Yeah, we said Christmas. Not that we take some issue with that “war on Christmas” garbage, but there isn’t exactly a cornucopia of Kwanzaa or Hanukah horror flicks. Get on that, other filmmakers who aren’t me!
Anyway, here’s a list of five cheesy flicks you should check out as you open presents by that crappy tree up above and ignore Cousin Eddie’s creepy stares.
1. Black Christmas (1974)
Before there was Halloween, Friday the 13th, or Nightmare on Elm Street, there was a little flick called Black Christmas. Skip over the flat 2006 remake (despite Lacey Chabert’s presence) and head right for the original, directed by “A Christmas Story” director and really nice guy Bob Clark.
It owes a lot to the Italian giallo tradition, whether consciously or not; implied, off the screen kills, a killer staying in the shadows, etc. But the traditions of the slasher are all there, and it’s good for a history lesson as well as a cheesy Christmas flick.
2. Silent Night, Deadly Night
If you think films today have controversy, consider 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night. When it was released, it was literally protested. Crowds gathered at theaters and malls to picket it. Siskel and Ebert famously used their TV show to read the production credits and say “shame, shame” after every one. Ads were pulled just six days after it was released, with the film following soon after. All because the guy wears a Santa suit! Even dumber, a Santa themed slasher was released in 1980 to no fanfare.
Luckily, an independent distributor picked Silent Night, Deadly Night up. They focused its ads for the re-release on the prior controversy and the film now enjoys “cult” status for horror lovers everywhere. And it’s ridiculous – great over the top slasher craziness perfect for a few glasses of eggnog.
3. Rare Exports
Just saw this on Wednesday! Santa is more naughty than nice in this wintry Finland movie. An excavation team finds something under the ice – something old and ready to punish all the bad children of the world!
The subject matter is treated very seriously, despite it being about a killer Santa. If you’ve ever felt like there was just something “off” about a jolly fat guy who judges you and breaks into your house, watch Rare Exports for the REAL story of Kris Kringle.
This overlooked 2007 thriller written by splatter lover Alexandre Aja is surprisingly low on gore and blood. A young, power hungry corporate exec gets trapped in her building’s parking garage with a deranged security guard who just wants her to sit down for some Christmas dinner.
It’s not the most original film in the world but it’s an ok game of cat and mouse to have on in the background during Christmas dinner. Just make sure you’re not chained to your chair…
Little known Fox fact: when this movie came out in theaters, I was four years old. My dad thought it would be a fun little movie for a dad/son outing. Two weeks later, I was still sleeping in my parents’ room. They claim I saw gremlins climbing on the curtains and the ceiling, probably like the dead baby in Trainspotting.
Of course, my 13 year old nephew recently saw it and just said it was “silly.” And it is, really. It was so silly director Joe Dante directly lampooned it in the sequel. Isn’t it always after midnight somewhere? Isn’t snow made of water?
No matter. For those of us who grew up in the ‘80s, it’s just as important as a Christmas movie as A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life. Watch it this year and feel like a kid again.