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List of horror films set in academic institutions

Monster on the Campus (1958) is one of the earlier horror films set on a college campus.[a]

Academic institutions, including high schools, boarding schools, colleges, and university campuses, have historically been recurring settings for horror films. Film scholars have noted the prominence of educational institutions in the development of horror cinema, particularly in the subgenre of the slasher film. Critics such as Andrew Grunzke have cited the themes of bullying, sexuality, social acceptance, parent-child relationships, academic performance, and the development of morality during teenage and young adult life as primary reasons that many horror films have historically used the backdrop of high schools and colleges.[2] Additionally, the universalization of education during the twentieth century, which coincided with the development of the horror film, helped foster a public audience for films set amongst students.[3]


Colleges and universitiesEdit

College campusesEdit

Year Title Director(s) Premise Notes Ref.
1945 The Body Snatcher Robert Wise A college professor and his student find themselves continually harassed by a sadistic cabman to supply bodies.
1946 The Brute Man Jean Yarbrough A college student becomes deformed. [4]
1957 I Was a Teenage Frankenstein Herbert L. Strock A guest professor from England at an American college begins to build his own Frankenstein. [4]
1958 Monster on the Campus Jack Arnold A university professor begins to devolve into a caveman after coming in contact with blood from a coelacanth. [1]
1962 Burn, Witch, Burn Sidney Hayers A college professor is tormented after discovering his wife has been practicing witchcraft. Originally titled Night of the Eagle [5]
1981 Final Exam Jimmy Huston A man stalks the remaining coeds on a college campus just before summer vacation. [6]
1981 Night School Ken Hughes A serial killer is stalking and decapitating the women at a Boston night college. Released in the United Kingdom as Terror Eyes [7]
1981 The Prowler Joseph Zito College coeds hosting a graduation dance are targeted by a killer in World War II G.I. gear. Released internationally as Rosemary's Killer [8]
1982 Girls Nite Out Robert Deubel A killer in a bear costume with razored claws murders coeds during an overnight campus scavenger hunt. Originally titled The Scaremaker [9]
1982 The Dorm That Dripped Blood Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow Students cleaning an abandoned dormitory during Christmas break are stalked by a killer with a baseball bat encrusted in nails. Released in the United Kingdom as Pranks [10]
1984 Splatter University Richard W. Haines An escaped mental patient terrorizes a local university. [11]
1988 Fright Night Part 2 Tommy Lee Wallace Charley Brewster, now a college student, encounters a group of vampires on his campus. [12]
1989 After Midnight Jim Wheat and Ken Wheat A horror anthology film framed through college students taking a course on the "psychology of fear." [13]
1995 The Addiction Abel Ferrara A philosophy graduate student in New York City is bitten by a vampire, which has major implications on her studies and personal life. [14]
1997 Scream 2 Wes Craven Sidney Prescott and her friends are stalked by a copycat killer dressed as Ghostface on their college campus. [15]
1998 Urban Legend Jamie Blanks A serial killer murders coeds at a New England college via methods based on urban legends. [16]
2000 Urban Legends: Final Cut John Ottman A killer stalks students of a film school and murders them according to urban legends. [17]
2001 Ripper John Eyres A massacre survivor believes a Jack the Ripper copycat is stalking her college campus. Also known as: Ripper: Letter from Hell [18]
2001 Soul Survivors Stephen Carpenter A college student's grip on reality weakens after the death of her boyfriend. [19]
2002 American Psycho 2 Morgan J. Freeman An ambitious criminal psychology student resorts to murder vying for a prestigious teaching assistantship. [20]
2004 Decoys Matthew Hastings Two male coeds vying to lose their virginity suspect the women on campus are not human. [21]
2005 House of the Dead 2 Michael Hurst A zombie outbreak occurs on a university campus. [22]
2011 The Roommate Christian E. Christiansen A college coed finds that her dormitory roommate is violently dangerous. [23]
2014 Kristy Oliver Blackburn A young woman is pursued by a cybercult of killers while alone on an empty campus during Thanksgiving. [24]

Fraternities and sororitiesEdit

Year Title Director(s) Premise Notes Ref.
1974 Black Christmas Bob Clark Sorority sisters are stalked and harassed by an unseen killer during Christmastime. See note[α] [26]
1976 Sisters of Death Joseph Mazzuca A man whose daughter died during a sorority prank takes revenge on the sorority seven years later. [27]
1978 The Initiation of Sarah Robert Day A shy woman with psychic powers joins a college sorority. Television film [28]
1981 Hell Night Tom DeSimone Sorority and fraternity pledges must stay in a reportedly haunted house near their campus. See note[β] [29]
1983 The House on Sorority Row Mark Rosman Sorority sisters are murdered by a killer during their last night in their sorority house. [30]
1984 The Initiation Larry Stewart Sorority pledges are murdered by an unseen assailant during an initiation ritual. [31]
1986 Killer Party William Fruet Sorority pledges are murdered during a party at an abandoned fraternity house. [32]
1986 Vamp Richard Wenk Two college students hire a stripper for their fraternity party who turns out to be a vampire. [33]
1986 Sorority House Massacre Carol Frank A sorority pledge experiences déjà vu while visiting a sorority house, followed by the appearance of a psychotic killer. [34]
1988 Rush Week Robert Bralver A student reporter uncovers a series of murders and disappearances on her college campus. [35]
1990 Sorority House Massacre II Jim Wynorski Five women restoring an old home as their new sorority house are murdered one by one. [34]
1992 Happy Hell Night Brian Owens A psychotic priest stalks pledges during pledge week at a rural college. Released in the United Kingdom as Frat Night [36]
2006 The Initiation of Sarah Stuart Gillard Twin sisters with psychic powers join a sorority. Remake of The Initiation of Sarah (1978) [37]
2006 Black Christmas Glen Morgan Sorority sisters trapped in their sorority home during a Christmas snowstorm are stalked by a serial killer. Remake of Black Christmas (1974) [38]
2009 Sorority Row Stewart Hendler Sorority sisters graduating from college are stalked after covering up the death of a fellow sorority sister. Remake of The House on Sorority Row (1983) [39]

Secondary institutionsEdit


Year Title Director(s) Premise Notes Ref.
1977 Suspiria Dario Argento An American ballerina arrives at a German dance academy plagued by disappearances and deaths. [40]
2008 The Haunting of Molly Hartley Mickey Liddell A teenager struggles at her new preparatory school after her mentally-ill mother attempts to murder her. [41]

Boarding schoolsEdit

Year Title Director(s) Premise Notes Ref.
1955 Les Diaboliques Henri-Georges Clouzot A woman conspires with her husband's mistress to murder her husband, the principal of a boys' boarding school. Released in the United States as Diabolique [42]
1972 Fear in the Night Jimmy Sangster A woman is tormented by an assailant at an empty boarding school where her husband has taken a job. [43]
1973 Satan's School for Girls David Lowell Rich A new student at a girls' school suspects her peers of witchcraft. Television film [44]
1975 Picnic at Hanging Rock Peter Weir The population of an Australian women's boarding school is shaken by the disappearance of several students. [45]
1977 The Possessed Jerry Thorpe Female students at a boarding school are plagued by satanic forces. Television film [44]
1978 Jennifer Brice Mack A poor student at an elite boarding school takes revenge on the students who torment her. [46]
1985 Phenomena Dario Argento A girl who can communicate with insects helps solve a series of murders at a boarding school in the Swiss Alps. [47]
1987 Zombie High Ron Link A teenager suspects her boarding school classmates are under a mysterious influence. [48]
1998 Halloween H20: 20 Years Later Steve Miner Laurie Strode, now the principal of a prestigious California boarding school where her son attends, is stalked by her brother, Michael Myers. [49]
2005 Cry Wolf Jeff Wadlow An e-mail chain inspires pranks and potentially murder among students at a rural boarding school. [50]
2006 The Woods Lucky McKee An outcast teenager in 1965 suspects sinister goings-on in the woods surrounding her new boarding school. [51]
2011 The Awakening Nick Murphy A paranormal debunker arrives at a boys' boarding school to disprove alleged hauntings. [52]
2012 The Moth Diaries Mary Harron A female boarding school student suspects a new peer is a vampire. [53]

High schoolsEdit

Year Title Director(s) Premise Notes Ref.
1957 I Was a Teenage Werewolf Gene Fowler Jr. A troubled high school student transforms into a werewolf. [54]
1976 Carrie Brian De Palma A bullied female student unleashes telekinetic powers at her high school prom. [55]
1976 Massacre at Central High Rene Daalder A high school is plagued by revenge killings involving bullied students and their oppressors. [56]
1978 The Redeemer: Son of Satan Constantine S. Gochis A group of people trapped inside their high school during their ten-year reunion are killed off by a psychopath. [57]
1980 Prom Night Paul Lynch A killer stalks the teenagers of a local high school to avenge the death of a young girl years earlier. [58]
1981 Student Bodies Mickey Rose A killer stalks the students of a high school. [59]
1981 Graduation Day Herb Freed The students on a high school track team are stalked and killed leading up to their graduation. [60]
1981 Happy Birthday to Me J. Lee Thompson Students at an upper-class academy are stalked by a killer leading up to a popular student's birthday. [61]
1985 Teen Wolf Rod Daniel A small-town high school student transforms into a werewolf. [62]
1986 Slaughter High George Dugdale Eight people are invited to a ten-year high school reunion by a killer seeking revenge over his disfigurement in a prank gone wrong. [63]
1987 Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II Bruce Pittman The ghost of a woman killed at her prom in 1957 possesses a current student. [64]
1987 Return to Horror High Bill Froehlich The staff of a film company making a movie about real-life murders on location at a high school are stalked and killed. [65]
1989 Cutting Class Rospo Pallenberg A problematic teenager's return to his high school coincides with a string of serial murders. [66]
1990 Prom Night III: The Last Kiss Ron Oliver A high school student meets a female ghost at his high school and begins a relationship with her. [67]
1996 Scream Wes Craven A high school student is stalked by a masked killer who begins murdering her friends. [68]
1998 Disturbing Behavior David Nutter Three outcasts at a Washington high school suspect their too-perfect peers may be under a sinister influence. [69]
1998 The Faculty Robert Rodriguez Students at an Ohio high school suspect an alien life force is taking over their school. [70]
1999 The Rage: Carrie 2 Katt Shea An outcast teenager (and half-sister of Carrie White) takes revenge on her tormentors during a high school party. [71]
2002 Carrie David Carson A female bullying victim unleashes her telekinetic powers during a high school dance. Television film [71]
2013 Carrie Kimberly Peirce A female bullying victim unleashes her telekinetic powers during a high school dance. [71]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Film scholar Andrew Grunzke notes the influence of Monster on the Campus as both a rendition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as well as a college-set horror film.[1]
  1. ^ Black Christmas (1974) is primarily set inside the confines of a sorority house, though there are several scenes set on the college campus.[25]
  2. ^ Though the primary setting of Hell Night (1981) is a manor, the film's broader set is within a university context among college students, and the plot points are rooted in college culture.[29]


  1. ^ a b Grunzke 2015, p. 67.
  2. ^ Grunzke 2015, p. 3.
  3. ^ Grunzke 2015, p. 4.
  4. ^ a b Grunzke 2015, pp. 58–61.
  5. ^ Joshi, S. T. (2007). Icons of Horror and the Supernatural: An Encyclopedia of Our Worst Nightmares. 2. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 716. ISBN 0-313-33782-9.
  6. ^ Nowell 2010, p. 49.
  7. ^ Muir 2012, p. 21.
  8. ^ Grunzke 2015, pp. 1–3.
  9. ^ Harper 2004, p. 91.
  10. ^ Nowell 2010, p. 224.
  11. ^ Grunzke 2015, pp. 118, 190.
  12. ^ Joshi, S. T. (2011). Encyclopedia of the Vampire: The Living Dead in Myth, Legend, and Popular Culture. ABC-CLIO. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-313-37833-1.
  13. ^ Grunzke 2015, pp. 120–21.
  14. ^ James, Caryn (4 October 1995). "FILM REVIEW;A Philosophy Student Who Bites". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  15. ^ Newman 2011, pp. 389–90.
  16. ^ Newman 2011, p. 394.
  17. ^ Newman 2011, p. 395.
  18. ^ "Ripper: Letter from Hell". TV Guide. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  19. ^ Meyer, Carla (8 September 2001). "REVIEW / Abominable teen horror film / 'Soul Survivor' is pure nonsense". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  20. ^ Newman 2011, p. 317.
  21. ^ "Decoys (2004)". Arrow in the Head. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  22. ^ Condit, Jon (20 December 2005). "House of the Dead 2: Dead Aim (2005)". Dread Central. Archived from the original on 24 September 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  23. ^ Travers, Peter (4 February 2011). "The Roommate". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  24. ^ "'Kristy' Is A Nerve Shredding, Nail-Biting, Fight For Survival Thriller". Movie Pilot. 11 August 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  25. ^ Harper 2004, p. 11.
  26. ^ Nowell 2010, pp. 73–77.
  27. ^ Grunzke 2015, pp. 118, 128.
  28. ^ Grunzke 2015, p. 130.
  29. ^ a b Rockoff 2002, pp. 119–20.
  30. ^ Muir 2012, p. 253.
  31. ^ Muir 2012, p. 396.
  32. ^ Harper 2004, p. 121.
  33. ^ Grunzke 2015, p. 131.
  34. ^ a b Newman 2011, p. 208.
  35. ^ Variety Staff. "Rush Week". Variety Television Reviews 1991–1992. n.p.: Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-824-03796-3 – via Google Books.
  36. ^ Harper 2004, p. 107.
  37. ^ Newman 2011, p. 406.
  38. ^ Leydon, Joe (26 December 2006). "Review: 'Black Christmas'". Variety. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  39. ^ Newman 2011, p. 407.
  40. ^ Newman 2011, p. 145.
  41. ^ Nelson, Rob (31 October 2008). "Review: 'The Haunting of Molly Hartley'". Variety. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  42. ^ "Diabolique". The New Yorker. Revivals. 70 (27–35): 31.
  43. ^ Muir 2007, pp. 270–2.
  44. ^ a b Newman 2011, p. 59.
  45. ^ Castillo, Monica (27 July 2017). "Three Reasons to Watch 'Picnic at Hanging Rock'". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  46. ^ Grunzke 2015, pp. 100–1.
  47. ^ Newman 2011, p. 148.
  48. ^ Kay, Glenn (2012). Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide. Chicago Review Press. p. 156. ISBN 1613744226.
  49. ^ "LL Cool J Teams Up With Jamie Lee Curtis In Horror Sequel "Halloween: H20"". Jet: 56. 10 August 1998 – via Google Books.  
  50. ^ Martel, Ned (17 September 2005). "Privileged Youth Is Served". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  51. ^ Gingold, Michael (2006). "Ghastly Review: The Woods". Fangoria. Archived from the original on 8 September 2006. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  52. ^ Holden, Stephen (16 August 2012). "Ghosts and Memories Haunting a House". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  53. ^ Adams, Nathan (20 April 2012). "Review: 'The Moth Diaries' Realistically Recreates How Boring Reading a 16-Year-Old Girl's Diary Is". Film School Rejects. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  54. ^ Newman 2011, p. 240.
  55. ^ Nowell 2010, pp. 89–90.
  56. ^ Newman 2011, p. 389.
  57. ^ Grunzke 2015, pp. 100–2.
  58. ^ Nowell 2010, p. 149.
  59. ^ Newman 2011, p. 210.
  60. ^ Muir 2012, pp. 178–9.
  61. ^ Muir 2012, p. 187.
  62. ^ Grunzke 2015, pp. 123, 131.
  63. ^ Muir 2012, p. 541.
  64. ^ Muir 2012, p. 579.
  65. ^ Benshoff 2017, p. 319.
  66. ^ Grunzke 2015, p. 183.
  67. ^ Newman 2011, p. 384.
  68. ^ Grunzke 2015, p. 168.
  69. ^ Newman 2011, p. 393.
  70. ^ Newman 2011, p. 391.
  71. ^ a b c Piepenburg, Erik (13 October 2013). "Each Generation Gets a Carrie It Deserves". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 July 2017.

Works citedEdit

Further readingEdit