Christmas movies are generally shit. Heart-warming rubbish featuring singing orphans, doe-eyed reindeer dancing about the CGI wonderland, the festive movie can be as heavy on the stomach as a goblet of turkey fat. So, we’re always on the look-out for something a ‘little bit different’ to get our Crimbo bootin’ off. A film that will contain all the elements of Yuletide; but with added multiple murders and screams of anguish rather than pleasure. Yes, we’re fans of that much-overlooked phenomenon known as ‘The Christmas Slasher’. Films that feature deranged alcoholic Santas, evil elves and all-round general nutters, who want smash the expectant smiles of Crimbo straight into the fireplace. The real[ital] nightmares before Christmas… Ladies and gentlemen, the Sabotage Times Xmas Horror Movie Marathon…
We pour a large glass of egg nog, slip into a lemon lambswool knit, and pull out a real festive frightener. Not just a great Crimbo slasher but a stand-a-alone pioneer of the genre that is Black Christmas (1974). A genuinely eery tale of a psychopath stalking some sororiety girls at Yuletide, this film features one of the darkest phone calls in movie history. Let’s just say that it features screaming and some choice cussin’. A genuinely sweet horror that just happens to turn every characters’ Xmas to shit. Thinking about it we should have left this to end, but it’s now set a benchmark. We tip out a tin of Quality Street and move on.
For some light relief Jack Frost comes up next. With a warning: don’t rent the piss-poor family dross featuring Michael Keaton as a dead dad whose soul enters the innards of the snowman who tries to win over the heart of his son. No sir. Rent Jack Frost (1997) the horror starring American Pie’s Shannon Elizabeth who is sexually assaulted by a crackpot snowman possessed by the spirit of a serial killer. It’s a film marginally less upsetting on the tummy than the other Jack Frost, and there are moments here of genuine humour. We like this. Time or a cigar and a tinnie.
Silent Night Bloody Night (1974) is a weird one. Man returns home to find that his family home has been turned into a loony bin. Man is then set on fire and killed. The loony bin is closed down. Years later, man’s grandson decides to sell the house but the locals go nuts. Then a serial killer moves in. Fucking mad. But bloody good. Released the same year as Black Christmas it represents more of the ‘old school’ horror that BC left behind, but it’s still a good ’un. Sausage rolls and a Malrboro Light beckon.
The main protagonist behind Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984) is to be admired, for this fiend is determined to kill anyone wearing a Santy hat and coat. About time. Great poster line too: “T'was the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring...they were all dead!” Not a bad romp, particularly watching the clueless Scotland Yard try to apprehend the bastard. Surprised they didn’t frame an Irishman. Good solid, blood-letting. Anyone for a choccy coin?
Why oh why do they do it? They take a classic chiller and cut all the corners off and bland it out into Quorn. Black Christmas (2006) is not a patch on the original and should be avoided like Noel’s Christmas Presents or whatever that thing is where he walks around hospital wards in cowboy boots. Edmonds’s heart-rendering hossie visits are far more terrifying than this air-brushed guff.
The complete polar opposite of Annie is Christmas Evil (1980) where a mental toy factory worker, traumatised by seeing his mother raped by Santa (his dad dressed as the big man) when he was a child, wreaks revenge on anyone he feels is taking liberties by becoming the unofficial ‘Satan Claws’. He spies on children through his binoculars and enters their names in his ‘bad book’ for looking at grot and whatnot. He then suffers a nervous breakdown and decides to smash all the presents at the toy factory and kill people. Brilliant stuff. Stella anyone?
On a familiar theme to the latter, comes Silent Night Deadly Night (1984) which features a kid, who on seeing his father shot by a Santa (who also slits his mother’s throat), also goes on a murderous rampage after becoming a mental toy store Santa who wants to punish bad kids. One memorable scene sees a horny teenager impaled on some wall-mounted antlers. Classic.
Santa Claws (1996) What familiar themes these films share. Boy finds mum having sex with man in Santa Claus hat and shoots them both dead. Then years, later, convinced that he is now the bearded gift distributor, the donut starts to stalk a female porn star. Mmm… not good.
Santa’s Slay (2005) suggests that Santy has, historically, always been a bastard and only became ‘good’ after losing a bet with an elf. Then once the bet has expired, he goes back to killing folk. This is good and cheesy and much needed light relief from the rather dark offerings thus far. Stand out scene features a fearful victim pleading that she has been good, to which Santa replies by way of hitting her with a table leg.
A group of annoying teenagers stalked by a gang of – you guessed it – madmen in red hats and wellies (no it’s not those arseholes from Last Of The Summer Wine). To All A Good Night (1980) along with Christmas Evil (1980) were the first slashers to feature evil Santies and this is the runner-up. That said, there’s some ace moments, including a pair of psychos this time, ruining everyone’s holiday, as they slice and dice the Calvin Finishing School For Girls.
A nice one to end the evening is Tales From The Crypt’s “… And All Through The House” (1972). Santa has an axe, and he wants to kill a murderous gold digger (Joan Collins). This is actually horrifyingly odd, and coupled with the booze, it’s at this point that we must say CEASE! Anyone got Annie?