Road Trips From Hell: Spring Break Horror Films

Spring Break is almost over but there’s still time to pick out a few horror films for a last-minute marathon. With hordes of college students invading resorts and sunny destinations, probably ruining your family vacation, it’s time to take a look at some of the best ‘spring break’ or ‘destination’ horror films. Drunk, obnoxious students may ruin your trip but they can’t ruin this week’s Chopping Block list.

5 – The Tourist Trap (1979)

Released between Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980), Tourist Trap (1980) was a low-budget slasher film that went largely unnoticed. It’s technically not a Spring Break movie but certainly qualifies as a “destination horror” film. The story finds college-aged kids on a roadtrip who discover a run-down museum along the highway where the mannequins are brought to life by its telekinetic owner. Its storyline is sillier than the average slasher film and it’s not particularly well made, but there’s a surprising amount of dark atmosphere in Tourist Trap. This is not a film I would recommend to casual horror fans but for slasher film aficionados, I would say it’s definitely worth checking out.

4 – Wolf Creek (2005)

Simply put, Australian horror film Wolf Creek (2005) is one of the most brutal films I’ve watched. Greg McLean directed this “torture porn” entry that has since spawned a sequel and television series. Like Tourist Trap, Wolf Creek is not a spring break film but its story of backpackers in the Australian outback who run afoul of a psychopathic local fits under ‘destination’ horror. There are some truly harrowing and graphic depictions of torture and murder made even more distressing given the amount of time Wolf Creek spends developing its three protagonists and their relationships. John Jarratt’s ‘Mick Taylor’ qualifies as one of the most terrifying horror film villains committed to the big screen.

3 – The Ruins (2008)

Based on a novel of the same name by Scott Smith, The Ruins (2008) is another film that’s flown under a lot of horror fans’ radars. American college students vacationing in Mexico visit a Mayan ruin, upset local residents, and make the mistake of ascending the ruins’ steps. Unfortunately, the young Americans discover that escaping the ruins is not just complicated by the locals but also the predatory, supernatural vines surrounding them. While the premise of The Ruins may seem silly, director Carter Smith pulls off a tense psychological horror film that prefers what you don’t see to overt graphic violence. You’re largely pulled into the characters’ struggle to survive and buy into the film’s concept. Strong performances from a likeable cast also help elevate the film from its B-level premise.

2 – Piranha 3D (2010)

Piranha 3D is exactly what a movie about giant prehistoric piranha feasting on college students should be – a wildly fun, over-the-top movie that never takes itself seriously. Director Alexandre Aja is no stranger to extreme graphic violence; his French horror film, High Tension, pushed all sorts of boundaries. With Piranha 3D, Aja’s eye-popping, flesh-eating gore is definitely more tongue-in-cheek; the beach massacre will be a stand-out scene for gorehounds. Some viewers will take issue with the admittedly shoddy CGI effects, but I would argue that they’re in keeping with the overall tone of the film. Come for the man-eating frenzy of piranha, stay for Jerry O’Connell’s hilarious performance.

1 – Hostel

Hostel_2_1280

 

These days Eli Roth is the subject of a lot of criticism and scorn in horror circles. Much of that criticism is probably warranted. His latest offerings – Green Inferno, Knock, Knock, and Death Wish – have received tepid responses from critics and fans alike. It’s almost hard to remember that Roth turned a lot of heads with Hostel. In addition to scoring a modest box office take on a small budget, Hostel helped solidify  and mainstream the ‘torture porn’ subgenre. Roth’s story of American students falling victim to a ‘tourist murder industry’ in Eastern Europe may be a little xenophobic but its lingering grotesque imagery still has the power to shock. Hostel will certainly have you booking a hotel on TripAdvisor the next time you’re travelling.

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Author: Andrew Welsh

I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

12 thoughts

  1. Hey, Andrew! I’m catching up with all the past reviews. I’ve always wanted to watch Tourist Trap. I love slashers filmed in the 80s, they have some kind of special charm.
    My favoutite horror film is Halloween, I watch it once a year since I was a child and it always scares me to death!
    Greetings from Spain! XX

      1. I didn’t know about Friday the 13th coming up in April… cool!! I will be looking forward to it and it will definitely be the time for a Friday the 13th marathon 😀

      2. I know!! I’ll have a few Friday the 13th write-ups that week. So far I’ve never managed to get through all of the movies in one marathon. I may to start just after midnight. And thank you for keeping up with the blog. I can’t believe I have a reader all the way in Spain.

  2. I usually watch Friday the 13th movies randomly and on different days, I think that this time we should get the challenge and watch them one after the other, I’m definitely going to try, let’s see if we can make it. Besides, when I watch the first one it’s only after killing the character played by Kevin Bacon that the film gets all of my attention, hahahaha! The truth is that compared to Halloween, Friday the 13th seems very amateur… aw well!
    I really enjoy reading your blog, it’s hard to find an interesting horror movie blog, which contents are just my cup of tea (as the British would say). Moreover, I like the style of your reviews and you are very constant and I, as a reader, really appreciate that. And I also like these exchanges!
    Congratulations on your blog!
    Greetings from Spain! X

    1. Oh I agree. It’s a pretty derivative film and more of a guilty pleasure. I love doing little film festivals. My dream is that this blog eventually takes off and I can someday book a movie theater and have a little film festival. I really like the old British Hammer horror films from the 60s and 70s.

      My goal is to have about 5-6 posts right now. The semester is over in a couple of weeks so I may be to get more content. In mid April I’m also going to review how many views I’m getting. Its gone up each month so far and if that continues I’m going to upgrade and try to professionalize the look of the site more.

      And I really appreciate your support. I love getting your messages.

      1. Hey! I have been quite busy lately, which is not bad at all coz now I have lots of your reviews to read 😊
        I love Hammer films as well, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are among my favourite actors.
        Regarding your idea about doing a film festival someday, you should definitely take it seriously, it’d be so much fun! But you gotta tell me way in advance so I can make it, it’s a long way for me, hahahaha! Do you know what? You should organise a horror film festival just like in the film Popcorn, dunno if you’ve watched, but their idea of how to organise a horror film festival is fantastic!

        I’m glad to see that you have been working hard in the blog. I hope your Easter holidays were good!

      2. It’s been busy on my end. In addition to working on the blog, I’ve had lots of assignments and exams to mark. And I have seen Popcorn – a long time ago! Very underrated film. For now, I’ll have to stick to live Tweeting films. I’m going to do as many of the Friday the 13th films I can this Friday!

        The blog is growing slowly. I’ve met my goals for the first 3 months so now I’ll look into upgrading the design.

        It’s great to hear from you! Hope you’re doing well.

  3. Wow! Sure, you were busy! It’s fascinating the way you combine your job, the blog and your life… Really inspiring for me, I’m horrible when it comes to managing my free time… hahahaha! I have lots of plans and in the end I just sit down and procrastinate as much as I can.
    I guess I’ll have to create a Twitter account so I can follow those live tweets on Friday!
    By the way, congrats on meeting your goals, your hard work is slowly paying off!

    1. Hey! Writing on the blog has actually helping my writing at work – I find it much easier to sit down and just write. The words come easier.

      I talked about doing this blog for years so I know all about procrastinating. Same with my work stuff – I’ve sat on some of the same projects for a while.

      And definitely follow along on Twitter. So far no one really joins in on the live Tweets. I figure if the site grows that might change. I kind of expected that I would be talking to myself for the first few months.

      It’s always great to hear from you! Thank you for the support. And stay in touch!

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