Top 10 Underrated Christmas Horror Flicks To Watch This Year!
Scary Christmas motherf*ckers! The holiday season is once again upon us, you know what the hell that means. We're all about the Christmastime terror around here, with the trend continuing in this week's Top 10. But instead of repeatedly feting the classics we all know and love to watch this time of year - be it BLACK CHRISTMAS, SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT, GREMLINS, SANTA'S SLAY, CHRISTMAS EVIL, TALES FROM THE CRYPT, etc. etc. - we thought it'd be more fun to unwrap a double-fistful of lesser known holiday horror gems. Older, newer, domestic, foreign - slasher, ghost-story, monster-movie, satanic - don't matter, we're piling it all up under the tree this year. So do wise and spike the eggnog, pack the chimney, stuff your girl's stockings and dig the f*ck into our Top 10 Underrated Christmas Horror Flicks!
Now here's a movie I'd like to see remade. Not that I support remakes, but the 1989 horror flick ELVES is neither a particularly good movie, nor known enough by a worldwide audience to really matter. There is, however, a kernel of creepiness, a nugget of nastiness in the original story that, if refashioned and expounded upon, could be a pretty good idea. Get this, the '89 film is about a race of malefic Nazi-elves that, in order to propagate their super-species for world domination, seek to rape and impregnate human virgins. I'm not kidding. The film is rated PG-13 at that. F*cking bonkers! Then in comes the badass Dan Haggerty, a rogue Santa Claus, to put an end to all the silliness once and for all.
Granted, DON'T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS is a poorly made, at times unwatchable, cheap and cheesy English horror movie. I don't care, it's premise is too damn pure to pass up. You see, when most films of the time featured a sadistic Santa going on an unrelenting murder spree, in this film, the script is flipped entirely. Here, a man so disgusted with the holiday season decides to express his rage by stalking London and brutally slaughtering every well-intentioned Santa Claus lookalike. And not only that, my man looks to make this an annual tradition, that is, unless a Scotland Yard detective can quash the madness once and for all.
The great David Hess - of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT fame - actually directed his very own holiday-horror film in 1980, the little-seen TO ALL A GOODNIGHT. Creating a trend that would proliferate throughout the decade, the film centers on a cadre of teenagers who get savagely butchered by a baleful Santa Claus! It's not a great film, but the reason it's so obscure has more to do with the massive controversy SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (a better film mind you) incurred only 4 years later. Also, TO ALL A GOODNIGHT never enjoyed a DVD/Blu-ray release, despite desperately needing a quality film transfer. Still, it's one of the first flicks to feature a killer Santa.
Label it a guilty pleasure if you want, I don't give a good goddamn, P2 is a fun little slasher two-hander to watch during the holidays. I mean, Rachel Nichols in a bloody gown, her huge tits pouring out for 90 minutes? Wes Bently as a murderous axe-man with a maniacal glint in his eye? Co-written by Alexandre Aja? Directed by his longtime creative partner Franck Khalfoun? I'm into it! No plot here, just a young woman trapped in a parking garage on a Christmas Eve with a lunatic security guard teasing her, taunting her, tormenting her. Actually, there's a bit of psychological terror mixed in with the gory chop-jobs (that dinner scene), which sort of elevates the flick above others of its ilk.
While I'm sure most of us know, love and even prefer the polemic 1984 slasher SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT - let's not short-shrift the solid 1972 horror joint SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT. The flick begins on Christmas Eve, where a man returns home to find out his house has been turned into an insane asylum. When he's burned alive, a then serial killer seeks refuge in the asylum. It's then up to the burned man's nephew to figure out what the hell is going on. Not for lack of quality, the major reason this film has slipped under the cracks is that it fell into public domain in the early 70s, where it languished until the 80s when Elvira's Movie Macabre began running the film.
At once a head-scratching curio and also a bit of a guilty-pleasure, I have no problem admitting that the first time I saw the DEAD END, the hair on the back of my neck stood up no less than twice. Real shit. The scene where the Alexandra Holden, after a long drawn-out silence, suddenly starts crooning that sinister Christmas ditty in the car...yeah, that f*cked me up! Starring genre greats Ray Wise and Lin Shaye, DEAD END is a low-budget ($900,000) road-horror-movie that takes place almost entirely in a car. It's mysterious, unique, unsettling, and happens to be set on Christmas Eve as a family travels on a road through a wooded shortcut that turns out to be haunted.
British Christmastime killer-kids flick THE CHILDREN is one we've been beating the drum for around here for a few years now. Deservedly so. Not sure about you, but to me director Tom Shankland crystallizes perfectly what terrifies most when visiting family for the holidays...disease carrying progeny! Taken to the extreme, it's the mystery surrounding the infected CHILDREN, and the heinous and horrifying measures taken on behalf of that blood-thirsty affliction, that works so well in the film. That, in addition to the snow-dappled, shut-in single-location and consistently ominous tone. Seriously, if you've never seen THE CHILDREN, adopt that sick sucker ASAP!
Proving that horror wasn't a complete and utter dead-zone in the 90s, at least internationally, is Alex De La Iglesia's kick-ass Spanish horror joint DAY OF THE BEAST. Fusing a dark sense of humor with an intensely unnerving story about a priest who believes the Anti-Christ will be born on Christmas day, DAY OF THE BEAST is that rare hybrid of gory horror and irreverent comedy done well in tandem. It's also wildly different than most yuletide-terror...not a slasher, not a monster movie, not a sadistic-Santa flick, none of those things. It's a standalone achievement for Iglesia, who'd go on to direct THE OXFORD MURDERS and THE LAST CIRCUS. Next up, ABCs OF DEATH 2.
I'm still recovering from the first time I saw INSIDE, the splendid French exercise in extreme grue and gore. Wow, what a f*cked up movie! If you've not seen it, the setup is simple. On Christmas Eve, a pregnant woman due to give birth the following day is marauded in her home by female stalker hell-bent on stealing her baby. I'm talking break-in, beat the bitch down to a bloody pulp, perform a makeshift C-section and carve the fetus plum out of the woman's bloody body. Yeah, no joke! Directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo lend a certain energy and verve to the material that seem far braver and bolder than some of their international contemporaries. Well done sirs!
Aldo Lado's sublime 1972 Italian shocker NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS has long been compared to, or equated with (rightfully so), Wes Craven's LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. In fact, in terms of plot, the two films differ very little, save for the obvious setting. Also dubbed LAST STOP ON THE NIGHT TRAIN - Lado's flick follows a pair of teenage girls on a train from Germany to Italy, travelling home to spend Christmas with the family. However, things aren't so merry when two filthy hoodlums and their perverted gal-pal start tormenting the two girls to all bloody hell. A must see for fans of LAST HOUSE, fans of Xmas-time terror, or fans of Italian horror cinema in general!