Monday, December 21, 2009
In the scope of Christmas horror there aren't that many entries. There are quite a few but only a handful make the rounds each year for most viewing parties or screenings. The wonderful Silent Night, Deadly Night is at the top of most people's list. There is nothing wrong with this, because it's a great freaking movie! Killer Santa is always good and the picketing and boycotting by the PTA upon its initial release was an added bonus. Some would argue that the film's first sequel (there are five movies in the franchise total) is even better because it not only replays the highlights from the first flick but it contains awesome of its own. Just look at the wonderful, and infamous, "garbage day" scene.
Some of the other movies include another psycho Santa in Christmas Evil (aka You Better Watch Out) or the one with the wrestler Goldberg as a demon who was forced to be Santa after losing a bet but is now ready to get his revenge on the world - Santa's Slay. The UK also has a killer running around London in a Santa suit with 1984s Don't Open Till Christmas and the notorious David Hess directed a Christmas themed slasher in 1980 called To All a Good Night where someone is stalking and killing teens at an all girls school in, you guessed it, a Santa outfit.
There are seasonal films that don't revolve around a deranged St. Nick. One of my favorites, and not just for the Christmas Horror subgenre, is Bob Clark's 1974 slasher inspiration Black Christmas. All the girls in the sorority house are ready to go home for the holidays when one of them goes missing. They are plagued by strange obscene phone calls and the first feature with "the call is coming from inside the house" angle. This is such a great film full of atmosphere and an increasingly unsettling feeling throughout the running time. If you haven't seen this put it to the top of your list, queue or whatever. And don't watch the remake from a couple years ago because it's shit.
Plenty of films take place around the holiday and earn a wonderful spot in my heart. Recently I watched a film called The Children where the kids get a sort of illness over the holidays which turns them into killing machines. You might also want to check out an Italian film from 1975 called Night Train Murders which is basically the same story as Last House on the Left (which itself was based on The Virgin Spring) but it takes place on a train with the girl going home to her parents' house for Christmas.
There are many more I could mention but I want to get to my reason for writing this in the first place. The other night I watched a new-to-me Christmas horror film and feel it is my duty to share the joy with everyone else. Prepare yourself for pure awesome!
In my exploits in and out of, and working in, video stores I remember seeing the above cover for the film Elves (1989) but never got around to watching. Boy and I sad I waited this long. Had I known the gem that awaited me there would be no way I could have held out for twenty years! In just the first fifteen minutes you are treated to a woman putting a cat in a pillowcase and drowning it in a toilet, a sexual harassing mall Santa and this awesome kid in his Ninja Turtle pajamas dropping the F-bomb like crazy.
There is even more to that scene, but that's all you get on this clip from YouTube. Besides all of the awesomeness I already mentioned, and even more amazing things I don't want to ruin, the flick stars Dan Haggerty! This should be reason enough to watch. He smokes like a chimney and delivers one hell of a flat, bearded performance. The plot concerns a Nazi group who summon evil elves with their sights on helping create the master race of ruthless soldiers. A young girl is targeted, the girl in the above clip with her pervy brother, by the the elves and the mysterious men with guns and weird pony tails. Her grandfather may know something about what's going on but with his half-assed German accent it will be hard to tell just what that is. The FX used on these creatures, including their overall design, is something to behold. Just see them on the back of the VHS box:
Add the bad FX, bad dialog, bad acting and some super out-of-nowhere "twists" this is one holiday horror flick that needs to make it into your yearly repertoire. Of course this would be better suited with copious amounts of alcohol and a group of friends to laugh along with you, but it's not necessary. The film is not, nor will it probably ever be, on DVD but seek out the VHS or find it some other way (wink) because you need to see Elves in all its glory.