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Friday, December 31, 2010

A Scary Christmas and a Frightful New Year- Part 2

Black Christmas (1974) - Dir. Bob Clark

And we’re talking the original, for two reasons: 1) nobody’s yellow, 2) director Bob Clark also directed A Christmas Story
, so that’s two holiday classics he’s got under his belt. Throw in a Margot Kidder (Sisters, Superman, The Amityville Horror), Olivia Hussey (Romeo & Juliet, It), John Saxon (Enter the Dragon, A Nightmare on Elm Street, From Dusk ‘til Dawn), a serial killer crashing a sorority house Christmas party and ***SPOILER ALERT*** “The calls are coming from inside the house,” you’ve got yourself Christmas classic.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 (1987) - Dir. Lee Harry


Now, you’re probably asking, “why the sequel without the first?” Well, the second film is essentially the “good parts” version of the original, almost literally “all killer, no filler.” In the first film, after witnessing the murder of his parents by a thief dressed as Santa, young Billy is scarred for life.

Consistently tormented by holiday cheer as he grows up, he, too, finally snaps, dons a Santa suit and goes on a killing spree, punishing those he deems have been naughty, before being gunned down in front of his little brother Ricky. The first film has a bit more plot development involving an overbearing nun. But the second film is almost entirely flashbacks of the kills from the first, as Billy’s brother Ricky recounts the incidents of the first film to a psychiatrist.

Meanwhile, Ricky awaits trial for his own amazingly gratuitous killing spree, attributed to the trauma of witnessing his brother’s death (such a vicious cycle), which he then recounts before
escaping, donning a Santa suit of his own and going after the nun he blames for his brother’s death. But, essentially, Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 is the greatest hits from the first film with a cherry on top.

Santa’s Slay (2005) - Dir. David Steiman

In this film, jolly St. Nick isn’t a willing purveyor of Christmas cheer. In fact, he’s not a saint either, not even close.

Bill Goldberg (yes, the former wrestler) plays the son of Satan, after losing a bet with an angel he’s forced to go around the world giving gifts and spreading joy for 2000 years. But, once the bet is off, he goes back to raising holy hell.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Scary Christmas and a Frightful New Year- Part 1

I’m pretty sure this isn’t what they had in mind when they said, “keeping Christ in Christmas,” but scaring the be-jesus out of you is about as close as I’m gonna get to a religious Christmas. So, if spending the holidays with your relatives isn’t frightening enough, I offer my list of holiday-themed horror films, one for each of the 12 days of Christmas, to help you scream in the New Year.

The Last Stop on the Night Train (1975) - Dir. Aldo Lado

This is wonderful film to have in mind as you make the journey home for the holidays, gifts waiting under the tree, stockings hung by the chimney with care, parents cooking up the roast beast, a hyper-sexualized, homicidal trio holding you hostage in your train car…

In the world of high concept summaries, I imagine the pitch for this film went something like this, “It’s Last House on the Left on a train… but with more sex and violence.” Sold. Lisa and Margaret catch the night train from Germany to Italy to spend Christmas with Lisa’s family, but a chance encounter with two guys, a girl and a pocketknife puts a damper on their holiday. If you’re familiar with The Last House on the Left, then you know this story. It’s the same gist, with the terrible trio getting picked up by Lisa’s parents. If you like Last House, then you’ll like Night Train.

So many amazing things going on is this film. From the Halloween inspired killer-POV opening, you know you’re in for a treat, but not because this film is anything like Halloween. Instead, it’s because the heavy breathing over the POV makes it seems like Darth Vader is the killer who hates Santa.

Sadly, the madman loose in London, killing anyone he can find dressed as Santa, is not Darth Vader. I guess they couldn’t afford David Prowse. Still, gory deaths abound. And I’m pretty sure that Al McGoohan, credited for writing and directing additional scenes, comes from the world of porn, because there are some wonderfully random scenes that have almost nothing to do with the plot of the film and seem to serve no purpose other than provide some gratuitous nudity. This film might have you thinking twice about dressing up as Santa. It might also make you think twice about asking your girlfriend, who just witnessed her father’s murder, to pose nude for a photographer friend.

Christmas Evilaka You Better Watch Out–(1980) - Dir. Lewis Jackson

Young Harry Stadling spies mom and “Santa Claus” doing a bit more than kissing underneath the mistletoe. When “Santa” unhooked mom’s garter belt he unknowingly unhinged Harry, warping his fragile little mind.

Once Harry’s all grown up, he’s got an unhealthy obsession with Christmas, spying on all the neighborhood kids, making his own list of who's naughty and nice. Imagine Travis Bickle, but instead of driving a taxi he works in a toy factory. And when he finally snaps, instead of donning a Mohawk, he super-glues a white beard to his face, dons a Santa suit, and spreads a little Christmas fear by killing those he deems naughty. But the nice need not fear him; he has no problem rewarding the good boys and girls. You won’t believe the ending.