Holiday horror, from Halloween to St. Paddy’s Day

It’s a load of new movies to add to the holiday horror page, including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and St. Patrick’s Day flicks. Let’s get right into them.


Only the wraparound of this 75-minute movie takes place on Halloween, and it’s just some kids stealing pumpkins from neighborhood houses…until they sneak into an abandoned building and find secret government documents and a Blu-ray. So much more modern than V/H/S.

So the boys take the disc home to watch it. Despite the three tales not taking place on Halloween, they all definitely deliver enough chills and thrills to make a Halloween night movie marathon scary. Exemplary found footage shorts, they do just what they need to do—put people with cameras in terrifying, inexplicable situations.

The only downside for me was the fact that the audio mixing is absolutely terrible. Only some of the dialogue comes through at full volume. I had to watch the movie with subtitles to know what was going on.

Here are the tales you can expect:

1st story – A man takes his young daughter to a park in an RV for a camping trip, ignores a “beach off limits” sign, and ends up being terrorized by a creepy park ranger. Eek! The very found footage ending is nightmarish.

2nd story – This one goes crazy in a good way. Two hunters see a suspected murderer wandering through the forest on their deer cams. Hillbilly pervs! Anyway, this one turns into a freaky flick that might be an alien/zombie hybrid story, but we’ll never know what truth is out there…

3rd story – The anthology ends strong with a haunted house tale. Two dudes with a paranormal show go to research a haunting at an Amish dude’s house, and things get terrifying.

The odd thing is that in between each story there’s brief footage from a camera on a porch, and the final one is a scene of someone hidden by an umbrella coming to the door with a knife. No idea what it’s supposed to mean.

The wraparound conclusion is also a little disappointing. The boys with the Blu-ray are terrified by “Men in Black”…with COVID masks on.

DIE’CED (2023)

I have to give this short film (only 50 minutes long minus the closing credits) props for capturing the spirit of 80s slashers and delivering on the Halloween atmosphere, beginning with an opening sequence of jack-o’-lanterns as an 80s synth score plays.

There’s nothing unique here, but the fact that the slasher tone is spot on helps make it an enjoyable and quick slasher fix for the Halloween season.

A deranged killer is accidentally released from a mental institution, immediately sneaks into someone’s house and kills him violently, and then dresses up like a scarecrow—actually, very much like The Wizard of Oz scarecrow.

We meet a teen brother and sister and their father, still reeling from the disappearance of the mother. But that doesn’t stop the main girl from going to a Halloween party.

There are several gory kills along the way, all leading up to the main girl getting a chase scene with the killer at the end, which actually drags a bit. The movie had an opportunity to deliver a high body count at the party, but it doesn’t.

The big twist isn’t much of a twist considering numerous movies with a similar theme came before this one. It’s so obvious you can’t help wonder why a filmmaker would bother going for something so cliché instead of coming up with something new.


I haven’t enjoyed a mainstream, old school slasher as much as Thanksgiving in a long time. A departure from the late 70s/early 80s tone of the faux trailer that was inserted between Death Proof and Planet Terror in theaters years ago, the full-length feature instead goes mostly for the sleek, stylish feel of post-Scream slashers of the late 90s/early 2000s. However, it effortlessly pays homage to slashers from both eras.

Serving as a commentary on the negative impact capitalism has had on the American family and human behavior in recent years, the film begins with an unintended massacre at a department store when it kicks off Black Friday on Thanksgiving night. This unforgettable opener features gore, violence, and dark humor galore. And my guess would be that this scene is intended to serve as a mirror to the January 6th insurrection.

A year later, the small town is still reeling from the incident, but Thanksgiving must go on. However, a group of friends that snuck into the department store the previous year is soon not so cordially invited to attend a holiday gathering hosted by a killer in a pilgrim costume.

Jam-packed with brutal and bloody kills that are perfect for a watch party with friends, this thrilling holiday slasher is fast-paced, structured as a whodunit in the style of Scream, and is loaded with nods to classics like Halloween (opening POV scene), Prom Night (Wendy’s chase scene), Happy Birthday to Me (dinner party of death), I Know What You Did Last Summer (killer hunt during parade), and Cutting Class (trampoline kill scene).

Plus, the small town slasher vibe centered around a major holiday event is reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine, and the mere presence of Patrick Dempsey as the sheriff brings memories of Scream 3 flooding back.

Eli Roth may have taken the movie version of his faux trailer in a slightly different direction, but he definitely made an instant classic that is sure to be an annual holiday watch for years to come. I just wish the original faux trailer had been included as an extra on the Blu-ray.

GUESS WHO (2024)

A cool and unique Christmas slasher concept gets slammed over the head by a racial/socioeconomic commentary that might bog the final act down a bit, but is definitely a refreshing take on the themes.

A Black straight couple is headed to the man’s mixed race family home…in a trailer park. This sign is scarier than the Silent Hill welcome sign could ever be.

In a frightening suspense scene, the woman is attacked by someone in a sack mask during a restroom pit stop. Things are just as weird when they arrive at the mostly white trash trailer park. Everyone participates in this Christmas game called mummering, in which people in masks visit a neighbor and tell them a riddle, after which the neighbor has to guess who the riddler is.

And that awesome game is used as the victim selection tool of the killer, who gets a few pretty intense death scenes.

The thick of the horror centers around a big Christmas masquerade party, so it feels more like Halloween than Christmas. And as great as the slasher elements are, the film takes itself very seriously, with lots of character development and tension between family members.

It all results in a very complicated denouement that briefly feels like it’s delving into (trailer) home invasion territory then pretty much squelches the slasher fun in order to deliver its social message.



I’m a fan of indie horror director Eddie Lengyel’s movies, and I’m always happy to have another St. Patrick’s Day horror movie to add to the limited selection of flicks out there, so I was psyched to see this one hit VOD. It even stars scream queer Roger Conners—I’ve covered pretty much all his films on my site, but I think this might be his best, most relaxed and natural performance yet, which is funny, because he’s playing a straight male lead this time!

Roger and his wife come to a small town to celebrate a windfall. An Irish bartender warns them to go back to the city and talks about encountering a creature on the trails. Wouldn’t you know, Roger and wife soon encounter that very creature, which is a classic looking demon thing. It’s also a deadly killer, so the luck of the Irish totally fails Roger’s wife.

Legend has it the creature only appears every seven years, which is when Roger returns to the town to find that creature and get his revenge.

The Irish bartender happens to be the uncle of a couple of teenage girls, who are planning a night of St. Paddy’s partying and Leprechaun hunting with their friends.

They get much more than they expected when they encounter a whole horde of demonic creatures in the woods. However, the pacing is somewhat off, with not much happening for a good chunk of the film.

The St. Paddy’s demons don’t show up until about 50 minutes in. The horror action is fun once it hits and was a great reminder of why I like Lenyel’s films—they have that gritty, low budget indie feel of the late 70s/early 80s. It sort of like a mix between Evil Dead creatures and a zombie flick as a variety of demons come creeping out of the woods. They are, however, a mixed bag. Some have cool, monstrous costume designs, while others just look like plain old goth people wearing cheap makeup for Halloween (or all year long).

The finale delivers something a little different, with a sort of demonic ritual around a campfire. I can’t say I totally understood the plot—I’m not even sure why the legend of one creature turned into a gaggle of ghouls—but like I said, I just love the indie vibe Lenyel delivers.

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
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