Is it eat or be eaten this holiday season? I take a look at one for Thanksgiving and two for Christmas 2020 that all land on the holiday horror page.
THE LAST THANKSGIVING (2020)
Other than iffy acting (the main girl is smartly an exception), The Last Thanksgiving gives us a crazy cannibal family slasher for Thanksgiving that runs a nice, tight 72 minutes long.
While there are throwback nods to 80s slashers and meta references to numerous horror films, this movie manages to rise above the overplayed novelty, bringing some fresh ideas and unique approaches to the retro slasher craze.
The plot focuses on a young woman who has to work on Thanksgiving Day. The diner where she is employed has plenty of characters, including two older women, a gay dude who has a crush on a cute Black employee (landing this one on the does the gay guy die? page), an older boss, and even Linnea Quigley as a customer.
A dance montage to a faux 80s freestyle song paints them in a very positive light, so this is a likable cast of characters.
Meanwhile, a cannibal family is on the prowl looking for their Thanksgiving dinner!
The death scenes are fantastically gory with practical effects, the 80s horror lighting is incorporated into scenes naturally (the change to red at a movie theater is my fave), there’s some understated yet accurate 80s style musical cues, and the characters aren’t picked off in the stereotypical order, which is quite satisfying.
The chase scenes and the ways in which the family gathers everyone for “dinner” is incredibly entertaining, and the “Leatherface” of the family wears a creepy pilgrim mask.
And most importantly, the main girl, the gay guy, and the black guy all rock when push comes to shove.
This is a movie that definitely keeps you on your toes as it seems to vacillate between subgenres.
It all begins when two men, one dressed as Santa, meet in a field and exchange pleasantries. The younger man is invited along with his wife to the home of the Santa man for Christmas. He even does a sexy dance by the Christmas tree.
We learn there’s some sort of odd body snatching invasion going around, so by the time everyone gathers at the dinner table, some of them are really not feeling like themselves.
Dinner turns into a gory, violent disaster!
Sort of like a home invasion film and either an alien invasion or supernatural film rolled into one, Hosts goes beyond the obvious plot of people being terrorized by “possessed” neighbors at Christmas dinner. It delves into some emotional and metaphorical situations involving familial roles.
This is one of those movies during which you totally understand what’s going on as far as the surface story goes, yet you sort of have no idea what’s really going on, which gives your brain a workout. I found it to be intriguing, engrossing, quite atmospheric, and effectively eerie.
THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW (2020)
This werewolf horror comedy is directed by, written by, and stars Jim Cummings. That being said, Jim Cummings makes this movie all about Jim Cummings. Which is a bummer when you have a muscle guy like this at your disposal…
Jim Cummings is funny and cute at first as the alcoholic deputy on the case when mutilated bodies start turning up dead in his small town.
But soon you’ll begin to notice that the job of everyone else in the movie is to fade into the background so Jim Cummings retains the spotlight. No one other than Jim Cummings gets a funny line. Jim Cummings gets to be a vibrant personality while everyone else could just as well be a cardboard cutout. Jim Cummings’s shtick becomes distracting as the movie progresses.
The werewolf and the occasional kills are pretty cool, but they do not stand a chance of upstaging Jim Cummings. We needed more werewolf.
While the movie takes place at Christmas, not enough TLC is given to the holiday to make this a genuine Christmas horror movie. All that attention is reserved for Jim Cummings. And the surprise revelation as to the origin of the werewolf is perhaps not the one you would imagine, but what’s no surprise is that the surprise isn’t as big a deal as is how it affects Jim Cummings’s character.