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THE DARK SIDE OF CHRISTMAS

THE DARK SIDE OF CHRISTMAS

With Christmas upon us, we venture through the veritable treasure trove of dark stories of yuletide fair. Here is a short list of 9 Christmas tales and traditions used originally to promote the darker (and in some cases oddly comical) side of the holiday period. Whilst some are purely laughable by today’s standards, others are still used to scare children into being good all around the world.
Flashing colored Christmas lights

1. KRAMPUS:

Krampus / Fair use doctrine.The most obvious on the list and easiest to recognize, KRAMPUS has gained a notoriety with horror fans through various films in recent years.
KRAMPUS is a Christmas character from Austria, who on KRAMPUS Night (December 5th) each year appears to scare and maim. Some say he is Santa Claus’ evil twin brother and, like his brother, has a duty each year to perform. Unlike his kindly brother who delivers gifts to good girls and boys, KRAMPUS has the opposite job and will beat and punish all of the naughty children.
Flashing colored Christmas lights

2. CAGANER:

The Shitter / Fair use doctrine.This odd little custom is used in Spain, Portugal, and Italy.
As usual, a nativity is set up and decorated with the expected characters on display – Jesus, Mary, Joseph, three wise men and perhaps a shepherd. However, in these three countries, you may also add a character known as CAGANER.
CAGANER is literally translated as ‘the crapper’ or ‘the shitter’, and his figurine (which traditionally depicts a man, pooping with his pants around his knees and with a pile of poop at his heels) is usually placed in the corner of a traditional nativity scene. Children are encouraged to find him, as part of their Christmas ritual. The CAGANER is not a new custom, having been around for a few hundred years. It is a bit of a shitty custom, I know, but I will admit I was intrigued by the concept of a man crapping in my nativity scene.
Flashing colored Christmas lights

3. WITCHES:

Brooms - WitchesIn Norway each year, it is perceived that WITCHES and evil spirits will ascend on the towns in search of brooms to ride on to do their evil bidding on Christmas Eve. To thwart this evil, the Norwegians will hide all brooms on Christmas Eve and fire a warning shot outdoors with a shotgun.
Flashing colored Christmas lights

4. FRAU PERCHTA:

Frau Perchta / Fair use doctrine.Continuing on with our witch folklore, FRAU PERCHTA is another occult Christmas legend from Austria and Germany. It is known that FRAU PERCHTA visits children through the 12 days of Christmas, from December 25th until January 6th. She is seen as both good and bad.
Thought to have descended from an Alpine goddess of nature, FRAU PERCHTA will reward good children.
However, she is very well known for her gruesome punishments for the bad, including one fearful tale of ripping out internal organs and replacing them with garbage.
Flashing colored Christmas lights

5. HANS TRAPP:

Hans Trapp / Fair use doctrine.In certain regions of France, the tales of HANS TRAPP circulate as an anti-Santa.
Dressed like a raggedy scarecrow when he visits, HANS TRAPP was a wealthy man who worshiped Satan and became greedy and evil.
The stories say that HANS TRAPP was about to eat a small boy when he was punished by God and struck by lightning, killing him instantly. However, his dark soul still returns to scare children (looking like a scarecrow) each Christmas, as a reminder that they still have time to be good.
Flashing colored Christmas lights

6. PERE FOUETTARD:

Pere / Fair use doctrine.PERE FOUETTARD was an evil French butcher who many still fear today.
Said to be a ghoul whose name translates as ‘Father Whipper’, PERE FOUETTARD lured children to their deaths whipping and cutting them (primarily by slicing their throats).
A gruesome tale of 3 young boys he led into his butcher’s shop, was the one that cemented his fate as a part of Christmas’ evil side.
It was there that he murdered them, chopped them up and salted the remains.
St. Nicholas came to the boys’ aid and resurrected them, before enslaving PERE FOUETTARD as his dispenser of punishment, by whipping them naturally.
Flashing colored Christmas lights

7. WEREWOLVES:

Werewolf / Fair use doctrine.Yes …I said WEREWOLVES!
According to varied legends, Lycanthropy is very much included as part of some countries Christmas legends.
In The World Encyclopedia of Christmas, Olaus Magnus (a Swedish folklorist) wrote regarding werewolves gathering on Christmas night to “rage with wondrous ferocity against human beings, by attacking their homes and devouring the inhabitants”.
This was supposedly in Prussia, Livonia, and Lithuania.
However, that is not all of the Christmas-werewolf connection.
In modern times, it has since been reduced to merely being born on Christmas Day is cause enough to believe that person will become a werewolf.
It is seen that being born on December 25th is mocking Jesus Christ and so you must be punished.
Sorry to all you December 25th born children, perhaps steer “clear of the moors”?
Flashing colored Christmas lights

8. GRYLA:

Gryla / Fair use doctrine.GRYLA is an Icelandic legend of a woman with 13 sons (known as the YULE LADS) and her cat Jólakötturinn (see story available on this page about the YULE CAT).
In Iceland, it is customary to receive a gift of new clothes to wear on Christmas Eve. Usually, good workers receive clothes as a gift from employers, and children from their parents.
For those children considered naughty, who do not receive new clothes in time for the festive season, GRYLA comes out from her home and seeks them out -to devour them.
Flashing colored Christmas lights

9. THE YULE LADS:

Like their mother GRYLA, THE YULE LADS were not at all nice to encounter during the holidays. Tales of their numbers vary from five to thirteen, and their antics range from mere pranks to acts of cannibalism.
Either way, these ‘lads’ were to be feared and were usually seen as henchmen for their mother.
In more recent years each of their 13 characters has evolved (since a poem published in 1932 by Jóhannes úr Kötlum) and THE YULE LADS have been seen as more impish, mischievous and less aggressive. In fact with recent toys, stamps and images available they appear more like the seven dwarves than evildoers.



Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in FEATURED CONTENT, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, SATANIC/DEMONIC, STAFF PICKS, WEREWOLVES, 0 comments
Gorehound Mike’s 2017 Naughty and Nice List

Gorehound Mike’s 2017 Naughty and Nice List

Christmas time is finally upon us, and just as we put away our favorite Halloween movies, we also get out those classic yuletide classics. Or clas-sicks as the case may be. Instead of a rehash of all the countless holiday horror films, I thought I`d give you my rundown of favorite and least favorite. Or my Naughty and Nice list.

NAUGHTY

Elves (1989)

Elves (1989) / Fair use doctrine.I have oft heard of this VHS era film, and I finally decided it was high time to check it out. And seeing how I was making this list — and checking it twice — what better excuse? Elves is interesting in that it takes the horror holiday movie in a different direction than just a killer Santa, and I respect that a lot. The plot as insane as it also attempts something just a little bit more creative as well. However, sadly, the film takes itself far too seriously, and the lack of the titular elves is disappointing. Mix this with an all over the place plot, bad dialogue, and even worse acting, and you have a film you wouldn’t want to give to your worst enemy.

Silent Night (2012)

Silent Night (2012) / Fair use doctrine.Silent Night, Deadly Night (1980), if we are being totally honest with ourselves, wasn’t a stellar movie. However, I love it for its over-the-top camp and intentional tongue-in-cheek humor. For me, those are the main reasons it’s a cult classic that really deserves the love it gets from fans. Silent Night, however, is pure garbage. It lacks any of the fun, dark sense of humor that made the original a fan favorite. This time around we get a cold, joyless movie which muddles through its confused plot just to get to a kill scene. The real horror is seeing a once great actor like Malcolm McDowell reduced to this bottom of the barrel crap.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 (1987)

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987) / Fair use doctrine.And speaking of Silent Night, Deadly Night, Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 is bad despite its cult infamy. “It’s Garbage Day!” Yes, Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 has some fun moments, but it recycles a huge chunk of the first film, so much so that I feel like the director of the first should be credited as co-director. Talk about lazy. After the film is done “recapping”, the rest is just lazy, cringe-worthy dialogue and a rather dull plot. Once you get past its “cult status”, it’s really just part one with a small amount of crap added to fill out its runtime.

To All a Goodnight (1980)

To All A Goodnight (1980) / Fair use doctrine. I don’t mind a good killer Santa movie, but one thing a movie shouldn’t be is dull. To All a Goodnight seems to follow the slasher pattern but forgets to inject anything original, interesting, or compelling. Despite a few good kills, the film is essentially a snooze fest and seems to get lost in its own inept plot.

NICE

Krampus (2015)

Krampus (2015) / Fair use doctrine. It’s rather fitting that I’m writing about Krampus for two reasons. One is that December 5th is Krampus day, and the second is that two years ago I saw this gem in theaters. The Krampus trend has been incredibly popular for a while now, and it was only a matter of time before someone made a movie to fill the void. Thankfully, we got Krampus, a wildly creative black horror comedy, that (surprisingly) has a heart in its dark twisted center. Many have compared it to Gremlins as it acts as both a legit horror movie with moments comedy and yet actually sneaks in a message (without being heavy-handed or sappy). I really implore anyone who hasn’t seen it to do so ASAP as it’s a really fun movie and something that has future cult classic written all over it.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) / Fair use doctrine. NAUGHTY! Of course, no holiday horror list would be complete without this trashy but fun horror gem. Silent Night, Deadly Night isn’t what you’d call a great movie; however, I love it — flaws and all. It wisely doesn’t take itself too seriously and plays up its camp status. It’s the black comedy that really keeps this from being too clichéd or too depressing. And when you’re dealing with kids in horror, it’s a good route to go. Some films have cult status that I feel isn’t really deserved, but I have to say this one truly is an enjoyable film, and it’s awesome that it is as beloved as it is.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010) / Fair use doctrine. Looking for something from a different country? Look no further than Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, a highly clever film from Finland. Instead of killer Santas or little elves, Rare Exports takes a totally different spin on the holiday horror and the end result is fast-paced, creative, and (most importantly) engaging. You really invest in the characters, and the film’s childlike perspective really helps sell the fantasy and horror of the piece. I can’t say enough great things about this movie, and if you are looking for something completely different, you will not be sorry. Not a slasher, but a damn clever little movie that deserves to be more praised.

Christmas Evil (1980)

Christmas Evil (1980) / Fair use doctrine.Christmas Evil may just be my favorite on this list. It has more of a special meaning to me since the star, Brandon Maggart, gave me an exclusive quote for my book The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema, which follows my review of the film. For anybody who has never seen Christmas Evil, it’s not a traditional slasher like Silent Night, Deadly Night; rather, it is more psychological. To me, this makes it more disturbing and interesting – think Santa Claus meets Taxi Driver. This is not to suggest it doesn’t have any bloody moments, but the fact that they are used sparingly makes the impact all that more shocking. Anybody willing to give it a chance, Christmas Evil is a masterfully done movie and well worth checking out.

Black Christmas (1974)

Black Christmas (1974) / Fair use doctrine.The granddaddy of all slashers is often cited as Halloween (1978); however, as much as I love and respect that film, Bob Clark’s Black Christmas did it first. Black Christmas is a wonderful whodunnit slasher that really grips you from the very first frame and doesn’t let up until your nerves are shattered by the twists and turns. Its setting and tropes would be often copied, including its killer point of view, the setting of girls alone in a dorm, and the mystery surrounding the slaughter. I will even say I enjoyed the remake a lot though not as much as the classic 70s version.

That is my Naughty/Nice list -I hope you all enjoyed it, and I hope everybody has a very Horrifying Winter Holiday and a Scary New Year.

Posted by Mike Vaughn in FEATURED CONTENT, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
The History of Krampus

The History of Krampus

By Tammie Parker


Fans of horror like to think of another guy in a fur coat this time of the year: Krampus. He has been around for centuries now, and is growing more popular in these times. Krampus originated in the Alpines region. He is said to be part goat, part man, and all demon. krampus-red He walks upright on goat hind legs, is covered in fur, has goat horns, and sports a long curling pointed tongue. Krampus is Deutsch (German) and derives from the word krampen, meaning claw. Now doesn't he sound like a rootie pacutie!

In some regions of Europe ,Krampus is one of the Companions of Saint Nick. Knecht Ruprecht, Belsnickel, and Zwarte Piet are the others. Krampus and St. Nicholas are often seen together in books, and on Christmas cards. Krampus has been featured on cards since the 1800s in Europe.

krampusstnick krampussaintnicholas

Krampus comes the night before The Feast of Saint Nicholas. This night is called Krampusnacht. He carries a sack full of switches and goes into every house to find the misbehaving children. With eyes rolling all directions, tongue lashing in and out, krampus-sledtotheunderworldstumping with one goat hoof and one man foot (I imagine that is from versions blending together), he would sniff out the bad ones. Krampus would whip them, throw the naughty child into his sack and take them back to the Underworld, where they would be lost forever.

Then, with all the rotten children gone, St. Nicholas could come. Saint Nick only deals with good children.

In other versions, Krampus would just leave lumps of coal instead of presents. But who wants to hear about that when we have claws, fur, and an underworld?

Nothing like the good ole days and demons to scar a child for life huh! Maybe if this snot-nosed heathens now had some demons to fear they wouldn't be so disrespectful. Hell, maybe we could get some shirts tucked in!

In Germany, it used to be popular to pass around holiday cards with Krampus decorating the front. Just look how lovely these are.

krampus-childreninbasket2 krampus-childreninbasket

Until Krampus was outlawed in 1923. OUTLAWED! Craziness! Luckily, in the 60s, he started to appear again. Many cities in the Alpines have parades today, where they dress up as Krampus.

krampus-parade2 krampus-parade4

It's called Krampuslauf (Krampus run) Where drunk men dressed as krampus run around the streets. It's pretty much *St.Patty's day meets Mardi Gras meets Christmas*, and it is certainly time for America to embrace Krampuslauf!!!!



Merry Krampuslauf!

Posted by Alan Smithee in FAMILY HORROR, FEATURED CONTENT, HORROR HISTORY, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, 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 Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
COMIC REVIEW: Trick ‘r Treat: Days Of The Dead

COMIC REVIEW: Trick ‘r Treat: Days Of The Dead

By Nick Durham

Trick or Treat Days of the dead

No one loves Trick 'r Treat more than I do. The best horror anthology to see the light of day in well over a decade (and still is), Trick 'r Treat is one of my all time favorite films of any genre in the history of ever. That's right, I said it.

Anyway, in an effort to sate us Trick 'r Treat fans until we finally get the long-awaited sequel, we get this comic which offers up four separate stories that revolve around different points in Halloween history. The stories themselves come from creator Michael Dougherty, as well as his Krampus cohorts Todd Casey and Zach Shields, along with some additional input from comic veteran Marc Andreyko. Opening tale Seed revolves around witches and magic in Ireland in the 1600s, Corn Maiden revolves around betrayal on the frontier between the evil white-man and Native Americans (and kind of, sort of gives a maybe-kind of origin to Sam), Echoes is a 1950s noir-style detective story, and the closing Monster Mash finds a closed-minded small town get their comeuppance when monsters attack on Halloween night.

The stories are basic, but mostly effective, even though they range in terms of quality. Seed is interesting, Corn Maiden is the best of the bunch, Echoes is a near-unintelligible mess, and Monster Mash is fun. The various artwork, featuring contributions from Saga's Fiona Staples, along with Stephen Byrne, and Zid is all well and great, but Stuart Sayger's work on Echoes left me perplexed as to what the fuck is happening from panel to panel. I don't mean to shit on the guy's work so please don't think I'm knocking him, I just think his style isn't all that well-suited. That aside, the story itself didn't make a lick of sense, so it's not like the art hurts it that much to begin with.

So yeah, Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead is a quick and relatively fun read. It's contents are a mixed bag but it features enough interesting moments to whet your appetite until we finally get the sequel to Trick 'r Treat that we're still fucking waiting for. That being said, check it out and give it a whirl. It isn't anything special in the least, but you can always do a lot worse in terms of horror comics than what this offers.

Rating: 3/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

COMING SOON: Krampus (2015)

Krampus Is Coming to Town

By John Roisland


Historically, Krampus is a Christmas holiday character that is derived from German folklore. Krampus was a demonic, horned creature that walked upright and had hooved feet. The purpose of Krampus was to scare young children who had been misbehaving during the holiday season. Krampus is said to beat children with sticks and whip them with chains before throwing them into baskets and dragging them into a fiery Hell. It's not hard to see how that might be an effective scare tactic particularly for small children,

Here's the weird part: this a horror/horror-comedy film that's based around Christmas. I am the CEO of a horror website, and I'm sucker for Christmas movies. "Isn't it ironic...don't ya think?!"

Well, on Decemeber 4, 2015, Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures are bringing us Krampus. The story is that our favorite fun-loving demon is brought forth by a young boy who no longer believes in Santa Claus and has lost his holiday spirit after his entire dysfunctional family decides to get together for the holidays.

Krampus - Krampus and Santa standoff

Krampus arrives wreaking havoc and mayhem on the family of disbelievers. It's a fight to stay alive! This dark horror-comedy looks to be awesome, and I, personally, can't wait to see it!! Krampus was written by Todd Casey (Avengers Assemble), Zach Shields (Trick 'r Treat: Making Friends (Short)), and Michael Dougherty (Trick 'r Treat), who also directs.

The film stars Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation), Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense), Allison Tolman (Fargo (TV Series)), David Koechner (The Office (TV Series)), Conchata Ferrell (Hot L Baltimore (TV Series)), Stefania LaVie Owen (The Carrie Diaries (TV Series)), Emjay (Rake (TV Series)), Gareth Ruck (The Hobbit (trilogy), and William Shatner (Star Trek)- who plays a DJ in a piece that brackets the rest of the movie.

From what I've seen, it looks like Christmas Vacation meets Santa's Slay...and that's just fine with me!!!

Shatner in Krampus

Who says the holidays aren't Hell?!

Posted by John Roisland in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments

COMING SOON: A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

A Christmas Horror Story
or
Santa Claus vs Krampus

By Woofer McWooferson

christmas-horror-story-entertainment-one-dvd
Directors: Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan; Writers: Jason Filiatrault (uncredited) , James Kee, Sarah Larsen, Doug Taylor, Pascal Trottier; Stars: George Buza, Percy Hynes White, Rob Archer, William Shatner; Rating: Not Avalable; Run Time: 99 min; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2015

Just kidding on the subtitle, but that fight will be in the movie if the trailer is to be believed.

Thanks to Machete Von Kill, I've found something to look forward to this holiday season: A Christmas Horror Story from Copperhead Entertainment and distributors Image Entertainment (2015) (USA) (DVD) and RLJ Entertainment (2015) (USA) (all media).

According to IMDb, William Shatner plays DJ Dan, a festive radio host who tells several interwoven stories that take place on Christmas Eve: A family brings home more than a Christmas tree, a student documentary becomes a living nightmare, a Christmas spirit terrorizes, Santa slays evil.

Unlike 2013's Krampus: The Christmas Devil, A Christmas Horror Story looks very promising. I don't want to take over this announcement with commentary on Krampus: The Christmas Devil, but I will say this: flat, flatter, and flattest. A Christmas Horror Story, on the other hand, looks to be everything that I had hoped for in Krampus: The Christmas Devil.

Everything in the trailer looks great – acting, dialogue, Santa, elves, and especially Krampus – and I am excited by what I see. Normally, when I see numerous directors and writers, I am dubious about the quality of the final product. However, based on the trailer and the fact that there are different stories, I don't see these things as being problematic. George Buza (X-Men) plays Santa and Rob Archer (Bulletproof Monk) plays Krampus, and from what we see in the trailer, they are played with the type of intensity necessary to transcend the awkwardness of typical B movies and pull it up into the A list.

Still unsure? Check out the trailer here. I guarantee that you'll be penning in another item for your holiday event list.

VOD, and iTunes on October 2nd.

UPDATE: 6.5/10 claws - Needed more Krampus

Posted by Alan Smithee in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments