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…
It’s time too take a look at some cool Holiday themed comic book covers from yesteryear! Here’s a great one waaay back from 1991, the Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special! This crazy Christmas tale feature Lobo as he goes on a hunt to execute Santa Claus, why you might ask? Because the jealous drunken Easter Bunny hired him to do it! A super bizarre Christmas adventure features a total bad ass superpowered Santa to who’s ready to throw down with just about anyone. I love this cover art too by Simon Bisley and the odd disclaimers that can be see on it “Seriously suggested for mature readers” and on the bottom right hand corner reads, “WARNING: Contains Bad Taste In The Form Of Ultra-Violence, Icon-Bashing, And “The Finger.” More Offensive Than Christmas Usually Is.” A total classic 90’s odd ball adventure from DC comics!
Wait but THAT’S not all in 2002 someone made this into a damn short film, no kidding check this shit out!!
Well it’s that time of the year yet again and boy does time sure fly huh?! Yep another damn Christmas is comin’ and of course it’s the prime time to watch a plethora of holiday movies. One genre the “Christmas themed” horror movie, is easily one of my favorites. I’ve gotta say though it’s been a few years since I’ve actually seen anything that truly knocked my socks off ho-ho-holiday horror-wise that is.
2015 brought one of my favorites of all time, “Krampus”, which I’m sure to watch again this year and then just five years earlier another true classic “Rare Exports” dropped. So now it’s nearing the end of 2018, let’s take a quick look at what’s stirring about this year and see if there are any possible gems to watch between now and Christmas time!!
All The Creatures Were Stirring
So I watched this one last night, hoping it was going to become another holiday horror classic, sadly this just wasn’t the case. This Christmas anthology has it’s few moments but overall it’s a largely forgettable yuletide dud. It features six short Christmas themed segments, the best being one called “Dash and Away” which is kinda like a holiday themed short with a sort of Tales From The Crypt “Demon Knight” type of thingy going on. The rest features a lackluster take on a modern day Scrooge, a secret Santa office party going for a Saw type vibe, some pissed off killer reindeer which should have been awesome and the plot of others I’ve already forgotten. Also no sight of snow anywhere within these unspooky tales. If you’re really desperate this isn’t the worst thing you could watch but it’s surely no “Gremlins”. If you’re looking for a Christmas anthology check out ‘A Christmas Horror Story’ from 2015, that ones a much more ambitiously bonkers Holiday horror flick.
Anna and The Apocalypse
Here’s one lots of people are kinda ranting about lately, it’s a Christmas Zombie musical. I’m planning on checking this one out, but honestly I’m not a big fan of musicals and I’ve been steering clear of zombie movies for a while now as the whole craze at this point is just too played out for me these days. But hey I’m gonna give it a try soon regardless, why not?! here’s the synopsis: “A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy little town of Little Haven – at Christmas – forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. But they soon discover that no one is safe in this new world, and with civilization falling apart around them, the only people they can truly rely on are each other.”
Yeah well here’s another one that in theory sounds like it might be a pretty sweet holiday horror, but then you watch the trailer and, well….I’ll probably pass. It looks like someone with a low budget was giving it an honest shot but the trailer does little to inspire me to seek this one out for a watch. Here’s the synopsis tho in case you’re feelin’ it with this one: “A group of college students attending a Christmas party at a sorority house that has a sinister past are all stalked by a bloodthirsty killer disguised as Mrs. Claus.’
Nope this isn’t a re-release of the 1989 classic schlock horror movie starring Dan Haggerty. This appears to be some sort of sequel to a movie called “Elf” not the awesome Will Ferrell one either, but another supremely lackluster one from maybe a year ago. Here’s the synopsis: “When a group of friends discover ancient elves locked in a cursed chest, they unknowingly unleash their wrath on the world.” Again, no snow in sight! If you’re going to make a crappy X-mas movie at least get some damn snow! Instead I recommend the Dan Haggerty flick of the same name-that one is awesomely idiotic!
Here’s yet another “killer in Santa costume” horror flick, this time all the way from Norway. To tell you the truth I’m pretty burned out on the whole “killer santa” thing, there’s great movies out there that were made in the 1980’s that do it best. But if you just can’t seem to get enuff of the genre then maybe Christmas Blood will be a must see for you! Here’s the synopsis: ” A murderer gets caught after terrorizing and killing people during Christmas night for past 13 years in Norway. After being in solitary for almost 6 years, psychopath escapes couple days before Christmas night. Police tracks next target of the psychopath to be in small village in the northernmost part of Norway. Group of friends are having reunion in the same village and unexpectedly end up being in part of Santa’s plan.” Hey at least this one takes place somewhere with snow! That being said if you’re looking for in my opinion the BEST killer Santa movie you must track down “Deadly Games” aka “Dial Code Santa” from 1989. It’s a rare french horror film that’s finally getting some attention here in the states this year, a mix of Rambo, Silent Night Deadly Night & Home alone!
I’m actually kinda excited to check out Pooka which is part of Hulu’s anthology series “Into the Dark”, It’s been referred to as Twilight Zone-ish type of horror outing and the whole concept sounds pretty interesting, I’m gonna check this one out for sure this Christmas, here’s the sysnopsis: “A struggling actor gets a holiday season job as a Christmas character in a plush suit to promote the hottest toy of the year, Pooka; he slowly develops two personalities – one when he’s in the suit and one that’s outside it.” It’s concept certainly beats another new “killer in a Santa costume” flick.
So that seems about it this year, are there any missing that I need to see or mention? Let me know!
So now this holiday season I can say that I’ve officially seen all 5 “Silent Night Deadly Night” Movies! I’ve noticed a lot of people haven’t given the latter sequels a real chance, while the original is often a go to flick for most holiday horror fans. The fact is the 4th and 5th installments are pretty sweet additions to the franchise that operate similarly to “Halloween 3: The Season of the Witch”. Meaning they have absolutely zilch to do with the original three slasher themed Christmas flicks that came before them.
I think it’s a good thing actually, because at this point, I’m kinda over the whole “killer in a santa suit thing” trope. It’s been a done to death and the best “killer in a Santa suit” is a French movie from 1989 called “3615 Code Pere Noel” that pretty much no one has ever seen. So a year later in 1990, ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 4: The Initiation’ is it’s own movie completely, incorporating the Christmas thing just as a back drop for the whole weird ass story to unfold within. Directed by Brian Yuzna who was hot off the heels of ‘Society’ & ‘Bride of Reanimator’ helmed this x-mas oddity and even got horror icon Reggie Bannister (Phantasm) and always creepy genre fave Clint Howard to appear. On top of that he employs fx wizard Screaming Mad George (Predator, Nightmare on Elm St. 5) to work his usual bizarre monster effects magic even with the obvious limited budget.
It’s’ is a weird one that tells the tale of a reporter, played by the beautiful Neith Hunter (Near Dark) who’s investigating the bizarre death of a woman who leaped from a building and burned up in flames on the sidewalk. She soon finds herself mixed up in a weird coven of witches who’re trying to initiate her into their cult and have her take part of a gory sacrificial ceremony during the Christmas season. There’s giant bugs, disgusting transformations, huge gross maggots and Clint Howard running around like a madman chasing her all over the place. It also directly addresses the blatant sexism against women in the workplace quite nicely. Hunter’s character struggles with almost every man she comes into contact with, as pretty much all the men in this movie act like complete sexist dipshits.
There’s a bit of Yuzna’s “Society” style of grossness to “The Initiation” and it effectively displays plenty of squirm-worthy sequences that are sure to make people cringe in their seats. I enjoyed this one, not as much as ‘Part 5’ but it was a welcome departure from the Santa suit slasher concept of the previous three installments. I really wished ‘Christmas’ was more of a central theme to this but at least you get a bunch of shots with Christmas trees, decorations and lights in nearly every shot. A truly bizarre chapter in the series that’s definitely worth a watch if you’re fan of weird movies with some impressive practical effects work. You can get a three pack DVD of the Silent Night 3-5 on Amazon or pick up the VHS. Either way check it out if you’re looking for some weird cinema this holiday season!!
Ho ho ho! The Christmas spirit is in the air again and it’s once again time to check out some crazy holiday movies! Last night I watched a pretty ridiculous one to say the least, the final installment of the ‘Silent Night Deadly Night’ franchise, part 5: ‘The Toymaker’ from 1991! Now if you’re in the mood for some totally idiotic yet entertaining holiday movie mayhem I’d say this here is definitely worth a watch this year. As with the 4th installment of the ‘Silent Night Deadly Night’ franchise, this one has got absolutely zilch to do with the original, clearly a sequel only in name and I’m quite fine with that becuz really now, how many damn movies do we need with a killer in a Santa Suit?
So “The Toymaker” goes a way different direction with a totally absurd plot directed by Martin Kitrosser & co-written by horror icon Brian Yuzna (Night of the Living Dead 3, Bride of Re-Aminator, Society), which finds a little kid whose family is “terrorized” by killer presents..ahem “toys” made by a weird ass old dude toymaker named ‘Joe Petto’ played by the one and only Mickey Rooney! How the hell they got Rooney to do this flick is a bit of a wonder. First he’s clearly got the star power here, though in 1991 he must have been in dire need of acting work and even more bizarre is that Rooney wrote a protest letter against the first Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984). Claiming the “scum” who made it should be “run out of town” for having fucked with the sacred holiday. Oddly then six years later he joined the damn franchise!! He must have just loved the damn script so much he couldn’t resist! The world may never know..
Anyway Rooney runs his own creepy toy shop in town called “Petto’s” which is probably the WORST name you could pick for a toy store, oh and he’s got his socially awkward son working the shop too and yeah…..his name is ‘Pino’. I recognized this kid actor Brian Bremer from Pumpkinhead as well as starring in Tobe Hooper’s Spontaneous Combustion & Yuzna’s ‘Society’. So are you catching on here to the brilliance of this story here yet? Well Joe Petto makes toys that kill people and his weirdo son who lives in the dank cellar helps him out and also gets yelled at a lot by Petto after he’s been drinkin’ on the job during shop hours.
The meat of the plot here revolves around Joe Petto’s evil toy’s stalking a single mom and her child for some “unknown reason” right around Christmas. We get some pretty ridiculous bullshit going on here when the toys viciously attack and we even got Screamin’ Mad George (Predator, Nightmare on Elm St. 3) doing his best with the budget on special fx duty. Killer toy army men, toy centipede larva, heck even some killer roller blades! The movie’s filled with crazy ass plot twists too, the kind that are so stupid you can’t help but find idioticlly endearing.
The Toymaker goes for the jugular with a “shocking” finale too, that kinda just has to be seen to be believed as it’s about as stupidly awesome things come. There’s plenty to enjoy here for the holiday as the story somehow operates nicely within the Christmas season. It’s likely the second best installment of the ‘Silent Night’ franchise and the perfect holiday party flick as it’s got a lean, just over 80 minute run time that moves at a nice brisk pace. If you want a full on holiday party flick this one’s got the goods, just make sure you’ve got your sense of humor intact, plenty of weed and boozy egg nog there to wash this one down with…you’ll be needing it!
Deck the halls people! I checked out the new Christmas thriller / horror flick “Better Watch Out” last night as I was beginning to crave me some holiday themed mayhem! I really had no idea just what to expect, but had heard this one had a few twists and turns under it’s belt and of course I love creepy Christmas movies so why the hell not kick off the holiday season with a possible bang. ‘Better Watch Out’ is indeed an interesting movie, especially because it of it’s clever mind game it plays at it’s nasty core. More thriller than horror, with it’s fair share comedy and seemingly lighthearted holiday seasoned set up.
I’ve been trying to find some cool different movies this week for a Christmas horror movie night this weekend and I’ve gotta tell ya’ aside from the go to standards like (Black Christmas, Rare Exports, Silent Night Deadly Night, etc.) the pickin’s are pretty dang slim! There’s a serious shortage of cool weird ass fun Holiday flicks out there (however there are quite few unwatchable messes) but doing the research I’ve found two that I need to see, hopefully before Christmas is upon us this year!
First up is an odd movie way back from 1984 called “Tales of the Third Dimension”. This anthology was apparently released originally in 3-D & from what I gather the third and final story “Visions of Sugar Plums” which just happens to be the Christmas story is the only segment that’s well worth watching.
It involves two kids being dropped off at their Grandma’s house during Christmas the bad news is that Granny’s almost out of meds! So Granny loses her mind and then all sorts of crazy shit goes down, I could only find one clip on Youtube but it’s a damn good one. I’d like to get my hands on this full episode I’ve only seen it for sale on Amazon but it’s got a cool ass movie poster as well. This one could be worth the trouble of hunting down if you’re looking for something new this year!
Second I found a french movie from 1989 that looks pretty amazing called “Deadly Games” or “Game Over” or “3615 Hide and Freak” or it’s original title “3615 code Pere Noel”. This one looks pretty incredible and I actually tracked down a copy online and I’m hoping it gets here before Christmas.
This movie’s pretty unknown here in the USA but many see it as a darker version of “Home Alone” even though this one was filmed and released before. It’s described as a mix between Home Alone and Rambo boasting some dynamic action sequences.
The main character is rich kid who’s mansion home is invaded by an incredibly creepy down on his luck psycho in a Santa costume. The kid gets suited up in his army duds and paints his face all camo as he sets up deadly traps all over and tries to protect his Grandpa from the attacker.
It looks like quite an adventure and I’m always game for a cool 80’s flick done in that old school Amblin style. You can watch the whole thing on You Tube, but unfortunately it’s all in German. Check out this rad trailer!
My Christmas wishes were answered yesterday as I headed off into the chilly night with a bunch of friends to check out Michael Dougherty’s holiday horror flick ‘Krampus’! I’ve been waiting for a proper Krampus movie for ages and the wait is finally over folks, this movie was awesome. Dougherty has proven he IS the master of holiday horror as now he’s got two incredible movies under his belt, his first being ‘Trick ‘R Treat’ from 2007 which has already become a cult classic. So why did I enjoy Krampus so damn much?
First it’s the perfect movie for the season at hand as it has a true heart of gold at it’s core. We start out seeing a crazy sort of Black Friday shopping experience on screen where insane Christmas shoppers fight in slow motion in greedy hordes for their gifts. It really kinda sets the mood for the rest of the movie, Christmas has become ugly. No one really has the holiday spirit anymore and our main characters who’re basically your average modern day family have forgotten what’s really important in life. We’ve got a great comedic cast here to and once all the relatives arrive for Christmas dinner it’s evident they’re in for a long weekend.
Krampus has a great cast going for it, Emjay Anthony really shines as Max a young boy who finally gets fed up with everyone’s selfish, negative attitudes and decides to rip up his Christmas letter to Santa chucking it out into the winter winds. Soon after a dark looming storm cloud settles above his neighborhood and hits it hard with one helluva winter storm. This is where all hell begins to break loose. From this point the neighborhood feels disconnected from reality and the way the winter transforms the landscape is a sight in itself to behold. Suddenly odd sinister snowmen begin appearing all around their house. Soon the family is entrenched in a fantastical fight for their lives against an evil hulking force with more than a few frightening tricks it up it’s shaggy sleeve.
The first time we see Krampus is an excellent sequence and form that point on we’re taken on a continuous roller coaster ride that brings to mind the best about movies like Gremlins and The Gate. This movie really feels like a lost movie from the 80’s that Speilberg produced, not directed. In fact this one feels like an old Joe Dante flick. The sets are incredible yet centralized in mainly one location and the monsters are a true spectacle to behold. Feeling a bit like if Charles Band (Puppetmaster/Full Moon) had a big budget back in the 80’s to make an X-mas flick. Also the effects are almost all practical with every bit of CG used exactly the way it should be. The costumes too of Krampus and his crew are quite impressive as well, simply put this one didn’t feel like your average mainstream horror movie and that’s a damn good thing.
Lastly we do have the big baddie Krampus who looks simply amazing, though maybe not quite like what you may have been expecting. My only real problem with this movie was that I really was hoping for more of the actual Krampus and maybe a bit of his true mythology. Most of the mayhem here is brought on by his minions and Krampus is more of an evil presence watching the shit hit the fan than a big bad guy like the Predator or Alien. I was hoping for a game of cat and mouse with the family squaring off directly with Krampus but in the end I really enjoyed the finale equally just in a different way. So that being said, I’m going to say this was easily one of if not my favorite movie this year so far. I’m actually quite happy as well with the PG-13 rating and some of the family friendly tones of the movie, besides with all the ugliness in the world right now it’s nice to have something to warm our hearts a little this Christmas season! I’m already hoping for a sequel where Krampus truly meets his match!