12DC: Day 8 – Holiday Horror

It seems that even after the Six Weeks of Halloween horror movie marathon, I couldn’t really stop. It doesn’t help that there are plenty of Christmas themed horror films… though I must admit that I wasn’t able to get to the infamous Silent Night, Deadly Night (very long wait on Netflix). Oh well, there’s always next year. In the mean time, here’s a trio of other Christmas horror films…

  • Gremlins: First up is a little bit of nostalgia for me. One of my favorites as a kid, this movie still works pretty well even today, though perhaps it’s not as great as I remembered it. On the other hand, now that I’ve seen a lot more films, I started to pick up on a lot of the references in the film (and there are a ton of them). Director Joe Dante had a lot of fun with the referential nature of the film, and it shows. As Christmas films go, it is indeed a bit dark, but still a lot of fun. ***

    Gizmo Claus!

  • Jack Frost: It’s important to note that this film is not the heartwarming 1998 film starring Michael Keaton as a father who comes back to life as a snowman so he can visit his kids again. I imagine the fact that these two movies share a title has lead to at least a few memorable video rental store blunders. This movie is about a serial killer who crashes into some toxic waste truck during a blizzard. The toxic waste fuzes him with the snow and voila: murderous snowman! This movie is about as good as you’d expect it to be (which is to say it’s bad, but a fun bad). You know you’re in for a treat when our sherrif hero gets some oatmeal cookies from his daughter. The secret ingredient? Anti-freeze? If there’s a more subtle technique for foreshadowing, I certainly can’t think of one. The other notable aspect of this movie is that it marks the first appearance of Shannon Elizabeth, who shares an intimate moment in the shower with our abominable friend. Bad puns and ironic Christmas decorations abound. In the end, you get what you expect out of this one… in my case, I had some fun with it, but it’s clearly a bad, bad movie. **
  • Black Christmas (1974 version): Interestingly enough, this film was directed by Bob Clark… director of the polar opposite <a href="A Christmas Story“>A Christmas Story. I guess Clark had a lot to say about Christmas. In this case, things are darker and less nostalgic than his other film, but this one is no less a classic. Indeed, it deserves to be recognized as one of 3 or 4 films that created the slasher subgenre… but strangely, it’s only really achieved this status in the horror aficionado world. Mainstream audiences don’t seem to have heard much about this one, and it’s a shame becaues it originates several of the key elements of slasher horror: the long POV shots, the creepy phone calls (and requisite police trackers who shockingly realize that the calls are coming from inside the house!), the final girl syndrome, and more. All of this was done 4 or 5 years before both Halloween (which is still a classic and deserving of all the praise heaped upon it) and When a Stranger Calls (which is perhaps not so much of a classic). Despite being aped by every 80s slasher movie, this film still retains its edge somehow, and is actually pretty effective. The film was remade in 2006, and of course, that didn’t go so well (though I have to admit that I liked some of the ideas, I can’t say it was executed all that well), but it did have the rather positive effect of getting more people to see the original, which is a plus in my book. It really is a great movie, and probably deserves more mainstream recognition than it gets. ***1/2

    Dreaming of a Black Christmas...

That’s all for now… only a few days left!