Now that we're deep in the throes of winter, the colder weather is starting to roll in and put a chill throughout the bodies of horror fans everywhere. And while we could make a list of snow-filled horror classics to get you in the mood to run out and make snow angels, we decided to go the exact opposite route. Instead, we're going to give you a rundown of the sweatiest horror movies you've ever seen. You know, those hot, sweat-filled classics that can put a little heat back in your viewing schedule and help you beat that winter chill. Get your rags ready because you'll be wiping your brow in no time.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The pre-title text crawl and narration to Tobe Hooper's 1974 classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre sets the scene as an "idyllic summer afternoon," but let's be honest here; it could have easily said "it was hotter than the fires of hell" and we'd believe it. If there's a film out there that just exudes sweat and a hot, sweltering atmosphere more than this one, I'd love to see it. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (and even Marcus Nispel's admirable 2003 remake) is hot, and that's probably an understatement. From the opening scenes of the staged grave-robbed corpses baking in the Texas sun to the first glimpse we get of Kirk as he unloads the wheelchair-bound Franklin from the van, everyone is drenched in sweat. When Kirk turns to watch the tractor-trailer pass him on the highway, you can see the back of his shirt is soaked in sweat. If that wasn't obvious enough, the very next scene shows Franklin back in the van, with his shirt wide open, complaining about the oppressive heat. Nearly every shot in the film of Sally Hardesty and her friends has them sweating. And if you think this is all some kind of movie magic, get this: Word is that during the scene where Sally is abducted from the gas station, stuffed in Old Man's (Jim Siedow) truck, and prodded with his broomstick, Marilyn Burns was so overheated and in pain that she actually passed out several times. How's that for hot!
The past twenty-plus years since the release of Ralph S. Singleton's Graveyard Shift have not been particularly kind to the film. Based on a short story by Stephen King, it's often regarded as one of his lesser adaptations, but I tend to think that's a little overblown. Sure, it's no Pet Sematary and there are some so-bad-they're-good moments, but it does have some fun gory moments and a pair of quality performances by Brad Dourif and Stephen Macht. What places this tale of abandoned textile mill extermination squarely on our "sweaty movies" list, however, is the interminable heat in that rat-infested basement. From the moment the characters make the descent (which you just know is going to be filled with death and huge, ugly rats) they begin to sweat, wipe their brows, and sweat some more. Nearly the entire time they're down there doing their extermination work is a sweat-drenched nightmare so brutal that it actually makes you want to grab a cold rag and drape it over your own neck while watching. Graveyard Shift clearly isn't the best Stephen King-based film out there, but it just might be the hottest.
You had to know Kevin Bacon would make it on this list somehow, right? I mean, with the man's filmography, chances were pretty good. And Bacon makes it smack in the middle of our list with one of his most fun films – the sci-fi horror comedy Tremors. As if the Graboids hanging out underground in Perfection, Nevada weren't enough for Bacon and his co-stars (Fred Ward, Finn Carter, and Reba McEntire to name a few) to deal with, they also have to deal with the oppressive desert heat. The film is filled with wide shots of sand and mountain-filled vistas that just scream heat. There may not be a ton of sweating throughout the film, but you can feel the sun beating down on the characters' backs and feel the heat burning through Bacon's denim jacket. It's the dusty, unforgiving terrain that brings the heat in Tremors and it's one that I don't particularly ever want to visit. At least not without a couple cases of cold water and a bucket of ice cream.
The Broken Lizard comedy group has made a few very funny flicks, but the only one that falls in the horror genre is Club Dread. The highly underrated flick is a fine example of the horror-comedy mix that everyone since Dan O'Bannon's Return of the Living Dead has been trying to get right. Club Dread may not reach Return… standards, but it's a valiant effort and one of the best slasher spoofs of the past decade. And it's a hot film. Not just in the beautiful "Pleasure Island" setting, or the "hot" female leads (Brittany Daniel and Jordan Ladd, to be specific), but also in the way that you get the sense that everyone was having a great time filming this hilarious movie while also sweating their brains out. Daniels' Jenny character seems to be glistening, just a bit, in every scene she's in, even as she's traipsing around in her bikini most of the time. The tropical setting only lends to the feeling that the sun was probably beating down and everyone was happy to take a dip in the water when the day was over.
The Hills Have Eyes
Wes Craven's 1977 classic, The Hills Have Eyes, is another of the you-know-it's-hotter-than-hell-because-it-takes-place-in-the-desert films, but it's even more than that. While the film may take place in this vast, wide-open desert, the feeling of claustrophobia you get as a viewer is incredibly prevalent. Heightened by the fact that this family, abandoned on their road trip, is basically confined to their broken-down vehicle while being hunted by a crazed clan of deformed cannibals. Sure, they have the entire desert but, without a working vehicle, really have no chance of hoofing it to anywhere of significance. It's a harrowing situation and one that proves to be the most spacious claustrophobic setting ever. I'm starting to sweat just thinking about it. You can literally see the sweat dripping down the characters' faces (even more so in Alexandre Aja's excellent 2006 remake, pictured above). Add in the dusty, wind-blown setting, the rolling hills and rocky terrain of the desert, and the hot relentless sun and you've got one of the sweatiest horror movies of all time.