is not my favourite Lois Duncan adaptation by a long shot. This movie actually upset Duncan when she saw it, as the violence reminded her of her own daughter’s tragic murder. It was stripped of its story and turned into a straight-forward slasher film (no hook-handed fisherman in the original).

But we couldn’t talk about summer horror without the one where it’s literally in the title. While I’m being a bit harsh on it, this is actually entertaining pop-corn fair. Sarah Michelle Gellar is an absolute gem in this one, so really just watch for her performance.

“I don’t think we’re that powerful, Julie. You’re giving us way too much credit.”

4. Spider Baby (1967)

This Jack Hill probably isn’t the film that immediately comes to most people’s minds when it comes to summer horror. But hear me out. Spider Baby is one of the brightest, sunniest horror movies I’ve ever seen.

When a couple go to see a family mansion, they find a group of mentally-regressing children in the home. The house is always being watched by people shading their eyes. That’s probably due to the fact that it was mostly shot in August and September in sunny California.

But there’s something very brave about a bright horror movie. It doesn’t need to always hide behind shadows in order to be unnerving. Yes eventually we spiral into the darkness of both the night and the family, but I think that makes the contrast all the more powerful.

5. Gatti rossi in un labirinto di vetro aka Eyeball (1975)

Some movies feel more like a season due to their settings. Is it in Salem? It’s perfect to watch in autumn. Is it Norwegian? Put it on in winter! So when this Italian horror gem puts ‘Americans’ on a tour bus in sunny Spain? It’s a summer movie to me, kids.

Umberto Lenzi’s Eyeball is one of my favourite gialli. It’s really bizarre (I mean really). It has a banging theme tune. And there’s that one grinning guy with the bag of oranges. Watching Eyeball for the first time was an absolute blast, and it’s been a pleasure to keep re-watching it ever since.

If this doesn’t get you in the travelling-for-summer mood, then I really don’t know what will.

6. Slumber Party Massacer II (1987)

What’s that? Another chance to plug my favourite horror movie sequel? Well, I’ll take that opportunity. Again.

This (literally) dreamy movie mostly takes place during the school year, but it still has some definite end-of-the-school-year vibes. The girls walk around in shades, sing Paisley Underground songs and hang out in unfinished houses. They also get killed by a drill/guitar-wielding maniac. Really just usual plans that we all pencil into our summer schedules.

I think because I associate this movie with the word “fun” so much, I immediately relate it to summer. Because that’s ultimately why most of these movies are here: what’s really the point of summer but to enjoy yourself?

7. The Summer of 84 (2018)

There are many coming-of-age classics: Stand by MeGoonies, and new-comers like Stranger Things. They’re all rich with nostalgia. We’re a nostalgic type of species.

Which is why Summer of 84 is great. It reminds you why you loved the classics of the 80s. It has a plot line that’s well-worn, but well-loved: the person next door isn’t who you think they are. Think of The People Under the Stairs and The Burbs.

Only this book has an added punch to the gut with it’s jaw-dropping ending. It’s the end of both summer, and of naive innocence.

So what is your favourite horror movie to watch in the summer? I bet it’s Friday the 13th. It is, isn’t it?

Wicked Wednesday: I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer (2006)

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call ‘a bit of a reach’. But when it comes to Lois Duncan adaptations, I pretty much refuse to watch I Know What You Did Last Summer ever again. I’ve been that movie too many times, especially for something I don’t even like.

But we’ll skip I Still Know… and jump to this direct-to-DVD sequel that’s essentially a reboot/rehash of the first film. To begin with, I Know What You Did Last Summer isn’t very true to the source material. The use of the Fisherman urban myth and the slasher-style is completely unique to the film. Well, I say unique but this is a kindness to the film, but you get what I mean.

Since Lois Duncan month has gone as badly as it could have gone, why not watch a film with a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes? Is it possible to enjoy watching yourself burn?

I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer is exactly what you’d expect. I mean, exactly. No surprises here. There are even less surprises considering it plays so much into the previous films’ formula so much.

A group of kids spend their last summer together before some go off to college. Yes they’re all irritating. No they don’t have personalities beyond their stereotype’s calling card. The group all go to the local carnival, where local idiot Colby tells the legend of the Fisherman. As the group of friends walk around the carnival, they’re attacked by a man with a hook in a slicker.

On of the friends, PJ, manages to get cornered by the Fisherman on the roof. He dives off, seemingly dead.

ONLY IT’S A PRANK, GUYS! And the five friends are all in on it. Hilarious! Only not so hilarious when they realise that the prank has gone wrong. Instead of landing on the stack of mattresses, PJ lands right on a pipe. Some sort of convoluted thinking leads the remaining four to all agree never to tell anyone about the prank! Even though it would obviously be ok. They wouldn’t get manslaughter or anything. They’re apparently all worried that the whole town will hate them but they hate the town so what does it even fucking matter!?

The film jumps to a year later. And we all know that means every one will be dead before the end of the week. Amber is our head girl. She receives the obligatory “I know what you did last summer” text, and runs around the gather up the gang. But the gang aren’t so chummy anymore. The death of their friend and their secret have come between them.

And then, you basically know how this is going to go. They all get picked off one-by-one in vaguely interesting ways. Leaving just the final girl and her boy. But in a kind of weird twist, the Fisherman is revealed to just be the Fisherman from the other movies. And he’s supernatural now – literally becoming the legend. So he’s Michael Myers level of invincible, which is such a bad choice.

The film is even lazy enough to wrap up the same way as the other films. A “oh god she’s not going to live” jump scare at the end. Definitely didn’t see that one coming…

Anyway, I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer is bad but at least it meets expectations. It’s more boring than anything. It tries so hard to find into the formula that it makes itself pretty much redundant. It also commits the usual sins – namely filling in those plot holes. Like why is the Fisherman in Colorado? There isn’t even a lake!

I won’t even bring poor Lois Duncan into this. But I can say I’m pretty happy to be reaching the end of this ‘Lois Duncan month’. It’s been terrible. Really terrible. 

On a different note. My favourite thing about this movie is probably the DVD cover. For one, it weirdly admits one of the main actors. Was he really that embarrassed that he didn’t want to be seen? There’s just some random chick instead. I assume she’s some girl who appears in the beginning of the film? Either way, she really serves no purpose in the film and really shouldn’t be on the cover.

And clearly, who ever did the photo editing really hated Torrey DeVitto. Poor girl. But at least she’s so unrecognizable that she can just keep claiming that she was never in this film to be begin with.