When it comes to holiday movies, the Fourth of July is a theme that continually gets skipped over. Why? Because it’s tough to inject a horror theme into a holiday that really doesn’t have a central figure. Christmas has Santa Claus. Easter has The Easter Bunny. Thanksgiving has a turkey, or Pilgrims, or American Indians. Halloween has anything wearing a mask.
What does the Fourth of July have, really? Some dead presidents? Drunken idiots blowing up their hands with fireworks? The guy working the grill?
Luckily, some movies have risen to the challenge and give us a chance to watch some holiday-themed movies for the 4th of July after the fireworks die down.
In no particular order, here are some 4th of July-themed horror movies.
Uncle Sam (1996)
Plot: A casualty of Desert Storm is reanimated, and proceeds to terrorize his hometown by killing people in patriotic ways while wearing an Uncle Sam costume on the Fourth of July.
Yes, that is the basic plot. Uncle Sam is not a good movie. Instead, it is group with other campy horror movies of its time such as Jack Frost (the mutant killer snowman version) and Santa’s Slay. The director, William Lustig, also directed the Maniac Cop series.
Plot: A Great White shark finds its way a little too far North and terrorizes a small vacation town, eating anyone stupid enough to swim or boat in its presence.
It’s almost a shame to cubbyhole Jaws into holiday-themed movies because it’s an amazing film on its own. However, the Fourth of July is the holiday that gets the tourists to the island community of Amity, which makes to decision to keep the beaches open while a man-eating shark is on the loose that much more scary and leads political activists to point at this plot-line and scream, “SEE? THE GOVERNMENT DOESN’T CARE ABOUT US!”
The Bay (2012)
Plot: A small Maryland town is destroyed physically and mentally by commercial pollution and political oversight when mutated parasites begin infesting people’s bodies around the Fourth of July.
Mutant killer anything is usually the sign of a terrible movie with no substance, but The Bay is anything but. Using the fear of ecological disaster along with governmental apathy, The Bay may be one of the best sociological thrillers of our time. It just so happens to take place around the 4th of July.
Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Plot: A pair of medical surplus employees unwittingly release a batch of chemicals that re-animate both the dead and 80s punkers alike.
The Return of the Living Dead takes place on July 3rd. Usually a date isn’t what makes a holiday horror movie, but we also have a chemical gas developed by the U.S. military re-animating the dead into intelligent zombies that can speak. Okay, their speech is relegated to saying, “Brains!” over and over again, but it’s more speech than zombies usually get.
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Plot: A car-load of teenagers run over a stranger and dump the body into the sea. One year later, a figure in a rain slicker, possibly the Gorton fisherman, stalks them.
If you ever wanted to see 90s teen-boppers Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, and Freddie Prinze Jr. (all who suspiciously have repeating letters in their names) terrorized by a serial killer, this is the movie for you. In fact, it is the only reason to watch this cookie-cutter 90s slasher that destroyed a great young adult book series.