Happy September! School is back in session, summer is winding down, and that recent holiday in the sun is now a distant memory. Everyone knows vacations can sometimes be more stressful than relaxing. Between the airlines losing luggage and hotel rooms not looking anything like the brochure, to pricey tourist traps or flat out being robbed, the reality of exotic trips not living up to their expectations is a top reason why people just stay home. Let’s be honest, a lot of the disappointment could’ve been solved with better research and a Lonely Planet travel guide.
No matter how awful your trip was, just be glad you weren’t a character in an Eli Roth movie.
Camp Crystal Lake, Friday the 13th (1980) dir. by Sean S. Cunningham
Years after a child’s accidental drowning, a group of young camp counselors prepare for the summer camp’s reopening, only to be stalked and murdered by an unseen force.
This one almost didn’t make the list because for all its posturing and preparation for summer visitors, Camp Crystal Lake never actually opened to the public. That’s right, no vacations were had, which is a good thing because after all those brutal murders, they never would have survived the Yelp reviews. The locals called it ‘Camp Blood’ for short. I mean, can you imagine the BBB rating on this place? “One star for the blood-stained bunk beds!” Never before has the mere uttering of a vacation destination sparked so much fear, because no one steps foot in a forest these days without hearing Jason’s theme ‘ki-ki-ki-ma-ma-ma‘ in their head.
Mayan Ruins, The Ruins (2008) dir. by Carter Smith
A group of friends on holiday in Mexico, explore an archaeological dig site and find ancient evil sprawling underneath the ruins.
The Mayans have a long torrid history of worshiping and offering bloody sacrifices to the gods and supernatural beings, some of which are reported to have created our beautiful planet. I’m sure they can’t be pleased with what humans have done to it. It only makes sense that a more malevolent being might return to seek revenge on careless humans who have no respect for nature, which is why if you ignore a group of gun-toting and machete-wielding angry Mayans, whose one job it is to protect civilization from ancient evil spreading throughout the world, you are absolutely worthy of a painful, violent death! Besides, haven’t these backpacking fools ever heard of hiring a translator? No one should go traipsing off into the Mayan jungle without a guide. Visiting ancient ruins is cool and all but show a little respect for history and mother earth, and just maybe, you won’t get gobbled up by a creepy man-eating vine.
Mountain Cabin, Cabin Fever (2002) dir. by Eli Roth
Five college graduates rent a cabin in the woods and end up fighting off locals infected with a flesh-eating virus and homicidal lawmen with big guns.
For college graduates, these five kids sure were dumber than a pick-up truck full of yahoos. Much of what happened to our victims could have been avoided had they only been kinder to the locals and smoked a little less wacky-tobacky (which btw, makes you totally paranoid). There was no good reason to treat mountain people like total backwoods diseased hicks out to kill them, even if they were total backwoods diseased hicks out to kill them! Look, your skin rotting off due to contaminated water is simply no excuse for being asshole. So, if you ever decide to go on a mountain getaway, just remember the old adage, get to know a little about your surroundings before you go.
Cabin in the Woods, Cabin in the Woods, (2011) dir. by Drew Goddard
Five friends go to a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere to blow off some steam, only to get caught up in cabin’s mysterious dark secrets.
The reality of the day-to-day hustle and bustle of the modern world can drive anyone mad, so this idea of escaping to a secluded cabin in the middle of nowhere, with no access to cell phone, computers, TV or any electronic stuff sounds pretty tempting. Lest we forget, the biggest benefit to mobile devices, humans having access to emergency services in case of an emergency. I’m not a fan of giving up that luxury, cuz you just never know when life is one big facade in the someone else’s twisted imagination. I mean, if there ever was a movie that could convince us to be wary of technology, this is the one.
Brazilian jungle, Turistas (2006) dir. by John Stockwell
A group of backpackers, stranded in the remote Brazilian jungle after a bus accident, are terrorized by sinister group of people, who are harboring dark secrets.
I hear Brazil is a beautiful country with beautiful beaches, beautiful jungles, and beautiful people, and some who have downright wicked motivations. While it’s never good to mistreat the locals, trusting them completely is also very hazardous to your health. If it’s too good to be true, somebody’s up to something, and it usually involves stealing your money or your body parts. Nooooobody wants to party with Americans, just for the sake of partying with Americans. So, if you want to hold onto your liver, pay attention state department travel warnings.
Amity Island, Jaws (1975) dir. by Steven Spielberg
A white shark terrorizes beachgoers in a small coastal community during the height of summer season.
Beachgoers flocked to Amity Island for fun, sun, and sharks? Well, that wasn’t in the travel brochure. If no one explained it to you, let me be the first to tell you that as long as danger lurks in the water, no one in a seaside town is safe, cuz humans be trippin! You see, some beach towns depend heavily on tourist dollars during the summer to keep them afloat the rest of the year, and mere rumors of a shark attack can kill business overnight. Fear and paranoia make people do silly things, like keeping beaches open when a swimmer is indiscriminately killed by 25-ft., 3-ton Great White, and then, hiring every Tom, Dick, and Harry to kill the wrong shark just so they can serve up a human buffet on the Fourth of July. Dear Mister Mayor, if you ignore the appetite of big fish, you’re gonna spend a big chunk of the city budget on a crazy shark hunter. Now, science may have actually debunked Jaws’ plot of rogue sharks intentionally hunting down human beings, but humans will never ever think it’s safe enough to go back in the water.
The Outback, Wolf Creek (2005) dir. by Greg Mclean
Three backpackers touring the Australian Outback find hell on earth when they run into a sadistic madman.
Let’s go hiking, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. There’s only a few creepy crawlies, they said. Famous last words. Between the dangerous terrain, inclement weather and wild animals, mainly, poisonous snakes and spiders, vacationing in the Outback is not for the meek and timid. Australia is home to some of the deadliest creatures on the planet, and that’s not including any psycho humans living in the densely populated areas of what roughly spans 2.5 million miles, coast to coast. The scariest thing about Wolf Creek is that it’s based on true stories. I mean, heavily, heavily influenced by real-life crazed madman Ivan Milet. I won’t bore you with the details, found here, here and here (viewer discretion advised), but let’s just say, you won’t find any five-star reviews for Belango State Forest on TripAdvisor.
Slovak Underworld, Hostel (2005) dir. by Eli Roth
Three backpackers in Eastern Europe, happily discover the wild side of Slovenia, only to wake up in a torture dungeon of madmen.
Once again, Eli Roth teaches us the dangers of not getting to know the environment and people in the city of your travels. He taps into the vein of the collective conscious and fear of being mistreated in a foreign land, unable to comprehend its language and laws. All travelers are vulnerable to corruption and misinterpretation. Hostel really takes the cake in showing naive travelers are at the mercy of evildoers when our traveling misfits find themselves pawns in a game played by elite psychopaths, who pay top dollar to hunt human beings. That’s not just a vacation nightmare, that’s like every human’s worst fear! Hostel scared the crap outta anyone with matching set of Samsonite. It was such a bloody visceral cringe-fest that it ended up becoming synonymous with the term “torture porn”.
These horror films turn dream vacations into Destination Hell and make us all think twice about journeying to strange lands.