Christmas horror

Flashing colored Christmas lights
ChristmasCarolLogo / Fair use doctrine.
I have mentioned before how spooky winter was in the olden days. The last of a fallen animals body heat leaving their body, even the brief fog humans made as they breathed in the chili air had people thinking of spirits. Also, the improper storage of the last harvest caused wonderful hallucinations. They would pile up their grains and the dampness caused mildew; also, rye was often contaminated with ergots, which scientists now believe is the cause of the Salem tragedy. Charles Dickens was, of course, born quite a bit after that occurred. Still, the mists and, by that time, ‘nose powder’ (and the fact that Dickens was an English novelist with rock star status), helped to make A Christmas Carol as popular as it became.
Alastair Sim-A Christmas Carol (1951) / Fair use doctrine.
Charles was not only an awesome author but an incredible actor, making him the best of storytellers. He would pack the crowd when doing his book tours, Charles Dickens acting out his own words on the stage was a sight to see. A Christmas Carol was published in 1843, just a few decades after much of America started celebrating Christmas again ( The Puritans saw Christmas just as a time for the poor to wassail the rich, and also believed that Dec the 25th became the popular date to celebrate the birth of Christ to cover up the Roman holiday Saturnalia (which was a festive celebration of the God Saturn) many Christian Holidays ‘occur’ during the time of more ‘uncivilized heathens’ Holidays, so nothing new there.

Muppets-A Christmas Carol / Fair use doctrine.

Dickens was inspired to write A Christmas Carol one night after he spoke one night at a charity event for Manchester Athenaeum. He was broken hearted and worried about the outcome of the poor and ignored children. After the event, he roamed the chili, night air streets (it was October after all) and became obsessed with getting his story out in time for Christmas.

A Christmas Carol is still reenacted every year across the nation on many stages. And has been turned into a movie, not once but 49 times! From old cranky men to muppets, to animated versions of Jim Carrey!

The first being put out in 1908, Tom Ricketts was the first screen Scrooge.

ScroogeMcDuck-A Christmas Carol / Fair use doctrine.

Some of the more popular Ebenezers have been:

Alastair Sim

George C. Scott
(yep dude from The Exorcist)

Patrick Stewart

Bill Murray

Michael Caine

Jim Carrey

Flashing colored Christmas lights
I am delighted by the fact that the most popular Christmas story is filled with ghosts, hauntings, nightmares, and a vision of one’s own death. Nothing better than scaring the Christmas spirit into someone. 😉

HoTS Christmas Edition: A Christmas Carol

HoTS Christmas Edition: A Christmas Carol

Flashing colored Christmas lights
ChristmasCarolLogo / Fair use doctrine.
I have mentioned before how spooky winter was in the olden days. The last of a fallen animals body heat leaving their body, even the brief fog humans made as they breathed in the chili air had people thinking of spirits. Also, the improper storage of the last harvest caused wonderful hallucinations. They would pile up their grains and the dampness caused mildew; also, rye was often contaminated with ergots, which scientists now believe is the cause of the Salem tragedy. Charles Dickens was, of course, born quite a bit after that occurred. Still, the mists and, by that time, 'nose powder' (and the fact that Dickens was an English novelist with rock star status), helped to make A Christmas Carol as popular as it became.
Alastair Sim-A Christmas Carol (1951) / Fair use doctrine.
Charles was not only an awesome author but an incredible actor, making him the best of storytellers. He would pack the crowd when doing his book tours, Charles Dickens acting out his own words on the stage was a sight to see. A Christmas Carol was published in 1843, just a few decades after much of America started celebrating Christmas again ( The Puritans saw Christmas just as a time for the poor to wassail the rich, and also believed that Dec the 25th became the popular date to celebrate the birth of Christ to cover up the Roman holiday Saturnalia (which was a festive celebration of the God Saturn) many Christian Holidays 'occur' during the time of more 'uncivilized heathens' Holidays, so nothing new there.

Muppets-A Christmas Carol / Fair use doctrine.

Dickens was inspired to write A Christmas Carol one night after he spoke one night at a charity event for Manchester Athenaeum. He was broken hearted and worried about the outcome of the poor and ignored children. After the event, he roamed the chili, night air streets (it was October after all) and became obsessed with getting his story out in time for Christmas.

A Christmas Carol is still reenacted every year across the nation on many stages. And has been turned into a movie, not once but 49 times! From old cranky men to muppets, to animated versions of Jim Carrey!

The first being put out in 1908, Tom Ricketts was the first screen Scrooge.

ScroogeMcDuck-A Christmas Carol / Fair use doctrine.

Some of the more popular Ebenezers have been:

Alastair Sim

George C. Scott
(yep dude from The Exorcist)

Patrick Stewart

Bill Murray

Michael Caine

Jim Carrey

Flashing colored Christmas lights
I am delighted by the fact that the most popular Christmas story is filled with ghosts, hauntings, nightmares, and a vision of one's own death. Nothing better than scaring the Christmas spirit into someone. 😉

Posted by Tammie Parker in FAMILY HORROR, FEATURED CONTENT, FICTION AND POETRY, HORROR HEROES, HORROR HISTORY, PARANORMAL, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Beware, My Lovely (1952)

MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Beware, My Lovely (1952)

Beware, My Lovely:
The Forgotten Noir Christmas Nightmare

Director: Harry Horner; Writer: Mel Dinelli (based on his 1950 play The Man); Stars:
Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Taylor Holmes, Barbara Whiting, OZ Whitehead; Rating: UNK; Run Time: 12 min; Genre: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1952
I recently did my Naughty and Nice list of fairly well known Christmas time horrors, and it got me to reflect on this often forgotten gem. Sure, when we think of alternative festive movies, we might pop in Die Hard or The Ref – and those are both perfect choices. However, if you are looking for something black and white (and a bit off its rocker), allow me to take you down the shadowy, hellish streets of noir for a neglected classic. RKO wasn’t a small studio, but they weren’t big, either. That meant that their films, especially the noirs, were grittier and altogether more edgy. They tackled subjects that many of that many of the studios weren’t and, in the case of Beware, My Lovely, take a raw look at mental illness with a seasonal backdrop.Ida Lupino in Beware, My Lovely
The film opens in 1918 (an oddly specific time) in a small Norman Rockwell-type of town during the holiday season. A kindly war window, Helen Gordon (Ida Lupino), hires a handyman to do some work around her apartment building. It just so happens that somebody is a deranged man named Howard (played to the hilt by Robert Ryan) with a murky past. Ms. Gordon soon finds herself menaced by the shady-looking character and unable to escape his clutches.
Robert Ryan in Beware, My LovelyI believe I first saw Beware, My Lovely on TCM and was floored as I, a noir lover, had never heard of this before. And it even starred one of my favorite Hollywood heavies – Robert Ryan, who never really got the kind of iconic status as somebody like Robert Mitchum or James Cagney despite being in many great films. For me, nobody plays a bad guy quite like him. Beware, My Lovely is a wonderfully creepy character study of a person clearly suffering from mental disease, and Ryan plays it brilliantly. Howard’s character is a complete mystery, and the movie isn’t interested in spoonfeeding us what fuels him. This lack of motivation is actually pretty off-putting. The whole thing plays out like one strange, unending nightmare with a head-scratching opening which is never explained. In fact, a lot of this movie doesn’t really make sense, but it’s so barking mad that it really doesn’t matter. It’s even weirder because it takes place around Christmas. In fact, that theme is played up and not simply relegated to background dressing. The fact that this movie got made baffles me, but to make it a sort of Christmas movie is just incredible.
Sadly, I don’t believe this movie was ever officially released on home video except for VHS, and the one a found on Ebay was $30. But if you search, you might be able to find a copy somewhere. TCM also plays it, so if it comes on, please DVR it. So snuggle up with your best fellow or dame, grab a stiff drink, and enjoy this very Noir-Christmas film. Maybe the only one ever made.

skeletal santa in snow

Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
ARTIST OF THE MONTH – JAN 2017: Jonathan Patrick Hughes

ARTIST OF THE MONTH – JAN 2017: Jonathan Patrick Hughes

We start 2017 with one of our own - Jonathan Patrick Hughes.
If the title was not a big enough hint, it is a Christmas horror. Which we certainly do not have enough of 🙂
Here is our interview:
House of Tortured Souls: How long have you been a horror fan?
Jonathan Patrick Hughes: I have been a fan since I was quite young. I guess you can say that my mother got me involved starting with Friday The 13th Part 2 and from then on, my love for horror just escalated as time moved forward.
HoTS: What led to you deciding to write and direct a scary movie?
JPH: When I was 4 years old, my mother brought home with her a VHS copy of Michael Jackson's Thriller. I watched that thing 1,000 times and after seeing how the short film was made, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do. Back then, it was very rare that an audience got to see a making of something and at the age of 4 no one knows what they want to be when they grow up. I was different, bc I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up.
HoTS: How long have you worked on (S)Aint Nick?
JPH: The idea popped in my head 3 years ago. We just got done shooting my very first horror short film, APARTMENT 1109 and when it was time to wrap up everything I just wanted to keep going. I was so excited to say that I made my first film and within a week later, the idea for (S)AINT NICK was born. I started writing the script while I was still in film school and once I graduated in January of 2015, I put all my focus on preparing what was going to be my first film after film school. Pre production ran about 7 months, we shot the film last December through the beginning of January and then spent about 7 months on post production.
HoTS: What inspired you to do this particular movie?
JPH: Being a fan of all types of Horror films, I was always a fan of holiday-themed horror films. Halloween, My Bloody Valentine, Silent Night, Deadly Night, and Trick 'r Treat just to name a few. Christmas horror seems to be my favorite type of holiday-themed horror films. It's the time of giving and spending time with the family in front of a fully lit tree, dinners, and just smiles all around. Everyone is just so perky around that time of year. So, I wanted to crash that party with a very bleak, disturbing tale of sadness and discomfort, making an audience feel like they desperately need to rush home and take a shower after what they just witnessed. To make a long story short, my biggest influence upon making this film was ROB ZOMBIE. If anybody knows the kind of films he makes and loves them as well as his style of filmmaking and storytelling, then they should also find themselves loving (S)AINT NICK as well.
HoTS: Who is your favorite immortal creep?
JPH: MICHAEL MYERS is my ultimate idol. John Carpenter's Halloween is my all time favorite film and has been for over 25 years. I've seen the film way over 300 times and every time I view the film, I always get excited as if it's the very first time I'm viewing it.
HoTS: Coke or Pepsi?
JPH: If I had to choose, I'd say Pepsi. I would much rather enjoy a half gallon of iced tea, though.
HoTS: Are you working on any more movies or have plans for others?
JPH: We are in the very early stages of writing my debut feature. I have asked Braden Bixler to come on board as my co-writer. Braden was responsible for the sound and score on (S)AINT NICK. The only thing that I will say at this giving time is imagine if John Hughes (Weird Science, Sixteen Candles, and Uncle Buck) was alive today and decided to make a slasher film, taking it back to the old school days. That is the current project we are working on. I have also developed an Easter horror short film, as well, but we will see if that takes off sometime in the future.
HoTS: Where can fans view/purchase (S)Aint Nick?
JPH: (S)AINT NICK has just been picked up by Body Bag Films. Tony Newton is the producer of an anthology titled The 12 Slays of Christmas and (S)AINT NICK will be one of the tales told in the anthology. No official release date as of yet, but I am told that the film will be available On Demand as well as DVD. As soon as I find out all the goodies, I will gladly inform everyone. Click here to check them out on IMDb.
HoTS: Do you have a fan page or twitter acct where we can keep up with the latest?
JPH: I just use Facebook. It's user friendly and everybody seems to have one. I have a Twitter, I just don't use it.
HoTS: What are some of your other hobbies?
JPH: Hobbies include spending time with my son, Liam, who is 5 years old, and trying to be a better father as well as a better coach. Other hobbies include writing, directing, creating, watching movies - old and new, listening to music, and setting up future goals for myself. You only live once, go big or go home, but always have fun!!!
We are looking forward to more of his work.
Posted by Tammie Parker in ART AND VENDORS, FEATURED ARTIST, 4 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: (S)AINT NICK (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: (S)AINT NICK (2016)

By John Roisland
(S)AINT NICK, written and directed by Jonathan Patrick Hughes, newcomer Hughes brings you his own dark vision of holiday cheer. Yes, Halloween (sadly) enough is over. It's time to take down all the fake spider webs and pack up the Styrofoam tombstones till next October. Christmas season, like it or not, is now upon us, and Hughes's vision of welcoming it, well, it's one that has to be seen.
The story focuses on Ashley and her younger brother Billy, siblings who now live with their stepfather Horace after an untimely car accident took their mother's life, and Matthew's wish to Santa on Christmas Eve. This is (S)AINT NICK, though, so his wish isn't for a new Xbox or a new iPhone but something much more personal. Little Billy wants Horace's head under the Christmas tree.Horace, the stepfather, is a drunken, dirty, disgusting, pig of a man who mentally, emotionally and possibly, though it's never actually mentioned, physically abuses his stepchildren. But I have got to give credit where credit due. The actor playing Horace, John Seese tops any actors portrayed I've seen in many years when it comes to portraying his role. When I watched his acting I honestly compared it to David Hess's character Krug Stillo from The Last House on the Left, a performance which was near stomach-turning on the screen. He's definitely the guy you love to hate. Dirty, scummy and perverted all makes for a jolly good time.
Upon first watching (S)AINT NICK, I noticed the quality of the film and was pleasantly surprised. It was evident even from the opening credits that this wasn't a normal, run-of-the mill handheld camera filmed in someone's basement with bad, echoing sound and credits that somebody threw together with a cheap program from their computer. What Hughes does bring you is a full-fledged film, great quality in both audio and video. The sound is crystal clear - not muffled and no echo. The acting is surprisingly good, and even the special effect makeup were pretty much on point. Hell, even the score (music) in (S)AINT NICK was good.BASIC TEXT BLOCK
Did I mention that Hughes crammed all of this and more into a 28 minute movie that doesn't leave you feeling like it was rushed? (S)AINT NICK is a short film that is going to be included in a Christmas horror anthology called 12 SLAYS OF CHRISTMAS which is being produced by Tony Newton and will be a VOD and DVD release.
If this is a sample of what the Christmas season has to bring us, well, being a horror fan, all I can say is bring it! Jonathan Patrick Hughes, you did well, sir. I would easily rank (S)AINT NICK as a classic in the Christmas horror subgenre!
What Hughes gives you is far from a newcomer's final product. Be proud, Mr. Hughes, (S)AINT NICK is a winner.
Keep It Evil...
Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Mike Lombardo

INTERVIEW: Mike Lombardo

By Dixielord

 

Last week I has the pleasure of talking to Mike Lombardo, writer and director of the upcoming post apocalyptic holiday movie I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday. It was a really fun talk more conversation than interview, and I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

House of Tortured Souls: Reel Splatter is known mostly for horror comedies, I have seen The Stall, but White Doomsday, seems to be a more serious film.

Mike Lombardo: Yes, it is a serious film. There's no comedy, well there's a few light moments, but it's not comedic at any point. We don’t play it for laughs ever.

 

HoTS: I was thinking it was completely humorous till I was just watching the trailer again and I caught the, “No food. No hope. Noel”. I don’t know how I missed that before.

ML: (laughs) It’s a little bit of grim humor in the trailer.

 

HoTS: It looks like it’s going to be a dark, grim movie.

ML: Yeah, I think that’s a pretty safe assumption. It’s pretty grim. Nihilistic is a good word for it.

 

HoTS: Nihilistic is a big word but I like that.

ML: (laughs)

 

HoTS: I see you have repeated the gas mask motif from Suburban Nightmare and The Stall.

ML: I have it tattooed on me as a matter of fact.

Poster art from I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday by Director Mike Lombardo

Poster art from I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday by director Mike Lombardo

 

HoTS: The gas mask is an unnerving, spooky look, where did that come from?

ML: The gas mask character that's all over the website, that's our logo, that's Dr. Chud. That was my character many years ago. Basically I've always been obsessed with gas masks and what they represent. It's very dehumanizing when you put a gas mask on someone. It almost instantly makes people uneasy. It speaks to paranoia, and I was just always obsessed with gas masks.

I found that actual mask, the reel splatter mascot at a flea market from a Viet Nam vet who owned a stall there. So I bought that and I had this character, trench coat, gas mask and a cardboard sign that said “The End is Near” and I started doing that in real life. Just wandering around town with that, just to fuck with people and see what would happen.

It's weird there’s never been a real mythology behind the character. We always talked about it, about different things he could be, but we never really did anything with it. He just started popping up in short stories, he's like an omen, he's always there, somewhere. Eventually as we moved into actual film stuff, making shorts, I picked that as the logo. Because I never considered Reel Splatter entirely horror, but it's also not entirely comedy . It's this weird, nasty surreal thing, and when people see the gas mask, their first reaction is “What the fuck?” and that’s exactly how I want them to react. I want them to say, “This is weird” and weird is the best way I can describe what I generally do.

Even the gas mask Santa, that was something I came up with in high school, so that's going way back. When I was in high school I had a project for graphics class, I forget exactly what it was supposed to be, I think it was some kind of instructional video or picture set. Which it turned into apocalyptic Christmas for some reason with me, because I had a real obsession with Santa Claus too. So I had this image of Santa in a gas mask that I plastered everywhere, and it just stayed with me for many, many years. Eventually the events surrounding this movie happened and it just worked. It was actually a short story I wrote in 2012, then the movie and it was a no brainer, we have to use that mask.

 

HoTS: It really caught my eye, it was kind of a “Holy Fuck” moment.

ML: (laughs) That's exactly what I was going for. Haha.

 

HoTS: That scene. I kept telling people this is going to be one fucked up movie.

ML: Well a lot of people think that character, that Santa is a slasher movie villain, but White Doomsday is not a slasher movie. So I'm curious what people think that character is associated with and is completely off base from what is really going on. I'm going to remain mum on the circumstances of those scenes, but it's not a slasher movie. So eliminate that from your minds. I'm not a fan of slasher movies.

 

HoTS: That's one of the things I have been pondering in my mind, and I wont ask you to divulge any secrets, but what is that Santa? Is it the mom dressing up to go out and kidnap babies.

ML: (Laughs)

 

HoTS: Or is it the actual Santa? I don't know, and I want to know so bad, but I don’t want anyone to tell me.

ML: Hopefully you won't be disappointed. A lot of people have been asking me what that is, because when Fangoria ran a story about our poster, that photograph, they plastered that all over the article. Everybody has been reposting that and asking what the fuck is this, and I'm just smiling to myself and it's like, “Just wait, you'll see”. (laughs)

 

HoTS: Do you think the slasher film is so ingrained in pop culture now, that when ever people see a mask, they automatically assume it's a slasher film?

ML: Absolutely, and when I was cutting the trailer, the producers were very hesitant, like, “Yeah, I don’t know if you want to use that, you're giving away too much, and people will get the wrong impression of the film”. I thought about it long and hard. I wanted the trailer to be as representative of this film as humanly possible. We had one version of the trailer that made it look like an apocalyptic action movie, and that's not this movie at all. I really thought it was important to show people that image, just to show, this isn’t a standard thing. I mean, I've been billing this to people as Miracle on 34th Street meets The Road, and I really don't know a better way to describe it than that. It's a slow burn, it's a depressing character piece. I feel it's more of a dark drama than a horror movie, but that's just me personally because I wrote the story. But I know people are going to think it's a slasher flick.

And we did kind of a retro style artwork for the poster. I wanted to do like an 80s horror paperback cover. Mark Schoenbach of Sadist Art Designs did that for us, he's the guy that did our The Stall poster as well. Those two things combined, people are definitely going to think it's a slasher film. You know what? Let them think that, hopefully when they watch the movie, they wont be disappointed that there's a story in there and not just a guy in a rubber mask hacking up teenagers.

 

HoTS: I see how people can make that leap from the poster, but to me, watching the trailer, I know you say The Road, but to me it reminds me of the last ten minutes or so of The Mist.

Spoiler

I know a lot of people hated that ending, but to me it was perfect.

ML: Yeah, I think that was a great ending. I'm a big fan of the bleak stuff.

 

HoTS: Me, too, but I have to be in a good mood to watch those films.

ML: (laughs) That's understandable.

Mike Lombardo is dreaming of a White Doomsday

Noel and Merry Doomsday from Mike Lombardo
Photo courtesy off Mike Lombardo

 

HoTS: When I come in from a hard night's work and need to chill, I turn on Family Guy. But if I'm in the right mood, I go for the bleak, depressing, dark films like A Serbian Film and Martyrs.

ML: Two of my favorite films of the last ten years, and they're absolutely beautifully made. What I like about those two movies they are incredibly dark, and ugly movies, but they never get to the level of exploitation. Even A Serbian Film, they show you just enough, and then they move on, they never revel in it. There's this really disturbing imagery, but it never becomes undisciplined.

 

HoTS: It's an extremely powerful film.

ML: Absolutely.

 

HoTS: I remember sitting in silence after watching both of those films.

ML: (laughs) I was just about to say that.

 

HoTS: What did I just see, what did I experience. Especially with Martyrs, that ending was perfect.

Spoiler

ML: For me, I think Martyrs is a harder film to watch. I know a lot of people think A Serbian Film is the more shocking of the two. The thing with A Serbian Film, you are introduced to these characters, a genuinely loving family, genuinely good people, that happen to be put into a terrible circumstance. There's light hearted moments, and there’s a build up, and then everything just plummets to hell. Martyrs starts down here (gestures with his hand as if a low level) and it just goes, it's never not horrible, there's not a single moment of that movie where you're smiling. It's just terrible all the time.

 

HoTS: The one time, when you start to smile, then Boom!

ML: Yeah, there’s that family scene for like two minutes, then Boom, home invasion. And I'm sitting there watching, and what really struck me about Martyrs, I was sitting there watching with my roommates and when the movie turned, when they finished Lucy’s story, I remember looking at my roommate and saying, “I have no fucking idea where this movie is going”, and there's another hour left. I have zero idea what's gonna happen and that hasn't happened in a decade. Then they just come out of nowhere and sucker punch you in the stomach. Here's a girl getting punched in the face for ten minutes. Enjoy.

 

HoTS: That was so brutal because it was so real.

ML: I'm getting chills just thinking about it. That movie just wrecked me.

 

HoTS: I kept waiting for the Hollywood moment, for her to grab her chain and choke out her captor, waiting for her to somehow escape, and it didn't happen. I finished the movie and said, “I loved this, but I'll never watch it again”.

ML: That’s the way I felt about it and A Serbian Film, and I've watched both a dozen time since. I remember after watching Martyrs, I had to go for a walk, I just had to get outside, that movie was so rough, and A Serbian Film was, too, but with A Serbian Film at least it had character arcs and a more cinematic approach to it. It definitely wasn't a Hollywood movie but it was a little more standard, a little easier to swallow, but the bleakness of Martyrs. I don't know if I've ever seen that topped. The only other films that have affected me like that were Sâlo and Cannibal Holocaust. Just raw, unflinching brutality, and ugliness, and they were all influences on me when I was doing White Doomsday. I'd like to think we don't pull any punches. We go for the sad whenever possible.

 

HoTS: At the risk of sounding like a very sick individual, I hope you don't pull any punches, I'm looking for a very dark, bleak, hopeless film.

ML: It's all those things, we had a little bit of a test screening of the rough cut at Scares That Care, to some of the people who were involved in the movie. The first ten minutes we were all talking, getting settled in, joking a little bit, by fifteen minutes in everyone had stopped talking, by twenty minutes I noticed there was dead silence, then someone said, “Someone make a joke, please”.

 

HoTS: Oh, you had them then, sounds promising.

ML: The back story of the movie is a very personal film. I wrote the story, in 2012 my mother was diagnosed with kidney failure, she was in the hospital in critical condition for about nine months. She has recovered since then, but she had interstitial nephritis, which caused her kidneys to only function at like three percent. They did not think that she was going to make it, and I was the go between for the hospital and my family, who were all in different states at the time. Everyone was calling me for updates all the time, and I basically had to try and downplay how bad things were. I didn't want to break down in front of my mom, and my family, so I was taking the brunt of it, and passing along the bad news. To say sane I started writing the story, which essentially boils down to watching a someone you care about fading away and you being powerless to do anything about it. So the hopelessness came from that, the story is dedicated to my mom and the movie is too. The character of the mother was influenced by my mom, and a lot of what you see is these characters, trying to shield the little boy from the reality of the situation. So no, it's not a happy movie.

 

HoTS: I like to think that movies like this, allow me to get the darkness out, helps me stay sane. I don’t know if that’s true for other fans and filmmakers of depressing, disturbing films. People do ask me all the time how can you watch films like this, and especially when I watched A Serbian Film and The Human Centipede, which I didn't find disturbing at all.

ML: No, not at all. Actually I didn't like the first one when I first saw it, because I had heard so much about it and I was thinking “this isn't the movie I heard it was going to be”. Watching it since, I realize it's a very, very good movie. It's almost a body horror movie more than anything else. It's more about domination and slavery, I don’t want to say psychological, because it is pretty visceral, but it's not a gross out, exploitation movie at all. The disturbing part of that movie was this man, breaking three people down into dogs basically. That's what bothered me about it.

Then the second one, was what everyone expected the first one to be. I'm very one the fence about the second one. I love the concept of it, that some one had seen the original one and then tried to reenact it. The movie is basically a giant “Fuck you” to censorship and the media claiming that people are going to mimic movies, which I think is absolute horseshit. I heard the premise and I thought, “Wow, this is going to be really intelligent”, because I didn't know if Tom Six was a really smart guy, kind of doing something nasty, or if he was just a sleaze king. Then I watched that movie and, ahhhh he's kind of just a sleaze king. Which there's nothing wrong with that, but I think he had a great opportunity to make a powerful commentary on horror films, and censorship of art, and he kind of botched it. I haven't seen the third one, but I heard the third one was miserable.

 

HoTS: It solidifies him as a sleaze king. There are some incredibly funny moments, but it is just so offensive, so gross. It's basically every derogatory word and insult you can call another human being is used. Every racial, sexist insult is thrown out over and over.

Okay, to move away from the doom and gloom a bit, let's talk about The Stall. For some reason I had the idea that was a zombie film, but I saw it earlier, and it's not.

ML: Oh no.

 

HoTS: I didn't want to bring it up in case zombies pop up in White Doomsday, but I'm so tired of zombies.

ML: No, no, that's another thing - I know some people are going to think it’s a zombie film and it's not.

 

HoTS: I just think the zombie story has been told. Let's find a new story to tell.

ML: Exactly.

 

HoTS: I did like Maggie with Arnold, but other than that.

ML: I didn’t see that but actually heard a lot of good things about that.

 

HoTS: It was pretty good. It was more of a story of the relationship between a father and a dying child than a traditional zombie movie.

ML: See, that's something that I would definitely enjoy, being that I love dying children obviously.

 

HoTS: (laughs)

ML: I think zombie films work best when the zombies are window dressing, a background to a different story. That's how I enjoy them anyway. I would definitely watch that.

 

HoTS: Back to The Stall. For some reason, I had the idea this was the story of a guy trapped in a bathroom stall during the zombie apocalypse, but it's not.

ML: The thing with that movie, we were working on The Stall about 2-3 years though various technical difficulties, shooting on weekends. We had to re-shoot a lot because the effects weren't working with the tentacles. But we were just kind of doing our thing, you know, making this Lovecraft movie, which was also very personal, about my job. That was like a dry run for something more serious. It's funny, the poster and the premise make people think it's going to be this big serious, gross out, B-movie and it's not, at least I hope people don't take it that way. It's about half and half.

 

HoTS: Honestly I was expecting turds. I'm glad there were no turds.

ML: Exactly. That was the big joke for me. We were presenting this movie as though it's going to be like a Troma movie, and it's not at all. It's pretty much straight Lovecraftian. It has a bleakness I was feeling at the time. Working in food service for fifteen years, trying to be a filmmaker on the side, it kind of takes its toll on you. Dying at work is my biggest fear, like one day I will realize I wasted my life doing something that I don't enjoy, while trying to support my passion on the side. The idea that I’m terrified to leave my comfort zone - which equates to a two by two bathroom stall in the movie - because there’s some horrible thing out there, that I'm not aware of yet, some awful external force. That when I get out there, I'll realize that my dreams are not good enough, and that I wont make it. That's what the whole bit is about. Or it's just about a guy trapped in a bathroom with a bunch of tentacles, and that's pretty cool too. However you want to watch it, that's fine.

 

HoTS: It was the most Lovecraftian references crammed into twelve minutes I have ever seen. You even worked in Erich Zann which is still my favorite Lovecraft short story.

ML: We had more on the radio broadcast but it gets cut out. That was one of my favorite, I'm trying to remember the others, I know there was DJ Brown Jenkins and Erich Zann. That was a lot of fun. I'm a huge Lovecraft geek, obviously.

So, I was working on this movie for two years, we release it, and our poster art was originally a restroom sign, with tentacles coming out of the side. That was our first poster, we had that for about a year. Then we did the alternate poster that's on the DD, of the guy kind of shrinking away from the tentacles, that looks like a big 70s or 80s VHS cover. So we had all that stuff out for awhile, and then the movie comes out. It's getting watched, stories posted all over the place, and then I start getting calls, about four months later to go on Netflix and look up The Stall. And I look, and there’s a movie with the same fucking poster as us, but it's zombie hands. It's the same premise, and I was like, “Are you fucking kidding me?” (laughs) I was so annoyed. Then I watched it, and if it was a good movie, I'd be totally cool with it, but it's an awful movie.

 

HoTS: I think that was what confused me. When I met you I asked you if The Stall was on Netflix because I remembered seeing it.

ML: I got that from a lot of people. Which really aggravated me, not saying they stole it, because people do come up with the same ideas all the time but it really grinded my gears because they had the same poster art. Their other poster was the restroom sign with zombie arms coming in from the side, so basically both their posters were damn near identical to ours, and it's essentially the same premise. But whereas I recognize that that movie has about thirteen minutes in it, they stretched it for an hour and a half (laughs). So it became very tiresome very quickly. Although I am a big fan of their first movie, Freak Out. It's about a guy who escapes a mental asylum and a bunch of horror fans find him. He not a violent criminal but they try and train him to be a slasher killer. It's low budget, but it's very funny. It's very low budget, but it's a fun, dumb movie, they were trying to make a Troma style B movie, and it's got some very entertaining moments in it. But The Stall, I was not so much a fan of. Maybe I’m biased, I don’t know.

 

HoTS: That does explain my confusion because when I watched it earlier I knew I had seen that cover before, but I don't think I ever watched the zombie version of The Stall. Because like I said, I really don’t watch new zombie films unless I'm bored out of my head and there’s nothing else that catches my interest.

ML: Yeah, and it sucks because I grew up with Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. When I was a kid, I wore out my VHS copy of Dawn of the Dead. I used to rent it every week and watch the head explosion scene from the beginning, over and over again. I was obsessed with zombies and there was nothing else out there other than the Italian stuff, a spat of movies in the 80s and the Romero trilogy, there wasn't really any other zombie stuff that was too exciting. Then back in what, 2003 when Brian Keene published The Rising, the Dawn of the Deadremake came out and things kind of blew up again for zombies. I was like, this is the best time to be alive, there is zombie stuff everywhere. Then after about a year of that, it's, “Okay, I'm done”. That was ten years ago and it's still going (laughs).

 

HoTS: It is still going, There are three themes, that if I am cruising Amazon Prime or Netflix, that I just scoot right past it: that's zombies, found footage, or four friends going anywhere. I just pass.

ML: Yep, yeah. (laughs) Actually I just watched the Cabin Fever remake, speaking of four friends going somewhere. It's like, “Why do I do this to myself”? Horrid, horrid stuff.

 

HoTS: Like me. I will shit talk a movie, know it's going to be bad, and still end up seeing it.

ML: Oh, absolutely.

 

HoTS: I saw The Omen remake in the theater.

ML: I was there opening night.

 

HoTS: I saw The Omen remake in the theater while running a fever and fell asleep. I tell people I love the movie because it's the best sleep I got all week.

ML: I had to go to the ER right after seeing that. I found out I had two hernias.. I was in the theater and ran to the bathroom vomiting profusely. Everyone said I had the antichrist growing inside me. So that was my experience with The Omen - as if the movie wasn't bad enough.

 

HoTS: I think it just made everyone sick.

ML: (laughs) It really did. The devil was definitely in that film because no one seeing it had a good time.

 

HoTS: So where are you going now with White Doomsday? Festival circuit?

ML: Yes. Currently we are in post-production. We are starting to work on visual effects now, sound design, um color grading, and then I'm hoping to have the movie finished by Christmas. It would be great to have it out by Christmas. The thing is, it doesn't mean it will play by Christmas, because we are at the mercy of the film festival schedules. You submit a film to the festivals four months in advance, and you don’t know if you get accepted for two to three months. So we have to figure out which festival we would like to premiere at, and what the submission deadlines are, and all that kind of stuff. But I would love to have it out for Christmas. Then the film festival circuit, and try to find a distributor, and see what happens. If we can find a company to put it out, then the DVD will hopefully be widely available. If not we will access our options, maybe press our own DVDs like we did with The Stall and Suburban Holocaust, then hit the circuit, the festival and convention circuit on foot and bring the film to you. So we'll see.

 

HoTS: I will be looking for it.

ML: Thank you.

 

HoTS: Hopefully on physical media.

ML: Physical media is a big thing for me. We will probably do a VOD release down the road, but I hate not having a physical disc. I'm a collector. I am a huge, huge collector and I love extra features. I refuse to go out and buy a disc that has no extra features on it. This movie was a year and a half in the making, and I'm going to have so much behind the scenes it's obnoxious. So many crazy stories about how we made this movie with just paper clips and chewing gum, you know. So I'm hoping to get a nice supplemental package out there that VOD doesn't have.

 

HoTS: There's very little worse than opening up a DVD and special features are scene selection.

ML: Yeah. Or theatrical trailer. It's like, “Oh wow, that’s great”.

 

HoTS: I just watched the movie; now I can watch the trailer.

ML: Thanks, this is phenomenal. Interactive menus, that's my favorite, and subtitles for the hearing impaired.

 

HoTS: I love VOD because of the convenience, but I hate it because of the inconvenience, if that makes sense. It's so easy, but I’m at the mercy of whatever Netflix or Amazon allows me to watch.

ML: Absolutely, and from a filmmakers standpoint there are a lot of pitfalls. People think, “Oh, there’s no overhead”, because you don’t have to make discs. But they find ways to gouge you with putting it out there and you are also opening yourself up to a huge amount of piracy very easily. This is my first feature so I'm very leery of all that, but I guess I will find out soon enough.

 

HoTS: Piracy yeah. I think it's so easy from a fan’s stand point to say, “This is a big Hollywood director. They aren’t losing any money”, but I have seen Indie directors, who are having thousands if not tens of thousands of downloads, but they aren't actually selling shit.

ML: I was talking to a friend about effects, and he was giving me the run down for distribution on his first feature. They did a Kickstarter campaign and sent out early DVDs to the Kickstarter backers. He said by the time the film was released, the day it actually premiered on DVD and VOD, there were over 700 websites that had it for download already. He said ,“Well, we lost our shirts on that one”. It's so easy to justify, you just click on that link and you’re like, “I'm not really stealing”, but when you’re a filmmaker at this level, you are literally counting every download, counting single sales... I'm not trying to make a movie so I can get a solid gold pool, I want to be able to make another film. I fund this stuff with the money I make at the pizza shop. It's very difficult when people are pirating stuff.

 

HoTS: And people are getting so open about it.

ML: I just the other day saw someone ask where he can get the Alien series for free, and I said, “Well, you can buy them, and you should support the artist that made them”. I know the 6.99 it costs at Wal-Mart to get them is too great but...

 

HoTS: And you can do a VOD rental for under 3 bucks, I know I just shit talked VOD, but there’s really no good reason to pirate movies. I know you maybe cant afford to watch every movie you want to, but I can't afford a Lamborghini. I feel your pain. I can't get a gold plated pool. That’s life, and it's not an excuse to steal, but it's just so easy and there are realistically zero consequences.

ML: Nope, they aren't knocking down anyone’s door for piracy. I think also people take for granted the ability to get everything instantly. In the old days when you had to go to a video store and scour around for hours to find that movie, it had more value for you. It meant something because you had to hunt for it. Even in Napstar days, it took three days to download a MP3 of a song. That was a fucking accomplishment. You had to really want that song, or that jpeg of Jenny McCarthy. You really needed it or it just wasn't worth it.

And this goes beyond piracy to film appreciation in general. People will just go online and do a search of ten most disturbing films of all time and do a mass download in, like ten minutes, and finish watching them and it's, “Yeah, whatever”. It's disposable to them because they didn't have to really work, hunt, or research it. It doesn't mean anything to them. It's like junk food, and that's a shame, because you really aren't experiencing those films. Because those articles, those lists, they aren't giving you any historical context, they aren't telling you why these films are important. I feel like it's the best time for being a film fan, and it's the worst time, for those reasons. It's never been more accessible, but it's so disposable to everyone. It’s a real shame.

 

HoTS: To me, part of the magic was always digging through those dusty shelves looking for that gem.

ML: Exactly, just looking at that crazy cover and knowing that cover or that poster was lying to me but damn if I don't want it.

 

 

I want to thank Mike Lombardo for allowing us the time to chat with him. We will keep our eyes on I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday.

Posted by Allen Alberson in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
I’m Dreaming of a White Doomsday

I’m Dreaming of a White Doomsday

By Dixielord

I try to keep up on all the new horror films coming up. Mostly for my viewing pleasure, but also to help keep you, my readers, informed. Sometimes I get lucky. For instance, last weekend I just happened upon a film in a convention vending room. Sometimes I get very lucky, and the film looks really good. This was one of those times. The place was Scares That Care Weekend, and the movie was I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday.

I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday scene

"When Suddenly there arose such a clatter"

White Doomsday, announced and filmed in 2015, slipped by my radar. Mea culpa! I stay pretty busy, dudes, so movies do slip by me from time to time. Now convention movies can be hit or miss. Cons can be the best way for a low-budget movie to get the word out to a lot of people, and some of the films are very low-budget. Repeat after me, very low-budget. Sadly, a lot of them really look low-budget.

Santa in a gas mask in I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday

Santa doesn't look too jolly in I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday

So whenever I hear, “Hi, would you like to watch our trailer for ….” there a mix of excitement and dread. I have learned not to expect much, just be nice, watch the video, and try to escape as painlessly as possible. However, I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday pleasantly surprised me. I became a fan of this project not after watching the trailer but during the trailer. For one, it looked good, very good for a low to medium project and better than 80-90% of the horror films on Amazon Prime or other streaming services. It was very crisp and clean, and well photographed and the acting too looked above the average for a low-budget film. Granted this was just a short promotional trailer, but if the finished film stays near the quality of the trailer, we could have an awesome movie on the way.

Poster art from I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday

Poster art from I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday

The film is set during the holidays in a post apocalyptic world where hope and food are in short supply. White Doomsday follows a family in a shelter fighting to survive and shows just what lengths a mother will go to in order to protect her child. AND THERE'S A FUCKING SANTA IN A GAS MASK!!!! I don't know much more about the plot and honestly I don’t want to. I want to see this, and experience it as fresh and naïve as possible.

All I know is that it looks dark and desolate. It looks hard, brutal, and disturbing. I honestly don't think audiences will be smiling at the end of this film. I briefly chatted with the director Mark Lombardo (Long Pig) of Reel Splatter films. Reel Splatter has a rep for producing horror comedies, but this film is a straight horror film. A real horror film to mess with your head. A horror film set on Christmas. Most Christmas horror films manage to find some tongue in cheek humor no matter how dark that humor is. White Doomsday may break that mold.

I found out after the convention that horror author Brian Keene is producing I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday. Keene is an awesome writer who breathed new breath into the zombie genre with The Rising and who has collaborated with Lombardo in the past. It looks like the collaboration has really borne some great fruit with this film. According to Brian's website, White Doomsday finished filming in November of 2015 and has a hoped for release in 2016. Maybe we can all be dreaming of a white doomsday by the holiday season.

Posted by Allen Alberson in HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

By Kev B.

Silent Night Deadly Night poster

 

My favorite holiday horror flick is another one that brings me back to my awesome childhood, growing up in the 80’s with one of the coolest Moms on earth. Way back then, before the internet, we had a show with two opinionated douche nozzles who did movie reviews, called Sneak Previews and later At The Movies. A week before Halloween back in 1980, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert had declared war on horror movies, and dedicated an entire episode of their show to a disturbing new trend in Hollywood, the slasher film. How douchey were they? Well, Siskels review of Friday the 13th for the Chicago Tribune included this gem of a quote "It has been suggested to me that a great way to keep people from seeing a truly awful movie is to tell them the ending" so he spoiled the reveal to discourage readers from seeing it. He also encouraged a letter campaign to harass the studio, producers, and even Betsy Palmer for taking part in the film.

Silent Night Deadly Night Controversy

In 1984 Siskel and Ebert reviewed Silent Night, Deadly Night. They said it was crude and mean spirited and that the profits made from the movie were blood money. They read the names of the film's production crew on air, shaming them and again encouraging viewers to send hate mail. Whenever they were outraged, Mom and I knew we had a winner and ran off to the theater to check it out. The more disgusted and repulsed they were, the more excited I would get. In fact, they’re the reason I write reviews today, as I had always wished I had a like minded critic whose opinion I could trust. And it really is all a matter of taste and opinion, including the debate on artistic merit. Ya ever heard the old saying: Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one… and most of them stink.

They say there is no such thing as bad publicity, but the shit storm that ensued and the protests at showings of the film caused the studio to pull it from theaters a week or so after its release. Had it not been for that TV commercial running at dinner time across America, the movie probably would’ve had a moderate run in theaters and went unnoticed. And despite Silent Night Deadly Night out-grossing Wes Cravens A Nightmare On Elm Street, also released on the same day, they listed the film as one of the worst of 1984. The major fatal flaw was that 30 second television commercial, not the movie itself, as most of the outraged protesting parents didn’t even see 30 seconds worth of the movie.

"My 3-year-old son saw the television commercial for Silent Night, Deadly Night last week and now refuses to sit on Santa's lap for our annual Christmas picture this year. How dare producer Ira Barmak rob my child and others like him of their fantasy. Make the splatter films, if you must, about adult subjects and leave our holidays alone. What next? A marauding turkey at Thanksgiving? Think of the children!!!"

The subject of the controversy is almost more interesting than the movie itself, and in the long run it’s helped more than it hurt this fun little slasher. It put the movie on peoples radar, and actually solidified and justified its mark in horror history. It wasn’t the first killer Santa movie, and it aint the last, but its my favorite and it’s become a holiday tradition for me and many others out there.

Silent Night Deadly Night protest

Poor Billy Chapman never had a chance, he had that perfect storm of consequences that effected his life and mind so deeply it would’ve been a miracle if he turned out a well adjusted young man. The movie begins, Christmas eve 1971, with Billy at 5 years old visiting his grandfather at the Utah mental facility with his parents and baby brother Ricky. Grandpa seems catatonic until poor Billy is left alone with him for a few minutes, he snaps out of it and tells the young boy “Santy Claus only brings presents to them that's been good all year. All the other ones, all the naughty ones, he punishes! What about you, boy? You been good all year?” “You scared, ain't ya? You should be! Christmas Eve is the scariest damn night of the year!”

With that still fresh in his young mind, the ride home is cut short by a chance meeting with a derelict on a crime spree dressed in a Santa suit. After witnessing his parents murdered at the hands of Santa, Billy and little brother Ricky are sent to St Mary's home for orphaned children and subjected to the strict disciplinary guidance of Mother Superior. Her sadistic abuse accompanied by noteworthy quotes like “Punishment is absolute, punishment is good!” and “When we do something naughty, we are always caught. Then we are punished!” Not the best place for a kid to grow up with a possible hereditary mental illness and extreme childhood trauma.

Billy gets a job at Ira’s Toy store as a stock boy, but when the holidays come around his attitude becomes a little erratic. Add to that the need for someone to fill in as the store Santa, and before we know it Billy is all dressed in red and white and looking a little stressed. The store closes and the bottle opens and the celebration begins, Christmas party at Ira’s. Turns out alcohol is the final trigger when Billy gets a few drinks in him, and before you know it holy holiday hell breaks loose. Billy goes into full on punish mode, and punish he does!

Maybe I give this movie extra credit for the nostalgia, but I still think it has a solid story, some interesting kills, and enough gratuitous sex and violence to get me thru most of the holiday season. He beheads a dude riding a sleigh. He strangles someone with a string of Christmas lights, He impales Linnea Quigley on the antlers of a taxidermied deer head, and if that don’t make you want to see it then disregard everything I’ve said and go watch Jim Carrey as the Grinch. I highly recommend you make Silent Night, Deadly Night part of your movie collection, and a holiday tradition in your home too. If you can find the double feature DVD it includes the sequel featuring Billys little brother Ricky, all grown up and crazy as hell. “Garbage Day!”

Depending on how much cheese you like with your horror there are 5 SNDN movies in the original franchise, and part 5 has Mickey Rooney in it too.

And remember… “You see Santa Claus tonight you better run boy, you better run for your life!”

Posted by Kevin Belyski in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Santa’s Slay (2005)

MOVIE REVIEW: Santa’s Slay (2005)

 

By : John Roisland

Santa's Slay poster

Made by Media 8 Entertainment and Rat Entertainment.

In his writer/directorial debut, David Steiman,  brings you his 2005 horror/comedy Santa's Slay.

The story is based around two teenage kids, Douglas Smith (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Terminator: Genisys) and Emilie de Ravin (Once Upon a Time, The Hills Have Eyes (2006)), who must save their small town of Hell, Michigan from being destroyed by...you guessed it! Santa!

The movie opens with probably one of the best, comedic openings, at least in a...horror...comedy film..? I don't know, but the opening is awesome! Its a nice fancy holiday diner with the likings of James Caan, (Misery, Elf) who is uncredited in this film, Fran Drescher ( The Nanny, The Beautician and the Beast), Chris Kattan ( A Night at the Roxbury), Rebecca Gayheart (Urban Legend, Jawbreaker) as they all sit at the table, yelling, insulting , fondling each other, in just a way, to make Santa's naughty list.  Well , guess who comes down the chimney to take care of those bad boys and girls...Santa, played by famous WWE wrestler, Bill Goldberg (The Longest Yard,  Ready to Rumble) has at the family with death by turkey drumstick, Christmas tree star thrown to the back of the skull, and being set on fire...yeah, I think that about wraps it up.

santas-slay-bill-goldberg-chris-kattan

The story then moves on to the grandfather of one of our teens, Robert Culp (The Greatest American Hero) , who is turns out, actually an angel , who some many many years ago, made a winning bet with Santa that he had to be nice to all mankind and give gifts at Christmas instead of mean and angry. Well the bet had ran its tolls and time was up. Santa was back to wreak havoc! Hence the name, Santa's Slay !

Santa flies thru their in his sleigh pulled by a carnivorous bison, who eats a valet at a strip club that Santa stops by to spread his holiday fear to all the bad girls working there. With Christmas ornament hand grenades, he definitely had something to put in their stockings!

This film is so bad it awesome! The soundtrack sounds if they used contestants from a karaoke bar and the special effects are awful, ...these are all small parts of what give this film its charm.

I will say, Goldberg was really good! Yes, he did some wrestling moves and it was easy to spot them, but honestly, for a bad Santa he pretty much nailed it...quite the Billy Bob Thorton, Bad Santa...but pretty damn good!

Now, I'm not going to tell you to run out and get this movie if you haven't seen it, cause its not worth it, but it is a fun movie. Santa's Slay  is much more comedy than horror, but people are murdered ,...so there is that ! But if you happen to be going to a holiday party,....the kind where everyone's going to be getting tanked, this might be the movie to bring with.

The film also stars Dave Thomas (Grace Under Fire/ Strange Brew),  who plays a naughty town priest, and Saul Rubinek ( Unforgiven, True Romance) who is the teens boss at a local Jewish deli and not a Santa supporter.

 

3/10

Keep It Evil

 

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Krampus (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Krampus (2015)

Krampus: Stomping Through the Snow

By Amy Mead 

Krampus Poster

Krampus

Directed by Michael Dougherty

Starring Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Emjay Anthony, Conchata Ferrell and Allison Tolman

KRAMPUS is a horror comedy film which focuses on  The Engel Family and their Christmas celebration at their suburban home with family members from out of town. Right from beginning, there is a sense that no one is particularly thrilled about this yuletide gathering. The two families are from two different worlds. with the Engels being well to do and the rest of the family being loud, gun-toting jerks who do nothing but bully and complain. There seems to be no excitement, only apprehension. Everyone seems to be on edge and filled with dread instead of cheer. No one seems to have much holiday spirit except for young Max (and his beloved grandmother "Omi"), who is desperately trying to hold on to their old family Christmas traditions, including his belief in Santa. He wants to keep Christmas as it has always been.

After the arrival of Max's Aunt Linda and her family, things quickly begin to go south. Max's cousins steal Max's letter to Santa and read it at the dinner table, mocking and embarrassing him in front of everyone, thus making him cry. He flees from the room but not before tearfully screaming  that he hates everyone and hates Christmas. In the safety of his room, he angrily rips up the letter to Santa and quickly throws it out the window, in essence saying goodbye to Christmas as he has always known it to be and eschewing any traditions. Almost immediately, a massive, freak blizzard hits and predictably, the entire neighborhood loses power. Now forced to coexist together in one room without heat, electricity, phones or internet access, the family quickly reaches a peak in its dysfunction. 

The next day, An ominous looking snowman has strangely appeared in their front yard as if by magic and a mysterious bag of gifts has been left at the front door. The family brings it inside not knowing that Max has unwittingly unleashed the fury of Krampus by turning his back on Christmas. And by the end of the night, things quickly go from bad to worse, particularly when Max's sister Beth ventures out into the blizzard to visit her boyfriend down the street and never returns.

When the family does not heed Omi's tale of Krampus (and what happened to her on Christmas so many years before) allies must quickly be made amongst the feuding family members when it becomes apparent that they need to stick together if they are going to survive.

Krampus' gingerbread henchman

Although somewhat flawed with poor character development and a bit slow to get moving, Trick R Treat director, Michael Dougherty brings us something new and original with Krampus. While it may not be as thrilling or as terrifying as some of the past Christmas themed horror films that so many of us have come to love, it has much to offer fans of something with a darker theme and twist.

The acting in the film is all top notch it is brilliantly acted by a more than qualified cast with the talents of Adam Scott, Toni Collette and David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrel, Emjay Anthony and Krista Stadler all on the roster but they are hilariously upstaged by all the different toys and minions that are brought to terrifying life, most notably the gingerbread henchman, the band of marauding elves and the horrifying jack in the box. And of course, Krampus himself.

Loaded with both comedic and scary moments, Krampus stays well within the confines of its PG-13 rating but it is by no means a family friendly movie however. Krampus is a film that is definitely geared towards an older audience in spite of its camp and its rating and offers up plenty of truly nightmare inducing visions with some incredible practical effects and limited CGI.

A cross between the likes of Home Alone and Gremlins, Krampus is nothing groundbreaking by any means but it sure is a hell of a lot of fun in spite of its flaws. It beats getting a lump of coal in your stocking or the dreaded socks under the tree on Christmas morning and if the box office numbers for opening weekend are any indication, it's almost a certainty that Dougherty's second holiday filmed effort will achieve the same cult following as his first.

Krampus bell

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Children (2008)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Children (2008)

By Amy Mead

The Children poster

The Children

Directed by Tom Shankland

Starring Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell Moore, Hannah Tointon and Jeremy Sheffield

 

2008 Ghost House Underground film, The Children focuses on two sisters and their respective families who gather together to celebrate the Christmas holiday. The celebration starts out as a typical and idyllic family gathering, complete with laughter, screaming kids and  an angsty teenage girl who would rather be anywhere but there. The pleasant atmosphere quickly turns into a living nightmare for the parents when all the children start exhibiting signs of some sort of sickness. Something which they had earlier dismissed as car sickness begins afflicting all of the kids and they all have the same symptoms which culminates in some very erratic behavior. 

The kids all begin vomiting up some seriously nasty looking goo and before you know it, they all become infected with some sort of strange virus/murderous rage and turn on their parents without much provocation, and seemingly with glee. Before the parents involved can completely grasp the full scope of what's happening, the kids begin killing them methodically and once they get started, they make damn quick work of it. 


The Children is a bit confusing in that we never really get any questions as to why this is all happening really answered. What triggered this whole thing? Why the hell is this happening? And why are only children affected? We are given a few hints but they come so early on in the film that we don't realize we need to be looking for them. And Unfortunately the few hints there are, really don't clear much up for the audience. 

The film is well acted, extremely well shot and it is filled with plenty of shock value. Fortunately, the violence against the children is never overplayed or drawn out, the kill scenes are blessedly short and thankfully, not exceedingly graphic, thereby making it much easier to watch. Although the scenes are still quite gut wrenching to witness and they give off a general feeling of unease and discomfort.

Anything involving violence towards small children usually makes me more than a little squeamish and I normally find it really hard to watch it, if I can at all. The way Shankland shoots the scenes make them much easier to digest, but it doesn't change the creep out factor by any means. The fact that these kids are just going wildly homicidal on their own parents and people they once loved, from out of nowhere was/is profoundly disturbing and Shankland doesn't shield us from that aspect of the story at all. If you're a parent, you'll totally understand where I'm coming from. 

As far as killer kid films go, The Children stands tall and is definitely worth a one time viewing and who knows? Maybe you'll even end up making it a part of your holiday horror traditions like I have in my house. 

 

 

 

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments