A Look Back at the Best & Worst Holiday Horror Movies

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Halloween has come and gone, and with it, a slew of Halloween movies that many of us hold close and dear to our heart. So, while I’m sure we all delighted in the true terror of Halloween, the unavoidably delightful Trick r’ Treat and the timeless Hocus Pocus, we have to move on.

Here to help you out, Shock has a list of some gems to seek out and few bombs to avoid. (Although, let’s face, most of them are in the “so bad they’re good” category.)

Christmas

black_christmasThe next biggest holiday after Halloween is easily Christmas. As soon as October 31st passes, we are overloaded with Christmas carols and candy canes. Using years of horror knowledge and a few hours of research, it also seems that Christmas is the most popular holiday to see some carnage. Not even counting movies just based on Christmas (Gremlins) or the fringe genre flicks (Sint, Rare Exports), there are a sleigh full of X-mas slashers and two of these are actually stand out films.

The original Black Christmas holds its own to this day as a well made teen slasher. An independent film from Canada, it features a crazed killer stalking and killing sorority girls on Christmas. Full of creative kills, smart cinematography and Margot Kidder getting killed, it has become a cult classic despite disparaging reviews at launch. The same can’t be said for the CW cast Black X-mas remake in 2006. Then, spinning the situation on it’s head, Steven C. Miller’s Silent Night manages to surpass the original in terms of quality. 2012’s Silent Night was a brutal murder spree that was well-acted, well-directed and full of tongue-in-cheek fun with the genre. While the original, titled Silent Night, Deadly Night isn’t really the worst of movies, the same can’t be said of it’s obnoxious amount of sequels. If you really want to dedicate yourself to the genre, even more than this writer, you can settle down and watch ALL FIVE of the Silent Night, Deadly Nights.

After these few highlights (and their lesser counterparts) you really start scraping the bottom of the barrel: Christmas Evil, Don’t Open Till Christmas and Jack Frost 2. But wait. Ryan, you skipped Jack Frost. Nope. Jack Frost is actually the one Christmas movie that is so laughably bad that it’s easy to sit down with a group of friends and adult beverages and enjoy the movie in a MSTK3 sort of way.

Valentine’s Day

My Blood ValentineIt’s easy to turn Valentine’s Day into a sadistic turn for the genre. Based around lost love and all sorts of heart imagery, it’s easy to dip into the twisted turn of thought to make it horror appropriate. Surprisingly, it’s actually managed to spawn two very well received, much loved movies, both with the same title. That’s right.

1981’s and 2009’s My Bloody Valentine somehow exceeded all expectations and ended up being damn good horror movies. Based in mining towns, the killer is set from the get go with scary gear and a perfect murder weapon: a pick-axe. The original received all sorts of success, due in large part to nine minutes of the film being cut due to excessive gore, and with brutal kills and in your face slasher tactics it quickly gained attention from fans of the genre. The remake managed to replicate the success by implementing a gimmicky yet fun 3D effect and more over the top gore.

After these two shining examples, however, we’re left with Valentine. That’s right, the David Boreanz and Denise Richard snooze fest about a killer that literally cries blood. They explain it away from some nonsense medical jargon but the entire movie, like that idea, is ridiculously bad.

Thanksgiving, Easter and Others

After the decently wide selection of movies offered by the previous holidays, it gets down to pretty slim pickings. April Fools Day, released in 1986 in the middle of the holiday horror craze, brought fans something smarter and slower paced but more thrilling and methodical than traditional slasher fare. The ending is still talked about often in fan circles as being innovative and, more importantly, different than so many of the recycled teen screams dropping in and out of theaters in the '80s. Now, don’t let this fool you, the April Fool's remake is pretty much the epitome of boring.

mothers_dayThere are two movies titled Mother’s Day (you guessed it, one is a remake of the other) and neither are all too wonderful. The original is a revenge exploitation piece very much in the vein of Last House on the Left except without the poignancy or talented filmmaking. The remake isn’t much better, a tamed down version but with a talented director and some solid acting make it watchable at least.

Thankskilling and Thankskilling 3 I’ll leave to your discretion. By looking at the cover, you know what you’re getting into. It’s horror comedy at it’s lowest, perhaps only met by Troma in quality, but lacks the charm.  Thankskilling 3 is another movie I could see being a lot of fun in the same vein as Jack Frost.

Easter seems to be the most overlooked of the holidays, although Critters 2 has a strong Easter motiff and with that it’s time to move on to my personal favorite of the bunch: Leprechaun. I’m sure we’ve all seen Leprechaun by now. Warwick Davis plays a vengeful hellion of the faye world and attacks Jennifer Aniston (pre-Friends) and her friends over some leftover gold. The movie terrified me when I was younger. His makeup is where the bulk of the budget must have gone and at three years old it gave me nightmares for months. After aging about ten years, the movie was a laugh fest but it is definitely this writer’s biggest guilty pleasure. I know a number of movies weren’t discussed. The b-movie Father’s Day, the abysmal low budget Easter Bunny Kill! Kill!, and Happy Birthday to Me (to this day still noted for its creative cover.) Truth is, it would just take too long to make notes on everyone, but a few is better than none. Happy holidays, readers.

(A sidenote: Props to Jaime King. She stars in three of the aforementioned movies: My Bloody Valentine, Silent Night, and Mother’s Day. An underrated final girl if there ever was one.)


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