Who’s ready to go back to school? We are, and we know what’s waiting: copious amounts of pig’s blood, nightmare stalkers, masked killers, and more.
Actually, to be more realistic, what we’ll probably get are more pencils, notebooks, and tests, at least in our schools. But we’re not ones to dwell on the mundane, and thus we look to our favorite flicks for a disgustingly good time when it comes to those back to school blues. And believe it or not, the horror genre does it best with a veritable treasure trove of fantastic “scholarly” moments that find both students and faculty placed in some particularly precarious pickles (that’s called “alliteration,” students).
We’ve rounded up nine of the best “educational” experiences we could find in the realm of horror. Beware the next time you hit the bus stop — it could be your last.
Perhaps the most quintessential school horror film of all time, Carrie explored some of the darkest sides of adolescent cruelty and the mind of a psychologically distressed young woman who, at her core, simply wanted to be accepted and loved by her peers: normal, just like those around her. Instead, poor Carrie had to deal with her own mother shaming her for going through puberty of all things, constant teasing and humiliation from her peers, and a dream come true (at least, what seemed like it), eventually culminating in the infamous scene where a bucket of pig’s blood is dumped all over the fragile teen so the entire student body can laugh at her expense. Look at Carrie, that weirdo plain girl, all covered in blood! It’s okay, right? Because of her period! Because it’s perfectly fine to treat another human being that way. Carrie is still very much a haunting work that exposes some of the worst things young adults are capable of and the absolutely disgusting treatment girls will exact on each other. For that reason alone, it deserves a place on our list.
2. A Nightmare on Elm Street
One, two, Freddy’s coming for you. Three, four, better not fall asleep in class because next thing you know, Freddy will invade your dreams at school. How’s that for paranoia? Nancy’s been trying her best to keep sleep from claiming her around this point in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, but eventually she succumbs, finding Freddy screwing with her mind and toying with her even while she’s in class. It drives the point home that nowhere is safe, making even a place like high school considerably more dangerous. Seriously, high school students charged with wrongful murder, having tons of premarital sex, and abusing their bodies and minds with sleep deprivation? It’s disturbing stuff, especially when you take Freddy out of the equation and realize the very same horrors are affecting teens all over the world at this very moment. This classic film did a fantastic job with realizing these horrible twists of fate and creating an iconic slasher villain out of it in true horror fashion.
3. The Faculty
Herrington High School is having a pretty bad time of things. Some schools lose their funding for extra-curricular activities. Herrington is having both faculty and staff members being taken over by a host of alien parasites. We’ll let you decide which one of those is the worse scenario. A misfit band of students bands together in order to combat the bizarre threat, ranging from lonely and insecure drug addicts to catty school newspaper nerds. The aliens (exactly like the Yeerks of “Animorphs” fame) literally worm their way into their hosts’ ears and control the host from the inside. The alien slugs wish to eventually infect the entire student body, infecting new students one by one via rather suspect ear inspections — bam, no earwax, but here’s an ear parasite! Some particularly gruesome alien executions and eye stabbings take place, and the entire movie is smart commentary on the drone-like nature of high school and its hierarchy.
4. The Craft
A group of troubled teenagers rarely makes for a good ending in any movie, but The Craft sees to it that these students are even badder than normal, rounding up Sarah, Bonnie, Nancy, and Rochelle as social outcasts who also happen to dabble in witchcraft… in a Catholic high school, no less. The fledgling witch coven begins to wreak havoc upon their fellow students (read: anyone who dares to get in their way). Eventually the childish high school drama they cause takes a turn for the worst as their previously seemingly harmless spells turn into damaging and powerful curses that end up even more destructive and callous than ever imagined, eventually culminating in powers being stripped and some particularly catty high schoolers learning a much-needed lesson or two.
5. Jennifer’s Body
This modern high school thriller may as well have been titled “Megan Fox Does Terrible Things,” but we’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Megan Fox’s gorgeous body hides a demonic spirit that’s now in control over her every function. As her complete opposite BFF watches her disembowel and otherwise maim the captain of the football team and a string of other men, she knows she’s got to do something, and fast. This darkly playful tale is a fantastic representation of current high school trends and experiences, even exploring unlikely relationships and other teenage happenings that really are just as terrifying as the movie portrays. It’s also kind of funny, in a demon-possessing-your-cheerleader-best-friend kind of way. Don’t let Megan Fox’s starring role turn you away.
6. Prom Night
Ah, prom night — originator of sloppy first time one-night stands, drunken regrets, and horrible fashion sense. Prom Night amplified all these things tenfold and injected an extra dangerous surprise for all the students involved: a bloodthirsty serial killer. Hooray? Your typical angsty teen drama unfolds as misfits find prom dates and mischievous ex-girlfriends scheme to embarrass their exes’ new flames. Prom Night is a madcap tale of revenge, sex offenders, and horrible assailants that ends up with more dead teenagers than the infamous “Time of Your Life” Green Day drunk driving PSA. If you’re going to check it out, though, be sure to watch the original Jamie Lee Curtis version.
Some tend to forget that the original Scream was actually set against a high school backdrop, and others still often confuse it with the parody Scary Movie, but it’s actually a fantastic film that packs a wallop with iconic moments and death scenes centered around a bunch of high school kids. It all begins with student Casey incorrectly answering “Jason” when asked who the killer in Friday the 13th turns out to be. As any regular Dread Central reader would know, Casey, it’s obviously Jason’s mother. A sadistic chain of events unfold as Casey soon learns from her mysterious caller that her boyfriend is being held hostage and her life is in danger as well. Things don’t end well for Casey, but the events that unfold are chilling and reminiscent of the very same kind of honor resonating from the original A Nightmare on Elm Street.
8. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Before Sarah Michelle Gellar took up her vampire-slaying duties on the small screen, there was a film about little Buffy Summers, portrayed by Kristy Swanson. The early Valley Girl cheerleader had little to do with the series creator Joss Whedon would go on to find success with, but the movie is still quite the cult classic. One day she’s just a regular high school girl whose only concerns are when she’s going to get to go shopping next or which guy in school is the cutest, and the next she’s tasked with training to become a skilled vampire slayer. Are we jealous? Yes, we have to admit, just a little. The film that started it all is a fun flick to come back to with treats for fans of the series and a great classic popcorn horror movie to kick back and watch with your friends.
9. I Know What You Did Last Summer
While I Know What You Did Last Summer doesn’t deal with high school students and those specific days alone, it still gives the same overall vibe as the other films on our list. Sarah Michelle Gellar makes an appearance as a member of a band of students who actually hit and murder a man on the way home from a beauty pageant victory — of course, everyone heads out to celebrate, right? Things seem dire until the group of scared teens decide that obviously the best way to deal with the situation is to dump the dead man’s body into the ocean. Everything is hunky dory until the following summer, when a mysterious note arrives proclaiming, “I know what you did last summer.” Cue a mysterious killer and students systematically being killed off. But think about this before you start feeling sorry for them: They DID kill some random guy and dump his body into the ocean, remember?
Happy back to school, everyone! Add your picks in the comments section below.
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