Many iconic horror films lay their jump scares like mines behind dark corners, but there is also a subgenre of horror going back to Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” that basks its characters in the blazing sun.
Are you afraid of the dark? It doesn’t matter, because these movies below are proof that nightmares can thrive even during daylight hours.
“The Birds” (1952)
Alfred Hitchcock takes the everyday fear of being attacked in the street by city pigeons to the next level, having what feels like every bird in the city of San Francisco attack humans without warning. What adds to the horror is that the birds attack when people are most on the move; one scene depicts a flock of crows attacks a group of school children. “The Birds” stars Tippi Hedren as the lead Melanie Daniels, with Rod Taylor starring alongside as criminal defense attorney Mitch Brenner.
“The Wicker Man” (1973, 2006)
“The Wicker Man” is similar to “Midsommar” in that foreigners — in this case police sergeant Neil Howie — travels to a remote location where villagers follow an ancient pagan religion. Howie (Edward Woodward) is quickly entangled in the village’s May Day celebrations, where he discovers the villagers are going to use the missing child as a sacrifice. Nicolas Cage starred as the lead in the 2006 American remake.
“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974)
Sally (Marilyn Burns), her three friends and father Franklin are attacked by the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) when their car runs out of gas and have nowhere to go. Sally is put in a race against the dwindling sunlight as she does everything she can to escape.
During the opening scene, we are introduced to Chrissie Watkins (Susan Backlinie), who decides to take a dip in the ocean after leaving a beach party. The John Williams score starts to swell when Chrissie suddenly feels something pulling at her from underneath. The terrorizing shark, even though it was shown only briefly during the actual movie, left audiences fearful of ever going back into the ocean. ““When you go out into the water, there’s this idea you’re incredibly vulnerable,” a clinical psychologist told the New York Post in 2015. “Literally anything can kind of happen. We’re built to kind of fear that, we’re built to fear the unknown.”
Valentine (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) try to save a small town from carnivorous “megaworms” in this early ’90s creature feature, much of it taking place under the arid heat of the Nevada sun.