X-MAS Mayhem: 5 Holiday Themed Horror Flicks You Probably Missed!!

Well it’s the Christmas season yet AGAIN! One of my favorite times to watch movies and every year I always try and hunt down the odd or forgotten Holiday themed horror movies to throw into the mix. Who doesn’t love a good holiday horror movie on rotation during this time of year right?! Well this season I’ve got 5 horror films I’m givin’ my stamp of Universal Dork approval for holiday viewing. That doesn’t mean that the theme of the movie is related to Christmas or the Holidays directly, but more so the events at the very least occur during this festive time of the year!

So here they are for 2019, track these down and pair ’em with some candy canes and spiked egg nog to get the damn party a started!! 

The Oracle (1985)

Here’s a great 80’s supernatural horror flick from Roberta Findlay that takes place during the holiday season. It showcases a cold, snowy and mega sleezy NYC during Christmas time. There’s Christmas lights everywhere, holiday parties going on and christmas trees. It’s a pretty sweet little low budget horror movie that’s also pretty fun stylistically (it looks like it’s 1975 instead of ’85) and fully ambitious fx wise. Ouija boards during christmas is NEVER a good idea! It’s a movie it seems most holiday horror fanatics have missed out on over the years, so if you dig grimy supernatural holiday cheer, track this one down!

 

Dangerous Game (1988)

This awesome Aussie movie is brought to you by the director of Judgement Night, Predator 2 & Nightmare on Elm St Part 5. It takes place around Christmas time and features a gang of teenagers who decide to spend the night inside of a mall after one of them pisses off a mentally unstable psycho cop! The mall is decked out in X-mas decorations and makes for the perfect place for a tense game of cat and mouse! This one’s a ton of fun, filled with awesome action, great characters and even a healthy heroic dose of Christmas scenery, a crowd pleaser for sure!

 

The Day of The Beast (1995)

Easily one of my favorite holiday movies! A series of strange occurrences lead a ruff n’ tumble heavy-metal obsessed record store employee and a TV psychic talk show host to team up with an innocent priest who seeks to find the infant reincarnation of the Antichrist somewhere in Madrid on Christmas eve. This one is an excellent oddball horror comedy and a truly unique little film that’s perfect for a holiday movie nite party! The unlikely onscreen alliance of these three weirdo characters is so much fun to behold, the whole thing is filled with some great creepy set pieces and some sweet action sequences as well as the Christmas spirit well in progress!! Don’t miss this one! 

 

A Christmas Tale aka Cuento de Navidad (2005)

This is a great little Spanish Christmas horror flick from the director of ‘REC’. If you’re watching it for the first time in 2019 it might seem like it’s trying to capitalize off ‘Stranger Things’. However this one came out well before the craze of the Netflix series. It takes place during the 80’s, features a cast of kids who cruise around on their bikes who discover a woman in a Santa Suit stuck in a hole in the ground. They soon figure out she’s wanted by the police and refuse to help her out, things get interesting when voodoo magic is added to the mix and  the kids find their holiday turned into a walking nightmare!! Track this one down, it’s so much fun!

 

Tales from the Third Dimension (1984)

So this is a rare horror anthology from 1984 that’s trying to do a Twilight Zone / ‘Tales from the Crypt’ mash up type of thing as evident by the awesome second rate “Cryptkeeper” character we meet at the start of the movie! Now I’m not going to recommend that you watch the entire movie as the first two segments really aren’t much to write home about, but the third and final 40 minute segment is definitely worth checking out. A full on Christmas themed horror story featuring two kids who stay at grandma’s house that kind of reminds me of M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘The Visit’. But wait there’s more, as Santa himself shows up in the flesh to push the story to wild holiday extremes!! A uniquely bizarre, largely lost and forgotten Holiday horror movie….here’s the whole thing on youtube if you can’t find a physical copy!

Will The Original Ghostbusters Actually do some Ghostbustin’ in Ghostbusters: Afterlife?!!

So some interesting plot info finally dropped about the upcoming “Ghostbusters 3” now officially known as ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’. If you missed it here’s what was recently released:

“The Third installment centers on Callie (Carrie Coon) and her kids Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) as the move to Oklahoma into a haunted house that reveals their family connection to one of the original Ghostbusters – though which of the four is Phoebe and Trevor’s grandfather remains unrevealed. The Ghostbusters’ 1984 stand against Gozer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man has all but faded from the memory of modern day teens (as tends to happen), so Trevor and Phoebe will need to get some contextual help from an older guide: enter Paul Rudd’s summer school teacher character, Mr. Grooberson. Grooberson was a kid during the events of the Ghostbusters original adventure, and has been an obsessed fanboy ever since. It will be Grooberson who helps guide Phoebe and Trevor toward dusting off the Ghostbusters mantle – hopefully in time to save the town from whatever is in that haunted mine.

 

 

Ghostbusters: Afterlife a direct sequel to Ghostbusters 2, following up on the events of what is now called the “Manhattan Crossrip,” in which ghosts and other apparitions (including the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man) materialized in New York City. “

 

So this all sounds great right? There’s been some images released showing the younger cast of kids, who are assumed to become the new Ghostbusters. I’m hoping this one’s not going to try and give us a yet another “Stranger Things” type of scenario, as much as I was thrilled with the Netflix show I’ve been feeling like there’s been a bit of an overflow of movies and tv shows trying to do the same thing due to the it’s success. What worries me the most here is the lack of mention of the original cast, even in the photos released. Sure we all know they are going to be in the movie, but they also made appearances in Ghostbusters 2016. So for as a fan of the originals, I’m pretty damn interested in seeing just what the hell our favorite characters are up to these days. Am I alone here on that? I think the movie needs to give the original cast ample screen time and a decent part of the plot should be dedicated to them. I’m growing tired of these “sequels” sidelining the original characters, they’d better no pull a  “Luke Skywalker” on old crew.

So my one desire for this new movie is that we see the original Ghostbusters actually bust some damn ghosts just one last time! Please don’t give them all just the obligatory cameo. I wanna see the old crew actually have something important to do before they pass the torch for good. Otherwise I feel this sequel is going to end up pissing off fans once again in the way ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ blew it’s second chance opportunity to be something fans would never forget as a direct sequeL to T2 . I’m hoping that in the trailer (which drops Monday) they indeed show the original cast too, if not I’ll be guessing they’ll likely have very small roles. What do you think? Wouldn’t you love to see the original cast actually be a real part of this film? What do you think their role will be? 

It’s directed by Jason Reitman, the son of Ivan Reitman who directed both Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2.  So I’m cautiously keeping my fingers crossed he’s going to give us the sequel we always wanted…

Pissed Off Fans & Plot Leaks Galore: Is There Any Hope for Star Wars: Episode IX?!

It’s been quite a wild one for Disney “Star Wars” over the past couple years, that’s for sure. It seems ‘The Last Jedi’ ignited some serious controversy that many people blame for ‘Solo’ underperforming massively at the box office. Me personally? I’d be a liar to say I wasn’t legitimately let down by The Last Jedi (and the Force Awakens to a certain degree) but then over the last couple years it became very clear: Disney Star Wars is really just high budget fan fiction, at least the sequel trilogy. It’s really no more legit than the ‘Expanded Universe’ stuff at this point, especially upon learning that Disney had the option to use George Lucas’ original treatment for Episodes 7-9. We all know now that they opted for a lesser original JJ Abrams & Rian Johnson helmed retelling of the original trilogy with ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘The Last Jedi’ which both follow the similar beats to the original trilogy. So in my eyes, not at least lightly following George’s treatment for the sequel trilogy is somewhat blasphemous and inauthentic. That all being said, I just don’t care as much knowing we’re not getting the creators true vision for the finale of the Skywalker saga. 

My excitement level for the next Star Wars film couldn’t be any lower honestly. I’ll still go and see it, but I’m not rushing out opening weekend anymore for them. Over the years I’ve come to realize that Star Wars (for me) isn’t the cinematic “event” it once was after stepping out of The Last Jedi. It’s become a level of Hollywood sequel on par with ‘The Predator’ franchise, recent ‘Alien’ movies or ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’. Just bloated big budget remakes disguised as modern day “sequels” to beloved nostalgic franchises. Movies that end up quickly forgotten after leaving the theater. The more I’ve read and seen of ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, the less excited I’ve become. One of the biggest problems facing the movie are the “Jedi Paxis” leaks, which dropped a couple months ago and now appear to be perfectly matching what’s been shown in trailers and tv spots for the movie. I checked the leaks out and I’ll admit, I’m not incredibly excited to see it all unfold on the big screen. In fact the inclusion of Palpatine furthers the fact that these sequels are not much more than disguised remakes of the OT. I’m fully open to the leaks being false and perhaps Disney has pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes with some new form of marketing, but it’s really starting to all look pretty legit. But the ‘Game of Thrones’ leaks ended up true, ‘The Predator’ leaks, ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ leaks ALL ended up true as well. This presents a pretty damn big problem for Star Wars and JJ’s “mystery boxes” he seems to love so much.

Now I’m sure Episode IX will make a billion dollars, but I’m not sure what effect this movie will have on the cinematic future of the franchise if it further divides fans. If it fails to provide a proper story for the beloved original trilogy characters then it’s truly failed the fans. So far my gut feeling is ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ might end up being more divisive than The Last Jedi. On a positive note, ‘The Mandalorian’ seems to have fans all on the same page somehow? I’ve loved the first 5 episodes and I really wish that THIS would have been the movie we got instead of the sequel trilogy. At this point I think they should’ve just left the old characters alone and let the story rest with Return of the Jedi. None of what we’ve been served up in my eyes has been compelling or innovative storytelling and if you’re unable to pass the torch in a way that’s truly rewarding for fans, then it probably should have all just been left as was.

So my guess here is that this last installment from JJ is going to problematic for Star Wars cinematically. I think the Disney+ platform is where Star Wars will rule for the next few years or so. I mean how exciting will it be to see ‘Baby Yoda’ grow up?! So it’s sad that so far the return of Star Wars wasn’t at all what I’d hoped for and I really don’t think it’d have been all that difficult to send the old characters on an incredible adventure along with a set of new ones who could carry the torch into their very own trilogy. As far as fan fiction goes I’ll stick with the expanded universe stuff for the moment, but also happy that these new movies don’t bother me anymore. I’m fine with accepting them for what they are, big budget fan fiction from JJ & Rian….. 

VHS Verdict: ‘DON’T PANIC’ the 80’s Mexican Ouija Board Pajama Party Nightmare!

I’ve been on a kick lately of trying to find lost movie gems from the 1980’s, mostly searching for foreign horror flicks from that era. It’s been pretty fun finding a ton of cool Hong Kong stuff and more recently discovering an awesome 80’s horror director from Mexico named Ruben Galindo Jr. The first of his horror movies I checked out was 1985’s ‘Cemetery of Terror’ and that got me hot on the tracks of the rest of his horror output of that era. So far he’s got a great track record, as Cemetery of Terror is ton of fun, a blend of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Carpenter’s Halloween & The Goonies. Well ‘Don’t Panic’ from 1987 is just as entertaining but in a far more ridiculous manner. It’s like a blend of Witchboard, Nightmare on Elm Street 2 with a dash of D-level John Hughes. I mean that in the best way as it’s the perfect flick to watch with a gang of ravenous cinefiles on a Saturday nite!

It’s main character the very whiny, curly blonde, seventeen year old american mama’s boy named Michael who’s forced to move to Mexico City to live with his alcoholic mother. On his seventeenth birthday his gang of irritating teen morons throw him a terrible party where they fully embarrass him in front of his school crush, peer pressure him to get totally wasted & eventually coax him into using a ouija board. Of course weird shit goes down and soon he’s seeing nightmarish visions of violent murders being committed all over the city nightly. While this consumes most of his time, he’s also falling head over heels in love with one of his lovely classmates. The two skip class one day an go on the greatest ridiculously awesome 80’s date ever put to screen while he takes her all over town on his bmx bike. Yeah life seems just perfect but of course he’s plagued by even more bizarre visions of murder, his eyes begin turn blood red forcing him to don sunglasses & avoid the new love of his life. Things get so crazy that he’s unable to sleep, but crazier yet, he begins to roam the streets in a pair of unbelievable dinosaur pajamas that are suited for a 6 year old! It’s one of my favorite things about this movie, those infamous PJ’s!! Best yet is that he spends probably 3/4ths of the film proudly donning them! All I wanna know is where the hell can I find a pair of those for myself?!!

Ok so this ones clearly a ton of idiotic fun, they even have a sort of Freddy Kruger type supernatural slasher dude named…..VIRGIL! He loves to taunt Michael and forces him on a wild spooky goose chase (in his PJ’s of course). This movie bleeds the 1980’s in it’s style and special effects work, modestly executed by FX master Screamin’ Mad George (Predator/ Nightmare on Elm Street 3/ Society)! Unlike ‘Cemetery of Terror’, this one’s in English (though it’s clear there’s some serious dubbing at times for certain actors) but still shows the charm of Mexico in the 1980’s, something I truly appreciate here. It’s filled with tons of ridiculous dialogue, over top bad acting and stands up there with some of the most fun the genre had to offer from it’s US counterparts. Galindo’s got a few other horror films I need to check out still, but this far in I’m starting to think he must be come sort of cult horror director in Mexico? He clearly had his finger on the pulse of cheezy, fully entertaining 80’s horror and I really think more horror fans here in the USA should be aware of his movies. They can be a bit hard to find physical copies of but luckily ‘Don’t Panic’ has been posted on Youtube if you wanna check it out that way. If you want a physical copy you can find it on Twistedanger.com a site filled with super hard to find cult flicks!! Check it out!!

 

 

Star Wars: ‘Heir to the Empire’ Animated Youtube Series?!!

Here’s something truly unique and inspiring on the Star Wars front, as everyone’s talking about ‘The Mandalorian’ Disney Plus series this week and how damn good it was. I mean do you really need another review of the show at this point? I didn’t think so! Well it’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Timothy Zahn Star Wars book trilogy from the early 90’s, one which many fans had considered the real episodes 7-9 for many years until recently. If you’re a fan of the original trilogy, were underwhelmed with the Disney sequel trilogy and never read those books I highly suggest checking them out to get the ultimate old school fix of Star Wars! In fact the best way to check them out is in the audio book form narrated by Marc Thompson, whose vocal impersonations of the original characters is mind blowing, as well as the music and sound fx that’ll make you feel like the movie has come to life. It’s really that good.                                                                                                                                 

Well recently I discovered something pretty amazing on Youtube, it seems a fan named ‘DarthAngelus’ is attempting to animate the story of the first installment “Heir to the Empire” in a Clone Wars/Rebels style series. A truly ambitious project and a welcome one for the true OT fan. It’s the very first time we meet the iconic villain ‘Thrawn’ who really should have been utilized in the sequel trilogy as the big baddie in my opinion. I’ve really enjoyed what he’s done here and I’m looking forward to what comes next and how just the action sequences will unravel, which will be a big part of how well this epic story translates to this animation. So far it’s a real treat to see how much love a fan has for the series, if there was a way for them to put Marc Thompson’s (the audiobook’s narrator) voice into this it’d even more of a spectacle. In the meantime kudos to this fan, more people need to know about this as I think it’s something truly special in the works!  Check it out:       

Star Wars Episode IX: Why Luke Skywalker is Likely Still Alive!

Ok folks, in just under two months we’ll be getting the final installment of “The Skywalker Saga”. Yep, ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ is going to wrap up the whole damn story whether you like it or not. Many people (as I’m sure you know by now) have huge problems with the “Disney Star Wars” stuff, for quite a while I was pretty damn perturbed about it all too. Especially with The Last Jedi. Then I’d read about how Disney bought the rights to the franchise and also got the drafts for George Lucas’ version of Episodes 7-9. Instead of fulfilling the iconic creators vision for his saga they decided to go with a more familiar plot, JJ and Rian Johnson delivered movies that are essentially soft remakes of the ‘Original Trilogy’.

When I’d heard this news something just clicked and I suddenly wasn’t upset with these new Disney Star Wars films. I realized they’re all essentially just high budget fan fiction films and that I’ll always have the real movies to watch. These new Star Wars flicks actually aren’t any different than the (much more superior in many ways IMO) Star Wars EU (Expanded Universe) material, or what they’re referred to as now, ‘Star Wars Legends’. Essentially all the non movie fiction stuff. I realized whatever Disney comes up with next really doesn’t matter much at least to me, in any real way anymore. Star Wars IS George Lucas, at the very least the sequel trilogy, 100% should have utilized his story for the final installment of The Skywalker Saga. Otherwise it really is just fan fiction with some big bucks behind it.                  

That all being said, I’ve still been wondering for a while just what this last installment has in store for Luke Skywalker, if anything at all. I then remembered JJ Abrams, a fan of Star Wars was co-writing the movie and it got me thinking, is he really going to sideline Luke? He’s got the chance to play with Luke Skywalker in his sandbox, one of the most iconic characters in pop culture. One last real chance to utilize the original actor as the character, c’mon is he really going to just have him show up as force ghost in a cameo?! Even though people swear up and down Luke is dead I really cannot fathom Abrams not giving Luke the excting moments, likely he himself and the rest of the OT fan base had been waiting for 30 plus years to witness on the big screen. How could a guy like JJ resist?

                                                       

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VHS Verdict: ‘The Midnight Hour’ is a Full Dose of Sweet 80’s Halloween Nostalgia!

Are you looking for the perfect movie to watch this Halloween that’s got a little bit of everything for everyone? Well I’d highly recommend a little gem from 1985 called ‘The Midnight Hour’. This was originally aired on ABC back in the day as a made for TV movie. That being said it feels much more like a theatrical production, with genuinely spooky sets and some pretty sweet & spooky special fx. Imagine a whole movie with the look and feel of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ and I must mention the music here’s also perfectly curated to the Halloween season at hand. One of the best sequences involves The Smiths “How Soon is Now” being the soundtrack to a truly uniquely executed vampire attack, it’s a ton of fun. The premise is nice and simple too, when a gang of teenage Halloween party goers sneak into a local spooky costume shop where they find a strange scroll made of human skin. When opening it and reading it aloud it revives a 300-year-old witch and a horde of ghouls, vampires & werewolves who head off into town to raise some mischeif and do a little holiday partying to boot!

There’s some great casting, we get some totally sweet 80’s personalities, the likes of LeVar Burton, Shari Belafonte, Peter Deluise & Kurtwood Smith among other super recognizable tv stars of the era. The whole thing is just so innocently charming, while still at times hitting some surprisingly darker tones. It’s really got something for everyone here, a bit of genuine horror, teen comedy (with some rather riske’ undertones for a tv movie), nostalic music, even a totally original 80’s song & dance number by Shari Belafonte called “Get Dead” to keep the party going all the way to midnight. There’s even a bit of a teenage love story at play here as well that features a ghostly teenage girl from the 1950’s who’s revived as well by the creepy incantation who roams the streets looking for love.

The Midnight Hour was directed by Jack Bender who went on to direct ‘Child’s Play 3’ (and a few other interesting made for tv movies as well) and it’s clear here he’s already got a penchant for horror. So if you’re looking for something totally nostalgic and a ton of halloween fun without getting too gory or scary, look no further, The Midnight Hour is a great opener for a double feature movie night. A warm up for some real scares of whatever you choose to fully creep out those who dare to stick around!