It’s that time of year – a look at the last of the holiday horror I could scrounge up for this season, all of which I’ve added to my complete list of Christmas horror on my holiday horror page. And it all leads right up to my favorite of the bunch this year…
BETTER WATCH OUT (2017)
Because I was noticing raves about this one online, I almost did a blind buy, but I was also noticing references to a twist…and I became suspect, so I held out and streamed it instead. I’m glad I did.
It’s not that Better Watch Out is a bad movie. It’s a very good, dark holiday film. It’s just that the twist makes it so mean-spirited that it isn’t one I could be bothered watching again. It’s suspenseful at times, but it’s not a scary film. And while there are hints of black humor, it’s mostly just cruel. Even so, it is highly watchable, very fast-paced, and loaded with Christmas atmosphere. It would also make a good double feature with The Babysitter, even if it isn’t as much fun.
Candyman’s Virginia Madsen and Seinfeld hunk Patrick Warburton are parents going out for the night, leaving their tween son home with a babysitter. The kid seems as gay as Kurt on Glee, but apparently he’s straight because he’s lecherous with the babysitter.
And then there’s a home invasion…
The boy has to put everything he learned watching Home Alone to good use. And he proves he can be just as sadistic as any home invaders trying to get between him and the babysitter he loves.
It leads to a night of gruesome chaos and brutality…with a twist.
HOLY SHIT director Chris Peckover is hot.
MERCY CHRISTMAS (2017)
I find it astounding how uneven this horror comedy is. And by uneven I mean it isn’t really comedy until about the last 15 minutes or so. At that point it is such an over-the-top comic slaughterfest party that I’m bummed that everything before it was an absolute downer of a torture porn.
A lonely bald guy is totally overworked at his office job, so he jumps at the opportunity when a pretty girl at work invites him to have family dinner at her house.
Turns out he’s part of the main course.
He’s drugged during dinner, awakes to find he’s tied up in a basement with a bunch of other people, and they are regularly dragged away and gruesomely hacked up to be made into Christmas dinner. This just goes on and on and on for a majority of the film…
Until the bald guy escapes with one (now) legless dude strapped to his back and they go on an insane revenge spree. It fricking RULES, and legless backpack dude is funny as hell.
If only this kind of exploitative dark humor could have somehow been weaved into everything that came before the final act, this would have been a total winner.
SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT (2011)
This French film dives right in. A guy in a Santa suit and mask comes to a house, barges in when one of the kids answers the door, then straps bombs to the husband and wife right before their dinner party.
The couple is forced to act like nothing is happening and as if they hired the Santa to be at the party. But before long, the Santa begins to fuck with all the party guests, giving them each gifts that reveal their dirty secrets and begin pitting them against one another. He also terrorizes the oldest child, a young girl who is totally aware of what he’s up to and is attempting an escape plan of her own.
Naturally, things begins to spin out of control and members of the group start to turn on each other, but just when you think shit is going to get wild, the film sort of pulls back and loses its edge as it heads for its climax, and definitely doesn’t live up to its unoriginal English language title.
SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT 2: REVIVAL (2015)
All I could grasp at with this sequel were the killer Santa moments.
After the death of their brother, a brother and sister return to their home town to stay at a B&B, where the owners tell them a story of “Black Peter,” Santa’s evil twin.
The furry bald brother also takes a shower.
They also watch a video tape made by their deceased brother (scream king Jeff Dylan Graham), which launches them into some sort of investigation that I had no interest in trying to comprehend…and also launched this film into a Silent Night Deadly Night 2 situation. By the time the film ends, about 45 minutes of the running time is comprised of footage from the original film.
Some of the new killer Santa scenes are fun enough because they have an 80s holiday slasher vibe, and there are a few humorous scenes—like a bunch of carolers screaming and running mid song when Santa approaches with his axe.
But the tone manages to just confuse.
It seems to be taking itself seriously, yet the final scene, aside from leaving me absolutely clueless as to the point of the story or its connection to the first film or what the hell Black Peter has to do with any of it (I really need to try harder when it comes to this concept of paying attention), was so absurdly campy and cheesy it absolutely clashed with the entire film.
LADY KRAMPUS (2016)
I’m a fan of the low budget indies of Eddie Lengyel (Voodoo Rising, Scarred, Hellweek), and Lady Krampus keeps up his streak of entertaining me with his usual gritty, throwback, straight-to-video vibe.
Don’t get hung up on the fact that “Krampus” is in the title. This is a simple Christmas slasher with someone in a drag-like mask hacking people up with an axe.
The premise is basic old school 80s—a group of girlfriends is finishing community service working at a homeless shelter. One of the “girls” happens to be scream queer Roger Conners, who totally steals the show as “Lady Athena Slay,” and even gets to camp it up in a musical holiday performance! He brings perfect comic relief to the film.
The group is assigned to make a house call to one lonely woman’s house. After serving her a meal, they offer to help her clean and decorate her tree, which is when the killing begins…
This is as basic as a retro slasher can get and works in its simplicity, with a menacing killer, a freaky mask, tight performances by the actors, just the right amount of humor from Conners, plus body reveals and a chase scene at the end.
MOTHER KRAMPUS (2017)
It’s the Blair Christmas Project! Mother Krampus is really just a Christmas witch that comes and snatches kiddies every 25 years during the holidays, which we learn again and again as the characters rehash the back story over and over throughout the course of the film.
If you can get past the continuous unnecessary, well…plot, this is just a good old holiday slasher with a cheesetastic witch that finds some unique ways to kill her victims in keeping with the season, from sewing their mouths shut with Christmas lights to cutting off layers of their skin with gingerbread cookie cutters.
While the beginning drags, with the witch only occasionally snatching away a kid, after a girl and her babysitter pull a Candyman by saying Mother Krampus’s name 3 times in a mirror, she comes on full force and starts killing kids from one to ninety-two, and that’s when the holiday horror fun really begins.
ONCE UPON A TIME AT CHRISTMAS (2017)
Aaaaaand…we have a winner. Once Upon a Time at Christmas is my favorite this season simply because it has that old school, low budget 80s killer Santa flick feel. It’s got just enough gore, just enough violence, just enough less than stellar acting, just enough sleaze, tons of Christmas horror atmosphere, a typical slasher plot, and a hot cop on the case.
When the local mall Santa is murdered, a killing spree begins at the hands of an escaped crazy dude dressed as Santa with the help of his sexy bimbo Mrs. Claus sidekick, who’s sort of a cross between Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad and Sheri Moon Zombie in The Devil’s Rejects.
As the cops try to piece together clues as to who will be the next victim, a teenager working as an elf at the mall seems to be the target, along with her friends. Funny thing is, viewers will figure this one out much faster than the guys on the case, which is fine by me, because it means a killing spree around town that’s reminiscent of the days of Silent Night, Deadly Night. I just hope that the already planned Twice Upon a Time at Christmas doesn’t follow the lead of that film’s sequel by consisting mostly of footage from the first film…