The Christmas fun for 2019 begins with a double feature

An elf and an anthology. Which one got my mind off Halloween being over—and made me forget all about Thanksgiving even existing?

SHELVED (2016)

Like The Elf, this is another horror takeoff on the Elf On The Shelf phenomenon, only this is a really cheap “horror comedy” approach.

It looks like it’s shot on video and just isn’t funny or campy enough to keep up the pace.

A Cary Elwes looking dad gets an elf doll for his daughter despite the store clerk warning him not to buy it. This is one evil looking elf, so I don’t know why someone even had to warn this dumb dad…

Before long the elf is driving around in a Barbie car, cursing, drinking, listening to hip hop, shitting on holiday treats, and talking like Mr. Bill.

The kills? Goofy. The doll is obviously maneuvered by strings, and most of the time, rather than just hang the damn puppet off the victim, an animated version of the doll is used. Weird, but it does king of work with the vibe of the film.

Even so, I found it hard to focus on Shelved. The daughter is sent for therapy because of her talk about the doll, and a guy with a nice ass shows up at the house to make out with the babysitter and up the body count.

The wife’s religious freak mom comes to visit, some dude tells a tale of Santa’s elf operative going rogue, and they try an exorcism on the doll…

Personally, if I hadn’t already watched the film and knew what I was getting, I would have skipped it. Okay, that’s not totally true, since I simply have to watch every holiday horror flick in existence. And really, there is plenty of potential here if you’re in the mood for a dumbed down holiday horror spoof. The elf really just got on my nerves, probably because I never liked Mr. Bill either.

UNHOLY NIGHT (2019)

A good reminder that simple and fun is often best, especially for a horror anthology, Unholy Night is smartly playful and loaded with Christmas spirit. The filmmakers knew what they had to work with and created a damn enjoyable little Christmas horror movie.

The opener totally gets us in the holiday mood, especially when a little girl actress can’t help but smile with glee because she gets to wield a knife.

The wraparound involves a nurse working the hospital at Christmas and being told scary stories by a man in a wheelchair…

In between stories, the wraparound even has a Lights Out moment.

1st story – A girl brings her boyfriend home for the holidays, and he soon begins to have delusions in which her family is far worse than just eccentric.

2nd story – Three girls get together for the holidays and decide to make an audition video for a dating show because the guys are really cute.

But when they get drunk and play a Bloody Mary type game, a drunk girl ghost appears and brings on the Christmas kills. The story is presented in a well-balanced blend of standard and found footage format.

Just beware one of the most disgusting puke scenes I’ve seen on celluloid in a while.

3rd story – The film ends on a festive note by going campy in this final tale, which focuses on the wraparound girl. There’s a freaky mannequin elf, a bitch of a mother, an awesome blood splatter after a stabbing, and daughter and mom making Christmas feel like Carrie.

Definitely one for the more delightful and dastardly Christmas anthologies out there, and I hope it gets some attention.

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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