Top 10 Poolside Horror Movie Scenes!

Last Updated on August 3, 2021

Summer Lovin’ y’all, if you ain’t at the beach you best be at the goddamn pool! Of course, the only thing Californians are bathing in at the moment is ash, soot and smoke. All the more reason to find a body of water to cool off in then I guess. Anyway, in honor of the bikini season and the time for skinny-dipping, water-sliding, dive-boarding, inter-tubing, and the rest, we’re recollecting some of our favorite swimming-pool scenes in horror movies that have made a splash over the years. Now, we want to keep this as light, fun and summery as possible, so our condolences for the honorable mentions that did not make the cut (POLTERGEIST, PHENOMENA, BURNT OFFERINGS, SPECIES, JENNIFER’S BODY, etc.). Don’t fret though, we’re fin to have a ton of fun below. So slather on the sunscreen, take a bong-rip and shake a cocktail…here is our Top 10 Favorite Poolside Horror Movie Scenes!

#1. CAT PEOPLE (1942/1982)

Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur were creating peerless Gothic horror movie magic back in the 40s. Straight up, if this chillingly atmospheric swimming pool scene with its brilliant use of light and shadow weren’t exacted so exemplary, the rest of the this list may very well cease to exist. It’s that good, that influential, and still that damn unsettling. Hell, ask Roger Deakins where he got the idea for Jared Leto’s aqua-lair in BLADE RUNNER 2049 and I’ll bet dollars to donuts he says CAT PEOPLE, and if he doesn’t, he’s lying. Paul Schrader’s 1982 remake opted for a steamier poolside pastiche, but you already know the first cut is the deepest!


Man, Johannes Roberts directed the hell out of an absolutely terrible script in THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT. As such, taken as a standalone death-scene, there’s very little to grouse about regarding The Man in the Mask here and his piercing power-play inside a trailer-park swimming-pool. Yikes! Cheekily set to Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” ambient with neon-lighting and faux palm trees, young Bill Pullman puts up a fight by savagely slaughtering Doll Face. But this only pisses off Mask-head further, and after a tussle waste-deep in the pool, Pullman is bled out like a freshly hooked sturgeon!


Rarely if ever has Freddy the Krueger inflicted as much abject carnage as he does in the real world pool-party sequence in FREDDY’S REVENGE. Granted, the rest of the movie is more homoerotic than TOP GUN, but that’s beside the point. What I love so much about the sequence, other than how it transcends the dream-world and actually takes place in reality, is just how vile, vicious and vitiating Freddy is during the scene. This isn’t the campy, wise-cracking hoot of later iterations, this Freddy slashes, carves, guts and gouges several teenagers while setting the water ablaze. I miss this Freddy!


While LET THE RIGHT ONE IN transcends the horror genre to become something far greater, let’s not forget how it is climatic bout of bullying violence comes to a head at, yup, a goddamn swimming pool. When little Oskar is forced to either hold his breath for three minutes (impossible, thereby dying) or have an eye cut out of his head, he isn’t left with many lines of recourse. Then, in a loving act of friendship, vampiress Eli suddenly shows up and gorily assaults all of Oskar’s wrongdoers. We’re taking decapitations, severed-limbs, the works! The way in which Tomas Alfredson frames the scene is masterful in its use of foreground, background and underwater technique!

#5. SHIVERS (1975)

David Cronenberg’s debut horror feature SHIVERS is still a wildly underrated piece of pulp-terror, and one of the reasons why is its deeply disturbing denouement set inside a swimming pool. For the uninitiated, the film charts a high-rise whose tenants are infected by a mysterious parasite that turns them into mindless, sex-crazed ghouls who infect other with the mere touch of the skin. When St. Luc fails to make an escape, he’s directed into an indoor pool, where hordes of licentious zombies close in, seduce and destroy the helpless bastard until he becomes one of the infected. It’s sexy, it’s scary, it’s SHIVERS!

#6. THE NEON DEMON (2016)

There’s something so coldly detached and oddly surreal about the poolside death-sequence in Nic Refn’s THE NEON DEMON that it’s stayed in the recesses of my mind since seeing it two years ago. But what I really like is the distinction of using an empty pool rather than an aqueous one. And not just any pool, but a lavishly ornate Hollywood Hills mansion swimming pool right out of the ’36 Olympics. Poor Elle Fanning is preyed upon by a jealous passel of cut-throat, back-stabbing ingenues who deem her life too threatening to their superficial success. The result? Jena Malone calmly shoves Elle into the deep end of an empty pool at dusk, leaving her to bleed out with broken bones below!

#7. THE PROWLER (1981)

Joe Zito’s THE PROWLER will always be one of my favorite slasher films. Ask Tom Savini, it’s one of his favorites too (and why not, his FX work has never been better). And yes, there’s one gloriously gruesome death scene set inside a local community swimming pool. The war-fatigue donning slasher follows Lisa into the pool, nipping at her heels and tugging her underwater like he was Bruce the f*cking shark. Finally, the Prowler pulls Lisa above the water-line and savagely slits her throat from ear to ear with a bayonet. Zito literally gets away with murder in his graphic depiction (gotta love 1981), as the girl’s lifeless legs twitch away while we hold on the girl’s gorily impaled throat!

#8. PIRANHA 3DD (2012)

Ah yeah, there’s nothing like a lazy-river or wave-pool at your local water-park, and damn if that sick sumbitch John Gulager didn’t take full throttled advantage of such a serene locale in the semi-pornographically perverse PIRANHA 3DD! Sure I wish the “Adult Swimming Pool” sequence in the film – in which only nude participants are admitted – actually featured a ferocious fatality, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. Instead, we wait until the pools, rivers and water-slides are equally ravaged by toothy-man-eating mutant-fish, leaving an unparalleled wake of crimson-chlorine behind. Shite’s gorgeous!


Wasn’t there a recent horror release called POOL PARTY MASSACRE? Yeah well, odds are that flick would not exist if it were not for the trenchantly satirical female-made SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, which hilariously skewers the rampant misogyny of 80s slasher flicks. Of course, the ferocious finale of the film – in which a deranged psychopath is pulverizing nubile girls with a phallic, oversized drill – takes place over a backyard swimming pool (you can see the pool chairs in the background). The madman Russ chases Valerie outside, and she cuts his hand and drill-bit with a machete before knocking him into the pool. Undeterred, Russ pops out of the water and mounts one final attack before succumbing to a machete-impalement.


Haha, this clown Hunt got his ass handed to him…literally. Remember the exquisitely profligate pool-drain death-knell in THE FINAL DESTINATION? Too goddamn good to start this here pool-party anywhere else, right? Right! After Hunt (that name though) drops a lucky coin in the pool and races to retrieve it at the bottom, the drain-suction is accidentally activated and Hunt’s butt gets sucked hard. Hunt writhes and wriggles, trying to pry his ass off the drain, but when the pressure becomes too great, this dumb bastard is beautifully blended into a human protein shake…with gory organs and severed body parts raining all over the joint!

Tags: Hollywood

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