For the love of holiday horror: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve

Will this smorgasbord of horror movies covering a variety of holidays make the off-season bright? Let’s get a taste of each one as I add them to the holiday horror page.

TRICK OR TREAT (2019)

The big trick here is that this is not a horror film and has mostly nothing to do with Halloween short of two trick or treaters and some pumpkins.

It’s mostly a movie about two less than straight and narrow brothers getting entangled with a handful of mobsters.

One brother shows up at his other brother’s house on Halloween and tells him he accidentally hit a guy on the road and has the body in the trunk of his car. Turns out that guy was the son of a lady mobster, and the two brothers spend the night trying to avoid them while getting rid of the body.

While it could be considered a thriller, there’s not much here that is actually suspenseful, but there are plenty of questions that need answering as the movie unfolds.

Near the end it looks like there’s going to be a twist that indeed steers this into horror territory, but it turns out to be a false alarm.

I’d have to say this is kind of like a Roseanne Halloween episode gone horribly wrong…

ARCHAON: THE HALLOWEEN SUMMONING (2020)

I appreciate the effort put into building a horror movie around Halloween legend, but this film was apparently low on resources, so it’s mostly about a bunch of people hanging out in a house and occasionally putting on a cursed mask.

A guy buys a mask steeped in the history of Samhain, and immediately gets ragged out by a peer as a geek and a gay (he’s not a gay).

Soon he’s becoming drawn to the mask, which is mostly just a sack that the movie rarely shows in full because there’s nothing scary about it. When he gives into temptation and puts it on, horror lighting and some vines in the hall of the house signify he’s crossed into another reality.

Same thing happens to anyone that puts the mask on…but then they all simply just take it off and come back to reality. The movie just doesn’t offer much. There’s a Halloween house party with little in the way of Halloween spirit beyond guests in costumes. A white dude that looks like Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs performs a rap as part of an in-house band.

Later a Black guy raps to a rock song played by a white band. This movie confused me.

Eventually the group figures out a demon has escaped from another dimension and needs to be sent back. They perform a ritual with candles in one of the most uninteresting, uninspired climaxes ever.

DERELICTS (2017)

Beyond House of 1000 Corpses (one of my many favorite horror movies), I have no use for Rob Zombie’s brand of white trash horror. If only he’d put some thought and focus into his murderous family movies like simple little Thanksgiving horror flick Derelicts does, I could say what I’m about to say about this one. This isn’t my type of horror film at all, I would never watch it again, but this film is totally awesome.

It’s like a dysfunctional middle class white family invites the Texas Chainsaw family to their house for Thanksgiving dinner, and it’s a perfect juxtaposition.

After carjacking guests heading to the family’s house, the crazies follow the GPS and crash Thanksgiving dinner. They terrorize and torture the family, naturally, all while managing to out each family member’s dirty little secret.

The main family consists of a creepy father, a jaded mother, an asshole son with no social graces, a daughter that had a mental breakdown, a horny grandfather, and his horny girlfriend.

The crazies include an old former military man and what almost seems like his Black “life companion”, a hillbilly girl, a hillbilly guy, and a freak that wears a Teddy bear as a mask.

Stylized camerawork shows that director Brett Glassberg carefully orchestrated the visual presentation of the story he is telling, and despite the crazy white trash family subgenre not being my thing, I would watch another horror film by him in a second. The creative use of a dick pump alone is reason enough to expect big things from him…

ALL MY FRIENDS ARE DEAD (2020)

 

This New Year’s Eve dark killer party comedy gets huge props for being one of few moves that has Christmas d├ęcor everywhere, recognizing that for many people, New Year’s Eve decorations are Christmas decorations. I hate when I see neighbors’ Christmas trees at the curb on December 26th.

Playing out mostly like a teen sex comedy, the film focuses predominantly on loads of privileged pretty people of various persuasions having conversations about dating or trying to score.

Personally, I didn’t find the humor funny enough to carry the movie, and the pacing was slooooooow.

Not even the sex humor held my interest, although some gay stuff was funny circa 1997, and does land this one on the does the gay guy die? page.

The highlight for me was the use of songs like Laura Branigan’s “Gloria” and Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”.

Eventually an accidental death ignites a comedy of errors that leads to a whole lot of kills. The money shot is in the last twenty minutes when the clock strikes twelve.

It might be a tedious New Year’s Eve party to sit through, but damn the payoff is worth it. Choreographed to a rockin’ metal track, the massacre scene is one of the best mass killing sequences I’ve ever seen in a movie.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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