Halloween is supposed to be the time when all the ghosts, ghouls, and monsters come out to play, so it may seem counterintuitive that the summer months are the perfect time for a good scare. Perhaps surprisingly to some, the horror films released during the summer aren’t all slashers — some of the best summer horror films on record are creature features, with beasties of all shapes and sizes dead set on ruining your summer activities.
What follows are the greatest summer creature features, ranked by their Rotten Tomatoes scores. The list excludes films with fewer than 40 rated reviews (the criterion used by RT’s own Top 100 lists), which unfortunately knocks off some exceptional early summer monster films like 1949’s “Mighty Joe Young” and 1954’s “Them!” The list also omits spirits in their myriad varieties (ghosts, demons, spirits more broadly, etc.), thus leaving out some excellent creature-adjacent films like 1997’s “Princess Mononoke” and its demon boar, 2001’s “Spirited Away” (it has a variety of great entities that are treated as spirits and based on kami, spirits in Japanese folklore), or 1984’s fantastic “Ghostbusters,” despite the excellence of the Sumerian god Gozer’s supernatural Stay Puft Marshmallow Man manifestation. It also omits some exceptional humanoid and intelligent alien antagonists like the Prawns in “District 9.” With those barriers in mind, here’s the list of the top summer monster movies of all time.