Hello again, horror fiends! Your favorite Gorgon of gore has some tasty terror treats for you this week. The holidays are upon us, whether you're ready or not, so break out the eggnog as we take a look at some holiday-themed horror flicks. Forget the sugar plums, dear readers. The only things dancing in your head will be sadistic madmen, animated skeletons, and menacing monsters. There's even a few other holiday films thrown in for good measure. We all love Halloween, but what about the scariest holiday of them all? Yes, Valentine's Day! So step into my lair and curl up next to old Medusa. Just don't sit too close, darlings. My venomous snakes are hissing with excitement…and hunger!
From 1984, Silent Night, Deadly Night delivers dark humor and tons of chills. A young boy watches in horror as his parents are killed by a thief dressed as Santa. He's sent to the local orphanage where he encounters years of abuse at the hands of the nun, Mother Superior. While working at a shopping mall during the holiday season, the young man is forced to dress as Santa, losing his mind in the process. Before long "Santa" goes on a killing spree, slaughtering anyone he can. However, the crazed psychopath has one final victim in mind: Mother Superior. This low-budget shocker features horror queen Linnea Quigley (Night of the Demons) as Denise, whose death scene is guaranteed to make you cringe. If you're lucky enough to find a copy of Silent Night, Deadly Night do yourself a favor and check it out. The film was released theatrically, however it was pulled after only a few weeks due to protests from angered parents; they found the premise of the film to be offensive. When Silent Night, Deadly Night made its video debut, it instantly became a cult classic due to the violent subject matter, as well as the media attention it received. A number of sequels were soon released. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part II was released in 1987, but failed to attract audiences. In 1989 the direct-to-video sequel, Silent Night, Deadly Night Part III was released, paving the way for two more pointless entries: Silent Night, Deadly Night IV (1990) and Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991). If you're in the mood for something dreary, not cheery, then Silent Night, Deadly Night is for you. Oh, and if you hear a rustling in your chimney…run!
While it's certainly not a horror film, The Nightmare Before Christmas contains the perfect amount of holiday dread that's perfect for children and adults. Released in 1993, it tells the story of Jack Skellington, the king of Halloweentown. Desperate to find something new in his life, he wanders into a strange place called Christmastown, where Santa reigns supreme. Jack decides to kidnap Santa so that he can take over the holiday, but a series of mishaps threaten to destroy his plans and ruin Christmas forever. The film contains beautiful animation, wonderful music, and a wild bunch of characters including witches, zombies, mummies, and Oogie Boogie, the film's evil villain. One of the greatest characters is Sally, a lonely rag doll who is in love with Jack, but struggles to support his holiday plans. Actor Chris Sarandon (Child's Play) voices Jack Skellington, and Catherine O' Hara (Beetlejuice) supplies the voice of Sally. Produced by Tim Burton, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a slightly morbid holiday classic that's sure to delight audiences for many years to come. The horror elements never exceed the film's PG rating, while the family-friendly aspect is never too much to take. In 2007 the film was re-released in 3D, delighting fans both new and old.
The Nightmare Before Christmas delivers spine-tingling characters, gloomy atmospheres, and plenty of fun. Whether it's Halloween or Christmas, the film will make you scream with laughter.
This delicious dose of horror was filmed in 2007, but didn't make its DVD debut until October of 2009. Trick 'r Treat is the perfect movie for Halloween night. The film centers around various characters through the course of Halloween night. From serial killers to werewolves, nothing is off limits. The film's real star is the character of Sam, the perfect trick-or-treater, who makes sure certain Halloween traditions are met. For example, one tradition is to let jack 'o lanterns burn all night. If Sam sees you blow them out, you'll regret it. Armed with a bag full of candy (and a deadly lollipop), Sam represents everything the holiday stands for. Featuring an all-star cast such as Anna Paquin (True Blood), Brian Cox (The Ring), and Leslie Bibb (Iron Man), Trick 'r Treat is one horror film you don't want to miss. In the same tradition as Creepshow (1982) and Tales from the Crypt (1972), Trick 'r Treat contains interwoven stories that keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. The school principal who's secretly a serial killer; the young virgin searching for Mr. Right; a group of mean-spirited kids that plan an elaborate prank on an outcast; and the cranky old man who encounters one determined trick-or-treater. Grab some popcorn, turn off the lights, and lock the door. Trick 'r Treat is sure to make your blood run cold.
On Halloween night, be sure to stock up on extra candy. You never know when Sam will turn up…ready to collect.
Not only are vicious little monsters terrorizing a small town, they're running amok on Christmas Eve! When Billy receives a strange new pet called a "mogwai" he's unaware of the nightmare that's about to begin. Once the creature gets wet, it reproduces. Soon the new mogwais are in gooey cocoons, transforming into slimy creatures that wreak havoc wherever they go. Billy must find a way to stop the nasty monsters before they destroy the entire town. Released in 1984, Gremlins is an entertaining horror/comedy that contains plenty of gruesome violence and slapstick humor. Gremlins is set during the holiday season, and contains a disturbing scene that involves Billy's terrified mother and a Christmas tree. You'll scream. You'll laugh. You'll check under the beds. If you want a holiday fright flick that doesn't go overboard on the gore, then check out Gremlins.
The film earned a PG rating but manages quite a few intense scares; it would probably earn a PG-13 if released today.
A sequel was released in 1990 called Gremlins 2: The New Batch and did earn a PG-13 rating for the level of violence depicted.
Released in 1980, Christmas Evil is another "psycho dressed as Santa" film. This time it tells the story of Harry, a man who was scarred as a child after learning Santa Claus isn't real. As an adult he works in a toy factory, carefully constructing every toy with love and care. The man has become obsessed with the Christmas spirit, and his co-workers laugh at his crazy ideas. Finally after nothing but rejections and torment, Harry goes over the edge. Dressed as Santa he goes on a murderous rampage, spreading fear wherever he goes. While the film lacks originality it does offer great performances, a few amusing deaths, and some witty dialogue. Actor Brandon Maggart stars as Harry. Maggart was well-known for his numerous television performances, but true horror fans will always remember him for his role in Christmas Evil. The film was originally titled, You Better Watch Out. The body count isn't very high and the bloodshed isn't too graphic, but what makes Christmas Evil stand out is the interesting storyline. It's as though you're inside of Harry's mind, watching it dissipate before your eyes. As his mind starts to unravel you're wondering exactly when he'll snap.
Silent Night, Deadly Night was released four years later. It was filmed with a larger budget and even found more success. However Christmas Evil has achieved more of a cult following since its initial release.
From 2005, the horror/comedy Santa's Slay stars professional wrestler Bill Goldberg as a demon who lost a bet with an angel, forcing him to spend 1,000 years as Santa Claus. Now that his time is up, Santa begins shedding blood instead of spreading joy. The film doesn't try to be scary, just gory. Bill Goldberg seems to be having fun in the title role. Watch for supporting cast members Rebecca Gayheart (Urban Legend), Fran Dresher (The Nanny), and Chris Kattan (A Night at the Roxbury). Within the first ten minutes the film earns its R rating with plenty of violence and language to satisfy any horror fan. Did I mention that was within the first ten minutes? Santa's Slay is the kind of holiday horror film that you'll crave after endless repeats of A Christmas Story on TBS.
The film won't win any awards but it's sure a fun holiday treat.
Black Christmas is the kind of film that will leave you clutching your chest as you struggle to breathe. Released in 1974 it's about a group of sorority girls who learn a killer is hiding somewhere in their house, killing them off one by one. Making matters worse it's Christmas Eve and a snowstorm has stranded them inside. Black Christmas features some intense moments, such as disturbing phone calls from the killer and one particular death involving a glass unicorn. The film stars Margot Kidder and Andrea Martin (My Big Fat Greek Wedding). In 2006 the film was remade. It contained a slightly different storyline and tons of blood and gore. Director Bob Clark went on to produce the remake (which failed miserably at the box office upon its release). Starring Katie Cassidy (Monte Carlo), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3), Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls) and Andrea Martin (Black Christmas, 1974), the film offered some gruesome moments, but an odd storyline and abrupt ending left audiences looking for a gift receipt.
Do yourself a favor and check out the original. Films like Black Christmas prove that what you don't see is just as terrifying. With a ruthless villain and macabre soundtrack, it's a great holiday horror film that's sure to give you goosebumps.
Talk about a chilling holiday. Going into debt isn't just for Christmas, fiends. In this nasty little horror film, a group of women are slaughtered by a former classmate on Valentine's Day. With menacing cards, chocolates stuffed with live maggots, and a "shocking" performance from Denise Richards, Valentine has a very special life lesson: Be careful who you mess with! Starring Marley Shelton (Sin City), Katherine Heigl (Bride of Chucky), and Denise Richards (Wild Things). Director Jamie Blanks (Urban Legend) shows off his love for the genre, providing fans with plenty of thrills and chills.
The film was released in February of 2001 and received so many bad reviews it was pulled from theatres after a few weeks.
No matter what it's a fun horror flick that puts a clever spin on a well-known holiday.
A true holiday horror flick from 1978. Halloween has been shocking audiences for many years with an eerie soundtrack and one of cinema's most iconic villains. Actress Jamie Lee Curtis has quite the scream as terrified babysitter, Laurie Strode. A young boy named Michael Myers, stabs his sister to death on Halloween night. Many years later he returns home after escaping from an institution. Before long he's preying on a group of teens while Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) tries to end Michael's violent rampage.
Halloween spawned several sequels, making stars out of actors/actresses such as Danielle Harris (Hatchet), Josh Hartnett (The Black Dahlia), and Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn).
In 2007 Rob Zombie remade the film, shedding new light on Michael's childhood. Actress Danielle Harris (Halloween 4) stars as Laurie Strode's best friend, and Sherri Moon Zombie portrays Michael's mother. With tons of blood and an exciting climax, Halloween found success at the box office, as well as with genre fans. Halloween II was released in 2009.
Step back into my lair next Tuesday for Baba Yaga: Folklore's Leading Lady. Sweet nightmares!