I adore Halloween and almost everything that comes with it. Each year I try to consume as much spooky media as possible, including horror movies and scary podcasts. If you also enjoy such things, then this post is for you. I’ve got a long list of great horror movies that revolve around travel, which you would think would scare me off from a lot of things, but actually haven’t.
|Ghost Face at Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum in Boulder City, NV|
I feel as if you can definitely learn a lot from these movies, even if it’s just how not to get ripped off or how not to trust strangers. So, let’s delve into some movies I have enjoyed and recommend for all horror lovers:
Cabin In The Woods (2012) – If I have to pick a favorite horror movie, it’s a tough call to not immediately choose this one. I may have issues with Joss Whedon, but this movie is fairly perfect in my eyes, including the amazing twist you get halfway through and then an even twistier twist later on. In short, a group of college friends take their RV to one of their cousin’s cabin in the woods to get away from it all. The cabin turns out to be much more than a cabin and the worst decision anyone’s ever made, but there’s a reason they’re there and doing everything they do. It’s amazing and if you haven’t seen it, I urge you to rent it right now.
Cabin Fever (2002) – A group of friends stay in a cabin in the woods. Before they’ve arrived, a virus has been released into the local water supply. It kills people slowly and painfully by causing them to decompose while they’re still alive. After swimming in the lake, this group begins to show signs of infection. The cast is awesome and 20 years later I still have feelings about a particular scene that has stuck with me.
Psycho (1960) – While you can watch the remake, the original will always be it for me, plus it includes a lot of firsts in film that make it even more important. Marion Crane is given the day’s deposit for the real estate company she works for, but instead of going to the bank, she absconds with the money in order to pay off her boyfriend’s debts so they can get married. Trading in her car on the way, she finds herself pulling off into a roadside motel when the rain becomes too heavy to drive in. Cabin 1 is free…and, well, you know the rest.
House of Wax (1953 & 2005) – I’ll admit, I loved both of these movies. The first is a black and white Vincent Price film that was properly scary even 70 years later. Several people have mysteriously gone missing with their lookalikes found in the newly-opened wax museum. In the 2005 remake a group of friends heading to a football game end up needing a new fan belt for their truck and go to the nearby town to await the return of the mechanic after a funeral he’s attending. While waiting, they go to the town’s “famous” wax museum and find more than they bargained for. This one stars Jared Padelecki (before Supernatural took off), Paris Hilton, and Elisha Cuthbert.
The Shallows (2016) – One of Blake Lively’s best movies, in my opinion. After her death, she heads to a secluded beach that her mother wrote about in her journal when she was pregnant with her. She gets dropped off by a local and eventually meets two guys who are also there to surf. They leave and she decides to catch one last wave. In doing so, she is pursued by a huge shark that seems intent on eating her no matter what. The rest of the movie is her story of surviving and trying to make it back to the beach alive, with only herself to count on.
Turistas (2006) – Three American tourists go on vacation and a bus tour where the bus breaks down. The three of them connect with some others from their bus and head down the cliff to the beach where a party is taking place. Drinking is involved and drugs and, long story short, a surgeon who sells organs on the Black Market.
Hostel (2005) – Probably one of the hardest movies to watch and the one that may have deterred a lot of people from hostels, train travel, and strangers. Americans travel to Slovenia and meet some new friends who they go drinking with. When they wake up, they learn they’ve been sold to a torture chamber for rich people. It’s terrifying and disgusting and one of the few movies I had to watch certain scenes through my fingers.
Old (2021) - I know this movie got a lot of bad reviews, but I really feel like M. Night Shyamalan has started finding his voice again. Several families go on vacation to a luxury resort and are dropped off on a private beach and told they would be picked up later. None of them have any idea where they are and they don’t appear to have any cell service, so they can’t call for help when things start to go wrong. Everyone begins aging rapidly and there’s only one way out that isn’t dying quickly of old age.
Midsommar (2019) – Our main character goes on a trip to Sweden with her boyfriend and his friends after her sister kills herself and her parents, leaving her severely traumatized and causing her boyfriend to put off breaking up with her, even though their relationship was bad before the tragedy happened. They all get caught up in “traditional” Midsommar rituals that get weirder and weirder the longer they stay. The writer/director Ari Aster, who also did Hereditary, has a lot of interesting things to say about his movie, including that he doesn’t view either of his movies horror, but he’s probably the only one.
House of 1000 Corpses (2003) - 4 friends are roadtripping across the country in order to write a book about roadside attractions. When they stop for gas they meet a clown named Captain Spaulding who owns an attraction called The Museum of Monsters and Madmen which tells the legend of Dr. Satan. In order to research this local legend, they pick up a hitchhiker who claims she lives near the tree he was hanged from and they offer to take her home so she can show it to them. Shockingly, her family is a bunch of psychopaths and things end badly for these teens. Arguably, this is Rob Zombie’s best film. In my opinion it has everything, including Rainn Wilson and Chris Hardwick being idiots, Karen Black being incredibly creepy, and whole lot of killer mutants. This was followed by The Devil’s Rejects and 3 From Hell, neither of which had the same campy feel that I loved.
Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974 & 2003) – I understand the love a lot of people have for the original, I’ve watched it several times and pretty much always side with Leatherface. A group of friends are traveling to visit one of their father’s graves and old farmhouse. Along the way they pick up a hitchhiker who seems to have quite a lot going on and none of it good. At the old farmhouse, several of them wander off and end up at the home next door and become murder victims. I prefer the 2003 remake with Jessica Biel, who actually tries to survive. The plot is different to update with the times, but the outcome is mostly the same.
Jeepers Creepers (2001) – The original follows a pair of siblings going home from college on Spring Break. They are followed by a truck driven by a person who has seen them witness him carrying dead bodies to an old abandoned church. The rest of the movie is them trying to survive. The monster is loosely based on the Jersey Devil, even though it takes place in Florida. Barely a travel movie, Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003) is also great. This movie follows a high school basketball team on the bus to an away game when a tire blows and strands them on the roadside of the same town, just 3 days after the events of the first movie. Chaos ensues and a scarecrow in a cornfield is involved.
Us (2019) – If you haven’t seen this Jordan Peele movie about a family on a vacation with some friends that they don’t seem to enjoy, you might be missing out. While this has socio-political undertones, the horror aspect is amazing. The story is that every person has a double underground that is forced to live in secret and live their life like their above-ground counterpart. They have figured out how to break free and are out to seek revenge on their other selves.
The Green Inferno (2013) – This Eli Roth movie can be difficult to watch if torture porn is not your thing. A group of activists go on a trip to the Amazon when their plane goes down and they are captured by a group of cannibals. You know what happens next. It’s very graphic. I would have been much more disturbed by this movie, but Roth shot on location with an actual native tribe who had never actually seen movies or TV. He explained what he wanted and showed them the most disturbing movie he had, Cannibal Holocaust, which is a movie that inspired his horror career and includes a movie within a movie called The Green Inferno. The tribe thought this movie was hilarious and, while filming, asked to be covered in more and more fake blood.
Final Destination (2000) – An oldie, but a goodie. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. A group of high schoolers are on a school trip and have just gotten on the plane when one gets a vision of the plane going down and everyone dying. A handful of them get off when he raises concerns, only to watch his vision come true as the plane has just taken off, killing everyone on board. The rest of the movie is them trying to evade Death as it comes back for them.
Brokedown Palace (1999) – While not really a horror movie, I included this because it’s about a thing I always think about: getting arrested in a foreign country. While I never do anything that would probably land me in jail/prison, I think it’s not that an uncommon fear. In this movie, Claire Danes and her friend go on a trip and her friend trusts a guy she just met and ends up carrying drugs for him, and they get caught and both end up in prison with a sentence of 33 years.
So, what I’ve learned from horror movies is to be very wary of who I trust, don’t go off alone, always tell people where you’ll be, don’t let someone have access to your bags, don’t take drinks from strangers, don’t pick up hitchhikers, always have roadside assistance when going on road trips, and never split up when things are going badly.
Share with me some of your favorite horror movies. They don’t have to be travel-related.
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