Christmas Nightmares and Horrors

Let’s face it, the holidays can be a nightmare. Sure, Halloween is fun. We dress up in costumes, have some fun and treats. All too soon though the Thanksgiving Day food binges are over and the football games are finished. It’s then that Christmas looms over us… and the horror begins.

Maybe the in-laws are visiting for a day longer than you care for or you’re visiting the in-laws one day longer than you wanted. Traveling from here to there can be a horror in itself. Flights get cancelled. Luggage gets lost. Every family has that one relative who’s a little embarrassing after a few cocktails. Don’t forget the person who wants to talk politics around the dinner table. Maybe you’re scared you’ll be dashing around town like a mad person finishing last minute  Christmas shopping….again. Oh, yes. Christmas can be a real horror show. Hopefully, your holidays are better than the ones listed below.

BLACK CHRISTMAS

For many students Christmas break is more than just the end of a semester. It’s a giant relief. Final exams are over and the next semester is weeks away. Christmas break is a time to kick back and relax with friends and family. It’s a time to have some fun that is if you’re not the sorority girls in Black Christmas.

girl with a plastic bag over her head

Black Christmas may seem very familiar to the casual fan of slasher movies. It shares many of the same elements of other slasher movies: There are the girls who are being killed off one at a time, the police are outwitted by the killer at every turn, the kills are corny as they are over the top (In one secene the killer uses a glass unicorn like a knife to kill Margot Kidder’s Barb), and there’s the final girl, Jess (Olivia Hussey,Romeo and Juliet), who survives the killer. Of course, there’s a little wiggle room for a sequel.

Yes, it sounds like Black Christmas could have come out last year. Except it was released in 1974; four years before Halloween, eight years before Friday the 13th, and decades before the hundreds of other slasher clones that followed. All the trappings that we’ve come to know and love in slasher movies were first done in Black Christmas. (When a Stranger Calls (1979) even stole,almost word for word, the classic line, “The call is coming from inside the house!” from Black Chritmas).

Jess calling the police

*uncredited creator because I don’t know who photoshopped it. It’s still pretty cool though.

Black Christmas holds up quite well for a forty year old movie. The moments that were creepy in 1974  (The close up of the killer’s eye from behind the door) are still creepy today. The mystery of who the killer is (Even though some folks will argue it’s Billy) will still leave you guessing at the end of the film. Other than a few silly scenes, Black Christmas is still fun Christmas viewing.

movie poster for Black Christmas from 1974

Silent Night, Deadly Night

What happens when a boy witnesses a Santa Claus killing his mother and father? According to Silent Night, Deadly Night that boy becomes a serial killing Santa Claus.

Silent Night, Deadly Night came out in the early eighties riding the coattails of successful slasher movies like Friday the 13th, Halloween, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Those movies stood the test of time and became horror classics. SN, DN, unfortunately, did not.

Nun spanking young Billy into a serial killer

Horror movie mothers have been responsible for turning their sons into killers for a long time-think Norman Bates. Mother Superior is a stand in for Billy’s dead mother.

Every slasher horror trope you can think of is jammed into the movie: Billy, the boy turned Santa serial killer, is traumatized into being a serial killer, there’s the obligatory breast shot that is shown more than once to let the viewer know sex is bad, and then there’s the cliched ending which leaves the door open to a sequel (In fact, there have been four sequels to Silent Night, Deadly Night). 

Ax flung at blonde girl

Every one knows you don’t have sex in horror movies.

All this isn’t to say SN,DN is a bad movie. Actually, it is a bad movie. The acting is bad, the direction is lackluster, and the sets are bare bones. However, SN,DN is one of those horror movies that’s so cheesy you have to watch it. Maybe it is a classic horror movie after all.

(Make sure you at least watch the montage of Billy working at the toy store. It’s campy and cheesy, but the shelves are filled with a few awesome toys from the past.)

Billy as Santa Clause stalking his victim

Jack Frost

Jack Frost may not be the scariest movie you’ve ever seen, it may not have the best acting, and it sure doesn’t have the greatest special effects you’ve ever seen, but what it may be is the funnest Christmas horror movie you’ve ever seen.

Snowman strangling police office

The trick is not to take the movie seriously. How serious can you take a movie about a killer who is genetically mutated into a snowman? Not seriously at all is the answer.

Snowman's face melting

It’s face melting fun.

Sit back and enjoy the cheesy one liners, the B-movie effects, and the silliest Christmas horror movie you’ll likely ever see. Take note of the music while your watching. It’s actually good Christmas music. 

Snowman in tub killing girl

A pre-American Pie Shannon Elizabeth learning sex will get you killed in horror movies.

KRAMPUS

What happens when you stop believing in the Jolly Fat Man? Some people would say, “Adulthood.” Other people would say the anti-Santa, Krampus, comes for you.

Adam Scott learns Krampus is real

Take a healthy dose of Christmas Vacation, add in a demonic toy, elves from hell, deranged gingerbread men, and attack snowmen and you’ll get an idea of what makes Krampus an awesome, creepy Christmas horror movie.

Two things make Krampus a must see: The cast and the ending. The cast is made up of actors you don’t automatically associate with horror movies. Adam Scott is best known for Parks and Recreation, but one of his first roles was in Hellraiser: Bloodline. David Koechner, best known for his role as Champ Kind in Anchorman, was recently the brilliantly, crazy Cheap Thrills and Toni Collette’s two entries are The Sixth Sense and the Fright Night remake. Then there’s Conchata Ferrell whose only horror credit is Two and a Half Men (Sorry. Just a little joke).

David Koechner fighting demonic gingerbread men

However, it’s the backgrounds in comedy and straight dramas that bring out the scares in Krampus. It’s also this diverse background that makes the lighthearted, funnier scenes some of the best moments in the movie. 

Blood thirsty clown chopping on kids

Krampus may not end like the other feel good Christmas movies you usually watch around this time of year. In fact, the ending may leave you scratching your head. Usually scratching your head at the end of a movie is a sign that the movie was bad. However, this time it means  you’ll be asking questions and wondering what the ending means.

Grandmother talks to Krampus

Make some time this holiday season for Krampus. You never know, you make like it so much Krampus becomes annual holiday viewing (There’s some great animation if you need an excuse for the kiddies to watch with you).

 

What are your favorite Christmas horror movies? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

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