Monday, December 8, 2014

Let's Have Some Horror for the Holidays

When thinking about holiday movies, what movie comes to mind first? A Christmas Story? Charlie Brown's Christmas? Love Actually? Home Alone?

While A Christmas Story is probably my favorite non-horror holiday film, there are other films that pop into my head when the sweet scent of cinnamon and pumpkin mingles with the earthy smell of pine. Those holiday jingles typically bring to mind a different sort of scene, one that mingles the merriest time of the year with something darker.

What about some horror for the holidays?

It can't all be ooey-gooey romances, family dramas, and films for kids.

Let's start with a little horror lite: Gremlins. Both Gremlins films are set during the holidays. Gizmo is, after all, a Christmas gift.

The holiday factors throughout the movie, with decorations galore. And in the end, the gremlins unleash mischief across town on Christmas Eve.

Fun Fact: The movie was originally intended to be more dastardly, but it was decided to keep it family friendly. No slaughtering dogs, turning the beloved main character green, or throwing mom's head bouncing down the steps. I must say, I think I prefer it the way they did it.

Gremlins is cute, funny, quotable, and, yes, scary at parts. But if you're wanting something a little more horror with just desserts mixed in, your next step should be the 1972 Tales From the Crypt, in which the short "And All Through the House" introduces you to a killer Santa (or an escaped maniac in a Santa suit...whichever.)

Only one of the stories has anything to do with Christmas, but it's one that has stuck with me for quite awhile.

Another choice if you like the idea of a killer Santa is Silent Night, Deadly Night. This one is about a boy who witnesses the murder of his parents by a man in a Santa suit. As a teen, his boss forces him to wear a Santa suit, causing him to spiral into madness, going on a murder spree.

Fun Fact: This was pulled out of theaters after two weeks, despite outselling Nightmare on Elm Street, which opened at the same time, due to an uprising of indignant parents, angry at the advertising and depiction of Santa as a psycho murderer.

I'm going to throw out one more that's more recent. Rare Exports. Unlike the others that involved Santa, this one features the real Santa. And he's not the jolly guy we've been feeding cookies all these years. This film comes to us from Finland, and it's a bit twisted.

If you'd like to look at more Christmas themed horror movies, here's a thorough list of them from Best Horror Movies.

Of course, you could always just horror-ise your other favorites:

Some other movies that don't necessarily fit the bill of the regular, touching or bittersweet Christmas film, but which also aren't horror, make my honorable mentions: Scrooged, Die Hard, A Nightmare Before Christmas.

What's your favorite Christmas movie? Do you like them sappy, funny, childish, action-packed, or scary? Is there a Christmas movie you've absolutely hated?

May you find your Muse.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Rare Exports! Yes, if you are looking for an off-the-wall Christmas horror film, that movie is your ticket.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I haven't thought about the movie Gremlins in forever!

shelly said...

My favs are It's a Wonderful Life and of course, Chevy Case's National Lampoon Christmas.

Pat Hatt said...

Gremlins and Die Hard I watched every year. Lethal Weapon can sorta work to.

A Beer for the Shower said...

Of all the movies you've listed, I've only seen Die Hard and Gremlins. Die Hard, of course, is my favorite Christmas movie second only to A Christmas Story. I'm gonna have to catch at least one of these before the holiday's passed.

Also, as I'm telling others in the blogosphere, I believe Google rolled out automatic captchas today to all blogs with popout comment boxes (yours included) because now I'm being asked to prove I'm not a robot by typing in some blurry, unreadable number just to leave a comment.

So if this comment doesn't get posted, just remember - Johnny Five to stay alive.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I enjoyed Gremlins at the time. We always watch The Christmas Story and the goofy, Jingle All the Way.

dolorah said...

A Nightmare Before Christmas was the first to come to mind for favorite holiday movies. I don't really go in for fluff, unless I'm sitting with the grandkids, lol.

Andrew Leon said...

Gremlins is one of our Christmas movies just like E.T. is one of our Halloween movies.

Did you ever read "Christmas on the Corner"? Just by the way.

Anonymous said...

Well, because I'm a huge Darren McGavin fan, I love Christmas Story. And it's hard to beat Die Hard. But Scrooged--ah, how I love that movie. The line about stapling the antlers to the heads of the mice has stuck with me all these years.

I confess, I don't know if my children have watched Gremlins. Might have to fix that this weekend.

Oh, favorite which nobody else will name: Auntie Mame. It's not a Christmas movie, per se, but the scenes that do involve Christmas are the best! (Rosalind Russell version, please.)

Anonymous said...

Gremlins is a good movie. Haven't seen it in a while. We watch A Christmas Story every year on Christmas day. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Shannon Lawrence said...

Definitely! It's one of those movies you watch on a whim, but enjoy due to the cheesiness.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I just recently watched it with my son--his first time!

Shannon Lawrence said...

It's funny you say National Lampoons, because I call my husband Clark during the holiday season.

Shannon Lawrence said...

That's true. Lethal Weapon is set during the holidays. I'll just have to add it to my list.

Shannon Lawrence said...

No disassemble! Thank you for the head's up. Looks like they've modified it since that day, but I'm enjoying being able to reply to individuals, which I couldn't do with the popout.

I've already watched Die Hard and Gremlins for the season, but am saving A Christmas Story for Christmas day. It's definitely a favorite. One of our neighbors has the lamp!

Shannon Lawrence said...

We'll have to watch Jingle All the Way with the kids. Haven't seen it in awhile!

Shannon Lawrence said...

We'll be watching A Nightmare Before Christmas with the kids this Friday, our movie night!

Shannon Lawrence said...

I hadn't thought of E.T. for a Halloween movie, but of course it's perfect.

I haven't read it yet, but I'm finally working my way through my Kindle, courtesy of the horror review challenge I'm doing. Looking forward to it!

Shannon Lawrence said...

Scrooged is also an annual tradition for us. Jeff is a big Murray fan. I love the psycho Carol Kane. I haven't seen Auntie Mame, though.

Did they watch Gremlins yet!?

Shannon Lawrence said...

We do, too! I can't help but put it on after the gifts have been opened and I'm making breakfast. Perfection.