Written by Briant Laslo

Briant Laslo

My goal here is to go throughout the year and each month pick out five of the best films, in my opinion, that in some way or another fit into the horror genre. They may not have been box office smashes. They may not have been critical successes. Some of them might even be more funny than scary. But, all of them will have made some kind of contribution to the genre or, at the very least, made their mark on me personally.

As I began doing my research on the movies released in June, it quickly became apparent, June may be the premier month for quality horror movies! There are a number of solid months coming up between now and the end of the year, and of course October has a huge number of releases. But June had a really surprising number of quality movies that fit the horror genre. It also has a fair number of potential dishonorable mentions, so this will be the first month that has both honorable and dishonorable!

Top five lists are, by their very nature, subjective and meant to be fun, conversation starting pieces. So, I encourage everyone to get involved in the comment section. Give us your top five, or talk about any of the films I mentioned. So, without further ado, here are the Top 5 Horror (ish) Movies Ever Released in the month of June!

Poltergeist, June 4, 1982. I vacillated a good bit on the number five spot because there are definitely at least six movies that could be in the top five spots, seven if you count the Annabelle sequel listed below. Ultimately, I went with Poltergeist because of its combination of startling special effects makeup, overall story, and performance by the cast.

I can still remember the first time I saw the scene where the character Marty hallucinates about pulling his face off in the mirror, and the effects at the time were terrifying. Throw in a number of well-timed jump scares, some good legitimate scary moments, and the creepy, and ultimately haunting, performance of Heather O’Rourke who played Carol Anne, and Poltergeist earns its spot in the top five of one of the most competitive months for horror movies.

The Thing, June 25, 1982. 21 days after the original Poltergeist came out, The Thing was released. I mentioned how the effects in Poltergeist were terrifying at the time, and that lasted approximately 21 days because the creature makeup and special effects of The Thing took it to a whole new level!

This was way, way before any kind of CGI was being used in moviemaking and, while you might not be familiar with his name, Rob Bottin pushed special effects makeup beyond where it had been previously. Just some of the movies where he has been designer of special effects makeup: Twilight Zone the Movie, Robocop, Witches of Eastwick, and Se7en. Those kind of effects combined with lots of tension, shocking transformations, and plenty of goo has The Thing edging just past Poltergeist into number four.

The Purge, June 7, 2013. This is another one of those movies that I feel has fallen victim to the “franchise” label. But the original The Purge movie is actually a pretty great movie. It makes a lot of commentary on our society specifically and humanity in general. For me, it really feels like a zombie movie without the zombies.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, any great zombie movie eventually makes the point that the humans are the bad guys. This has been done in other kinds of post-apocalyptic stories, but The Purge pulls it off without any kind of virus, natural disaster, or Armageddon of any kind. It simply presents the idea that many humans, by nature, are violent and depraved. Not necessarily angry, not necessarily outraged, but that some part of them inside needs to destroy something; to hurt someone.

The movie does a great job of setting the scene and making sure everybody understands what the rules of this world are: for 12 hours, once a year, everything is legal. I’ve noticed that overall film reviews of this movie are fairly low, and that’s why I say I wonder about the franchise affect, where sequels grow progressively worse and that winds up having people view the original in a lower light. To me, The Purge is a solid storyline, good tension building, a number of scary scenes and jumps to qualify as horror, and a good bit of blood as well.

Jaws, June 20, 1975. Wait a second… How is Jaws second on this list? This is the highest grossing horror movie ever released in June, and its sequel is the second! Jaws is the second highest grossing horror movie EVER! But, here’s the thing: I don’t really think it’s that scary.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this is an amazing movie. Unbelievable cast, great storytelling, lots of blood for sure, yes, a few jump scares. I just never got the “scary” vibe from this movie. It doesn’t present to me as a horror movie. It presents to me as a great action/adventure movie with an extremely formidable antagonist, but apart from 2, maybe 3, scenes there’s really no outright suspense or make you jump moments. And I love this movie, it’s one of those movies that if I see it on TV, I pretty much have to watch it. I just don’t think it’s a horror movie.

Despite that, it has garnered its place on enough horror movie lists and made enough people afraid to go in the water that I couldn’t keep it off of this list. So, even though I personally don’t view it as a horror movie, because of how it is perceived by so many others and how great of a movie it is, it earns the title of second best horrorish movie ever released in June.

28 Days Later, June 27, 2003. Without question, the best zombie-ish movie ever created by anyone not named Romero. 28 Days Later brought the zombie movie back into the mainstream, even though, technically, and from a zombie fan’s perspective, they are not zombies. There are a lot of similarities to zombies, they want to eat you, if you get bit or otherwise infected, you become one of them. But, you don’t need to shoot these zombies in the head, you don’t need to destroy their brain. If you put enough bullets into them, they will eventually drop. They are “infected with the rage virus” so they are not really the undead.

All that being said, this is a great zombie movie! First, the main update, the zombies are fast. Like really fast. Like sprinting at top speed never going to give up until I eat you fast. For some zombie purists that either takes a while to get past, or it’s a showstopper. For me, I just took a moment to accept this new world. Also, as a note, it’s my belief nobody survives a fast zombie outbreak. With your typical, plodding zombie, they might catch you off-guard before you know what is happening, but once you are aware of the situation, it’s just about being smart. With fast zombies? In the immortal words of Bill Paxton’s private Hudson, “that’s it, man! Game over, man! Game over!”

Ultimately, this movie revolutionizes the appeal of the zombie movie genre, tells a great story, ups the horror of what a zombie is, and still manages to ultimately make the point that the humans are the bad guys! Throw in plenty of blood, plenty of jump scares, lots of tension building, great acting, and one of the best scores for a horror movie ever, you’ve got the best horror movie ever released in June.

Honorable Mentions: Annabelle comes home (June 26, 2019, but it involves an evil baby doll and that makes it ineligible to appear on a list I create), The Omen (June 25, 1976), Twilight Zone: The Movie (June 24, 1983), Rosemary’s Baby (June 12, 1968), George A
Romero’s Land of the Dead (June 24, 2005)

Less Than Honorable Mentions: (remakes and sequels that failed compared to the
original) The Omen (June 6, 2006, 30 years after the original, same month, vastly different results), Psycho 2 (June 3, 1983. Seriously?), Jaws 2 (June 16, 1978. This is the second highest grossing horror movie EVER released in June, and that pretty much tells you just how good the original Jaws was!)

And there you have it everyone, inarguably, the best 5 horror movies ever created and released in the month of June! Look forward to your comments and I’ll have another one out for you all next month.

By Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is a third-generation Ryukyuan-American, award-winning poet, author, and publisher with 20+ years in newspapers. Publisher of Space & Time magazine (est. 1966), two-time Bram Stoker Awards® Winner, and HWA Mentor of the Year, she shares Authortunities, a free weekly calendar of author opportunities at authortunities.substack.com.

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