December is here. There is a chill in the air. Decorations and pretty lights are on display in homes everywhere you go. The holidays are officially here. Of course that means we will be seeing a ton of Christmas specials and holiday classics like ITíS A WONDERFUL LIFE, A CHRISTMAS STORY and DIE HARD. Thankfully however, horror has always been lurking in the shadows. You have the seminal BLACK CHRISTMAS (letís forget about the remake shall we) and other cult classics such as the SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT franchise, and JACK FROST who was nipping at more than just your nose. Letís face it, Jack Skellington had a damn good idea when it came to merging Halloween and Christmas together in the family friendly - but still spooktacular - THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS.
Even though genre fans have choices when December comes, is it enough? This year, thanks to Michael Dougherty, we have a brand new horror flick that is drenched in the holiday spirit. KRAMPUS tells the frightening tale of a demonic force who terrorizes those waiting for their stockings to be hung from the chimneys with care. With a solid cast including Adam Scott, David Koechner and Toni Collette, it looks like this could be just the thing for horror fans. Even with itís PG-13 rating, here is hoping that this is the kind of frightfest that will be something to return to every year. And if that wasnít enough, evil Santa is doing double duty with a A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY. With some seriously f*cked up elves and William Shatner as a radio DJ, this could be something worth checking out on VOD, where it is currently available.
There are certainly varied selections that we can enjoy in front of a cozy fire with a holiday inspired beverage - eggnog anyone? However, most of the jolly old terrors that make it to video - or on the rare occasion into theatres - arenít all that merry. Rarely do we get to open up something truly special. The last really solid releases include arguably SINT (SAINT) from 2011, about a murderous St. Nick kidnapping and murdering children. This one is definitely not for the young ones. And then there was another solid fantasy flick called RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE from 2010. And you have to give credit to filmmaker Steven C. Miller for giving us a pretty cool, sort of, remake with SILENT NIGHT from 2012. Perhaps it is fear of a backlash of this type of film this time of year, but for the most part you wonít find a whole lot when it comes to the genre on Christmastime.
With KRAMPUS, I am feeling cautiously optimistic. The cast is great, and with the wonderfully wicked TRICK 'R†TREAT, it seems Dougherty may have the ability to create yet another solid holiday themed scarefest. Horror fans, myself included, are anxiously awaiting the planned TRICK 'R†TREAT sequel and who can blame them? The filmmaker brought us one of the most creative and atmospheric Halloween films - aside from John Carpenterís own HALLOWEEN - that it will be exciting to see what he can do with something like this. It takes a special director to truly capture the magic of December 25th, and I have faith Michael will pull it off. Yet why arenít there more filmmakers attempting to capture a little terror on the night Santa rides his sleigh?
Even though I am looking forward to KRAMPUS, the PG-13 gives me the shivers, and the trailer didnít blow me away. Still, I have faith it could be something to celebrate. And perhaps even if it isnít, Iíd still like to see it do well. There are more than enough happy and inspiring fables about giving, and just how joyful this time of year can be. To this day, my perfect Christmas flick is the original BLACK CHRISTMAS. The use of the music and the festive lights created a horrifying backdrop for a crazed killer terrorizing sorority sisters. There is plenty of room for crowdpleasers and Oscar caliber entertainment, why not a little more X-Mas fright? This should be especially true with so many cool features opening on VOD and all other streaming sites. I get it, people love to take a walk in a winter wonderland, but occasionally it is a lot of fun to have a little blood splattered across all that white snow.
Maybe itís the booze talkiní, but letís hope KRAMPUS helps bring more horror to the holidays. For years, aside from a few select gems, weíve had to suffer through some really bad X-mas inspired horror. For every BLACK CHRISTMAS or GREMLINS, there was a DONíT OPEN ĎTILL CHRISTMAS (1984), SANTA CLAWS (1996) or TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT (1980). If you are fan of B-grade scares then you have a ton to choose from. Yet I have a feeling we can do better. Once October 31st has come and gone, it would be nice if Mr. Claus would sharpen up his axes and put his elves to work and create a modern day yule tide terror that is worth putting under the tree! So bring on KRAMPUS! Iím ready to see the dark side of Jolly Old St. Nick and hopefully there is more where that came from.