Tagged: winter

‘VIOLENT NIGHT’: A Killer Santa You Can Really Root For!

As far as modern holiday horror goes there’s a clear over abundance of yuletide garbage out there being mass produced as of the last 10 years. I don’t know what triggered it but it seems every year the floodgates open with a slew of sub par cinematic Christmas sludge. Well this year we’ve got a killer Santa Claus movie, but this time with a Kris Kringle that you can really get behind with some holiday cheer!

From director Tommy Wirkola, who helmed the highly entertaining “Dead Snow” franchise and also the equally enjoyable ‘Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters’. ‘Violent Night’ is easily just as fun as his previous films, part Die Hard, part Home Alone with a little bit of Santa’s Slay thrown into the mix for good measure. We get the real deal Santa Claus who’s feeling a bit down on his luck getting thrown into a truly “violent night”. He’s forced to use his unique supernatural yuletide abilities to defend a wealthy family trapped in their mansion from a gang of vicious criminals led by John Leguizamo!

 Santa though has gotta sober up quickly, as he spent most of the evening drinking at a dive bar rather than delivering presents to kids on his “nice” list this Christmas eve. However all the action doesn’t necessarily fall just on Santa’s shoulders, we also have a little girl named Trudy played by Leah Brady who’s hell bent on helping Santa and her family annihilate the greedy criminals as well from inside the mansion.

That’s where the “Home Alone” aspect of this film really takes shape and boy does it deliver some bloody boobie traps! Brady is totally charming in the role and really helps make this little adventure memorable. Like much the director’s previous work this one is equal part comedy as well as action while managing to not let anything slip into a total farce. Yes, there’s plenty of legitimate thrills to be had here and really fun colorful characters that really help drive this film. John Leguizamo shines as the big baddie and it’s been soooo long since I’ve seen him, his presence was truly a welcome addition to the mayhem. David Harbour though steals the show as Santa Claus, I’ve always felt he has a special onscreen charisma and it really continues to shine here in the role. There’s also some pretty neat little twists and turns in the plot, some concerning Santa himself that makes for a uniquely intriguing back story to jolly ol’ elf.

What was most surprising was the inclusion of Beverly D’Angelo (of Christmas Vacation fame), who for the 1st quarter of the movie I was left scratching my head trying to figure out where I’d recognized her from?  It’s been so long since I’ve seen her in anything and she does look quite different these days. It’s quite nice to see some of these actors in a major motion picture this holiday season!

The action sequences are also really well choreographed and filled with some pretty over the top gore, Violent Night definitely doesn’t skimp on the red stuff! There’s a lot to love here and the movie also showcases a fair amount of heartfelt family holiday drama, it’s not simply just another hack and slash. 

I highly recommend seeing this on the big screen and I definithey will be returning to it next year if not maybe one more time in the theater this year! Violent Night is THE wild holiday flick of 2022,  Don’t snooze on this one!

 

FROSTBITER: Hyperactive Holiday Horror Viewing Straight Out of the 80s!

Wow!! We’re getting SO close to the big day-yes Christmas 2021 will soon be here, so why not mix it up this year with some weird holiday shit instead of the same old cinema? It can be ruff finding new snow packed holiday flicks each season to rock out to. But I think some of the usual holiday suspects need a break this year. I mean you can only watch ‘John Denver and The Muppets Christmas’ special so many times right? That being said here’s a fave of mine that’s got the chops to get the bloody holiday party started right!!

‘Frostbiter: Wrath of the Wendigo’ is non stop craziness & a ton of fucking fun. This sweet little indie Michigan based snowbound horror flick was filmed way back in 1988 but sat on the cold dusty shelves for nearly a decade. It wasn’t released until 1996 when Troma decided to finally unveil this little gnarly beast out there to the general public. I’m not always the hugest fan of Troma stuff but this one was an independent production first and then only distributed by them later & good on them for doing so. It’s a snowy, low budget, splatter gem in the same arena as ‘Evil Dead 2’ and just as genuinely ambitious.

It also stars Ron Asheton, famed guitar legend of The Stooges, who had a short but sweet run in some pretty excellent little horror movies during this time period like ‘Legion of the Night’ & ‘Mosquito’. Both of those most definitely deserve a watch if you haven’t seen them yet! Frostbiter doesn’t skimp any of it’s excellent cheezball horror fx here either, it has a bunch of ridiculous puppets, bad ass stop motion monsters, gooey slimey gore and buckets of the red stuff.

None of this can be taken too incredibly seriously as the general spirit of the movie is pretty playful and IMO the perfect pick for a group of rowdy drunk holiday party goers. Though not an outright “Christmas” movie it does have some holiday leanings that fit it firmly in the specific genre quite nicely. First it all takes place in the fictional town of Bedford Falls, where ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is set and even features segments of that particular film throughout. Secondly it’s clearly filmed in the frigid cold forests of the midwest and is jam packed with plenty of snow. We get a wild gang of redneck hunters all together in a dusty cold cabin where monsters spawn from pots of chili!

t’s got a pretty cool soundtrack as well that features an exclusive song about said chili! To make matters worse these these moronic hunters thankfully manage to awaken the evil spirit of the famed native american beast of the Wendigo! Yes & for a budget of ten thousand bucks this one is way more slimey fun than It has any right being.

I really did appreciate how much effort was put into this thing with all of the wild and crazy z-grade special fx pulled out of the rickety tool box. Sure it’s clearly a bit of an Evil Dead rip off, with this frantic tale taking place similarly in a snowy cabin in the woods as well. However it’s got enough of its own identity and charm to put itself uniquely into a category of its own.

If anything it’s most definitely worth it for its wild wintery finale when the Wendigo rears its gigantic head in a bonkers stop motion animation showdown. Oh yeah, spike the eggnog hard and roll yourself a nice fat one to pass around cuz this one will deliver the damn goods this Christmas for a ravenous gang of cinemaniacs!  The perfect party movie & likely a new holiday season ritual,  This movie needs way more attention and most definitely a fancy ass blu ray release!

 

The Wolf of Snow Hollow: Scooby-Doo Meets ‘The Howling’!

Yes it’s 2021 and I’ve STILL got the old skool big red envelope Netflix by mail service! Deal with it peeps! In fact the DVD service is so much more superior and satisfying than the boring vanilla streaming service I suggest everyone go back to simpler times and try waiting a few days for a damn movie to arrive. That being said going into 2020’s ‘The Wolf of Snow Hollow’ (yep on DVD) I’d assumed it was going to be some flimsy-ass modern werewolf tale I’d likely forget an hour after viewing. Not the case, this one was a total gem and really defied all expectations which admittedly were pretty freakin’ low. I personally find most modern horror movies to be a chore to get through lately, but every now and again one hits all the right beats.  

What starts out as a simple tale turns into something quite complex, then somehow morphs at the end into something completely different than what I’d expected to unfold. It tells the tale of a small mountain town that’s gripped by horror, when mauled bodies are mysteriously discovered apparently after each full moon. Small town cop, Officer Marshall is hot on the case and stressed the fuck out. While raising a teenage daughter and covering for his aging father, Robert Forster (who also happens to be the Sheriff), he’s losing lotsa sleep, trying to solve the murders while desperately trying to convince the the town that there’s no such thing as a killer beast on the prowl. Most importantly NOT werewolves. But what are his true motives? Does the small town cop have bigger secrets he’s trying to hide?

This sweet little horror comedy has a lot to offer, some charming characters work their way through this unique little mystery while the creep factor is cranked up with the presence of a menacing monster who shows up to shred his victims for all the town to behold. Officer Marshall is a pretty hilarious character and following him as he seemingly tries to solve the caper is a true delight, the clues subtly placed out there for the audience make this a unique little tale of terror. The cozy little winter ski town of Snow Hollow is the perfect place for the mayhem to unfold, giving this one a slightly “Scooby Doo-esque” vibe to it all. It can also double as a holiday movie as it’s clearly the Christmas season in Snow Hollow when the animal attacks hit their stride. The werewolf aspect of it is also pretty compelling with a menacing hulking monster on the prowl of the dark snow bound streets of the small town. There’s no bad CGI werewolves to rain on the parade here either, instead an impressive creature who doesn’t wear out his welcome by remaining fairly elusive never fully revealing his full form too clearly in the moonlight.

This one doesn’t follow the traditional tropes of older werewolf tales or the trending formulas newer horror films that are trying to work in any sort of political angle. Like I mentioned before, it’s really like a violent Scooby Doo mystery with a dash of 1985’s ‘Silver Bullet’ that knows how to keep the audience guessing until the very end. As soon as you think you’ve got it all firmly figured out it throws a loop that send the viewer down a different trail. Director Jim Cummings, who also plays Officer Marshall, has does great job here bringing this offbeat werewolf tale to life and making his character a memorable one for the modern horror genre-check this one out if you’re looking for a wildly fun, gory little mystery!