Holiday horror buffet

Mother’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s Eve. Most of them land on my holiday horror movies page, but do any of these four films do the holiday horror genre justice? Let’s take a look.

DELIVERED (2020)

Like man installments of Hulu’s Into The Dark horror movie series, Delivered isn’t specifically about a holiday. It’s simply the May 2020 “Mother’s Day” installment because it’s about a pregnant woman. Sigh.

Instead of Delivered it should have been called Derivative. If you’ve never seen a thriller about a woman trying to steal another woman’s baby or a film about a lunatic holding someone captive, you might be enthralled by this one. It’s Misery meets The Hand That Rocks The Cradle.

The only element of interest is that a black pregnant woman is abducted by a white woman and kept on a chain, which indirectly touches upon race issues.

As if the film realizes how uninspired it is and how badly it lacks suspense, it is riddled with “scary” dream sequences. Yawn. There’s even newspaper clippings to explain everything. Double yawn.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, there is a hobbling scene.

EXTRACURRICULAR (2019)

Somehow this dark thriller manages to be utterly boring for almost an hour before delivering a devious, violent final act.

The opener with a cabin in the woods and masked figures sets a suspenseful tone…and then we meet the teenagers responsible for the murder and watch them spend almost an hour just plotting their next kill.

Luke Goss plays the sheriff on the case, and while he looks great in uniform, his investigation slows the film down even more. I mean, we know who the killers are, so he’s not discovering anything of interest to us!

Even the kids announcing they will do the next kill on Halloween night is not used to the film’s advantage.

Other than them picking out masks to wear and a barely noticeable pumpkin on a shelf at one point, there is no Halloween atmosphere whatsoever.

Movies like this always bug me because it’s impossible to be scared for characters we only get to know as victims as they’re terrorized by people we’ve gotten to know as the totally unlikable protagonists.

However, once The Strangers style home invasion begins, things quickly spiral out of control, making the final act an unexpected thrill ride. If only the first hour of the film had been even half as compelling.

DEADLY GAMES (1989)

This French Christmas film from the end of the 80s is the gift that keeps giving. It’s like Spielberg fused Silver Spoons and Home Alone into a Christmas horror movie.

As an “Eye of the Tiger” rip-off plays, we meet a little survivalist/computer whiz kid who lives in a winter wonderland of a mansion, dresses like Rambo, and creates booby traps to catch his dog for fun.

His mother is a hugely successful retail business woman. She leaves him alone with his feeble grandfather during the Christmas rush at the mall. But when she fires a man dressed as a mall Santa, he seeks revenge…by going to her mansion to terrorize her kid.

Amazing set pieces and visual style make this an oddly magical horror thriller.

But despite the focus being on a kid, the film is notably vicious…beginning with a horrible scene when the home invading Santa meets the dog.

This full-length home invasion/cat and mouse chase flick is filled with suspense and Christmas spirit. It’s also amazing how the kid’s usage of his computer and message boards was so cutting edge at the time, making that aspect of the film virtually contemporary if you overlook the 1980s style computer screen.

As an added bonus, this classic features a battle prep montage set to a fricking Bonnie Tyler Christmas song.

 

THE NIGHT OF THE VIRGIN (2016)

It takes a long time for this Spanish New Year’s Eve dark horror gross out comedy to get going. Losing at least 15 of its 100-minute length could have fixed the pacing problem. That said, the unfolding events are wonderfully unique and challenge everything we’ve learned about gender roles in horror films.

A geeky dude at a New Year’s Eve party (where there’s some awesome new wave playing, btw) is determined to lose his virginity. So when he meets an older woman, he goes home with her.

Remember that episode of Friends when Ross was dating that girl with a filthy apartment? This is ten times worse, beginning immediately with the cockroaches. I can’t imagine any guy would be horny enough to overlook cockroaches…or the bathroom that looks like something out of Saw.

A long stretch of the film establishes that she’s weird and into feminist mythology, and that he is a desperate virgin who will put up with some crazy and disgusting shit to get laid.

When a guy comes knocking at the apartment door, the trouble really starts for our poor, awkward geek. I was reminded of the French film Inside…if it were a skanky, sleazy exploitation horror comedy told from the perspective of a guy.

There’s some nasty shit going on here as everything spins out of control, and as if the visual ick isn’t enough, the squishy sound effects amplify the yuck.

I was really entertained by the final act, from the gay guys fucking a floor above (who call the main guy a faggot–and also land this one on my does the gay guy die? page) to a sequence that will make every guy’s dick go into hiding. And make sure to look for the tag scene halfway through the end credits.

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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