Road Trips From Hell: Spring Break Horror Films

Spring Break is here! Thinking of getting away with friends for a week of drinks and debauchery? Well, you may have second thoughts after this edition of The Chopping Block. With college students invading sunny resorts, it’s time to take a look at some of the best ‘spring break’ or ‘destination’ horror films. Drunk, students may ruin your trip but they can’t ruin this week’s Chopping Block list.

5 – The Tourist Trap (1979)

Released between Halloween and Friday the 13th, Tourist Trap was a low-budget slasher that went largely unnoticed. It’s technically not a Spring Break movie, but qualifies as a “destination horror” film. The story finds college-aged kids on a roadtrip. Along the way the discover a run-down museum where the mannequins are brought to life by its telekinetic owner. True, its storyline is sillier than the average slasher film. Moroever, 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 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 strictly a spring break movie. Instead, it’s a story of backpackers in the Australian outback who run afoul of a psychopathic local. As such, Wolf Creek is certainly ‘destination’ horror.

There are some truly harrowing and graphic depictions of torture and murder in this Aussie thriller. What makes the violence even more distressing is just how much time McLean gives you with his three likeable protagonists. In addition, John Jarratt’s ‘Mick Taylor’ qualifies as one of horror’s most terrifying villains.

3 – The Ruins (2008)

Based on Scott Smith’s novel, The Ruins flew under a lot of horror fans’ radars. American college students vacationing in Mexico visit a Mayan ruin. Not surprisingly, they upset local residents and trespass on the sacred site. Our young Americans discover that the locals aren’t the only thing blocking their escape. Predatory, supernatural vines are also surrounding them.

Strong performances from a likeable cast also help elevate the fim from its B-movie premise.

While the premise of The Ruins sounds silly, director Carter Smith pulls off a tense psychological horror movie. Horror fans are treated to a rare instance of relying on what you don’t see as opposed to 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-movie premise.

2 – Piranha 3D (2010)

Piranha 3D is the rare remake that gets it right. If you’re making a movie about giant prehistoric piranha feasting on college students, this is how you do it. Simply put, Piranha 3D is wildly fun, over-the-top movie, and never takes itself seriously. Director Alexandre Aja is no stranger to extreme graphic violence. His New French Extremity movie, 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, for instance, will be a stand-out scene for gorehounds. Some viewers will take issue with the spotty CGI effects. However, I’d argue that the effects are in keeping with Aja’s overalls. Come for the man-eating frenzy of piranha, stay for Jerry O’Connell’s hilarious performance.

1 – Hostel


Horror fans seem to either love or hate Eli Roth. Some of that criticism may be probably warranted. Recently, critics have turned their noses up to Roth’s last few movies including Green Inferno, Knock, Knock, and Death Wish. 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 made ‘Torture Porn‘ mainstream. Roth’s story of an Eastern European ‘tourist murder industry” preying upon American tourists is more than a little xenophobic. Nonetheless, 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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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.

10 thoughts on “Road Trips From Hell: Spring Break Horror Films

    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 😀

      1. 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.

  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. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. You should totally do it. Pick you something you’re passionate about. I find it easy to write for the blog because I’m writing about something I love. And I’m glad you signed up for Twitter. It’s too bad the time difference. It’s been fun. I’ll talk a break in the early evening here and finish later tonight with the 2009 remake.

    Feel free to send me a message! Have a great night. And if you have something like WhatsApp we should connect!

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