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A Scary Christmas to All and to All a Good Fright
December 4, 2012 7:20 AM   Subscribe

Horror movies aren't just for Halloween: Silent Night, Bloody Night, Black Christmas, To All A Good Night, Christmas Evil (starring Fiona Apple's dad as a homicidal Santa), Gremlins (in which Phoebe Cates learns there is no Santa Claus), Silent Night, Deadly Night (which inspired Parts 2, 3, 4, and 5 despite--or perhaps because of--denunciations by Siskel & Ebert and parents' groups), Elves, and Jack Frost
posted by jonp72 (36 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd like to add to the list the Finnish film Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. Monstrous demonic Santa and helpers plus social commentary on global economics. The closest I've seen to a Krampus movie (surely there are some out there?).
posted by audi alteram partem at 7:26 AM on December 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


No mention of Christmas Slay?
posted by dubold at 7:35 AM on December 4, 2012


I've never quite looked at horror movies the same since this: One of the co-producers of Napoleon Dynamite attended the small university in my town. After its success they persuaded him to come and give a presentation, which I attended. He said that when they sought investors for their movie they really sought investors for TWO movies. They would use the money they raised to FIRST make the movie that they really wanted to make (Napoleon Dynamite) because it sounded like a loser and no one would finance it (alone). After that, they would make a horror movie, because no matter how bad a low budget horror movie is it will do "$x" at the box office and they would be able to repay the investors.

Maybe that concept will help some budding filmmaker out there.
posted by spock at 7:54 AM on December 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Don't forget Santa's Slay, starring former pro wrestler Bill Goldberg. (Actually you can forget it. That would be okay.)
posted by uncleozzy at 7:56 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jack Frost is quite easily the worst movie I've ever seen. It's at the "so bad it's hilarious" level.
posted by neilbert at 7:57 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had endless nightmares about the Abomindable SNowman when I was kid. The one that I remember was his eating the flesh off his own hands and then coming after me with bloody skeleton hands.
posted by angrycat at 8:00 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


(from rudolf)
posted by angrycat at 8:03 AM on December 4, 2012


I love a good winter horror. I usually pull out Ravenous right when it gets very cold. Or if you want depressing, The Rules of Attraction.

For my money, though, the best Christmas horror never bills itself as such: The Mothman Prophecies. The film covers an extended period of time, but the protagonist's choice comes in a hotel room, on a holiday afternoon, with Laura Linney offering Richard Gere something of an ultimatum: he can either stay where he is, chasing phantoms and waiting for a phone call which may or may not be from his beloved dead wife or he can return to human company and an understated relationship with a living woman who clearly cares for him.

"I booked you a flight. It leaves Dulles for Columbus, Ohio at one forty-five. I tried to get you on the one to Charleston, but they're all booked up. So if you leave now, you'll just make it. It's Christmas Eve, John. You shouldn't be alone ... we have dinner at six, and we open presents at eight. And we hope we see you."

What happens after that is when the fear comes due.
posted by adipocere at 8:14 AM on December 4, 2012


The Jack Frost trailer is behind a grownups-only sign-in page, and I really can't be bothered to do that.

Is it the one where the ghost of Michael Keaton comes back from the dead as a zombie snowman to haunt his young son just so the kid can experience the trauma of losing his father all over again?

Because that movie is terrifying



...ly awful.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:16 AM on December 4, 2012


Santa Claus Conquers the Martians scared the pants off 7-year-old me. I have reason to believe it did not do so for adults, however.
posted by tommasz at 8:20 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Related: Treevenge
posted by Night_owl at 8:28 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I worked briefly at a special effects shop that did a lot of work on Jack Frost (no, not the Michael Keaton one. Although I'm surprised nobody has done a mashup trailer of the two yet). Fortunately the film was made before my time there, but I didn't escape having to watch it when it became available on video.

It was definitely camp horror but not particularly original or well-executed... the end result being a low budget film that is neither scary nor funny, and painful to watch.
posted by usonian at 8:34 AM on December 4, 2012


My favorite of the ones I've seen is Black Christmas. That movie is responsible for my ultimate rejection of disc-based movie-watching. The second time I watched it, the DVD glitched at the end. And, as good as the bulk of the film is, that movie needs its ending.
posted by gurple at 8:50 AM on December 4, 2012


More than anything, Christmas horror movies remind me of browsing VHS boxes at the video store, trying to find the scariest movie that my mom would still let me watch. Silent Night, Deadly Night never made it.
posted by orme at 9:02 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


No Futurama? Santa Claus is gunning you down!
posted by localroger at 9:20 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Christmas comes but once a year, but every day is someone's birthday, hence Happy Birthday To Me one of my favorite guilty pleasures, with Melissa Sue Anderson.
posted by THAT William Mize at 9:41 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I watched the trailer for Elves, and I'm not quite clear on the issue of whether or not the elves are in Santa's employ. Could somebody clear that up for me?
posted by Shepherd at 9:47 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just watched Rare Exports last week, caught Treevenge last night and have Saint in my Instant Queue. This has been a good week for Christmas horror for me.
posted by KingEdRa at 10:05 AM on December 4, 2012


Why? Why is that scene in Gremlins? It has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the movie. It's like they intentionally stuck that in there to scar little kids. I always thought that was one of the more fucked up moments from 80s cinema.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:23 AM on December 4, 2012


Christmas Evil is a holiday staple in my household. It's actually a very good little movie (albeit, with a completely nutso ending).

This scene will stick with you long after the movie's over. (Fun Fact: The actor in this clip, who is the film's chief protagonist, is apparently Fiona Apple's father. Weird.)
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:35 AM on December 4, 2012




Great trivia about Black Christmas: it's a canadian film, and it has the first use of the shtick where the 911 operator is telling the panicked caller that the mysterious evil phone calls are "coming from inside your house"!! Which, if you think about it, would completely freak you out if it happened to you - powerful stuff.
posted by Vindaloo at 12:26 PM on December 4, 2012


I'd like to add to the list the Finnish film Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. Monstrous demonic Santa and helpers plus social commentary on global economics. The closest I've seen to a Krampus movie (surely there are some out there?).

Here's the original short film (possibly nsfw): Rare Exports Inc.
posted by homunculus at 12:55 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]




> Is it the one where the ghost of Michael Keaton comes back from the dead as a zombie snowman to haunt his young son just so the kid can experience the trauma of losing his father all over again?

No, it's the other Jack Frost, which isn't nearly as creepy as the Michael Keaton one.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:45 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Decemberboy: That scene in Gremlins is a riff on a pretty well-known urban legend--or at least it was when I was a kid (I was 14 when Gremlins was released and everyone I saw the movie with had heard that story). Wikipedia addresses that speech in the context of cut footage with made the movie as a whole a darker comedy and from the context of a studio fight over whether to cut it or leave it in. Wikipedia also references Roger Ebert's review, which reads the speech as part of the movies general satire and send-up approach.

I remember at the time we all reacted to it like Ebert says, as just a sick joke on the part of the movie maker, which most of the movie seemed to be anyway. The movie was not marketed as a kid's movie. In 1984, a movie marketed as a horror movie--even a PG rated one--wasn't really considered okay for kids--teenagers, sure, but not kids. I think Gremlins was actually one of the movies (like the second Indiana Jones movie) which spawned the PG-13 thing because people were interpreting PG as something they could show kids without pre-screening. Why anyone thought a movie from the guy who made the Howling wasn't going to be dark and not really okay for kids, I don't know.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:48 PM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


People young enough to believe in Santa Claus watched Gremlins?

There's stuff in that movie that IMHO ought to be far more disturbing to a five-year-old than an assertion that Santa doesn't exist. As in, stuff with far more negative consequences for kiddo psyche.

There's quite a lot that's more disturbing in that story than the assertion that Santa doesn't exist.
posted by gurple at 2:45 PM on December 4, 2012


Don't forget Gremlins 2: The New Batch, which delighted in skewering all the tropes of the first with a cynical meta tone and turning audience expectations upside down with moments like Hulk Hogan bursting through the screen when the Gremlins take over the theater IN WHICH YOU ARE WATCHING THIS VERY MOVIE and wreck up the control room. Another great moment is when Phoebe Cates launches into a monologue like her emotional Dead Dad Santa story (but this time involving Peanut Butter & Jelly and a guy in a Lincoln beard) but it peters out 10 seconds into it and Zach Galligan takes her shoulder and quietly escorts her away from the shot.
posted by mediocre at 3:11 PM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's stuff in that movie that IMHO ought to be far more disturbing to a five-year-old than an assertion that Santa doesn't exist. As in, stuff with far more negative consequences for kiddo psyche.

Well, I was maybe 7 when I saw it so I didn't really believe in Santa anymore, but that wasn't the disturbing part, the disturbing part was her dad died horribly, it wasn't played as funny in the least, and was incongruous with the rest of the movie. Gremlins blowing up in the microwave was just cartoon violence, I thought that shit was funny.

when the Gremlins take over the theater IN WHICH YOU ARE WATCHING THIS VERY MOVIE and wreck up the control room.

They even did a second version for the home video release where the Gremlins take over your living room, or something like that. I always thought that was really cool, more movies should do stuff like that.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:30 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I should note that I saw it first on video at 16 or so--at 14 I probably would not have viewed that scene as satire.
posted by crush-onastick at 3:54 PM on December 4, 2012


The movie was not marketed as a kid's movie.

Um, yes, it was, big time. There were action figures, plush toys, trading cards, stickers, breakfast cereal, video games, fast food tie-ins, etc., etc. There were plans for a Saturday morning cartoon series as well.

I was three years old when Gremlins came out, and I can assure you I knew exactly who Gizmo was. I was probably five or six before I actually saw the movie, and while it was scary, it was nowhere near cackling-old-lady-in-Snow-White scary, or snarling-wolf-in-The-Neverending-Story scary. For one thing, Gremlins aren't real, a fact that even the youngest and dumbest kids (e.g., me) fully understood. Second, it's a comedy. Third, [TWENTY-EIGHT-YEAR-OLD SPOILER ALERT] the baddies are defeated pretty soundly, so little kids come away cheering rather than cowering in terror for the rest of their lives.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:54 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


All due respect, Sys, you were three and you remember a toy. The movie was not marketed as a kid's movie, first run, in the theatre.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:20 PM on December 4, 2012


My favorite part about Elves is that there is only one Elf in it.
posted by eddydamascene at 9:03 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The movie was not marketed as a kid's movie, first run, in the theatre.

So you say. Got any evidence to back it up? 'Cause I promise you, the tsunami of Gremlins merchandise aimed at kids was no mere afterthought.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:50 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Monstrous demonic Santa and helpers plus social commentary on global economics.

On this recommendation, I watched Rare Exports last night.

It's a really fun movie. Very well made, great acting, well-paced. Social commentary on global economics...? um.

The short film it was based on made a whole lot more sense, in the end, than the full-length movie.
posted by gurple at 11:50 AM on December 5, 2012


Social commentary on global economics...? um.

I didn't mean sophisticated commentary. On one hand my comment was a little tongue-in-cheek, but on the other hand: international conglomerate attempts to exploit ancient evil for profit with near-disastrous results for a local population. The large corporation run amok is a longstanding trope in horror (Weyland-Yutani, Umbrella etc) and, I'd suggest, reflects justified anxieties about our being at the mercy of economic forces beyond our control.
posted by audi alteram partem at 12:30 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


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