Sunday, December 30, 2018

Women Who Made an Impact in Horror for 2017-18

Jenn Wexler
Ms. Wexler has an impressive list of horror films that she has produced and written for including ABC’s of Death 2, Darling, Like Me and Psychopaths. Her first feature-length film The Ranger premiered at SXSW in March of 2018, and Ms. Wexler was nominated for the SXSW Gamechanger Award. The Ranger is a slasher film that blends the style of an 80’s slasher with a punk rock look and a great cast.   

Aislinn Clarke
Irish Director Aislinn Clarke wrote and directed her first feature-length movie “The Devils Doorway,” the film was nominated for the Jury Prize at the Molins De Rei Horror Film Festival for Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Film. “The Devils Doorway” has received praise for the home movie look of the film and the setting of the events in a Magdalene Laundry.    

Isa Mazzei
Ms. Mazzei not only wrote and produced the 2018 film Cam, but she also used her personal history as a Cam Girl as inspiration for the story. The film has won praise in some film festivals including awards for Best Actress Madeline Brewer at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, as well as Best Screenplay for Ms. Mazzei and Best First Feature for Director Daniel Goldhaber at the 2018 Fantasia Film Festival. Cam has also won praise for its accurate and positive look at the sex industry especially the world of Cam Girls.  

Karyn Kusama
With a career going back to the early ’90s, Ms. Kusama has written, produced and directed several films including Girlfight, Aeon Flux Jennifer’s Body, The Invitation, a segment in the anthology XX, and Destroyer. Ms. Kusama’s films often feature strong female roles that are flawed and must struggle through challenges that they face. Her films Girlfight and The Invitation have won some awards at Film Festivals around the world. In recent years Ms. Kusama has also worked as a director for television shows such as Halt and Catch Fire, Casual and Billions.   

Julia Ducournau
French film director and screenwriter Julia Ducournau’s film Raw tackled the subject of cannibalism but did so in a manner, unlike most other horror films. The film explored a young woman’s primal urges as she discovers a hunger for human flesh. The film was praised by film critics but also disturbed many viewers who were unsettled by the graphic imagery and gore of the film.   

Coralie Fargeat
Films based on revenge tend to focus more on the violence and misguided sense of justice, yet Ms. Fargeat directed “Revenge” with a focus on the struggle faced by the discarded survivor played by Matilda Lutz. “Revenge” is her first feature-length movie and has been hailed for the feminist spin on the exploitation genre and especially rape-revenge films.

Jovanka Vuckovic
A Canadian Director who has worked as an Editor for Rue Morgue Magazine as well as writing and directing the short films The Captured Bird, Self Portrait, The Guest and a segment in the horror anthology XX.                                                                                                                                               

Barbara Crampton
With a career going back to the 1980s, Ms. Crampton appeared in several popular horror films including Chopping Mall, Re-Animator, From Beyond and Castle Freak. After a hiatus, she returned to horror films in 2011 with the home invasion film You’re Next. Ms. Crampton has since appeared in over 15 movies and in 2018 announced she would appear in horror themed TV series Channel Zero as well as appearing as a columnist with Fangoria Magazine.     

Gillian Flynn
A writer who has made an impact with her novels Sharp Objects, Dark Places, and Gone Girl. HBO produced Sharp Objects as a miniseries, and it became one of HBO’s most talked about series of 2018 with its dark storyline and troubled protagonist well played by Amy Adams.

Susanne Bier
A Danish film director, Ms. Bier has won a Golden Globe, an Emmy as well as an Academy Award for her film In a Better World. In late 2018 she directed the post-apocalyptic movie Bird Box starring Sandra Bullock and based on the novel by Josh Malerman. The film was released on Netflix and become one of the most streamed movies for the popular video service.

Toni Collette
Ms. Collette has a career that spans three decades, over seventy roles and has won an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a Tony Award. She has made an impact in the horror genre with her role in The Sixth Sense as well Krampus. In 2018 Ms. Collette made a significant impact with her role in Hereditary and has received accolades from several film festivals.

Soska Sisters
Jen and Sylvia Soska are Canadian sisters who write, produce and direct films such as Dead Hooker in a Trunk, See No Evil 2 and the cult favorite American Mary. They are currently directing a remake of the David Cronenberg film Rabid with Laura Vandervoort in the starring role.

Roxanne Benjamin
Ms. Benjamin is a writer, producer, and director whose movies include segments in the horror anthologies Southbound and XX, as well as producing VHS, VHS 2, Faults and The Devils Candy. Ms. Benjamin is currently working on the film Body at Brighton Rock as the film's writer and director.   

Issa Lopez
A Mexican Director whose film Tigers Are Not Afraid shows the aftermath of the violence of the drug cartels in Mexico on the children who are orphaned. The award-winning film drew praise from Stephen King and Guillermo Del Toro, with Del Toro offering to produce her next project.   

Alice Lowe
English actress and comedy writer who has appeared in Hot Fuzz and The World’s End. In 2017 her black comedy slasher Prevenge was released with Ms. Lowe being pregnant with her daughter at the time of principal filming.

Friday, December 28, 2018

10 Great Horror Films From July to December 2018

Ruin Me
Dir- Preston DeFrancis
This escape room summer camp-themed slasher plays like a copycat 80's horror movie, but the twists in the story concerning the final girl will have you guessing if what we are seeing is real or just her mind playing games with her. 

The Devils Doorway
Dir- Aislinn Clarke
A found footage film that uses the real-life horror of the Magdelene Laundries as the backdrop for a story involving a supposed miracle and the terror that awaits a pair of priests who are sent in to investigate. 

Summer of '84
Dir- Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell & Yoann-Karl Whissell
A group of young boys spying on their neighbor has them suspecting that he may be involved in some crimes occurring in their town, it makes it more difficult as he is a police officer in their community. 

The Apostle
Dir- Gareth Evans
A man travels to a remote island community to look for his sister who he suspects has been kidnapped by a cult. What he finds there will be far more shocking and next to impossible to escape. 

Anna and the Apocalypse
Dir- John McPhail
As the world falls apart around them in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, a group of teens fights and sings in the hopes of finding their loved ones as they learn to depend on one another to survive. 

Dir- Daniel Goldhaber
The life of an online camera girl is turned upside down when her account is stolen by a mysterious doppelganger that mimics her behavior but goes much farther than she been willing to before.  

Dir- Panos Cosmatos
A tale of one man's revenge that plays out in music and drug-fueled visual spectacles that seems hypnotic and surreal. Truly the most epic of all of Nicolas Cage's films. 

Dir- David Gordon Green
Forty years after she survived a deadly encounter with a masked assailant, Laurie Strode has prepared for a confrontation with Michael Myers after he escapes captivity during a transfer. 

Dir- Julius Avery
A team of paratroopers sent in to disable a vital communications link on D-Day is shocked to find a Nazi laboratory playing host all sorts of unspeakable experiments and atrocities. 

Dir- Luca Guadagnino
The dark secrets of an elite dance academy are revealed through the actions of the school's director, a new arrival and a psychotherapist. What happens next will depend on their willingness to wake up or fall prey to the madness.  

Monday, December 24, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Black Christmas (1974)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the final night I am listing 1974 psychological slasher Black Christmas.

Black Christmas (1974)
Dir- Bob Clark

During the Christmas holiday, the girls of Pi Kappa Sigma sorority house are preparing for winter break only to encounter a mysterious caller who yells obscenities and nonsense. One of the sisters planning to leave is attacked by the mysterious figure who suffocates her and puts her body in the attic. This event goes unnoticed as the girls in the house continue to get harassing calls as the killer takes them out one at a time until the police can figure out where the calls are coming from that night. Black Christmas was released in 1974 and predates the famous slasher movie Halloween by four years; the film was unlike most terror films of the day as slasher films had not become commonplace yet. Initially, the film faced negative criticism due to the violence and the salty dialogue of the mostly female characters. The cast includes Romeo and Juliet's Olivia Hussey, 2001's Keir Dullea, comedian Andrea Martin, screen and television veteran John Saxon but the standout is Margot Kidder who's performance as Barb is considered by fans to be one of her best due to the free-spirited and often out of control attitude. Over the years Black Christmas would become a cult classic that would inspire and often be imitated by the numerous slasher films that would follow over the next few years. Even after four decades, Black Christmas is considered to be the best Christmas horror film by fans of slasher movies and critics alike.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Krampus (2015)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the twenty-third night I am listing the 2015 fantasy dark comedy Krampus.

Krampus (2015)
Dir- Michael Dougherty 

In recent years we have seen a considerable surge in interest for the Anti-Santa creature known as Krampus, this 2015 film by director Michael Dougherty presents a dark comedy involving this rather vicious and vindictive monster as it seeks to punish those who lack Christmas spirit. The Engel family is hosting a family holiday with the husband Tom not looking forward to his wife's obnoxious brother in law Howard. Amidst the family disputes, the Christmas spirit for Tom's son Max has hit rock bottom, and he tears up his letter to Santa after his cousins mock him. A sudden blizzard traps the families in the home, and all attempts to seek help are thwarted by a horned creature and his minions who are set to kidnap the family members for their lack of faith and bad behavior. Krampus is a compelling dark comedy that features an impressive cast as well as some terrifying creatures that make the film a perfect holiday film for those who enjoy movies like Gremlins or Arachnophobia. The film has become a cult classic in recent years as popularity in Krampus has spawned many knockoff films. Krampus works because the movie captures the spirit of B-Movies effectively and delivers a story that is scary yet entertaining for those who may not be huge fans of horror. It is not worthy to see Toni Collette in this film as her recent performance in Hereditary has guaranteed her place as a genuine horror movie scream queen.

24 Days of HorrorXmas- A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the twenty-second night I am listing 2015 horror anthology comedy A Christmas Horror Story.

A Christmas Horror Story (2015)
Dir- Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban & Brett Sullivan

This anthology is set around Christmas in the town of Bailey Downs where four tales are shown as a radio DJ acts as the narrator tying the events together. The tales include high school students investigating ghosts, the perils of chopping a Christmas tree on forbidden land, a family is harassed by Krampus for their bad behaviors and the final a confrontation between Santa and Krampus. Surprisingly the events all tie in together, in the end, giving the viewer a collection of horrific shorts that would make for decent episodes of Tales From the Crypt. A Christmas Horror Story does have a great conclusion and it will surprise you with how it is neatly wrapped up. In recent years we have had a return to anthology based horror films and this Christmas based collection is one that will make for a decent annual viewing with Krampus and Black Christmas. 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Gremlins (1984)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the twenty first night I am listing 1984 horror comedy Gremlins.

Gremlins (1984)
Dir- Joe Dante

So many films are mentioned as Christmas films because one might find a Santa in the background or Christmas lights. Gremlins is a famous movie that was a huge hit when it was released and to this day is still a classic. The story is well known so not much needs to said. A struggling inventor gets his son a unique gift called a Mogwai, it is cute and playful but it comes with strict rules. Getting it wet causes more to be made, feeding it after midnight mutates them and exposing them to sunlight will kill them. When those rules are broken all hell breaks loose as an army of mutated Mogwai's takes over the town and causes all sorts of destruction. Joe Dante directed this classic film at a time when horror comedies were a popular trend. Despite being advertised as a family friendly movie, Gremlins is a dark and twisted movie that is quite violent. The original script was much darker yet the toned down end product is still too intense for young kids. Gremlins benefited from a great cast that includes Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, and Corey Feldman. The creature effects are top notch using puppets and marionettes to create the different and numerous creatures. Gremlins has long been considered a Christmas movie despite being released in the summer of 1984. The film had a sequel, a massive merchandise collection as well as a video game. In the three decades since its release Gremlins still remains one of the most popular holiday films ever made. 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Better Watch Out (2016)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the twentieth night I am listing the 2016 psychological horror thriller Better Watch Out.

Better Watch Out (2016)
Dir- Chris Peckover

Babysitters are a common target in many horror films, Halloween and When a Stranger Calls are two well-known horror classics that have young babysitters trying to survive a threatening figure who is stalking them while they watch over someone's children. Chris Peckover's Better Watch Out is a 2016 psychological horror film that has a babysitter facing a home invasion while she is looking after her charge. Ashley is an attractive high school student who is called by the Lerner family to look after 12-year-old son Luke. Like most boys, his age Luke is attracted to Ashley and hopes the night will give him the chance to win her heart. His attempt to seduce her is stopped by one of his friends crashing the evening, yet he is not the only unexpected visitor as someone targets the home and threatens everyone inside. Ashley takes charge to defend Luke but she will soon learn this is not the usual home invasion situation. What looks like a cookie cutter babysitter in peril film is revealed to be something quite different. Better Watch Out is an intense and twisted take on the babysitter in peril trope we have all become familiar with. Borrowing elements of Home Alone, the film includes some shocking twists that will have you wondering what the hell is going on. The film works well because the young actors Olivia DeJonge and Levi Miller portray their roles quite effectively. To reveal any more would be to spoil what is one of the most innovative storylines since A Cabin in the Woods. Better Watch Out has won praise from critics and fans of home invasion movies for the great plot and has become a popular Christmas horror film in recent years. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the nineteenth night I am listing the controversial 1984 slasher Silent Night, Deadly Night.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Dir- Charles E Sellier

In the almost 35 years since the release of Silent Night, Deadly Night there have been a number of movies that have featured everything from killer elves, Krampus and even a killer Mrs. Claus. Yet none of these films faced the utter shit storm of anger and outrage as the infamous 1984 Santa slasher. Silent Night has a young man who dresses as Santa Claus and goes out killing people. This, of course, stems from the brutal murder of his parents at the hands of some drunken killer dressed as Santa when he was a little boy. The young boy then suffers at the hands of a mean nun and a cruel orphanage. As he gets older he gets a job at a toy store and seems fine until Christmas comes and he is asked to don the red suit to entertain the children. His murderous rampage is triggered by a warped desire to punish those who are naughty. I reviewed this film over 20 years ago and the film has spawned 4 sequels along with a partial remake that has little in common with this film. The original Silent Night has become a cult classic as a result of the controversy, some inventive kills and the mildly campy acting that helps temper a film that is quite mean-spirited even for a slasher. Silent Night was released on the same day as A Nightmare on Elm Street and even outperformed the iconic 80's slasher during the first weekend. The film would be pulled by the studio due to the angry protests from parents groups who objected to Santa Claus being made a villain.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- All the Creatures Were Stirring (2018)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the eighteenth night I am listing the 2018 horror anthology All the Creatures Were Stirring (2018).

All the Creatures Were Stirring (2018)
Dir- Rebekah and David McKendry

A young couple (Graham Skipper and Ashley Clements) on an awkward first date on Christmas Eve meet up at a small theater where they watch a series of horror-themed skits performed by actors that are shown to the audience in this holiday-themed horror anthology. The segments include a deadly office party, a stranded holiday shopper facing a curse, a single bitter man who hates his neighbors, a man who has a hit an run with a wild creature and finally a surprise holiday party that is out of this world. As an anthology, the movie features stories that are in the tradition of Tales From the Crypt and The Twilight Zone. The couple's story is fleshed out between segments as they find the audience leaving and are left with lecherous coots and indifferent staff along with the mystery of who her friend keeps getting calls from through the night. All The Creatures Were Stirring has an excellent cast that includes indie film favorites Jocelin Donahue, Amanda Fuller, Stephanie Drake, Megan Duffy, Brea Grant, Constance Wu, and Jonathon Kite. Not all of the segments are equal but the audience should enjoy the collection of creepy and bizarre tales to make this anthology a great addition to the holiday horror films of recent years.     

Monday, December 17, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Don't Open Till Christmas (1984)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the sixteenth night I am listing the 1984 English slasher movie Don't Open Till Christmas.

Don't Open Till Christmas (1984)
Dir- Edmund Purdom

A British made Christmas horror movie, Don't Open Till Christmas has a mysterious figure who is murdering people who are wearing Santa suits during the holidays in London. Leading the investigation is a Scotland Yard Inspector and the daughter of the first victim, yet the Inspector may find that the killer is someone he has already encountered. Don't Open Till Chrismas is like many of the exploitation slashers of the day with plenty of nudity and bloody kill scenes to make this film somewhat sleazy compared to other Christmas themed horror films. The film was met with delays, revisions to the script and lead actor changes that resulted in the film taking two years to complete. The one notable role is a cameo by Caroline Munro who appears as herself during a theater sequence. Don't Open Till Christmas is not as well known as the contemporary Christmas horror films like Silent Night, Deadly Night or Christmas Evil so don't feel too bad that you may not have ever heard of this film.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Santa's Slay (2005)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the second night I am listing the 2005 horror black comedy Santa's Slay.

Santa's Slay  (2005)
Dir- David Steiman

Imagine everything you were told about Santa Claus was all wrong, well in this movie by director David Steiman you get to see a Santa like no other. Former professional wrestler Bill Goldberg portrays a Santa who is the son of Satan, but a failed wager forced him to be the wonderful gift giver until now. The movie opens with a wealthy and spoiled family celebrating Christmas dinner only to face the wrath of Santa as he dispatches them in quick order. We then see the town of Hell Township where a teen boy named Nicolas (Douglas Smith) lives with his eccentric his grandfather (Robert Culp) who dislikes Christmas and gives him a story that seems too crazy to believe. When Santa arrives looking for Nicholas and his grandfather he and his almost-girlfriend Mac (Emilie de Ravin) will have to find a way to survive from the cruel actions of Santa Claus. Santa's Slay is a completely outrageous black comedy that takes the story of Santa Claus and turns it upside down. The violence of Santa's actions is shown in a darkly comical way that makes the film less sadistic and more over the top in its delivery. The cast is quite impressive with veteran actors Robert Culp, Saul Rubinek and Dave Thomas joining cameos appearances by James Caan,  Fran Drescher, and Rebecca Gayheart. A genuine cult classic that is one of the better Christmas themed horror films that I watched as part of my Holiday Horror Marathon. 

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Christmas Presence (2018)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the fifteenth night I am listing the 2018 horror comedy Christmas Presence aka Why Hide?

Christmas Presence (2018)
Dir- James Edward Cook

A gathering of friends in a remote English cottage turns deadly when a mysterious force begins to kill them one at a time seemingly by what scares them the most. Christmas Presence doesn't quite feel like a horror movie for the first 30 minutes as the film focuses on issues with the friends and an awkward business pitch involving underwear. The movie then takes a turn into horror as the guests discover one of their friends is dead, and issues of trust begin to cause havoc as tensions between the group escalate, and the secret of one of their friends is made known as all attempts to escape are thwarted by an evil presence. This film was released on Shudder as "Christmas Presence" but also has the title "Why Hide?" The film can't decide if its a serious horror film or a dark comedy, the cast is diverse but the movie does not give you enough time to invest in them before they start to die off. Charlotte Atkinson does stand out as the troubled McKenzie who's story was the only one fleshed out with any backstory. The film takes an unexpected turn at the end that seems almost unnecessary and may turn off viewers. Christmas Presence won't likely become a horror classic with films like Christmas Horror Story and Krampus getting the attention for holiday horror viewer yet being on Shudder does give the viewer a chance to watch a film that would not have been shown in this country otherwise.

Friday, December 14, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Jack Frost (1997)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the fourteenth night I am listing the 1997 horror comedy Jack Frost.

Jack Frost (1997)
Dir- Michael Cooney

With so many Christmas horror movies focusing on a killer Santa Claus it would take some truly creative thinking to come up with a new villain that has not been put to screen. Jack Frost is a 1997 horror movie that has a small town Sheriff having to search for a killer who is making his way through town seeking revenge against him and his family. What makes this villain different is that he was killed in an accident at the beginning of the movie and his body was doused in a chemical that turns him into a snowman. In what has to be one of the most absurd horror movie villains Jack Frost is a horror comedy that has become a cult classic with the creative ways Jack kills his victims and his amusing wisecracks. The movie is completely bonkers with the whole idea of a killer snowman but it does have its moments, and the film has even spawned a sequel. Shannon Elizabeth appears in this movie and has a truly memorable encounter with Jack that gives one of the best one-liners in the film.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Silent Night (2012)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the thirteenth night I am listing the 2012 slasher Silent Night.

Silent Night (2012)
Dir- Steven C Miller

A small town deputy is ordered to investigate what turns out to be the murder of a missing colleague; she then finds that other brutal deaths are happening in her town on Christmas Eve. The mysterious killer is disguised as Santa Claus and can move about easily due to the town's Christmas celebration that features a large group of people dressed as Santa Claus. When Silent Night was released, it was billed as a semi-remake of the infamous 1984 slasher, but the movie should not be sneered at for the association. Its a surprisingly well-made slasher with some creative and gory death scenes, a decent cast featuring Malcolm McDowell and Jaime King and some dark humor that will either make you laugh or groan. The movie is easily one of the better remakes that came out in that era and except for the conclusion could have been released as a fully independent Christmas horror film. I watched it not knowing it was a semi-remake but enjoyed the movie on its own merits and feel it is one of the better Christmas themed horror movies released in the past decade.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Mercy Christmas (2017)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the twelfth night I am listing the 2017 horror thriller Mercy Christmas.

Mercy Christmas (2017)
Dir- Ryan Nelson

It is common for Christmas movies to have a big dinner to celebrate the holiday and in the 2017 dark comedy Mercy Christmas you are invited to dinner with the Robillard family and may become the main course. Michael Briskett (Steven Hubbell) is an office drone who meets a beautiful woman (Casey O'Keefe ) and is invited to join her family for Christmas dinner. Once there he learns that she is related to his Scrooge-like boss (Cole Gleason ) and the once seemingly pleasant family has made plans for him he may not have anticipated. Once he discovers the truth, it may be too late for him to escape the big family holiday feast. Movies about cannibalism can be handled seriously or as dark comedies; Mercy Christmas is a horror comedy that tackles the subject of cannibalism in a surreal way yet still keeps a sense of normalcy as the protagonist attempts to escape and fight back. The Robillard family are portrayed as perfectly normal and despite their unique culinary tastes are no different from any regular family. Mercy Christmas makes effective use of practical makeup effects and the gory moments are not to bad given the low budget look of the movie. Finally, the cast of actors plays their parts effectively with Steven Hubbell, Casey O'Keefe and Cole Gleason standing out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- The Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the second night I am listing the 1982 slasher The Dorm That Dripped Blood.

The Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982)
Dir- Stephen Carpenter & Jeffrey Obrow

A group of five students in a university volunteer to stay behind to clear out a building set to be demolished after the Christmas holiday. While they are at work, they encounter a vagrant who is going through the trash and maybe taking items from the building. This event puts the staff on notice after members of their group disappear and are found brutally murdered. Released during the height of the slasher boom, The Dorm That Dripped Blood was filmed initially with the name The Third Night but was changed to Death Dorm after production was completed. Filming was done around the campus of UCLA during a holiday break with equipment on loan from the university. The film suffers from characters that are too generic and an overreliance on red herrings that make the movie even more derivative. On the upside, the movies gore effects are done effectively yet had to be edited due to threats of an X rating and its inclusion in the UK's infamous Video Nasty list. This movie was the first film for Daphne Zuniga who would find success in some popular films and television shows in later years. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- To All A Goodnight (1980)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the tenth night I am listing the 1980 slasher horror film To All A Goodnight.

To All A Goodnight (1980)
Dir- David Hess

A by the book revenge slasher that follows the formula of previous horror films with this one set at a finishing school for upper-class girls. A prank goes wrong, and a student is killed in an accident, two years later as students are leaving for Christmas Break, a group of five girls is staying behind with their house mother and caretaker. The girls have invited some boys to keep them company but someone else arrives, and bodies begin to pile up. To All A Good Night is so cliched that one could play a drinking game with all the slasher movie tropes the film borrows from films like Black Christmas and Bay of Blood. You have the all too obvious Final Girl who is attractive but forced to dress down, the horny students who are the first to go, a creepy caretaker who may be a red herring and the revenge-driven killer whose identity is all too obvious. The film also suffers from poor lighting that makes the film trying to watch for some scenes. The cast is largely unknown except for actress Jennifer Runyon who would appear in Ghostbusters, Up The Creek and Charle's in Charge. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Secret Santa (2015)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the ninth night I am listing the 2015 slasher movie Secret Santa.

Secret Santa (2015)
Dir- Mike McMurran

A popular trend in horror movies is to mimic the look and style of 80's slasher films to try and capture the spirit of what made that era so popular with filmgoers. Secret Santa is a low budget indie horror about a group of college students who are partying after fall exams only to find that someone is leaving them gifts from a Secret Santa that will reveal the cause of their death. The killer, of course, is inside the house and takes out the drunk and horny students one at a time. The positives of this movie are the creative way that Director Mike McMurran has made the film look like an aged VHS video complete with tracking issues and screen glitches. This creative editing style does help the movie get past its obvious low budget and cast of unknown actors. The gore effects are pretty decent with some creative kills and enough blood to satisfy gorehounds. The negatives are the derivative plot and generic cast of actors who pretty much cover the usual collection of victims. Secret Santa has enough bloody kills to make film worthwhile, and as an homage to 80's slasher films, it indeed is better than other movies I would have picked at the mom and pop video store.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Red Christmas (2016)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the eighth night I am listing the 2016 slasher Red Christmas.

Red Christmas (2016)
Dir- Craig Anderson

A hooded figure named Cletus pays a deadly visit to a dysfunctional family celebrating Christmas holiday in a remote Australian country home. This horror movie opens with an attack on an abortion clinic that seems out of place in the movie yet this scene will set in motion the events that are shown 20 years later. The film is quite gory with some bloody deaths but not too scary compared to other slasher movies. The film's star is horror movie scream queen Dee Wallace who plays the mother of a family who has to face off with the killer and confront some unexpected ties. Red Christmas does not stand out compared to other holiday themes slasher films and viewers may be put off by what seems a mixed message involving pro-life issues and the violence of slasher movies 

Friday, December 7, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the seventh night, I am listing the 1972 horror thriller Silent Night, Bloody Night.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)
Dir- Theodore Gershuny

After the tragic death of his grandfather 20 years prior, a young man wishes to sell the mansion and estate that he inherited, yet the attorney sent to handle the matter is murdered in the house. Not knowing this event has occurred the young man returns on Christmas Eve and meets with the local town officials who wish to purchase the estate for development yet secrets come out about his grandfather, deceased mother and other skeletons that the town's leaders don't wish to share. These secrets come out as each of the town's leaders fall victim to a killer calling himself "Marianne." Silent Night, Bloody Night has a look and feel of a TV movie borrowing some plot points from Edgar Allan Poe's story "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether." The movie was originally titled Night of the Dark Full Moon and even Death House in later releases but has been shown under the Silent Night name as the film is now in the public domain. The film does predate most slasher movies and can be seen as an influence on Black Christmas and When A Stranger Calls.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Christmas Evil (1980)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the sixth night I am listing the 1980 horror film Christmas Evil.

Christmas Evil (1980)
Dir- Lewis Jackson

This obscure horror film follows an emotionally unstable man who decides to dress up as Santa and keeps a list of the good and naughty kids in his neighborhood. After he sees the misplaced generosity of his employer, he steals toys and gives them away to children in the hospital, but a murderous streak counters his jolly spirit as he kills a number people who he deems naughty. Christmas Evil is not the usual holiday slasher but is instead a more profound film that shows the antagonist as a man who is troubled by a society that he views as being oblivious to the meaning of Christmas and the lack of concern for sick children and those who have been tossed aside. As a result, we have a villain who is somewhat sympathetic in his desire to entertain and reward children despite the horrible murders he commits. The film is known to be a favorite of John Waters and predated the more vicious Santa dressed killer in Silent Night, Deadly Night.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Home For the Holidays (1972)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the fifth night I am listing 1972 made for television horror thriller Home For the Holidays.

Home For the Holidays (1972)
Dir- John Llewellyn Moxey

A television movie produced by Aaron Spelling and starring Sally Field, Eleanor Parker, Julie Harris, Jessica Walter, and Walter Brennan focuses on an older wealthy man who invites his four adult daughters to his home for Christmas and reveals to them that he fears he is being poisoned by his wife who is their stepmother. It is revealed that she had been accused of killing her first husband and the sisters are suspicious when a storm traps them all in the remote farmhouse with someone killing the daughters one at a time. This television movie plays out like a dark soap opera with elements of Agatha Christie yet the stellar cast and direction will keep you guessing as plenty of clues are shown that may be red herrings. The standouts among the cast include Sally Fields and Jessica Walter as well Julie Harris who plays the suspicious stepmother to the sisters. An otherwise forgetful movie from the 1970s that gets more attention as being one of the early horror movies that take place on Christmas. 

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Rare Exports (2015)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the fourth night I am listing the 2015 Finnish fantasy horror thriller Rare Exports.

Rare Exports (2015)
Dir- Jalmari Helander

This fantasy thriller directed by Jalmari Helander centers on a small community in Finland that encounters some truly bizarre circumstances when an international mining company digs into a local mountain and finds something unexpected. A pair of local boys sneak into the mining camp and learn that the company is looking for remains of Santa Claus. The boys leave for home as Pietari looks into the legends of Santa Claus and is shocked to discover that the target of the mining company may not be as jolly and friendly as they think. To make matters worse the local herds of reindeer that provide for the community are found slaughtered by something that may have escaped from the dig site. Rare Exports started out as a short film and was expanded to a full-length movie by Jalmari Helander and Juuso Helander after the short became popular on the internet. The film is told in a blend of dark fantasy and deadpan comedy, including some of the mythology of Santa Claus in a movie that shows the extreme life faced by the men in this community and how something out of the ordinary has shaken things up. The absolute bonkers outcome is exciting and filled with the kind of action that will keep the audience entertained enough to not question how absurd the plot is. Ultimately the film is about a father and son having to save the community and bond together as the events threaten to destroy the community and maybe more if is not contained. The movie was well received by critics and has gained a following that has pushed the film into cult classic status.

Monday, December 3, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- All Through the House (2015)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the 3rd night, I am listing the 2015 slasher movie All Through the House.

All Through the House (2015)
Dir- Todd Nunes

College student Rachel Kimmel comes home for Christmas break and offers to help a reclusive older neighbor Mrs. Garrett with her decorations. She then recalls the young girl who lived there that she tried to befriend until she disappeared one night. As she decorates the home with the help of some friends the neighborhood is terrorized by a lunatic dressed as Santa who kills Rachel's neighbors and friends yet her greater fear may be what she finds inside Mrs. Garrett's home. All Through the House is an independent Christmas themed slasher starring Ashley Mary Nunes and directed by Todd Nunes. While the film follows the usual trope of horror slashers what helps it stand out is the use of practical gore effects that will make this film a treat for fans of 80s style slasher films. The cast is decent given the low budget, but special praise goes to the design of the evil Santa costume and the vast amount of Christmas lights used in the film to help make the movie look festive despite being filmed in California. Even with a plot that borrows from such classic horror movies like The Burning, Sleepaway Camp and Friday, the 13th, All Through the House is a notable effort and should be watched as an homage to the excellent holiday slasher films of the '80s. 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- P2 (2007)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the second night I am listing the 2007 horror thriller P2.

P2 (2007)
Dir- Franck Khalfoun

A young lady finding herself stranded in an office parking garage during a Christmas holiday weekend becomes the target of an obsessed security guard who kidnaps her and holds her hostage. A cat and mouse game ensues as the young lady escapes only to find that she is trapped inside the garage with no way out and no one to seek out help from while she is being stalked with no relief in sight. Alexandre Aja produced this film and compared it to his movie High Tension. The movie is a game of survival that takes place in a setting that is not one often seen used in thrillers. Rachel Nichols plays Angela with believability and shows her will to survive and fight back against an attacker who has all the advantages. Despite looking like a slasher film, P2 is a tightly paced thriller featuring a genuinely realistic villain and a situation that would bring anyone true fear.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Black Christmas (2006)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the first night I am listing the 2006 remake of the classic slasher film Black Christmas. 

Black Christmas (2006)
Dir- Glen Morgan

A partial remake of the 1974 slasher classic, Black Christmas follows a group of sorority girls who are stalked by a killer who is hiding in the attic of their house after escaping from a mental institution. The young women are planning on going home for Christmas holiday but are caught in a winter storm, and tensions rise after sordid secrets are revealed. The arrival of a family member looking for her missing sister set in motion a bloody night of terror as the killer known as Billy makes his presence known. In an attempt to differentiate from the first film director Glen Morgan uses flashbacks to give the killer more backstory and show the motivation for his evil deeds. The cast is made up of familiar faces including Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lacey Chabert, Oliver Hudson and Andrea Martin who appeared in the original film. The film is nowhere near the classic that the first film is as the scores of horror films that copied the original have pretty much dried up the creativity well. The one aspect that Black Christmas does excel at is the casting of attractive actresses who despite their stereotypical roles seem more genuine with their use of bad language, alcohol use, and family issues.