Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse… They were all DEAD!
Black Christmas (1974). The residents of a college sorority house are terrorized by a stranger who makes frighteningly obscene phone calls and then murders the sorority sisters during Christmas break. Preceding the likes of Halloween and Friday the 13th, Bob Clark’s seminal seasonal shocker took inspiration from several Mario Bava body-count films and essentially laid out the blueprint for many subsequent American slasher movies. The unsettling atmosphere is enhanced by the use of Christmas carols and a bleak snowy landscape. Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey are amongst the cast of likeable, complex and sympathetic characters. The real terror comes when we learn exactly where the phone calls originate from. The film’s original tag line had a point – ‘If this movie doesn't make your skin crawl... It's On Too Tight!’ An immensely creepy, atmospheric chiller. Pledge 'Delta, Kappa, DIE!'
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984). Another seasonal ‘stalk and slash' shocker - with bells on. Silent Night Deadly Night sparked a bloody wave of controversy on its original theatrical release thanks to its unforgettable premise: a seriously unhinged (is there usually any other kind?) serial killer dressed as Santa Claus has deep and dark issues with ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ due to the fact that he saw his mother and father murderlised by a Santa impersonating psycho when he was a kid. The concept proved a bit much for some, and prompted a pitchforks'n'flaming torches wielding mob of angry parents, film critics and movie industry insiders to protest against this ‘immoral and indecent’ film, calling for it to be boycotted. Spoil-sports. The sight of ‘Santa Claus’ advancing towards his victims with an axe is memorable to say the least, and of all the psycho-dressed-as-Santa-slashers this one is by far the best. ‘Naughty!’
|Curse of the Cat People|
Don’t Open ‘til Christmas (1984). A murderer is causing havoc and panic on the streets of London, as he begins a killing spree solely targeting anyone dressed as Santa Claus. Scotland Yard’s Inspector Harris has been given the unenviable task of tracking down the psychopath. It would seem that he's going to have his work cut out for him. This somewhat dreary horror is a seemingly endless series of scenes in which various characters dressed as Santa Claus are murderlised in increasingly grisly ways. Tension is as scarce as an Australian white Christmas and after a while it all begins to fade into one repetitive Santa massacre. Not even Caroline Munroe in a bizarre cameo can save this film. If Santa leaves this in your stocking, throw it back up the chimney after him.
|Tales from the Crypt|
Gremlins (1984). Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) is given a small creature called a Mogwai by his father for Christmas, with strict instructions to keep it away from bright light, never get it wet and perhaps most importantly - never, EVER feed it after midnight. Of course young Billy and his clumsy pal Pete (Corey Feldman!) accidently soak poor Gizmo who spawns a litter of similarly cute fur-balls. Billy accidentally feeds them after midnight and before he knows it, they’ve mutated into mischievous and dangerous critters that wreck havoc throughout the small town Billy calls home, ruining Christmas for everyone. Can Billy and his girlfriend Kate (Phoebe Cates) stop the gremlins before the town becomes a bloodbath!? Perfect nostalgic Christmas viewing from Joe Dante, which at times is pretty darn scary – (well it was when I was 8) especially when Billy’s mother searches the house when she hears strange noises - only to be attacked by 'something' in her Christmas tree. Playful, devilishly funny and fun to watch at any time of the year, Gremlins will always have a place in my DVD player (and heart) at Christmas time.
|Nightmare Before Christmas|
Christmas Evil aka You Better Watch Out (1980). Christmas Evil is the story of a young boy who is scarred for life when he sees his mommy kissing Santa Claus. When he grows up, a nerdy/creepy loner, he becomes the foreman of a toy factory and is obsessed with the quality of his toys. He tries to keep up the Christmas spirit and maintain Christmas’s magical atmosphere, but when all he is met with is hypocrisy and cynicism, he loses his mind and goes on a yuletide killing spree. Played more for laughs than for scares, Christmas Evil is a low budget blackly comic delight with a few nods to other genre classics thrown in for good measure. John Waters adores it.
For more choice holiday faves, why not head on over to Paracinema... The Blog and remind yourself why Home Alone 2, Die Hard and Batman Returns are just so darn watchable at this, the most wonderful time of the year...