Friday, September 16, 2011

40 Days of Night(mares) Day 25: Favorite Christmas/ Holiday Horror Movie

Once Halloween became a hit, there was an immediate push to come up with other "holiday" themed horror films, thus giving us such classics as the brilliant April Fools Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day (natch) and the ever gruesome Groundhog Day. No wait, strike the last one. But there were a wide variety of others related to anything even remotely geared to a holiday. I suppose you can even count Leprechaun (shudder).
I dismissed Halloween as being to0 obvious a choice, and was going to go with April Fools Day, a perennial favorite featuring a non Biff/Griff/Buford performance by Tom Wilson. But, due to the nature of that film (no spoilers) I had to disqualify it. I then thought about Trick R' Treat, but it seemed too recent to qualify.
So, of course I was left with the biggest holiday of them all. Christmas. There are a few contenders to the throne here, but I narrowed it down to two finalists. One a quickly made, murder by the numbers, campy good fun movie. One a much darker and scarier movie.
Silent Night/Deadly Night, the former of the two, is a good bare-boned approach to the slasher genre. Young Billy witnesses his parents being brutally murdered by a robber dressed as jolly old St. Nick. Obviously, this kind of trauma, mixed with a healthy dose of "the nuns messed me up by whipping me" leads to a grown up Billy snapping and going on a murder spree. Simple, to the point, and just the right thing for a quick and dirty horror thrill. You can see every move coming from a mile away, but that's part of the fun with these types of movies.
The other contender, Black Christmas (the original, not the weird Simpsons-skinned killer remake), is a reindeer of a different color. It has less to do with the mythology and practices of Christmas than the other movie, largely centering on being set during the holiday season. The girls of a sorority house are being harassed by a caller that spouts out some of the worst things possible. The girls, including pre-Lois Lane Margot Kidder, are picked off one by one in a brutal fashion. As a side note in horror history, this is the first horror film to include the "the calls are coming from inside the house" trope. Also an early appearance by the great John Saxon, who would later star as Nancy's dad in the Nightmare on Elm Street films.
For SN/DN, I would give it a middling 5 out of 10. Gets the job done, but isn't challenging or even particularly memorable, outside of the killer Santa Claus thing. Black Christmas earns a more respectable 7.5 out of 10.

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