Top 10 Horror/Thrillers To Watch This 4th of July!

Last Updated on August 3, 2021

So friends, got any killer plans for the upcoming 4th of July weekend? Gonna hit the beach, fire up the grill, throw a case of brew on ice and blast-off the high-wattage fireworks package? If so, that sounds goddamn lovely! However, allow us to offer a little alternative. After-all, you’re likely going to need a little respite from the preponderance of bombs, booze and barbeques set to drop on what’s sure to be a gorgeous next Saturday…yet do so while still maintaining a high adrenaline spike. Don’t fret folks, we got you covered. You see, we’re putting together the perfect movie curriculum to indulge in this 4th of JULY. Yup…two-piece bikinis, sandy beaches, invasive explosions…and a whole lot of motherf*cking blood! Ladies, gents…roll one up, pop a cool one, kick back and check out our Top 10 Horror/Thrillers to see this 4th of July!

#1. JAWS (1975)

Ah, Amity! Where sexy teen gals and unsuspecting little boys go to get gorily macerated in the surf! Now, I realize one doesn’t often associate JAWS with the celebration of 4th of July, but remember, one of the major driving forces of the story revolves around keeping the beach open for tourism and commerce during Independence Day weekend. Of course, thanks to Mayor Vaughn’s shamelessly venal outlook, more patrons equal more victims! But more than that, we all know the immeasurable impact JAWS has had on the film industry. The first ever summer blockbuster turned 40 years old last month. Here’s too another 40 Bruce, you toothy bastard, you’re getting old!

#2. THE SHINING (1980)

Didn’t see this one coming, did you? But think about it, what a refreshing way to evade the stifling July heat than spending time with a frosty, snowbound chiller. After-all, it’s not just one of the most lavish and vexing horror joints of all time, but one that mystifyingly culminates in that ultra-eerie July 4, 1921 ballroom photo. In spooky black in white no less, with Nicholson’s ghastly grin plastered across his overjoyed mug. What does it all mean? has Torrance been “ghosted”? Is the hotel feeding on the spirits of its many inhabitants? Does the year 1921 play into the Gold Room mythologies and the creation of the Federal Reserve? What. The. Hell!


Come on now, what’s a 4th of July celebration without the incendiary alien-incursion of INDEPENDENCE DAY? Un-f*cking-thinkable! Now, before we geek out upon or castigate the prospect of ID4-2, let us fete the spectacular mega-marvel of the original that, almost 20 years on, still boasts impressive VFX and ahead-of-its-time CGI. Of course, we could also wax nostalgic about Big Willy Smith’s odious mustache and lament the fact it will not make return along with Goldblum and Pullman in 2016. Forget American freedom…Free Willy’s crustache!

#4. CAPE FEAR (1991)

Counselorrrrr! Here’s a creepy confession. You know the scene where Max Cady gets viciously battered with pipes and bats in that back-alley at night, only to superhumanly destroy any and all takers. You know, “come out, come out, wherever you are!” Yup, that one. Well I’ve committed that entire monologue to memory. It’s so funny and so scary at once. I had to. Anyway, let’s not bury the lead, and recall how a key scene in Scorsese’s underrated CAPE FEAR occurs during a 4th of July gala. Cady stalks and skulks in the day and terrorizes Leigh’s dreams as she wakes up to the unnerving image of Cady resting, calmly, atop the family’s fence-line…the night sky aglow with majestic fireworks behind him.


Truth be told, as an overall movie, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD probably deserves a rank higher than the five-spot. But since it’s perhaps the most inconspicuous of the 4th July set horror/thrillers on the list, let’s dump this sucker dead in the middle of the road and call it a day. But make no mistake friends, ROTLD most definitely takes place on on July 3, 1984 and then spills over into the following morn when that nuclear missile rains down and washes the town clean of a lethally uncouth zombie insurrection. Talk about freedom! On the real though, I’m quite certain ROTLD is my all time favorite zombie flick…so funny, so gory, so entertaining…and frankly, 4th of July or not, there’s never a bad time to watch it!

#6. UNCLE SAM (1996)

God bless America. God bless Uncle Sam. God bless the great Bill Lustig for loudly screaming F*CK YOU! to the first two axioms via his downright blasphemous 4th July slasher joint UNCLE SAM. Damn I love this flick! Not only does it come from the demented mind behind MANIAC and MANIAC COP, it’s probably the single most definitive 4th of July horror flick out there. And not just because it takes place on Independence Day, it’s that the flick uses the holiday’s traditions and storied iconography to totally skewer its whole principle. That the flick is officially dedicated to Lucio Fulci, reinforced through the CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD finale, makes it all the better.

#7. PIRANHA (2010)

Don’t get it twisted, we’re fully aware that Joe Dante’s 1978 PIRANHA is superior to the dopey 2010 remake, but I needed to relive this pic of Jerry O’Connell getting his pretty little legs gnawed down into a pair of gore-dipped toothpicks. Too damn good! Granted, not technically a 4th of July flick, actually set at Lake Havasu during spring break, but the same kind of summery sentiment shines through. That is, a bunch of young drunk college kids getting their freak on lakeside…only to be marauded by a ferocious school of flesh-starved mutant fish. Worth celebrating if you ask me!


I remember clocking the first I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER flick in the theater with my pops when I was like 14 years old. Aside from a really cool opening sequence, the two of us walked out feeling rather underwhelmed. We groaned when we should have laughed, and laughed when we should have been scared. Still, as the title would infer, the entire franchise is subtly set during the small fishing town’s annual July 4th bash. You know, where a disgruntled, left-for-dead sicko in a rain slicker with a hook for a hand goes on a stalk-sand-slash vengeance spree. Cool premise, solid script from SCREAM’s Kevin Williamson, yet ever-diminishing with each passing sequel.

#9. THE BAY (2012)

Let’s hear it for our most recent addition to the 4th of July horror filmography, Barry Levinson’s shamefully underrated microbial horror flick THE BAY. This movie really seemed to have came and went without anyone saying much about it, which sucks, because I don’t think the movie does. We’re not saying it’s great, but for a found-footage flick, the tale of a mysterious mass-infection of a small seaside town was a clever way to approach the done-to-death format. Hell, Barry Levinson made RAIN MAN for f*ck’s sake, of course he can scale-down and find a way to elicit thrills via a new mode of storytelling. As for the 4th, talk about raining on your goddamn parade!

#10. 2001 MANIACS (2005)

2001 MANIACS is a filthy trash-heap of a good time. So wrong, so unapologetically sleazy, so wickedly fun! Bob Englund in the lead role as a grimy, eye-patched patriarch whose thickness of repugnance is only matched by that of his southern accent? Foul! Of course, the great Lin Shaye is his leading-lady running-mate in this ode to Herschell Gordon Lewis’ 1964 flick TWO THOUSAND MANIACS. Though set during spring break, the film has always had a backwoods independence day vibe, particularly in the climactic Guts and Glory Jubilee, where an octet of unsuspecting guests are gored, diced and butchered for shits and giggles. Disturbing flick with a trenchant southern satire.

Tags: Hollywood

Latest Entertainment News Headlines