Gather around, students. School may be out for summer, but we've got an important lesson for you to get you ready for next week's premiere of Dead of Summer. We know the idea of homework before watching a TV show sounds blah, but when the homework is watching iconic '80s movies, trust us when we tell you it'll all be worth it.
Set at Camp Stillwater, an idyllic Midwestern summer camp with a dark history no one seems too aware of just yet, a handful of counselors gather to help new owner Deb (Elizabeth Mitchell) reopen the grounds after a mysterious five-year closure. But soon, Stillwater's sinister, ancient mythology begins to reawaken, turning a summer of fun into one with scares at every turn.
To help you prepare for Freeform's new supernatural slasher summer camp series, which is just dripping with '80s inspiration—and blood— E! News went straight to co-creators Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz for a mandatory viewing list that all prospective campers must check out from their local video store on Netflix before checking in.
"I'd go with Halloween, which is late '70s, but its influence is felt through the '80s," Horowitz told us at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, TX. "Say Anything, which was '89."
Kitsis added: "Heathers. Pretty in Pink. Then, I would say The Shining."
Stanley Kubrick's classic 1980 adaptation of Stephen King's novel seems to have weighed heavily on the creation of Dead of Summer, so if you want a gold star, you might want to pay extra attention to that film. "The Shining would be a big One. Sleepaway Camp and Friday the 13th are great summer horror," Horowitz said. "But I would say that the audience expectation of what you get out of an '80s summer camp horror story, we're going to play with those expectations a lot in the show."
"It's not a slasher. It's not just one killer. It's kind of like The Shining at a summer camp," Kitsis continued.
The idea for season one is to keep the audience on their toes by melding influences in a way that no one can really see coming. "While not slasher only, we're influenced by so many different movies in the genre and different types of horror and drama that this show has allowed us the flexibility of hopefully week to week keeping the audience off balance and surprised with where the scares are going to come from and where the coming of age stuff is going to come from," Horowitz said.
As they see it, there's one thing these movies all have in common that makes them perfect to be remixed together in this new way."We love those teen '80s movies, be it the John Hughes ones, and we love John Carpenter '80s horror movies, and the one thing we noticed is that they both have the same archetypes," Kitsis explained. "The stoner, the jock, and we thought we wanted to do a show that we got to explore what happens before they got into that situation? What was their life like in high school? We wanted to explore their identity and it was our way taking these genres we love and putting them together, and I think the '80s, other than just our nostalgia, there's no cell phones. When you're in the forest, you're in the forest."
The goal? Something for everyone—and a whole lot of scares. "We wanted to do iconic teen John Hughes moments, we want to do iconic horror moments and then we wanted to do iconic camp moments, like Color Wars and overnights and campfires," Kitsis added.
What are you waiting for, students? Get to studying. Class dismissed!
Dead of Summer premieres Tuesday, June 28 at 9 p.m. on Freeform.
—Reporting by Tierney Bricker