It's Day 12 of The Watchers' Advent Calendar and we're half-way through! This post is going up quite late, but that's rather appropriate. Yesterday, we featured Gremlins. Anyone who has seen Gremlins will tell you that, whilst parts of it are funny, it's a bit on the dark side. So we thought we might take a bit of a longer look at the darker side of Christmas with...
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Christmas Horror Movies
Holiday-based horror has been made since the 1970s- Halloween (1978, remade 2007), My Bloody Valentine (1981, remade 2009), April Fools Day (1986, remade 2008)- so it's no surprise that there are a couple of Christmas-based horror/slasher films out there.
Bob Clark's Black Christmas (1974) is an atmospheric and creepy horror film set in a sorority house. The girls- among them Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey- receive obscene phone calls and then start to die one by one... There's no real explanation of who the killer really is (apart from the name 'Billy') or what they've done (elliptical hints are given throughout) which is much more unsettling. Some of the death scenes are tense and inventive. The film was remade in 2006, starring Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, but the remake lacked the all-pervading tension of the original and was instead a much more standard slasher flick, albeit with Christmas lights and ice-skates used as weapons.
Any film that has a killer dressed as Santa Claus was always going to cause a bit of controversy. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) sees a young man- traumatized by the murder of his parents by a man dressed in a Santa suit- emerge as a killer after growing up in a Catholic orphanage. The young man is asked to play Santa at his job and then goes on a killing spree after seeing someone being 'naughty'. Understandably, the film met with protests and the film was withdrawn from cinemas by distributor TriStar. Despite this, the movie out-grossed A Nightmare On Elm Street- both films opened on the same weekend- and went on to spawn four sequels (although Parts 4 and 5 dispense with the 'Killer Santa' motif) and a remake is due out this Christmas.
Not to be confused with the saccharine 1998 Michael Keaton family-friendly vehicle of the same name, Jack Frost (1996) features a killer who comes back as a snowman after an accident with genetic material causes him to mutate and fuse with snow. As you do. It's low budget with terrible special effects, poor acting, a bad script and the death scenes are more comical than upsetting. A sequel- Jack Frost 2: Revenge Of The Mutant Killer Snowman- was made in 2000.
Finally, whilst Christmas doesn't play a part in the main action of the film at all, Hitchcock's classic Psycho (1960) starts on Friday, December the Eleventh (as seen by a graphic at the start of the film) and Christmas decorations can be seen in the opening shot of Phoenix. The reason for this is simple: filming took place over the Christmas period in 1959 and, rather than reshoot this footage, Hitchcock decided to include the title graphic instead.
So if you're in the mood for something festive but a little darker, why not try one of these?
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Hope you're still with us! Tomorrow's entry is a bit more family-friendly...