“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Posts Tagged ‘Christmas horror’

The Brain

Monday, December 24th, 2018

A Very Tape Raider Christmas

THE BRAIN is a 1988 sci-fi horror movie that takes place around Christmas time. That’s not an important part of the plot, but there are Christmas decorations at the beginning, “Jingle Bells” plays (and then ominously slows down) on a car radio, a pot of poinsettias gets shot by police during a chase scene, I noticed a sign in the school for a dance or something with the theme “Cosmic Christmas,” and there’s some snow on the ground. Also the movie itself is kind of a Christmas gift to me because it’s pretty good and its weird vibe and gooey special effects warmed my heart like I imagine a yule log would if I had ever experienced a yule log in person.

First and most important order of business is to assure you that the title and cover art are not misleading. Though it was made during the height of slasher sequels and shows a strong A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET influence, it is indeed a movie about, as the hero calls it, “that brain monster thing that’s killing everyone.” And they show it right at the beginning – a big slimy pulsating brain with a tentacle/spine hanging out like a tail, hooked up to some machines in a lab at the Psychological Research Institute (PRI). I think it was wise to establish that we’re dealing with arguably a goofy ’50s drive-in movie throwback before the first big scare sequence and not after. Pull that Band-Aid right off. (read the rest of this shit…)

Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

PUPPET MASTER VS. DEMONIC TOYS came out the year after FREDDY VS. JASON and a few months before ALIEN VS. PREDATOR, but eight years before THE AVENGERS, so it is an important milestone in cinematic universe crossover events. According to Wikipedia, though, it is “non-canon.” Produced for The Sci-Fi Network (before they had their own proprietary spelling), it doesn’t have Charles Band or Full Moon’s names anywhere on it, but it was directed by Ted Nicolaou (THE DUNGEONMASTER, TERRORVISION, SUBSPECIES, BAD CHANNELS, DRAGONWORLD) and written by C. Courtney Joyner (PUPPET MASTER III, DOCTOR MORDRID, TRANCERS III, plus PRISON and CLASS OF 1999).

Although I’m not all that familiar with either the vast PUPPET MASTER saga or the rich DEMONIC TOYS mythos I did think this one might be worth watching this week when I read (in Yuletide Terror, once again) that it was a Christmas movie.

Corey Feldman (EDGE OF HONOR, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES) plays Robert Toulon, proprietor of Toulon’s Puppet Hospital, which looks like a business on the outside but from inside seems to just be a basement where he and his daughter Alex (Danielle Keaton, VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, PINOCCHIO’S REVENGE, BABY GENIUSES) do experiments mixing chemicals and blood in beakers and injecting them into the famous PUPPET MASTER puppets Blade, Pinhead, Jester and Six Shooter (but not Leech Woman). Although I guess they’re on their own alternate dimension timeline, please note that these are the original Greatest Generation anti-Nazi puppets, not the hate criminals from the S. Craig Zahler version. (read the rest of this shit…)

Monsters: “Glim-Glim” and “A New Woman”

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Do you remember the syndicated TV show Monsters that ran in the late ’80s? I don’t really either, but I do remember seeing commercials for it. It was a horror anthology series produced by Richard P. Rubinstein, the guy who co-founded Laurel Entertainment with George Romero and produced MARTIN, DAWN OF THE DEAD, KNIGHTRIDERS, CREEPSHOW and DAY OF THE DEAD. They also produced Tales From the Darkside together, and this was Rubinstein’s followup series minus Romero. As you can probly guess, the episodes center around different monsters. The credits boast having the legendary Dick Smith as a makeup consultant.

The show didn’t have any kind of host or wraparound at all, but the introduction shows a family of monsters watching TV together.

“Oh great, it’s Monsters! Our favorite show!” one of them says.

By human standards it would be pretty weird to have not seen a show you liked better than Monsters, but I can appreciate that there are many cultural differences and things that the monster community might pick up on in these stories that go right over my head.

Anyway, there were two Christmas-themed episodes. Glim-Glim, the 13th episode of the first season, was directed by Peter Stein (director of photography for FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2, C.H.U.D., PET SEMATARY and BRENDA STARR) and written by F. Paul Wilson (author of the novel that THE KEEP is based on). (read the rest of this shit…)

Jack Frost

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

I don’t know why it took me more than 20 years, but I’ve finally seen JACK FROST, “not the Michael Keaton one, the other one,” as writer/director Michael Cooney says in his introduction to the (surprisingly) lovingly remastered Blu-Ray from Vinegar Syndrome. “The Michael Keaton one” (1998) is about a guy who tries to be a better father after dying and coming back as a snow man. “The other one” (1997) is the DTV horror movie about a serial killer who tries to continue serial killing after becoming a snowman.

He’s a crazy asshole on death row who actually does have the name Jack Frost (Scott MacDonald, LAST ACTION HERO). He tries to escape while being transported through Snowmonton, the small town where a small town sheriff (Christopher Allport, SAVAGE WEEKEND, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A., INVADERS FROM MARS) ended his cross country murder spree. But a truck full of some chemical from a super secret experiment – I don’t know, some Marvel Comics shit – explodes onto Jack and melts him into shriveled meat and his soul is transformed into liquid form or something so he is able to reconstitute himself into snow. And then, while coming after Sheriff Tiler for revenge, he ends up with coal eyes, a carrot nose, a scarf, stick eyebrows and sometimes a pipe. No magic hat required. (read the rest of this shit…)

36.15 Code Pere Noel

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

36.15 CODE PÈRE NOËL – a.k.a. WANTED: MR. XMAS, GAME OVER, DIAL CODE SANTA CLAUS, HIDE AND FREAK, or DEADLY GAMES on the German Blu-Ray I rented – is an A+ Christmas action-horror cult movie from 1989 that I can’t believe I’d never heard of before. I read about it in the book Yuletide Terror: Christmas Horror on Film and Television edited by Paul Corupe and Kier-La Janisse. That’s a small press book I pre-ordered last year and there was some mishap that caused it to be delivered a little after Christmas, so I had it set aside for 11 months, excited to bust it out this year.

As I go through it I’ve been making a long list of things to check out. This was at the top, but I can’t imagine anything else on the list will match it. I was convinced I was sitting on the mother of all Christmas recommendations here and then I asked a friend if he’d ever heard of it and… yeah, there’s a new A.G.F.A. restoration of it that was a big hit at Fantastic Fest this year and is even playing here in Seattle at the Grand Illusion this week.

Oh.

Still, I’m so excited to tell you guys about this one. Though it was made a year before HOME ALONE, it combines the kid-defending-his-house-at-Christmas concept with SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT killer Santa horror and tinges of Jean-Pierre Jeunet heightened reality. It’s so joyous in putting its young hero and his Danny-Cooksey-worthy spikey mullet through kid versions of ’80s action tropes that if I didn’t know it was from ’89 I’d assume it was a tribute movie made by some French answer to Taika Waititi. And yet it’s not at all a comedy. It absolutely works on the level of a serious stalk and slash movie, and it’s about serious ideas. (read the rest of this shit…)

Sheitan

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Sometimes it takes me a while to get around to a movie, which I can prove because I seriously have been meaning to see this movie SHEITAN since it was the hot new horror movie out of France, and that was 11 years ago!

It’s about a group of young horny deadbeats – Bart (Olivier Barthelemy, MESRINE PART 2: PUBLIC ENEMY #1), Thai (Nicolas Le Phat Tan, no other credits) and Ladj (Ladj Ly, OUR DAY WILL COME) – who go clubbing on Christmas Eve Eve. They have no money and might get kicked out for not buying drinks, and they hassle their poor bartender friend Yasmine (Leila Bekhti, MESRINE PART 1: KILLER INSTINCT, A PROPHET) trying to get freebies. Bart is the biggest pain in the ass though because he hits on a girl who’s with her boyfriend, calls her an “ugly skank” when she won’t give him her phone number, ends up starting a fight and getting hit over the head with a bottle by a bouncer before getting thrown out. Well deserved.

But Yasmine introduced them to her childhood friend Eve (Roxane Mesquida, RUBBER) who sexy-dances with Thai and is super hot so these doofuses are all sniffing around her and are very amenable when she suggests “We can go to my place, in the country.” And they don’t know they’re in a horror movie, so they don’t know NEVER GO TO ANYBODY’S PLACE OUT IN THE COUNTRY. EVER! (read the rest of this shit…)

Elves

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Sometimes you want a great Christmas movie, sometimes you want ELVES. This is a crappy still-only-on-VHS one, but it’s pretty fun. Two things you should know:

1. The title is completely fraudulent. There’s only one elf in it.

2. It’s a pretty different interpretation of elves from ELF or something like that. In this version he has nothing to do with helping Santa Claus. He’s a monster created by Nazi occultists to mate with a human and create the master race. On Christmas.

Our heroine is Kirsten, played by Julie Austin (EXTREME JUSTICE, TWISTED JUSTICE [that’s two titles, although it would also be cool as one title]). She’s either a teenager or a young adult who’s a waitress at a department store “snack bar,” hates Christmas and wants it to snow. She doesn’t know that her grandfather (Borah Silver, BLUE COLLAR, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK) is a Nazi who buried an elf out in the woods and also is her father and that she was inbred to be “perfect” because she’s the one who’s supposed to mate with the elf on Christmas Eve. Which are all things that are important to know. (read the rest of this shit…)

Better Watch Out

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

BETTER WATCH OUT is a non-supernatural, non-Killer-Santa Christmas horror movie with a fun feel to it, but with deeply uncomfortable undertones. Or maybe it’s overtones. In fact I’m gonna say it’s deeply uncomfortable overtones and undertones with just a thin layer in the middle of that fun feeling I mentioned. It’s not particularly gruesome or anything, it’s just that the psychology of the villainy is fucked up in a way that got under my skin. There is a physical threat, but it’s more about creeping you out that there are people out there who think like this.

It mostly stars the youths. There’s the kid that played Peter Pan in PAN (Levi Miller) and the two kids from THE VISIT (Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould). There are other characters, like Patrick Warburton (THE WOMAN CHASER) and Virginia Madsen (CANDYMAN) as the parents of Miller’s character, but much of the movie is just between those three kids. (read the rest of this shit…)

Red Christmas

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

RED CHRISTMAS is new holiday horror courtesy of Australia. I saw Dee Wallace’s name on the cover and I assumed, quite reasonably I think, that she’d have a small part but was the only big name person to sell the movie. Turns out she is legitimately the lead, and gets to be a full-on heroine who faces off with a deranged killer and also with the lingering memories of traumatic decisions made in her past. She takes charge and barks orders and in a stand out scene she has to tearfully assure her adult son with Down syndrome that she still loves him while she’s creeping through a dark house with a rifle. This is a good role for her!

It’s also a really interesting movie that does enough that’s right and/or unusual to make up for its obvious flaws. Yeah, the opening abortion protest is phony as hell, some of the digital cinematography during daylight is too clean and cheap looking, the family arguments that come up sometimes feel forced and inauthentic, its point-of-view on the touchy subjects it brings up is incoherent enough that it ultimately feels like button-pushing provocation. But in my opinion horror movies are sometimes allowed – even encouraged – to make you feel uncomfortable and maybe a little offended. It’s part of the deal. (read the rest of this shit…)

A Christmas Horror Story

Monday, December 12th, 2016

A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY is a misleading title because 1) it’s not a horror version of A CHRISTMAS STORY and 2) it’s more than one Christmas horror story. It’s an anthology of several but it jumps around between them like CLOUD ATLAS or something.

This one is made by the Canadians. As a country they know their shit, in my opinion, having given us at least two of the Christmas genre classics, BLACK CHRISTMAS and THE SILENT PARTNER. This will not be added to that list, but it’s worth a watch.

The story begins on Christmas Eve at a spooky North Pole, where a ragged looking Santa Claus (George Buza, THE CHRISTMAS SWITCH, THE CASE FOR CHRISTMAS, A CHRISTMAS WEDDING, SNAKE EATER II: THE DRUG BUSTER) is preparing for his flight. Something seems wrong, and when he turns around there’s a bloody slash across his face. Then it skips to 12 hours earlier. (read the rest of this shit…)