With Halloween behind us, it was a treat to find movies covering the next three holidays while digging through my Tubi watchlist, all of which I’m adding to the complete holiday horror page. Let’s get right into them.
GHOST NOTE (2017)
This Thanksgiving horror flick had the opportunity to be a streamlined supernatural slasher with an iconic killer. Unfortunately, it instead opts on an overblown storyline that is drawn out, hurts the pacing, and dilutes the presence of the killer. Also, aside from a moment at the dinner table with everyone fighting, which is about as Thanksgiving as it gets, the holiday plays no part in the horror and is forgotten as soon as dinner is done (sort of like actual Thanksgiving).
The film opens in 1971. A Black jazz musician is abducted by a white guy and then tortured as the white guy preaches to God about casting out the evil. It would be easy to assume the white guy is a religious extremist racist, but the jazz musician makes it pretty clear that he is indeed evil and will be back to destroy the preacher’s whole family. Awesome.
In the present day, a teenage goth girl is forced to go to her grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving. It’s interesting to note is that there’s a mixed race family at the holiday dinner, but our jazz musician killer doesn’t play favorites and targets everyone.
This film clearly isn’t making a statement about race. They just made this Black dude an evil S.O.B. for no reason. They so could have just gone as anti-woke as it gets and called this movie Black Christmas.
Naturally the white guy from the beginning was the grandfather of the house and had stored some of the jazz musician’s belongings in the attic, warning the grandmother never to touch any of them.
Of course our main girl touches them. She also has a séance with her little cousins. And she gives an album of the jazz musician’s music to a record store owner, who plays the record backwards. Uh-oh.
This is where the film does the unexpected. Instead of the jazz musician simply being resurrected, it appears he possesses individuals for most of the movie…and pushes them to kill themselves! Yawn.
The killer does finally come out to play in the last twenty minutes, and he is so damn cool and menacing, with a cage over his head like something out of Thir3en Ghosts. But with so little time left to do much damage, he can’t really save the film.
IT CAME UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR (2020)
It’s a teen romance Christmas slasher nod to Scream that totally works, with likable characters, plenty of kills, a contemporary edge, a cool soundtrack, and loads of holiday spirit. You know a Christmas horror movie means business when it frames horror icon Michael Berryman in festive décor…
We meet our red-cloaked “Santa Slayer” killer in the opening death scene, and then we meet our charming main boy, who lives with his aunt since the death of his parents.
Maneuvering puberty along with his best female friend, he’s hoping to go on a date to a concert with the girl he really likes.
But the school bully and the return of the Santa Slayer after eighteen years are making just being a teenager a challenge.
After several kills, the main kid and his BFF are drawn into the investigation of the murders in a major way and realize they have to confront the killer to save the day.
There are plenty of nods to Scream, including several twists before the big killer reveal, and the climax at a Christmas party ups the body count quickly. It’s just simple, sleek, holiday slasher fun.
DANTE’S HOTEL (2023)
For years, director Anthony C. Ferrante was the king of SyFy movies, including the Sharknado films. Thankfully he’s still producing cheesetastic flicks, even if they’re harder to find thanks to the advent of excessive numbers of streaming services with bad interfaces.
Dante’s Hotel is perfect for your New Year’s Eve party viewing pleasure. AnnaLynne McCord is an event planner throwing a New Year’s Eve party in a high end hotel run by Ted Raimi.
Judd Nelson is a weird dude who actually lives in the hotel…on the entire 12th floor.
Most importantly, there’s a supernatural specter in an awesomely imposing Grim Reaper/Father Time costume handing out tickets for the VIP room, where individuals check in, but they don’t check out.
The death scenes are nice and gory, and it quickly becomes clear there’s some crazy supernatural element to these kills.
Before long, victims are coming back as ghost zombies! The plot just gets wackier as the film progresses, but it’s too much fun to care about the details. You need to just go with all the hokey horror elements.
The only dud in this movie is the actual party! It’s like they failed to hire enough extras to make it look like a total bash. There’s simply no energy at this shindig despite the pumping music. This movie will liven up your New Year’s Eve party, it’s just shame they couldn’t have shown the movie at the party in the movie…