So I was just on one of my favorite podcasts out there on the interwebs: MOVIE MELT! If you’ve never checked it out and dig stuff like Red Letter Media or lots of the cinematic oddities I cover right here then you’re bound to really get some kicks outta this podcast. They really go the extra distance there covering weird flicks often even the likes of RLM’s “Best of the Worst” wouldn’t dare touch & their unique format blends in some brilliant comedy as well.
Anyway I was lucky to be able to chat in length about one of my favorite Holiday Horror flicks: Silent Night Deadly Night Part 5-The Toymaker!! We also cover more weird Christmas stuff that might tickle your fancy for holiday viewing this year, check out MOVIE MELT HERE!!!
Who knew that 1988’s Canadian cult creature feature ‘The Brain’ was actually a hidden holiday horror gem? Yep this monster movie from the opening scene has got Christmas decorations strewn all over the place and keeps up this trend for the full duration of the film. Christmas lights, trees, tinsel and Santa decorations are carefully placed in view. People every year search for those lost holiday horror gems and I’d say we can put ‘The Brain’ firmly in the “Takes place during the Christmas season” movies & if ‘Die Hard’ qualifies as a holiday film then this one certainly does as well!
Well is it worth the trouble to track down and check out this 2020 holiday season? YES! The Brain has everything I love in an 80’s horror flick. Cool likable characters, a wild giant rubbery monster, plenty of action and a ridiculous plot reminiscent of those classic 1950’s sci-fi creature features. Creepy ass Dr. Blakely (the dude from Re-Animator who loses his head-and does in The Brain too!) runs a seemingly normal TV show called “Independent Thinkers”, a popular weekly “self-help” program. However he’s not making his audience any wiser, he secretly serves an alien organism called The Brain, that brainwashes (duh!) the viewers using it’s other-worldy mind control techniques. It’s also got a hunger for human flesh & as it consumes it’s victims it also increases in size. The only one who stands to save the city and possibly the Earth is a wise crackin’ teenage practical joker and his super cute stylin’ girlfriend.
The Brain is a fun filled totally 80’s horror romp with plenty of action, cool villains and a rad slightly idiotic looking monster that’s brought to life via puppetry and animatronics. He’s kind of like giant hulking “Madball” toy from the 1980s. He attacks his victims with limited mobility as he “cruises” around on his snake-y bod. There’s also some cool kills that are unexpectedly sprinkled about the holiday landscape and rarely a dull moment to behold.
Most of the movie features our two main characters on the run and some of the settings are pretty sweet. I’m always a sucker for hiding out inside of an empty closed school all night! Easily one of my favorite places for mayhem to ensue. As I mentioned before, there’s enough holiday decor strewn about to warrant this one a watch during the Christmas season if you’re looking for something different this year. Besides that The Brain is a solid, entertaining, charming little monster movie that’s got a sweet release on blu ray from Scream Factory that looks great and has some cool little extras to give you tons of useless information on the the movies origins!
Jim Henson’s 1986 nearly forgotten classic ‘A Christmas Toy’ is definitely on my list this year for holiday viewing. I’ll admit that I’ve yet to see this one, but from my limited poking around here on it, this definitely sounds right up my alley as a bit of a darkly unique Christmas tale. I see some major ‘Toy Story’ vibes here as there’s a gang of toys who spring to life when humans leave the room and keep order amongst themselves based on who’s the most beloved by their child owners!
We’ve got a whole new gang of puppets to behold from Henson who aren’t the classic Muppets and apparently the stakes and mental health of the toy’s are quite dangerous here. If one is seen by human eyes while moving around they apparently freeze in their tracks for the rest of their lives. I also am noticing the striking similarities to Child’s Play’s “Chucky” doll in the red headed female doll-coincidence? Hmmm….
Henson around this time was involved with a lot of projects and puppets were really all the rage. Movies like The Dark Crystal & Labyrinth were dominating human consciousness. A year later in 1987 Henson’s TV series “The Storyteller” would come out and that’s something I missed out on back in the day that’s been on my radar to check out for years. It’s a shame that in today’s day and age something like Henson’s fully hands on puppetry fails to somehow enthrall the masses in the way that CGI seems to captivate and dominate media.
So yes, I’m going to check this one out on Christmas eve this year and see if it’s really truly a lost holiday classic. One thing I’ve heard in several reviews is that The Christmas toy actually plays out more like a horror movie with real stakes and a creepy witch like villain named “Meteora”. This sounds exactly like something as a fan of weird old holiday kids specials that just might be right up my alley. Have you seen it? If so is this one a must watch?
Here’s a super sweet old school comic book cover from waaaay back in 1973! This super spooky Christmas horror issue of ‘The Witching Hour’ urges us to “never kill a Santa Claus” a truly classic cover filled to the brim with holiday horror. This largely forgotten horror anthology comic series ran for nearly 10 years from 1969-1978. Clearly inspired by the legendary EC comics ‘Tales from the Crypt’ this issue features some truly frightening Christmas horror imagery, particularly impressive for the era it appeared in…
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)
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!
So today we finally got the first trailer to Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, yeah…that’s seriously the name of it. Has anyone else noticed that the “Rise of” phrase in big Hollywood blockbusters franchises is just maybe a TAD overused these days?!! Terminator: ‘Rise of the Machines’, Gi Joe: ‘Rise of Corbra’, ‘Rise of the Guardians’, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’, Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance, Fantastic Four: ‘Rise of the Silver Surfer’, 300: ‘Rise of an Empire’, Underworld: ‘Rise of the Lycans”, Transformers: ‘Rise of the Dark Spark’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’…..need I go on?! I mean I guess everything in Hollywood is fucking “rising” these days huh?! Good for them I suppose! So aside from Episode IX’s embarrassing title, check out this trailer if for some reason you haven’t already:
So after, what to me was the most disappointing sequel in movie history, ‘The Last Jedi’, we are now eagerly(?) awaiting the conclusion to this messy trilogy. JJ Abrams is back again folks, finishing what he started and as much of a fan as I was of ‘The Force Awakens’ when it debuted, I’m gonna admit, it was by no means great, inspiring story telling. Instead it was yet another rather bland Hollywood reboot/remake disguised as a sequel that managed to tug my nostalgic heart strings at all the right moments. So in that aspect story wise at least, it fits perfectly with it’s even messier, more uninspired story telling of it’s sequel. So this latest ‘Rise of Skywalker’ trailer seems to be trying it’s best to rope fans wallet’s back into the franchise, who after the last movie, found themselves a bit underwhelmed with the direction of things. Overall I think the trailer does a decent job at accomplishing it’s goal, I’m not going to sit this one out at the theater like some have threatened to do, but I still won’t be rushing out to stand in line for it opening night either. At least not yet. At the very least I’m intrigued at how this trilogy is going to try and find some sort of originality in the third and final chapter. AAfter two movies I’m not very invested in any of the new characters, but at least they throw us some Lando, Chewy, Leia and C3P0 in this. I’m not being an old grumpy original trilogy purist either, I was fully down and ready to fall in love with the new characters.
However, these new Star Wars movies are now feeling less like an epic event and more like another attempted cash grab reboot of a once beloved 80’s franchise we’re continuously spoon fed by Hollywood. I do I think that the laugh of Palpatine at the end of the trailer is a good sign that JJ devised a plan that he thinks will rope in any straying disgruntled Star Wars fan. I’m admitting I’m curious what’s going on here, I hope it somehow feels cohesive with what came before, as it’s started talk of Palpatine’s possible return in the flesh for the final installment. I’m giving this trailer a solid ‘B’. It didn’t blow my mind but it has gotten the wheels turning in my brain again pondering how this Star Wars “Saga” will end and more so if they can unite divided fans. As long as it NOT mirroring ‘Return of the Jedi’ I think it’s got a chance because at this point literally anything in my opinion will be better than the last installment….
Ever wonder what the other movies the guy who directed ‘Predator 2’ & ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street: 5’ did? No?! Well I found a great little movie from Jamaican born British director Stephen Hopkins from 1987 called ‘Dangerous Game’ that I had the pleasure of watching this New Years Eve. Something even better was that throughout the movie you could see it was clearly Christmas time, making this one a neat-o flick to watch during the holiday season as well. The premise is simple, a group of rowdy college kids are targeted by a full on corrupt, mentally unhinged cop one day near their campus. Things escalate when later the same cop follows them in what ends up a high speed chase and ends up losing his job after crashing his police motorcycle near the damn police station! This sends the crazy cop into a ballistic rage and when the college kids sneak into a huge department store to spend he night (cuz that’s what people did in the 80’s!) naturally he follows them in and hunts them all down!
This one’s a true pleasure to watch, it’s got some great teenage characters, one who’s like the Aussie version of Duckie from Pretty in Pink. These aren’t really your typical throw away annoying teens, which is always good for a movie like this when you’ve got a deranged killer on the prowl. It sucks to not give a shit if characters bite the dust cuz they’re annoying or have no personality or sometimes when you want the slasher to actually catch his prey! It does a damn fine job keeping you invested in the creepy ass game of cat and mouse that’s going on onscreen. It’s also got a great location going for it, the giant dark department store is a maze of 80’s awesomeness, with tons of Christmas trees, blinking x-mas lights and Christmas decorations scattered about. There’s also some super rad scenes up on the rooftops that are pretty stunning, the cinematographer does a great job all over in this film. The killer cop is played wonderfully by Steven Grives as he’s quite convincing as an unhinged force to be reckoned with. The movie’s got sweet action sequences as well going for it, some I gotta say, over the top in a great way, like a motorcycle chase inside the department store is total crowd pleaser for sure.
This one’s a great ozploitation 80’s flick that definitely deserves to be on more people’s radar. It’s a damn near perfect horror hybrid action movie that’s a ton of fun for people who’re fans of the 1980’s slasher genre. Though there’s not a ton of gore, there’s more than enough nail biting horror and suspense going on, it’s the more superior version of a similar American cult classic slasher flick ‘Hide and Go Shriek’ that came out a year later. Track this one down if you’re looking for something to add to next years holiday horror play list or just happen to love the 1980’s as much as I do!
Holy shit it’s Christmas eve!! I thought I take slip in rad holiday themed comic book cover from one of my favorite Marvel comics super teams, The Great Lakes Avengers! Hailing from my old stompin’ grounds of Wisconsin, these midwest misfits don’t ever seem to get the respect they deserve! Aside from Squirrel Girl, who’s now a superstar, these dudes haven’t been given enough respect & deserve in my humble opinion their very own damn movie!! This great cover from 2006 drawn by Paul Pelletier is a ton of fun to behold. The issue itself is pretty damn great as well! A must read this Holiday!!!! Long live the Great Lakes Avengers!!
So it’s 2018, Christmas time, and I noticed this year something was missing, Star Wars! Yeah we’ve all gotten a bit used to the Star Wars tradition of a new movie during the month of December, at least I have. Last year I was so damn pumped for ‘The Last Jedi’ and even though I personally thought it was a disaster there was still that excitement going into it during Christmas time. Well this year Disney has left us all with nothing Star Wars related this holiday season. But wait…
Luckily someone has stepped in and delivered one hell of a fan film in it’s place. You see, one of the best Star Wars Youtube channels around, Star Wars Theory, has produced a new short film, actually the first part of a series, and it’s fantastic. With a budget of around one hundred thousand bucks they’ve delivered something that in my opinion rivals some of the cinematic stuff, no question. This follows the rage and fury Darth Vader felt after the events of Episode 3 and his relationship explored with The Emperor. I think Disney could learn a few things from Star Wars Theory on how to produce content fans actually want. Eat your heart out Darth Vader fanatics!
We’re getting closer to the big day-yep Christmas will be soon upon us, from now until then though what’s out there worth a view on the ol’ tube? It can be tuff to find new things each year to check out, sometimes the usual traditional movies and specials need a break.
I mean you can only watch the ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’ so many times right? That being said here’s a few ideas this year of some Christmas movies worth a spin from Universal Dork! Let’s get the holiday party started already!!
The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
I checked out this new Christmas movie which you can stream on Netflix last night and thought it was actually a ton of fun. We’ve got Kurt Russell as slightly rough around the edges Santa, who’s sleigh gets into an accident when a brother and sister sneak aboard it while he’s out delivering presents. It’s a sweet little holiday movie with some decent comedy & fun adventure. Russell’s Santa teams up with the two kids and they try and help him save Christmas after he loses his gift sack in the sleigh crash. For new Holiday stuff this one was WAY better than what I was initially expecting.
Silent Partner (1978)
This is an interesting one that I just discovered this year while searching for forgotten holiday movies, a Canadian thriller set during Christmas. A mild mannered bank teller gets wind of a bank robbery plot ahead of time and steals the cash himself before the thieves arrive. When the psycho robber, who’s also a mall Santa realizes he’s been tricked, he hunts down the teller with a serious bone to pick to try and get the cash for himself. This one’s a forgotten Holiday gem of a thriller!
The Children (2008)
This one’s on my list for a revisit over the next week or so, I remembered thinking it was a pretty effective British holiday themed horror flick when I saw it back in 2008. Taking place during the Christmas season it follows two family’s who get together for a snow filled weekend of fun. Things take a turn when their children become psycho killers after contracting some sort of disease. Check it out if you’re looking for something truly scary this Christmas!
Frostbiter: Wrath of the Wendigo (1995)
Here’s one that’s a ton of fun, Frostbiter was filmed back in the late 80’s but wasn’t released until 1995 when Troma decided to finally get it out there to the public. It’s a snow packed, low budget, splatter filled tale that’s in the same arena as Evil Dead 2. It also stars Ron Asheton, famed guitar legend of The Stooges, has a bunch of cool puppets, bad ass stop motion monsters and takes place in the fictional town of Bedford Falls, where “It’s a Wonderful Life” takes place. It’s got a pretty cool soundtrack as well and for a budget of ten thousand bucks this one is way more fun that it should be! Watch the FULL movie here…
Life & Adventures of Santa Claus (1985)
Total forgotten Rankin Bass weirdness, this stop motion production looks like it could take place in the RB Rudolph universe however it’s somehow got more in common with The Lord of the Rings! A weird adventure that follows Santa’s early years as he hangs out with forest Wizards and battles orc like monsters who want to put the kibosh on his plans of toy making! One of my favorites, it’s a pretty bizarre Christmas production from Rankin Bass that many people haven’t heard of!
Night of the Comet (1984)
It’s been sooo long since I’ve watched this one but the other day I’d remembered that ‘Night of the Comet’ is somewhat of a holiday movie, taking place around at the time of Christmas. This year it’s on the watch list. This cult classic features a group of survivors of a zombie attack triggered by a strange comet find themselves on the run from mad scientists as well. There’s a ton of Christmas references and it’s filled to the absolute brim with 1980’s goodness-give this a whirl this year too!