Sunday, December 31, 2017
Monday, December 25, 2017
When I set out to do the 13 Days of Christmas I knew that I wanted to end it with Gremlins. I hadn't watched the film in years and, oddly enough, it might have been the first horror film I ever watched as a kid. It was one of those films that everyone saw at a young age when it came out. It also was one of three movies that I liked that had a jump scare that freaked me out at a young age (the other two being Large Marge in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and the librarian ghost at the beginning of Ghostbusters). My big question coming into this was would Gremlins live up to my nostalgia for it?
If you've never seen this film, let me sum it up for you: An inventor comes across a strange creature known as a Mogwai while in Chinatown. He acquires it from the shopkeeper's grandson and brings it home as a present for Billy. There are three rules with the Mogwai: 1) no bright lights and sunlight can kill him, 2) do not feed him after midnight, and 3) never ever get him wet. Needless to say two of these three happen and what was once a cute a fuzzy Mogwai spawns a mass of horrible green gremlins which kill and terrorize the town.
It was weird to watch this after such a long time and actually attempt to keep track of the body count. There are four confirmed deaths that we see and then a load of other unconfirmed ones that we never know for sure (except the guy playing Santa lives but you have to be paying attention to background noise to find that out on a newscast). The puppets still hold up visually and there isn't a single weak link in the casting. Even the fucking dog is a good actor!
There are a lot of plot holes with this film, mainly revolving around the rules. I'm not getting into it aside from the fact that snow apparently doesn't count as getting them wet. For people that want to argue the booze, that gets handled in the official graphic novelization. As far as my nostalgia, it was hurt a bit because I realized that this film isn't far off from just becoming a B-movie. It isn't, but it skates such a fine line that if the quality of this film drooped at all then it wouldn't be what it is.
On a side note, as mean as this may be, I still cheered when Mrs. Deagle shot out of that window.
I give Gremlins 4 ripped Santas out of 5:
And with that, the 13 Days of Christmas come to an end. We'll be back to our regular reviews on Sunday, January 7th. In the meantime, I hope you have a good holiday if you're celebrating something around this time. If not, then I still just wish you well. See you in a few weeks!
Sunday, December 24, 2017
I don't really dig the Coca-Cola created Santa Claus. I also don't really dig Christmas, so maybe it all gets lumped in together. I do dig the concept of an evil Santa (and I'm not talking about another fucking Krampus movie!!). I also listen to a lot of metal, including a decent cropping of black metal. So how do all of these things come together? Well, that's where Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale comes in.
Set in Finland (and mostly in Finnish), an eccentric old man has an excavation team digging up something frozen deep inside a mountain. When the local reindeer farmers lose their herd to an unknown creature, and a naked old man ends up in one of their wolf traps, they scramble to make sense of what's going on while only a single child has everything figured out.
Rare Exports is metal as fuck! Being set in Finland and in Finnish helps but there are some awesome illustrations of Santa sitting on thrones of skulls and punishing children. The only actual visuals of Santa we get is him encased in ice but it looks like it should be the cover of a Iced Earth or maybe Amon Amarth album. Also, an army of naked old men carrying pick axes in the middle of Finland's winter is kind of a frightening thought.
There is really only one reservation I have with this movie. It felt a little slow but not enough that it drags you. After a half-hour I thought I was much further into the film than I was, but that was the only point when I checked the clock. Actually, the other reservation I have is that the kid runs outside in a sweater, some fucking Ugg looking boots, and just briefs on. You might be used to the cold but no one is that used to it, especially a male. Trust me, the cold does things... horrible things.
I give Rare Exports 4 ripped Santas out of 5:
Saturday, December 23, 2017
Okay, I'm taking some liberties with this one as it isn't really a short film per se. It's listed on IMDB as an "episode" but it's horror and it's Christmas, and if you want to challenge me on this then you can choke on a Santa sack full of dicks.
A Very Zombie Holiday is a 50's style instructional video on how to juggle both the holidays and the possibility of zombies. Put out by Team Unicorn (an all female geek-focused multimedia team), I'm including it in this horror advent calendar because if you haven't watched it yet then you really should. If not for the fun factor, then for the educational factor. This could save your life this holiday!
I loved A Very Zombie Holiday. I wish they would take this a bit further because I would love to see a horror film with a group of badass 1950's housewives banding together to take on zombies. Think about it. The weapons would consist of associated things like irons or sharpened pie plates, they could take "diet pills" before a big battle, and one could use their "hysteria treatment device" to kill a zombie (although that's a stretch for the time period). Team Unicorn, hit me up! Let's make this happen!
I give A Very Zombie Holiday 5 ripped Santas out of 5:
Friday, December 22, 2017
I watched Better Watch Out with my husband and by the end of it the household consensus was "fuck this film." Then, later that night, there were a lot of other horror people in my Twitter feed talking about how much they liked it. So this made me revisit my initial write-off of this film. Was there something I missed? Was there something they missed? What lead to such a difference in opinion? So I took some more time to really sit back and think about this film and have a discussion with my significant other to figure out what the deal is. So let's get into it.
Better Watch Out is about Ashley being home for the holidays and agreeing to babysit Luke. Never mind that Luke is 12 and probably doesn't need a baby sitter, or the fact that he wants to seduce Ashley, because that's not creepy. After what seems like a home invasion, Ashley uncovers Luke and his friend's plan to scare her and make Luke seem like a hero because "white males." When she goes to call Luke's parents he slaps her so she falls down the stairs and then the film takes its turn.
I'm honestly still up in the air with this film. There are a lot of really small holes in it that are easy to miss but when you start to unravel the sweater you're just left with a pile of loose threads. I suspected a heel turn a little bit before it happened, mainly because Luke appeared to have issues with the concept of "consent" with how he was trying to hit on Ashley early on. On top of that, he didn't look 12. This isn't a slight against the actor whom I think did a great job in his role, he just didn't add to the fact that this adolescent had a babysitter. We also don't get any motivation for why Luke has his initial plan, or why he takes things so far, aside from he is a sociopath and seems to feel entitled to Ashley. I can write a million paragraphs about why this is a problematic view, but to avoid turning this into a socio-political rant I will make the following statement:
In regards to horror, one of the most successful things a film can do is scare us by making the horror relatable.
Did Better Watch Out do that for me? Yes, it did. It did so for all of the wrong reasons. While part of me wants to call this some adolescent jerk-off fantasy pushed too far, this has a believable component up to a certain point and that made me uncomfortable. So as a horror film, it did what it set out to do. It might not be on its terms, but, well, mission accomplished I guess.
I give Better Watch Out 2.5 ripped Santas out of 5:
Thursday, December 21, 2017
Treevenge is a short film out of Canada where Christmas trees finally get sick of of the genocide of their race and get revenge on humanity. We go from the harvesting of the trees straight up to the holiday season and the inevitable revolution against their captors. There's not much more than that.
With an idea like Treevenge, this movie knew what it was going for and ran for the goal line. The humans are all overacted and vulgar (in more than just language), as opposed to the trees that all have well written and fearful conversations. That's a sentence I never thought I would ever write. There are some really great kills including a tree stump stomping a baby and then dragging it away. I couldn't even stay mad at the tree that killed the family cat because it then threw the fakest stuffed cat at the family and I laughed.
I tracked down a copy of this on YouTube if you want to watch it. There are some bullshit ones that tell you to visit their site to watch it. Just look for the 16 minute version. It's worth at least one watch, although I might make it a yearly thing just to remind myself that I could make a short film too... and then probably not do it. But the point is that I could if I wanted to!
I give Treevenge 3.5 ripped Santas out of 5:
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Despite coming up on the two-year anniversary of this blog, I haven't seen a lot of films that the ending happens and I question what the hell I just watched but... What the hell did I just watch?!
Christmas Evil focuses on that creepy guy that lives in your neighborhood that is into Christmas just a bit too much. After the childhood trauma of finding out Santa wasn't real (or maybe just that Santa was about to bang his mom under the tree) Harry focuses his entire life to be Santa. He spies on and keeps logs on the children in the neighborhood, he works in a toy factory, and he sews his own Santa suit. A series of odd comments and phone calls with his brother show just how unwound Harry is becoming. For the most part he is genuinely giving good kids presents but then he murders a guy from his job and some random people that talk shit on him outside of a church. Eventually a torch bearing crowd starts to chase down Harry and his van but he just crashes through a fence and off a cliff. Instead of crashing, the van flies through the air and into the night. Kind of like the end of Repo Man only you just watched a terrible Christmas horror film instead of a true classic.
I opted to watch Christmas Evil instead of take a nap and that was a horrible mistake. Everything about this film made me feel dirty. The awkward garter play between Santa and the mom went on for way too long. The fact that there's a nine-year-old cutting naked women out of a porno mag is weird, and then it ties into "bad hygiene" when marked in the "bad kids" book leads to an indescribable discomfort. There's a scene where Harry covers his face in mud and leaves hand prints and a kiss mark on the side of the same kid's house.
Then there's the odd Repo Frankenstein ending. What the hell was that mess? Why did that exist? Who wrote this? Why did I watch this? Why was this made? Fuck this movie!
I give Christmas Evil 0 ripped Santas out of 5:
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
I almost impulse bought the DVD of Krampus this year. I hadn't seen it previously but I remember a decent buzz existing around this film. I couldn't rectify the $10 price tag I saw on it at the time though. I like Adam Scott, but not $10 like Adam Scott. Maybe more like $5. $4.99 + tax like him. Let's go with that.
Krampus takes it weird and makes it weird. An awkward holiday get together becomes an even bigger tragedy after Max's letter to Santa is read aloud and calls out his family on most of their unspoken shit. In a fit of anger and embarrassment Max "loses faith," tears up the letter, and scatters it to the wind. This apparently summons Krampus, his minions, and freak snow storm that would make the North East blush.
I was disappointed with this film. Despite an excellent cast (Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner) Krampus didn't know if it wanted to be a dark or light horror film. It's loosely based on the lore of Krampus (like Krampus Unleashed was) and the only tie-in to its roots was that the grandmother of the family had summoned the entity when she was a child in her Germanic village. The pacing was also a bit off but I think that this may have been more of an editing issue with how the scenes and passages of time flowed together. Finally, the Shrek-esq gingerbread men can suck a fat fuck.
Conversely, Krampus did have some really great creature designs. There's some sort of owl creature with a doll face that I want as a pet. Krampus himself looked amazing and when we get our first look at him he's running from rooftop to rooftop in the most menacing manner. He also had his own version of Christmas elves that were all wearing uniquely carved masks and need their own horror film. Additionally there was a visual element that never gets any verbal confirmation, but each person that Krampus takes has a snowman made in their image on the family's front lawn. I was hoping that this became a bigger part in the film (such as the snowmen would break into the house) but it never came to pass.
I think that the hype around Krampus hurt it here. Once again, the U.S. got a giant collective boner over learning about this anti-Santa but putting a budget and some well known actors behind this really didn't pull it together for me. At the same time I feel like my gushing for Santa's Slay earlier in these 13 Days of Christmas colors what I want in a film. If Adam Scott was replaced with Kenny Omega or Krampus replaced with Bray Wyatt then I'd be more into this.
I give Krampus 2 ripped Santas out of 5:
Monday, December 18, 2017
When I was in high school my friends and I rented this movie. I'm not sure what the justification was for it aside from the fact we expected it to be terrible. The only thing I remember of it was that the VHS box had a lenticular printed cover that would change from a harmless snowman to the one pictured above. In truth, I think this movie was erased from my memory because it killed the brain cells that would retain any recollection of it.
I'm all out spoiling this film because it's trash. A murderer named Jack Frost was being transported for execution when the truck gets into an accident with a tanker. Jack escapes the vehicle only to end up getting covered in some bio-experiment goo. He then gains the shittiest version of Iceman's powers by only being able to take form as a snowman and slowly melting into water to eventually reform on the other side of doors. He can also make icicle spikes come out of himself but once again, only slowly and not in some sort of cool spike armor sort of way. As the snowman he begins to kill whomever he wants while also trying to get the cop that caught him. Eventually two of the worst government people make their way into this film so that we can learn that they're responsible for the goo that was in that truck. Jack seems indestructible until he gets a face full of nasty snack the cop's son put together for him that morning. Apparently the kid put antifreeze in it because he didn't want his dad getting cold. This kid is also like 13 and his parents have failed him miserably and he will probably get stolen by a hawk or something. A truck bed gets filled with antifreeze and all of our hero characters end up sitting and bathing in it after they pull Jack Frost in with them. Laughs are had and I died a little inside for watching this.
Fun fact: at a networking event for my previous job I met someone that co-owned one of the production companies that put this out. He admitted that this, as well as some other films they put out, were crap. We both loved the special cover of the VHS though.
This movie is shit. Even for low budget horror it was terrible. Unlike my previously covered Santa's Slay, this movie tried to put up this front of being a good horror movie and shot itself in the dick. Jack's lines are just creepy, gross, and unfunny. The snowman costume looks like a shitty puppet wrapped in those sheets of fake sparkle fabric you see among the dollar store decorations. The kid is an idiot and I'm still pissed off about the whole "I made this disgusting snack which will also murder you. Love you, dad!" The ending of them just laughing while soaking in the most poisonous chem-bath ever makes me want to punch out everyone that was in this film, young and old. I'm holding nothing back as everyone here makes the naughty list. To make things worse, this movie spawned at least one sequel. Someone thought this was good enough to make another!
The only thing that makes this movie worthwhile is the name because the following year another film named Jack Frost was released. It's a wholesome family comedy starring Michael Keaton as a man that was turned into a snowman with some sickly saccharine holiday plot about not being a shitty parent or blowing the spirit of Christmas while he tells you how pretty you are. Something stupid like that. I would like to know the number of times these VHS rentals got mixed up.
I give Jack Frost 0 ripped Santas out of 5 because I'm soooo angry at this film's existence!!:
Sunday, December 17, 2017
One of the quintessential holiday horror films, along with Black Christmas and a few others I'm going to cover on here, Silent Night Deadly Night seems to be the most remembered. Since Thanksgiving has passed, images of this film have been plastered all over my social media feeds. My own personal aversion to Christmas kept me from watching this previously but no longer! I have joined the SNDN cult!
Silent Night Deadly Night focuses on a boy named Billy. His family visits his grandfather in a mental hospital where the grandfather secretly tells Billy that Santa will punish the boy for not being good all year. On their drive home the parents stop to help a man dressed as Santa on the side of the road. This Santa is some sort of lunatic criminal that kills the father and then rips open the shirt of the mother before he cuts her throat. Billy hides but sees all of this and becomes ultra traumatized toward Santa Claus. He and his baby brother are then taken to an orphanage run by nuns where the Mother Superior has incredibly old-fashioned (even for the time) views of child psychology and corporal punishment. As if Billy weren't fucked up enough, she just makes it worse. Finally, in the "present day" of the film, Billy has a job at a toy store where he ends up playing the store Santa. After a few drinks at the holiday party and walking into an attempted rape by one of his co-workers, Billy has a flashback and then just goes on a murderous rampage.
I'm sure that when this film was being written they were just looking for plot reasons to have Billy snap. The thing that floored me with Silent Night Deadly Night was the fact that from a psychological point of view everything makes sense. The initial trauma toward Santa based on real life events, the fear of punishment for being "naughty," the aversion to sex and the association of violence with it and the baring of the female body, these are all relevant reasons for Billy's emotional response. Granted, this is an extreme expression of it, but the inclusion of alcohol (which he had no previous experience with) would lead to a lowering of inhibitions. The only thing is once he started, he just didn't stop.
With that analysis out of the way, I liked Silent Night Deadly Night. It's dated, but for someone like me it felt nostalgic. Seeing He-Man toys on a shelf or the weird inflatable bunny that everyone had for Easter let me go back to the 80's without an issue. I found myself only caring about Billy as far as the characters go. Though, with a holiday slasher, everyone is pretty much expendable. This movie also spawned a few sequels which I may watch at some point. However, if I take anything away from this movie, it's going to be just shouting "NAUGHTY!" at the cats when they misbehave.
I give Silent Night Deadly Night 4 ripped Santas out of 5:
Saturday, December 16, 2017
Holy sweet goddamn did I luck out with this one! I had no previous knowledge of this film aside from the title alone but look right above that! Bill fucking Goldberg! WCW/WWE wrestler Bill fucking Goldberg gets top billing in this film. Do you know why? He's Santa in this! I honestly don't know why I'm even writing this and not rushing to buy every last copy of this from the $5 bin at Wal-Mart to stuff each copy into my husband's stocking. He doesn't care about wrestling but I can't justify buying those all for me, but if I say it's a gift for him...
Santa's Slay has a simple premise: Santa is actually the spawn of Satan. One-thousand years ago an angel challenged Santa to a curling (the ice sport, not weightlifting) competition and won. In return Santa had to stop being a dick and instead only commit good deeds for a thousand years. Now that the deal has been fulfilled Santa goes on a murder spree with his
This film knows exactly what it is and turns that awareness into its greatest strength. When carolers are out in the day the main characters question why, but it's a setup for Santa to wreck some carolers. We know that, and the film knows that, so we're okay with it. The opening scene has Fran Drescher, Chris Kattan, and Rebecca Gayheart in it and they only exist to be the first kills that set the pace. There are some other recognizable faces in here too but I'm still too hyped on Bill Goldberg killing people as Santa.
Speaking of which, Bill has never been great on the mic. Mind you, he's better than some *cough*Brock Lesner*cough* but every line delivered by him is great. Sure, we get a lot of holiday puns but we do get some golden ones like "I'm Santa Claus, not fucking Dracula!" which I think I want etched on something when I die. I don't know what yet, but somewhere, on something. My only regret with this film is that Santa didn't give anyone the Jackhammer finisher, although I do think he speared at least one person.
I give Santa's Slay 5 ripped Santas out of 5:
Friday, December 15, 2017
At some point in the last decade the U.S. caught a whiff of the Germanic folktale of Krampus and lost its collective mind. A creature to rival Santa which kidnaps and beats and/or devours bad children? Sign us the fuck up! Kids are jerks! Unfortunately, like most things we lose our minds over, people start cashing in on it. With the release of the 2015 film Krampus making $61.8 million in box office alone then why wouldn't knock-off versions begin to pop up? This is how I found Krampus Unleashed.
Following absolutely nothing in regards to the Krampus lore (aside from his look and setting the film during Christmas) we get some backstory about a bandit named Klaus that supposedly hid some treasure in the desert in Arizona. A group of treasure hunters find the buried loot but it just ends up being some dirty socks and a large black stone. This stone summons Krampus and he kills with wreckless abandon until the stone falls into a creek. Fast forward years later and the stone is found by a boy that is part of a family get together on some land in the desert. Krampus is summoned and this movie continues its sickening spiral into hell.
I don't know what I expected with this film, but I'm damn sure it isn't what I watched. The acting was competent. That's all. The director got a bunch of people in front of a camera and they said their lines, but a lot of the emotional response or just physical acting lacked any talent. When you tell a boy that his dad and grandfather were just murdered by a monster, and you do a close-up shot of the kid's face, you better make sure he looks upset. Instead we get the "did I leave the stove on" face. This movie had a plot, and it worked, but in that sense that if you put enough glue on things then they have to stick together. Right?
The only redeeming moments of this film are each of the kills done by Krampus. I thought Troma did some low budget stuff, but damn! The blood was the reddest blood I have ever seen and every time a limb or head was severed it was apparent that some poor mannequin was getting fucked up. The thing is, I can't fault them on it. Even though it looked cheap it made me laugh every time. It wasn't what they intended but at least I got enjoyment out of it. If you look up anything from this movie then please look up Krampus punching the grandmother's head off. That might be all you need to see.
I give Krampus Unleashed 1 ripped Santa out of 5:
Thursday, December 14, 2017
13 Days of Christmas Day 2: Silent Night, Bloody Night (a.k.a. Night of the Dark Full Moon, a.k.a. Death House) (1972) 1h 21m
I had no clue this movie existed. I was trying to find a version of the original Silent Night, Deadly Night to watch and clicked on this while not looking at the full title. Between this, Silent Night, Deadly Night, and Black Christmas also being known as Silent Night, Evil Night, the horror industry needs to calm their fucking tits when it comes to this pun. Nevertheless, I watched Silent Night, Bloody Night and it does count as a Christmas horror movie, so turn on the weird video of a log fire and let's get into it.
We start and end our journey with Diane attempting to tell us the bleak story of what happened and how she survived. It's hammy and overdone but it's what we have to work with. On Christmas Eve 20 years prior Wilfred Butler ran out of his house on fire. Rather than rolling in the snow (which would make a lot of sense) he basically ran until he burned to death. I got stop drop and roll shoved down my throat as a kid, but I was also a kid in the 80's when things like Mr. Yuck stickers were common but so was going into the woods at 9am and not coming back until it was almost nightfall. In Butler's will he requested that his property would be taken over by a family member but that no one lives there for 20 years or else something garbled when being told would happen. Time passes, someone escapes a mental hospital, and the strangest gathering of town elders get foreboding phone calls. Then a journal is found, at night, by a sheriff wearing sunglasses (let that sink in for a second) and later re-found and that's how we learn the true story of Wilfred Butler.
I did an inflation calculator to find out what this movie's budget would be by today's standards and it would've been made now for $1.71 million dollars. I figured this movie was made for a hot dog dinner and a case of Coke. What the hell did that money go toward?
This film tried way too hard to make each character unique. There's the woman with a million bird cages in her house, the old man that speaks primarily by just ringing a desk bell, and the lawyer's girlfriend that seems as though she's so foreign that she's from another planet. I actually spent more time playing Broforce on my laptop than paying attention to this movie because it was a messy slog. By the time we get the explanation from the journal on everything that's going on it comes out as this deluge of information that's too much too fuckin' late.
I could've gone on never knowing this film existed, but now that I do I feel as if just watching that made some sort of horcrux and it stole a piece of my soul. I can never die now because I watched this movie. It's a hellish existence.
I give Silent Night, Bloody Night 0 ripped Santas out of 5:
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
13 Days of Christmas Day 1: Black Christmas (a.k.a. Silent Night, Evil Night, a.k.a Stranger in the House)(1974) 1h 38m
I figured we could start the 13 Days of Christmas with a true holiday classic. So light up the tree, spike your egg nog extra strong, and make sure your lawn is booby trapped to keep those damn carolers away. Let's get into Black Christmas.
One of the innovators of the slasher genre, Black Christmas is the ultimate "the call is coming from inside the house" film. A sorority house has been receiving obscene phone calls from a man that switches between weird baby noises and violent sexual comments, sometimes doing two voices at once which is a real fucking talent. After the house lush, Barb, tells the caller off, the sisters seem to settle into getting ready for everyone to leave for Christmas break. While packing, Clare hears the house cat making strange noises at something in her closet. Rather than getting help, or even a weapon, she just keeps saying "who's there" while going to check out the closet. Her murder by dry cleaning bag is what sets off the chain of events that make up this movie. Her corpse is also the poster art, complete with plastic wrapped head.
I first became aware of this film when the loose remake of 2006 was being made. People lost their shit over the remake being released on Christmas, as if it was spitting in the eye of god. The original has a much better plot structure though in the sense that it doesn't attempt to explain who the murderer is, how they got there, or why they're doing this. I think that for an effective slasher you don't always need a set motive or backstory aside from "Oh shit, that person is going to wreck everyone."
I will say that this film is entirely dated and displays some of the most inept authority figures ever. From the front desk cop that can't be bothered to do his job properly, to the sorority mother that has more hidden booze than a 20's-era speakeasy, to the cops that don't check the attic to find a three-day-old rotting corpse and psycho killer, everything is a mess. We do get some interesting kills thanks to things like large crystal unicorn decorations. Also, I have to bring up Barb again because she spends most of the movie being some sort of strange booze magician with her pulling cans of beer out of everything and then making guests feel uncomfortable while she talks about wanting to get fucked for three days like a turtle does. She's the kind of girl that you go to a party with friends and somehow get stuck on a couch with her while she babbles about everything until she cries about something and you're stuck watching the car crash in slow motion.
I give Black Christmas 3 ripped Santas out of 5:
Monday, December 11, 2017
Hey everyone, I'm a guest on this week's Rank & Vile Podcast. We discuss the foreign horror films The Untamed, Honeymoon, and Train to Busan. You can find that on iTunes as well as on Podbean at https://rankandvile.podbean.com/
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Get ready! One week until our 13 Days of Horror advent calendar starts! Thirteen days, thirteen Christmas themed horror movies.... Get hyped!