The latest self-made triple feature I checked out from my Prime watchlist includes a Halloween clown slasher anthology, a Halloween haunted attraction slasher, and a killer Christmas party flick. They all make it to my holiday horror page, but which ones are worthy of holiday viewing?
CLOWNS OF HALLOWEEN (2019)
This 60-minute anthology has no wraparound, but it delivers on the promise of its title—all three stories take place on Halloween and feature clown killers. The intro credits look and sound right out of the early 80s, which totally got me in the mood.
1st story – I was psyched to see my buddy Dan Peters as one of the leads in this tale (wearing the lipstick on the right!).
There’s a montage at an actual Spirit Halloween pop-up store as friends prepare for a Halloween party, then a great nod to Halloween III: Season of the Witch that fans of the film will pick up on immediately.
Soon it’s on to the party, with perhaps the greatest dance montage since the one in Evil Laugh, set to an electro hip hop tune that sounds right out of 1983.
The fun, cheesy killings don’t have much blood or guts, but they really capture the vibe of 80s slashers. There’s a séance and scary storytelling, and the clown killer is quite creepy. There’s even a surprise gay twist that is more of a twist if you happen to personally know Dan Peters. Either way, it lands this film on my die, gay guy, die! page.
Turns out this segment is actually from a full 1-hour film called Night of the Clown that has been trimmed down to twenty minutes for this anthology. Considering it was by far my favorite of these three tales, I would actually love to see the full version. I’m not sure if the same goes for the other two tales, or if they are presented in their full lengths here.
2nd story – this one definitely captures the spirit of the holiday, complete with a montage of guys decorating a house for Halloween, but once the party starts, it sort of feels like a rehash of the first story. However, this time the killer is a clown doll, and the dance montage song is lame.
But the scene of the doll POV going up creepy steps while “Monster Mash” plays in the distance is a perfect example of how you don’t need a big budget to deliver a genuinely effective horror moment. There’s also sex, a Ouija board, body reveals, and a body count, but the tale is more tongue-in-cheek rather than going for scares.
3rd story – the shortest of the trio, this is my least favorite. After an ominous warning from a fortune teller machine, a young woman stays home alone on Halloween, carving a pumpkin and watching some horror on TV.
Eventually she’s victim to a home invasion by someone in a clown mask, but the film doesn’t do much in the way of building suspense or tension before the nasty denouement.
CARNAGE FOR THE DESTROYER (2006)
This is about as indie as they get, with a bunch of young people playing over-the-top satirical characters.
The racist one is a little unnecessary after a while—the n word and f word are tossed around constantly, and if it is supposed to be funny, it fails, especially since there are no black or gay characters to rally against it.
The juvenile dialogue is almost predominantly raunchy, disgusting sex talk and activity, which carries this 50-minute film.
Meanwhile, although there is very little sign that it’s Halloween, the friends are setting up a Halloween haunted attraction while all this sexual activity is happening.
The kids summon a Viking demon that is the theme of the attraction, which is just a guy in a mask who starts killing them off.
Based on the nasty and funny kill scenes, if the director wanted to make a comedy horror movie with a budget and found someone who could actually write a coherent script, it would probably be a pretty good flick.
THE CHICKEN PARTY (2018)
This is not your ordinary Christmas horror flick. It’s also not your ordinary horror flick. 50 minutes in, there’s a really timely social commentary horror flick buried under an agonizing number of “montages”: shopping, dancing, socializing at a party, etc. Only one montage really made the difference here, but I’ll get to that.
The short of the plot: two sisters come to the U.S. from Japan and get invited to a “chicken party”…a bunch of Americans hosting a culture party with people from all different countries to welcome them to the country.
As you can expect, everything isn’t exactly as it seems…
But first we get a long drama about these two sisters. If you want character and relationship development, this is the movie for you. Just note that a good chunk of the film features subtitles. They prepare the viewer for the chicken party, which features a myriad of different languages as the various guests have conversations with subtitles. The only conversation I found interesting was a one-sided convo from a goth girl who goes on a horror movie name-dropping rampage.
This party scene goes on forever so that we totally understand just what this chicken party is and get to know all the characters’ backstories. This is ironic, because just as the Americans reveal the real purpose of the party (50 minutes in), the movie focuses solely on what they do to the two sisters.
This is brilliantly the anti-thesis of your typical conservative religious extremist hillbilly family in the woods horror flick. These are young, pretty, educated, privileged city people. And they’re not all white or straight. The point is not to villainize white straight supremacy, it’s Americans vs. foreigners.
Surprisingly, despite an initial presentation of creepy masks and loads of weapons, plus moments of horror that feel right out of Hostel, the suspense is high but the violence and brutality are minimal.
There’s even a mind fuck that is absolutely campy—a muscular pretty boy steals the show by doing a hilarious strip tease to antagonize his victim.
That’s some package under the tree. And he lands this one on my stud stalking page.
Finally, I love the unconventional turn at the end…a montage in which we find out just what happened to all the other characters while the sisters were the focal point.
However, it would have made for more horror if it had been shown in sequence and in full…while cutting out much of the montage overkill in the first 50 minutes to trim the running time. My concern is that the excessive story before the horror begins might lead viewers to give up on the film before getting to the good stuff. I’ll confess, I did that 30 minutes into the movie the first night. I went back to it the next day only because I fast-forwarded the film just to see if anything ever started happening!