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Title: Let's talk Christmas horror films
Description: Tis the season for Yuletide terror


William S. Wilson - December 16, 2006 10:36 PM (GMT)
With the holiday (and release of the BLACK CHRISTMAS remake) nearly upon us, it is time to discuss the subgenre of the "Christmas horror" film. There was a nice discussion of CHRISTMAS EVIL (aka YOU BETTER WATCH OUT) recently:

http://z8.invisionfree.com/MHVF/index.php?showtopic=6787

I can't think of a holiday that has more horror films set around it (and that includes Halloween). So what are some of your favorites? My list would include

GREMLINS (1984) - This was probably the first film I saw that mixes the holiday and horror. Joe Dante absolutely nails the tone with the best example being the pre-kitchen fight. Where else could "Do you hear what I hear?" be so scary? Plus, you have the Phoebe Cates story about her father. Probably my favorite Christmas horror movie.

The SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT series - I actually love the first film in this series. The characters and dialogue are great (and infinitely quotable). How can you not feel sorry for Billy? After all, he was scolded by a nun for looking at nude people and forced into that Santa's outfit by Mr. Sims. That would make anyone want to punish! I could do without the sequels (I think the fourth one isn't even set on Christmas) although pt. 2 has grown on me for being insanely cheesy after I got over the rip-off shock. I seem to recall a drunk Mickey Rooney (in character only I hope) getting bashed over the head with a Jack Daniels bottle in pt. 5. Why aren't they still making these?

SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT (1974) - I really like this film. I'll admit that the film's twist got me and I appreciate that. But I also think director Theodore Gershuny pulls off a nice style too. The sepia flashback is great and done really well. I also like the killer's POV which is similar to Bob Clark's BLACK CHRISTMAS (which is strange as this was filmed first). Plus you have Mary Woronov and John Carradine in supporting roles.

TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972) - This Amicus anthology has the first cinematic killer Santa Claus I believe as he attacks a housebound Joan Collins who is trying to cover up a secret of her own. This is fantastic stuff (the whole film is topnotch and one of my favorite anthologies). This was also re-done by Robert Zemeckis for the HBO series in the 80s (I think it was the first episode) and he did a pretty good job with it. It wasn't nearly as scary as his other Christmas film (POLAR EXPRESS) though. :)

I'd have to say the worst Christmas horror film I have seen would be Ted Nicolau's PUPPET MASTER VS. DEMONIC TOYS (2004), which debuted on the Sci-Fi Channel. Seriously, I wanted to kill someone after watching that.

So what are you faves?

Marty McKee - December 16, 2006 10:46 PM (GMT)
Funny you should bring the topic up, because I just Netflixed JACK FROST this afternoon. Yep, the infamous black comic horror movie about a killer snowman that slaughters the residents of a typical Midwestern small town. I don't know what writer/director Michael Cooney's budget was, but he could have used another million bucks. Big setpieces such as a car crash and an exploding police station take place completely off screen, and Shannon Elizabeth in one of her first roles takes a bath, but doesn't show any nudity. Cooney obviously shot someplace where it didn't really snow, so the streets are clear and shaving cream drips on the walls of buildings. The snowman is clearly made of foam, and it wisecracks like Freddy Krueger ("I'm one pissed-off snowcone!"). Still, it's a fun (and funny) movie, and Cooney does have talent. I'm not certain I should push my luck and watch JACK FROST 2 though.

William D'Annucci - December 17, 2006 12:52 AM (GMT)
The story about the children's party in DEAD OF NIGHT takes place on Christmas Eve, with the ghost of a little boy spoiling the fun. And I'm sure Leon's birth day is a Christmas his parents would care to forget in CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF.

While not technically horror, BRAZIL has many scenes of Christmas holiday nightmares, especially in the European director's cut. The opening in particular comes to mind: a family celebrating Christmas with decorated tree and music, while the little girl asks about Father Christmas coming down the chimney, only to be interrupted by stormtroopers sliding in on their own version of a chimney and stuffing Daddy into a big bag to take him away instead!

28 DAYS LATER was equally subversive and effective by presenting an inverse of the BRAZIL scene, an armored stormtrooper beats rabid people to death while forcing people into a cheery, Christmas decorated apartment where he will strip away his terrifying disguise to reveal an utterly jolly and surreal St Nick who proceeds to pass out Creme de Menthe to Christmas carol music.

And let us not forget Cronk and the Christmas nightmares he gives little children about Father Christmas in THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN.

EDIT: Just wanted to add CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE, where a little girl gives Christmas presents to a ghost and a spooky old woman, then escapes her parents on a holiday snowstorm only to be haunted by the Headless Horseman and menaced by a psychotic and very terrifying Elizabeth Russell. How festive of her!

Adam Tyner - December 17, 2006 02:16 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (Marty McKee @ Dec 16 2006, 06:46 PM)
I'm not certain I should push my luck and watch JACK FROST 2 though.

Yeah, as someone who's suffered through the sequel, stick with your happy memories of the original. Nice to know I'm not the only one whose keen on the rapist snowman.

Eric Cotenas - December 17, 2006 02:29 AM (GMT)
Not really a horror movie but NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS is set at Christmas.

William S. Wilson - December 17, 2006 03:18 AM (GMT)
That reminds me that DEAD END (2003) with Ray Wise is also set around Christmas.

I also forgot ELVES, one of the worst films ever to be set around Christmas. Dan Haggerty as a store Santa Claus who must stop a Nazi experiment. Sound great right? WRONG!

Marty McKee - December 17, 2006 05:54 AM (GMT)
And don't forget HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.

Jeff Nelson - December 18, 2006 09:12 PM (GMT)
WHOEVER SLEW AUNTIE ROO? (1971) has always been one of my favorite seasonal thrillers. A twisted little holiday treat, made in England for AIP, worked on by some of the Hammer team, and directed by Curtis Harrington. Any fans of classic British-style genre films that haven't seen this yet better get to it. Shelley Winters, Sir Ralph Richardson, and Mark Lester (of OLIVER!) are all top-notch, with a nice turn by Michael Gothard as well.

Another tradition of mine is the extremely rare CASH ON DEMAND (1961), not a thriller/horror per se, but a really intense character drama, from Hammer itself this time, starring Peter Cushing as a Scrooge-like stuffy bank clerk, and Andre Morell as someone who helps redefine his outlook on life. To explain further would ruin the film. This is on my top ten list of all time, and desperately needs to be released to DVD by Sony/Columbia.

William D'Annucci - December 18, 2006 10:15 PM (GMT)
A shame that Hammer never actually did A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Cushing would have been a wonderful Scrooge. Just the idea of Christopher Lee as Marley's ghost freaks me out.

Tim Rogerson - December 19, 2006 08:44 AM (GMT)
Don't forget Edmund Purdom's (ďadditional scenes written and directed by Al McGoohanĒ) immortal Don't Open till Christmas in which a pyschopath murders people dressed up as Santa Claus.

1984 was a very strange year for Christmas trashing chillers - rather like buses you wait ages for them and then they all come at once - with this, Gremlins and Silent Night, Deadly Night.


Eric Cotenas - December 19, 2006 01:37 PM (GMT)
Isn't there also a David Hess Santa slasher film? I seem to remember seeing the video box several times for rental but never picking it up.

Oh, and don't forget the Joan Collins segment of TALES FROM THE CRYPT.

Bill Picard - December 19, 2006 02:17 PM (GMT)
QUOTE
Isn't there also a David Hess Santa slasher film? I seem to remember seeing the video box several times for rental but never picking it up.

To All a Good Night...comedy gold.

"You killed my dawhter...I shoulda killed you foist!"

Bob Gutowski - December 20, 2006 03:38 PM (GMT)
Let's go ahead and throw the Alastair Sim A CHRISTMAS CAROL up there, too. Movies with undead visitors who undo the rags which keeps their jaws closed (something undertakers did in those days) tend to creep me out. And the silent, dancer-like Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come is scary, too, especially in all that black and white. It's a film which really communicates the feeling of cold, too, in Scrooge's underheated house and office, and in the graveyard.

Maybe it's time for a Christmas-themed sequel to THE OTHERS! I'd better lay off the rum punch...

Richard Harland Smith - December 20, 2006 04:01 PM (GMT)
This month I did a series of posts for the TCM Movie Morlocks blog called "A Cruel Yule," on Christmas-themed horror movies I like. I wrote about HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, BLACK CHRISTMAS, NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS and SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT but I couldn't find any images from the Amicus TALES FROM THE CRYPT vignette featuring the very scary killer Santa. Too bad, as I remember it with creeping fondness.

Bob Gutowski - December 20, 2006 04:59 PM (GMT)
I just read about that blog last night when I picked up the new VW, Ricardo!

William S. Wilson - December 20, 2006 07:11 PM (GMT)
I put some Yuletide terror trailers up on YouTube if anyone wants to check them out.

TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lu-v2hrMXWk

SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1cxfZhjzDc

Todd Bowman - December 20, 2006 11:09 PM (GMT)
I haven't seen it yet but one of the segments in the Japanese horror anthology "Kazuo Umezu's Horror Theater" is about a deranged Santa Claus that goes on a murderous rampage.

It came out on DVD in the US earlier this year and although I couldn't find any reviews online I did come across a trailer here: Trailer

Anyone see this?

Eric Cotenas - January 18, 2007 10:10 PM (GMT)
What's the rights situation with SILENT NIGHT BLOODY NIGHT? Its a Cannon film, isn't it? So does MGM/Sony have it?

I'd like to see what a "good" presentation of this film looks like. I know it'll never look great. From what I gather, its underlit grainy 16mm further degraded by both 35mm blow up AND post production opticals in addition to the usual transitions.

Jonathan Barnett - January 21, 2007 04:03 PM (GMT)
THE EXORSICM OF COFFIN JOE (1974) is a good example. It takes place on Christmas but it is in Brazil. Thus it is also a greener Christmas than some of us are accustomed too. Actually Coffin does a great job making a Holiday a Horrorday.

William D'Annucci - December 19, 2011 11:35 PM (GMT)
I'm bumping up this old thread for the hell of it. And the hope that some Mobian will introduce me to some creepy Christmas horror movie that isn't about yet another slasher Santa.

William S. Wilson - December 20, 2011 01:01 AM (GMT)
Dick Maas (THE LIFT, AMSTERDAMNED) just added to this subgenre with SINT (aka SAINT), which is about a killer St. Nicholas (sorry Mr. D'Annucci).

Other Xmas horrors since this thread started include the remake of BLACK CHRISTMAS (ugh), THE CHILDREN, ALIEN RAIDERS, and something called SILENT NIGHT, ZOMBIE NIGHT.

Derek Botelho - December 20, 2011 02:21 AM (GMT)
I recently watched the Mondo Macabro DVD of DON'T OPEN TIL CHRISTMAS and the disc looks and sounds good and there is a nice selection of bonus materials. It's just a shame the film itself isn't any good. It's not even so bad that it's good, it's just boring. I think 13 Santa Clauses get offed here? The mystery is so ridiculous and the characters are all so stupid that I just checked out...

Can anyone chime in on this thing? I know it has a cult appeal but what IS the appeal? Is it the inappropriate music when nothing is happening? The weird dialogue between the husband and wife right after her father is killed?

Lucy you got some 'splainin to do!

Terry Barhorst, Jr. - December 20, 2011 02:52 AM (GMT)
First movie that comes to mind is Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010). If you're looking for an offbeat Santa tale, it's this.

William D'Annucci - December 20, 2011 05:54 AM (GMT)
QUOTE
Definitely the highlight is the opening scene in which a family of rich assholes played by Chris Kattan, Rebecca Gayheart, Fran Drescher, the twins from CRUEL INTENTIONS 2 and an uncredited James Caan (!) are having a bitchy Christmas dinner when Santa (Bill Goldberg from WWE and HALF PAST DEAD 2) suddenly busts out of the fireplace Kool Aid Man style and massacres them. Itís kind of like that opening of PUNISHER WAR ZONE, just a big maniac going way overboard with not context about who or why. He combines Christmas-themed gimmicks (tree topper as throwing star, etc.) with wrestler shit (tackling, punching, kicking and bodyslamming people through furniture and structures) and just horrible violence (setting Drescherís hair on fire, pinning Caanís hands to the table with the good silverware).


Okay, despite what I said before, I'm intrigued.

Jonathan Barnett - December 24, 2011 11:36 AM (GMT)
MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSUEM (1932)

The title says it all. The opening sequences take place on New Yearís Day. Later on, Police Headquarters is shown with its Christmas dťcor and tree still on display in its 2 strip splendor. The police are just sitting next to it and being easily annoyed about something. I guess they didnít want investigate anything over the Holidays. After that the trimmings are out of view and itís a frightful fest from there on. There is something endearing about a villain that is working over the Holidays to have his exhibit completed for the spring season.

EYES WIDE SHUT (1999)

Its Christmas time, after a quarrel with his wife a Doctor embarks on an odyssey that takes him all over dives and dirty places through Manhattan and upstate New York. In short he finds a whole different world in existence. The festivities are upon us with parties, colors, sex orgies, and who knows what else. Depending upon you aesthetics itís sometimes known as Kubrickís Jess Franco movie or his Radley Metzger movie or his own compilation movie. The movie seems to pertain to all of his previous movies in some form or another (especially KILLERíS KISS and LOLITIA). The Christmas color scheme looks as if the Monolith is an omnipresent thing that has been shattered into a billion little pieces and scattered over earth. Have you ever imagined Christmas without Christ? This is it. While nowadays Christianity has a pretty good lock on the holiday as a time for innocence and hope. However in the pre-medieval Christmas was something else. EYES WIDE SHUT is a very Pagan Christmas. Also the use of children is pretty astonishing. Some people groom children for nefarious things. Even the kids seen running around in a toy store at the conclusion seem like there being fatten for a kill.

THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1971)

Christmas week is spent in Hell House by four researchers studying the paranormal. The holiday itself is barely mentioned. The dates are posted on the screen to inform the audience of the impending time table. So why did the scribe Richard Matheson have it set at Yuletide? Perhaps itís a parallel comparison between the spiritual cleansing of the house and the Winter Solstice. The days will slowly grow longer after New Yearís. Either way itís an excellent movie to no matter what time of the year.

THOMAS KINKADEíS THE CHRISTMAS COTTAGE (2008)

Itís based on a Kinkade painting. That should make it scary. Look for Peter OíToole as his mentor. ďPaint the Light, Thomas. Paint the Light.Ē

GHOST STORIES FOR CHRISTMAS (2000)

Sir Christopher Lee hosts a series of stories based upon the writing of M.R. James. This is after all the English way. Iíve yet to see this but Iím sure itís good. These stories make for some good reading especially ďMartinís CloseĒ.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvkgwGGLp0k

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (2002)

This umpteenth version of the often told tale has its conclusion take place on Christmas Day. Why, Iím not sure. I donít think thatís in the novel or the previous adaptations. This version is serviceable but not much else. The 1959 and 1983 version looks more like a Christmas tree. Watch those instead. Or you can always read ďThe Adventure of the Blue CarbuncleĒ. That story actually takes place on Christmas.

PSYCHO (1998)

The remake, like the original takes place in early December. The remake actually shows the decorations adoring the streets before Marion Crane leaves town. Itís a good touch when you think about it. Late Autumn and Winter is when it finally rains in the desert. Rainfall is an important plot point for the story.

CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY (1944)

A Dancehall girl is awaiting the return of her psychotic ex-husband (and a Mammaís Boy) during the Christmas time. It was written by Somerset Maugham and adapted by Herman Mankiewicz. Itís directed by Robert Soidmak and features Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly against type in the leads. Gale Sondergaard is the cruel mother. Sounds great right? Yet it came off as uninvolving. Itís miscast and never gets around it. It does have a relationship that anticipates the likes of WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS and PSYCHO. Sometimes itís a meandering melodrama and other times itís a weak film noir. I give it an A for originality but I just wished liked it more. It does deserve more attention than a one paragraph write up. Iím just not the one to do it.

THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS (1967)

Vampire Hunters make a point to end the madness of the December Danze Macabre. Itís more of a Winter Horror movie than a Christmas one. It does take place in December with some minor greenery trimmings. What makes it peculiar is that itís a Jewish people threaten by crucifix fearing Vampires. The snowy landscapes are a marvel. It also anticipates the ďCastle in the SnowĒ and the ski sequence from ON HER MAJESTIES SECRET SERVICE also taking place at Christmas time.


DAY OF THE BEAST (1997)

So itís Christmas in Madrid and a Priest, a Headbanger and a Television psychic walk into a bar. To top it off The Devil will be reincarnated on Christmas Day. Not only will this mock the Holy Trinity but it may spell the end of mankind. Thus Three Foolish Men must stop Satan from spreading his seed and rescue a child set up for the sacrifice. Itís a horrific variation of ďThe Three Wise MenĒ and/or ďThree GodfathersĒ. It works as both a Horror and Comedy and also poignant at times. It makes the point that we canít choose our saviors. There is no reason to pass on this gift.

SHREIK OF THE MUTILATED (1973)

A Yeti rampages the New York countryside. Itís sort of like EYES WIDE SHUT with an emphasis on cannibalism instead of sex. More winter based than Christmas. There is pontificating about Saturnalia. So itís another Christmas without Christ. Itís inept yet fascinating. Itís the kind of scares and scenarios that only a low budget horror movie could muster.

BELL, BOOK, AND CANDLE (1958)

Itís about Romance and Witchcraft during Christmas. I have yet to see it. Iíll catch up with it at some point, at least for the novelty of it.


DEVIL TIMES FIVE (1974)

Five insane children have escaped the insane asylum and have found shelter at a mountain cabin for the Holidays. They kids thus have their way with the boozing and over sexed residents. Like the aforementioned VAMPIRE KILLERS itís more of a snowbound winter horror movie. Itís not really good but its serviceable and interesting time capsule. It features one of the more drawn out murders sequence Iíve ever seen. Itís even slowed down and saturated red to prolong it. Itís worth seeing alone for the 70s fashions, small town architecture, and dťcor. The most astonishing sequence isnít the murdering kids. Nor is it even the Piranha in a bath tub. Itís a throwaway moment but for a moment you see a way too young Leif Garrett in drag flirting with Sorrell Brooks (Boss Hog from ďThe Dukes of HazardĒ). Itís that like of movie. Enjoy.

As for Winter Fantasy there is also the Russian produced JACK FROST, the animated SNOW QUEEN and THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE. The version of the SNOW QUEEN I have is features Art Linkleter hosting a Kids Christmas party. It promptly segues into a David Fleisher/Universal TV edit of the Russian animated version. Despite that itís still holds well. My kids actually like it.

William S. Wilson - August 2, 2012 01:28 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Derek Botelho @ Dec 19 2011, 08:21 PM)
I recently watched the Mondo Macabro DVD of DON'T OPEN TIL CHRISTMAS and the disc looks and sounds good and there is a nice selection of bonus materials. It's just a shame the film itself isn't any good. It's not even so bad that it's good, it's just boring. I think 13 Santa Clauses get offed here? The mystery is so ridiculous and the characters are all so stupid that I just checked out...

Can anyone chime in on this thing? I know it has a  cult appeal but what IS the appeal? Is it the inappropriate music when nothing is happening? The weird dialogue between the husband and wife right after her father is killed?

Lucy you got some 'splainin to do!

I revisited this one last night. It is funny, as a kid I found it to be a somewhat entertaining slasher. Looking at it with adult eyes, it is obvious that there was a ton of behind the scenes turmoil on this project (something confirmed in the extras). Lots of gory stuff inserted that appears in complete contradiction to what Purdom was shooting. I wonder how he reacted to the final product?

Marty McKee - December 23, 2012 07:52 AM (GMT)
Just bumping this up for the holidays. I think SILENT NIGHT was discussed in another thread, but if you want to continue it here (or talk about other holiday horrors), go nuts!

William S. Wilson - December 24, 2012 03:15 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Todd Bowman @ Dec 20 2006, 05:09 PM)
I haven't seen it yet but one of the segments in the Japanese horror anthology "Kazuo Umezu's Horror Theater" is about a deranged Santa Claus that goes on a murderous rampage.

It came out on DVD in the US earlier this year and although I couldn't find any reviews online I did come across a trailer here: Trailer

Anyone see this?

I reviewed this one for our Christmas horror coverage on the blog. PUREZENTO (PRESENT) is probably the goriest killer Santa Claus flick out there, but it doesn't offer much more than that.

Full review here:

http://originalvidjunkie.blogspot.com/2012...zento-2005.html

Shawn Garrett - December 26, 2012 12:13 AM (GMT)
DEAD OF NIGHT: "THE EXORCISM" (1972) - I reviewed it on the boards last year or so:

http://z8.invisionfree.com/MHVF/index.php?...post&p=12576568



- excellent stuff - available in full on Youtube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSLfNEodElE

William S. Wilson - December 26, 2012 08:36 PM (GMT)
Thanks for the recommendation, Shawn. I'll have to check that out because I'm in the need of seeing something Xmas horror themed that is actually good. My latest torture was John "I co-wrote NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD" Russo's SANTA CLAWS (1996). Don't let that cover fool you as this story of a fan obsessed with a scream queen (Debbie Rochon) has nothing that exciting in it. What it does have are plenty of reasons for you to curse the day Russo decided he was going to try to match the level of success he had with NOTLD. Cinemasochists only need apply.

Full review here:

http://originalvidjunkie.blogspot.com/2012...claws-1996.html

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John W McKelvey - January 1, 2013 04:05 PM (GMT)
I just saw Christmas Evil for the first time and was surprised by how good it is. It starts out looking like it's going to be terrible, but just keeps slowly ramping up, until you reach the ending, which is amazing. Netflix just rents out one of the full frame budget discs, so now I'm going to seek out the Synapse special edition. B)

John Charles - January 1, 2013 10:19 PM (GMT)
The Synapse version is easily the best looking. An earlier DVD from Troma includes a commentary with Brandon Maggart.

Marty McKee - January 2, 2013 04:52 AM (GMT)
I was not a fan of CHRISTMAS EVIL the first time I saw it, which was on VHS as YOU BETTER WATCH OUT. I thought it was slow and boring, and the ending was so ridiculous that I literally burst out laughing.

I was wrong.

Seeing it more than once on Synapse's DVD has given me an appreciation for the film I didn't have before. Maggart's performance is really incredible, and the film is a delicately crafted portrait of loneliness and madness.

William S. Wilson - January 2, 2013 03:24 PM (GMT)
I had a very similar experience with CHRISTMAS EVIL that Marty did. Saw it as a kid and hated it. Saw it as an adult and liked it.

Well, we wrapped up our Xmas horror coverage with an unwitting comparison of old and new as Tom reviewed SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT III (from director Monte Hellman!) and I tackled the recent SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT remake. One of us was luckier than the other.

SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT III:

http://originalvidjunkie.blogspot.com/2012...lent-night.html

SILENT NIGHT:

http://originalvidjunkie.blogspot.com/2013...night-2012.html

William S. Wilson - December 15, 2013 03:06 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (William S. Wilson @ Dec 16 2006, 04:36 PM)
The SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT series - I actually love the first film in this series.  The characters and dialogue are great (and infinitely quotable).  How can you not feel sorry for Billy?  After all, he was scolded by a nun for looking at nude people and forced into that Santa's outfit by Mr. Sims.  That would make anyone want to punish!  I could do without the sequels (I think the fourth one isn't even set on Christmas) although pt. 2 has grown on me for being insanely cheesy after I got over the rip-off shock.  I seem to recall a drunk Mickey Rooney (in character only I hope) getting bashed over the head with a Jack Daniels bottle in pt. 5.  Why aren't they still making these?

I decided 20+ years was long enough and revisited...

SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT III: BETTER WATCH OUT (1989) - Blind twentysomething semi-psychic Laura (Samantha Scully) is being used in an experiment on coma patients led by Dr. Newbury (Richard Beymer). His goal is to tap into the minds of people in comas, but it isn't off to a great start as his braindead guinea pig is Ricky Caldwell (Bill Moseley), the Santa Claus killer from part 2. Laura goes away for Christmas eve with her brother and his girlfriend to visit their grandmother (their parents died in a plane crash) and, wouldn't you know it, Ricky wakes up and stalks after them. It is up to Newbury and Lt. Connely (Robert Culp) to try and stop him. This is pretty standard stuff only slightly enhanced by a few things director Monte Hellman (yes, you read that right) does to make things interesting (mostly quirky conversations added to a script he claims he completely rewrote). The image of Moseley sporting this chrome dome with an exposed brain is more goofy than anything, especially when he is walking down the highway in a hospital gown. This would be the last of the sequels to deal with the Caldwell family as producer Brian Yuzna got the rights next and just did unrelated movies with a Xmas angle.

William S. Wilson - December 16, 2013 03:14 PM (GMT)
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 4: INITIATION (1990) - Wannabe investigative reporter Kim Levitt (Neith Hunter) finds the story of a lifetime after a woman leaps from a building in downtown L.A. while apparently in the throes of spontaneous combustion. Her journey leads her to a bookstore owned by Fima (Maud Adams), who runs a coven of female witches. Kim soon finds herself drawn in to them, but doesn't know they want to use her as a vessel for something else. Producer-director Brian Yuzna took over the SNDN reigns here and seemingly just shoved Christmas into a random horror script he had laying around. This has nothing to do with the previous 3 entries and completely abandons the killer Santa theme, therefore making this the HALLOWEEN III (1982) of the series. I'd say as a stand alone horror film, this is partially successful as it does a nice job of showcasing Kim's paranoia and breakdown (thanks to some really surreal FX work by the great Screaming Mad George). It was strange watching this again so closely after my revisit of Yuzna's SOCIETY (1989). Both films were written by the same man (Woody Keith) and as an adult I can spot an interesting recurring theme of one dealing with their own identity. Of course, Yuzna still has pacing issues, but this is probably his nicest looking film.

William S. Wilson - December 16, 2013 09:20 PM (GMT)
It seems every Christmas I have to dig deeper and deeper for new Xmas themed horror to watch and review. Well, I may have hit bottom (until next year) with the deliciously titled SATAN CLAUS (1996). The story of a homicidal Santa running around NYC, it should have been at least fun. But it is shot-on-video and almost unwatchable both literally and figuratively thanks to some amazingly dark cinematography. In fact, the best look you get at the killer is on the video sleeve below. It doesn't get any better after that. My full review here:

http://originalvidjunkie.blogspot.com/2013...claus-1996.html

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Ian McDowell - December 17, 2013 05:58 AM (GMT)
The novels THE TURN OF THE SCREW and THE WOMAN IN BLACK are both framed as Christmas ghost stories, but the films aren't. And while it's really a subject for the TV board, how about the BBC GHOST STORY FOR CHRISTMAS boxed set?

William S. Wilson - December 22, 2013 06:39 PM (GMT)
TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE and MONSTERS each did two Christmas episodes over their respective seasons in the '80s. One for TALES was actually an adaptation of Clive Barker short in "The Yattering and Jack." I give reviews to all four episodes in my latest blog entry.

http://originalvidjunkie.blogspot.com/2013...tales-from.html

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William S. Wilson - December 27, 2013 07:00 PM (GMT)
I definitely want to pimp "Visions of Sugar Plums" as a Christmas horror classic. In fact, it might be the most deranged Christmas themed film I've ever seen. It is the third and final part of the anthology TALES OF THE THIRD DIMENSION (1984). This North Carolina lensed flick came from producer Earl Owensby late in the 3-D revival game. The first two segments are dull, but the third one - focusing on a grandma going off her meds and trying to kill her grandchildren on Xmas eve - is a true keeper.

http://originalvidjunkie.blogspot.com/2013...s-of-third.html

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