Don’t blame me. I can’t be responsible for when holiday horror movies hit streaming services. This trio covers Independence Day, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day, with two slashers and a zombie flick.
ATTACK OF THE TATTIE-BOGLE (2017)
It’s a 60-minute Fourth of July cabin in the woods slasher with a weird name. I also don’t totally understand the bigger picture, but the smaller picture—a group of friends sliced and diced in the woods—is all I ever need. On that it totally delivers, and it’s refreshingly not the usual cookie cutter approach, but has a style all its own.
They drive to the cabin, they hang out, they swim in a lake, there’s some blossoming romance, and there’s some timely, uncomfortable conversation between a liberal couple and a redneck asshole who looks pretty sexy holding his beer…
Then without warning a masked killer—the tattie-bogle (aka: scarecrow)—with an axe walks right into their lives and goes to town on them! Those that survive scatter. Some end up in another cabin, some try to get away, others are in a lookout tower in a tree in the woods.
What makes this film so compelling is that the kills are just so matter of fact. There’s no sleek slasher production, so the murders feel raw and real. And the score isn’t the usual manipulative horror movie music that tries to convince you to be scared. It’s distinctly compelling and atmospheric of its own merits. The film also combines predominantly natural dark and flashlight beams, which is always a truly effective way to set the tone of horror in the woods.
The final scenes of escape and confrontation are highly unusual for a slasher film, making this one quite unique…while explaining nothing and ending on a very odd note. It’s one of those rare cases when I would have liked more of the horror, for just as the momentum is picking up it feels like the film stops short, almost as if incomplete.
Finally, despite its dark tone, the film closes with bloopers during the end credits! Feels out of place and jolts you out of the zone.
SAMHAIN: A HALLOWEEN HORROR MOVIE (2018)
It’s another short holiday horror film, running only 67 minutes long. Yet it’s amazing how much the film is stretched just to get to that length.
The opener takes place in 1968, but don’t expect it to connect to the main story.
In the modern day, our main girl house sits on Halloween night. We know it’s Halloween because it’s mentioned a few times, but there are no visual signs of the holiday.
To fill the time, we watch the girl make and eat a sandwich, we watch her shower, we watch her sleep…literally the camera just focuses on her for an agonizing amount of time as she sleeps. Still shots are held unnaturally long, such as exterior shots of the house between scenes. We sit through footage of both a true crime show and a horror movie she watches.
She also gets a few visitors, including an ex-boyfriend and her best friend. It’s during this time that there are some good 80s style killer POV shots and an excellent 80s synth score.
When the masked killer invades, it begins with a relentless beating scene with a bat that I guarantee would see a person not only dead but mutilated beyond recognition…yet the victim later gets up and walks away without a bruise in sight. What the hell? Even a whiffle bat would leave marks.
There’s no body count because there are no deaths. And as for the climax, well, if you’ve seen Ti West’s The House of the Devil you’ll be in familiar territory, although I guess there’s a twist at the end to keep this from being an exact replica.
VALENTINE DAYZ (2018)
This zomromcom is quirky, confusing, and loaded with enough gore and zombie action to satisfy me despite its shortcomings. It gets bonus points for reminding me of the tone of the awesome zombie flick It Stains the Sands Red.
It begins with news reports and interviews with zombie experts to give us the background of the outbreak.
Meanwhile, a man and woman meet at a bar, fall in love, and get engaged. This is where this film is oddly lacking. That all happens so fast we never get to see their romance blossom. The film is more concerned with details of the guy’s day job than their relationship.
Their Valentine’s Day plans are derailed when one of them turns into a zombie. They end up in the desert with the mortal keeping the zombie restrained while trying to figure out what to do about their dilemma.
Meanwhile, there are what feel like random, unrelated scenes of a few other characters having run-ins with zombies, but some of them are dang cool. A scene of a woman having a birthday party for her creepy doll when a zombie comes calling is eerily effective.
The film gets exploitation gruesome when the zombie/human couple battles it out, and the great practical effects make me wish the film had delivered more of it.
After a pretty unique twist about why the zombies are attacking the living, the film soon comes to an end, and I just couldn’t help thinking it felt like the plot never quite came together.