Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, but somehow a bunch of October and December horror flicks gravitated my way—finally, months after I needed them to. Therefore, it’s time for a belated seasonal celebration of flicks to add to the full holiday horror list, both the Halloween page and the Christmas page.
FOR THE SAKE OF VICIOUS (2020)
I’d suggest watching this home invasion flick for the sheer final act of insane violence, and not for any clarity of why any of it is happening.
On Halloween, a nurse comes home to find some dude has her wounded landlord tied up in her kitchen and wants her to patch up his bruises. It seems the captor believes the landlord raped his daughter.
The first half of the film involves the nurse playing mediator as the two men have a war of words and the landlord gets tortured a bit. All I could think the whole time was, Why doesn’t the main girl just contact the police in between nonchalant conversation with the man barely holding her hostage?
Dudes in masks bust in, adding a whole new level of…well…I can’t call it plot, because there’s not a lot of meat there. Just enjoy the ride as everyone hacks and slashes the fuck out of each other for about 30 minutes.
And take note of the most important message of the movie—timing is everything. There is a trick or treater before all the insanity begins, then not another single trick or treater until right after it ends…
ANOTHER EVIL NIGHT (2017)
This is a sequel to a 1992 film called Evil Night, which didn’t take place on Halloween. The original film is summarized at the beginning of this one, and I’m okay having never seen it because it looks like a camcorder home movie, and I’m so done with films like that.
Not that this is any better. Seems the only thing that has improved (slightly) in 25 years is the camera equipment.
Not even a 65-minute runtime makes this any less agonizing to sit through. What little plot there is involves a bullied dude somehow connecting with the killer and joining him for a murder spree on Halloween.
I do like that the film has a lot of Halloween atmosphere.
I guess the most important thing of note is that the killer has the inexplicable ability to move things. Wait until you see him wielding his power by waving his fingers like he’s doing jazz hands. Or maybe don’t see it, because my suggestion is to just watch Satan’s Little Helper instead. It’s Halloween horror classic with a similar plot and much better execution.
THE TRICK OR TREATERS (2016)
If it weren’t for the editing and the constant, ear-shattering noises that are trying to pass as a score, this found footage film may have had something intriguing to offer. Instead, it is just a fucking headache from start to finish.
It begins perfectly with a little tour of the autumn streets to set the tone.
Then we meet a couple that is preparing a video for a charity event while also watching horror movies at home.
I was totally feeling the main girl obsessing over where to hang one particular Halloween sign. I’ve so been there.
The couple seems to live in an apartment building….I think…which would explain the confusing places this film goes. It all starts when three masked creeps come trick or treating and shot footage of the main couple shooting footage of them when answering the door. The main guy pulls a prank on the trick or treaters and it’s all downhill from there.
The couple is abducted and abused.
The couple gets away. The couple’s friends come over and get drawn into a house of real-life horrors that I think is in the basement of their building? I really have no idea.
It’s just a barrage of some ghastly visuals hacked to pieces by terrible editing and shaky camera for a majority of the film, with very little chance for the “characters” to deliver any semblance of logical storyline through actions or dialogue. And it just gets worse as it progresses, although I was really feeling the occasional clarity that implied the killers were using Halloween candy to kill.
My suggestion? Just watch Hell House LLC instead.
HELL ON THE SHELF (2021)
If Mark Polonia had taken all the money he has put into the no budget movies he’s made over the years, perhaps he could have made just one fantastic film.
Hell On The Shelf is obviously cashing in on the Elf On The Shelf trend that scars children for life every December, but several other not so great holiday horror movies have done it better (I’d suggest the 2017 film The Elf for a more satisfying holiday horror cheap thrill).
For starters, let’s look at the holiday aspects. This is a found footage film about a haunted house that won’t sell, so a real estate agent calls in ghost experts. In one interview, we see a tiny Christmas tree up on a shelf. There’s snow on the ground. The doll that is barely the focus of the film is a Christmas elf. The ghost in the house is supposed to be that of a boy who fell down a flight of stairs while fighting over a Christmas toy with his brother.
And finally, when we first see the house, there is a wreath on the door and gifts on the steps. Seconds later, when the investigators pull up to the house, none of that is there.
Basically that symbolizes a) how sloppily Polonia films are made, and b) how non-existent the Christmas holiday is in this film.
These guys spend most of the movie annoyingly repeating the same questions over and over to the air trying to talk to the boy and getting answers from a voice they claim sounds just like a little boy—but which really sounds like an adult man.
There’s a Paranormal Activity sheet tugging trick. The little boy’s room is covered in horror movie posters, but his family wasn’t actually the last one in the house, so they’re not his. The skeptic of the three investigators always wears horror movie T-shirts. Are horror movie fans usually skeptics? Not this horror movie fan, considering my house was actually haunted when I was growing up.
There’s a legend of the doll possessing anyone who touches it. That never happens. The guys argue over the doll moving and who may have done it, and one guy makes a comment about the elf falling off the shelf. Wink wink. There’s even elf POV when they review their footage. I guess the elf films his crimes like any other stupid, modern day criminal.
All the lazy line delivery works best when the elf insists one specific guy must perish, and the bearded guy says, “I agree with him, you have to die”.
With 5 minutes left in this 75-minute movie, the doll finally attacks in a blur of static and shaky cam. In other words, we don’t see anything.
RED SNOW (2021)
This cute little vampire indie has an element of Christmas romance to it—although this isn’t exactly a Hallmark movie. If it were, I’d be okay with it preempting The Golden Girls for a whole fucking month.
A vampire romance novelist is spending the holiday by herself in a family house in the woods. She has the house all decked out for the holidays and the camera makes sure to always get some of the festivities in the shot.
The novelist takes a wounded bat in to nurse it back to health.
When she wakes up in the morning, she discovers it has transformed into a naked, sexy vampire man.
She supplies him with nourishment to regain his strength while he helps her get details right for her novels. Meanwhile, as they’re getting cozy by the tree, a vampire hunter is on the prowl, and her sexy vampire’s vamp friends are about to crash their intimate party to have a little seasonal sucking celebration. Eventually the novelist is going to have to decide if falling in love with a vampire is biting off more than she can chew.
The vamps look cool, there are a couple of nice red snow scenes for sure, the main vampire guy is a hottie, and the leading lady is cute. The only issue I have with the film is that there is too much time taken up focusing on just the two of them talking. If the vamp friends had arrived a bit earlier, there could have been a bit more horror action to keep the pace going. But the Christmas spirit rox.
There is very little in the way of Christmas spirit in this demented, slow burning backwoods inbreed French flick with flecks of religious horror shining through (I think that covers it all). We see a tree get knocked over in a convenience store, and the main dinner in the middle of bum fuck is a Christmas Eve celebration, but that’s it.
However, this one totally gets under your skin like old school horror, and you just sit waiting for something absolutely awful to happen…for most of the movie. Yes, it crawls at a snail’s pace, but it is well worth the watch.
After a guy is booted from a club for being a douche, he and his friends befriend a young woman who invites them to her family home in the country for Christmas.
Once they get there, they meet a dude named Joseph, who is tending to his farm animals and also happens to have an expectant wife. Where have I heard this story before?
Joseph is freakishly friendly and takes a shine to the douche—inviting him to go skinny-dipping down at the springs. The whole group tags along, as does a gang of inbred looking motherfuckers from the area, and the douche gets into a fight with them.
There are more and more signs that things are just off at this girl’s house. There’s a room full of doll parts, and we are teased with clip of someone making a very creepy doll. Joseph has bizarre relationships with animals. And all we ever see of his pregnant wife is her belly.
Tensions rise at their holiday dinner when talk turns to religion and who does and doesn’t believe in God. This is the springboard for shit to just start going fucking insane at last—a combination of creepy, violent, and disgusting. I don’t quite know what it all means in the end, but I will say this. When it all comes down to it, Sheitan (which means Satan. Dunh dunh dunh!) seems to be about an inbred hillbilly closeted drag queen Jeepers Creepers dude with a Christmas complex.