Holiday Halloween Scene: Better Watch Out & Sint

Well, here I am about a week away from Christmas and I find myself watching even more holiday themed horror flicks. I posted about Red Christmas and A Christmas Horror Story last week and have been going through plenty of others since then.

I’m a big fan of Silent Night, Bloody Night, but for some reason that movie doesn’t work its way into my brain very well and I can never remember it. I also watched Black Christmas which completely failed to grab my attention. I was distracted, so maybe I’ll come back to that one again next year.

From there I dipped back in to favorites like Gremlins and Rare Exports and now I’m looking at a few other new ones. As an unexpected and early Christmas gift, Netflix double shipped me two films this week: Better Watch Out and Dick Maas’s Sint, two films that held plenty of surprises.

Continue reading Holiday Halloween Scene: Better Watch Out & Sint

Holiday Halloween Scene: Red Christmas (2016) & A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

I’m pretty bummed that went through whatever changes they did because that means I can’t parlay my weird predilection for watching new Christmas horror films into cash. However, that hasn’t stopped me from continuing this yearly tradition. This year, I’ve checked out some classics like Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 and Gremlins, but also a few newer entries.

First off, I watched an Australian horror film called Red Christmas by writer-director Craig Anderson. I heard them talk about this one on the last episode of Shock Waves (#76 if you’re curious) with co-host — and my former editor — Rebekah McKendry saying it was bad and guest Brian Collins of Horror Movie A Day fame saying he kind of liked it.

Continue reading Holiday Halloween Scene: Red Christmas (2016) & A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

Halloween Scene: Rare Exports (2010) I’m not always the biggest fan of Christmas horror movies. It’s not that I feel like the holiday is being desecrated or anything like that, just that usually by December I’m in the action and/or holiday portion of my internal movie cycle. But, I’ve been hearing about Rare Exports for a few years now, saw it while flipping around Netflix and decided to give it a watch the other night.

While horror Christmas might not be in my wheelhouse, movies where kids stand up against incredibly powerful supernatural forces certainly are. In the case of co-writer/director¬†Jalmari Helander’s film, a group of foreign excavators wind up blasting a mountain in Finland that’s actually a prison for a demonic version of Santa Claus. The locals — three adults and a kid — start to think something’s up when their reindeer wind up dead. After doing some exploring they wind up meeting an old gaunt naked dude who looks an awful lot like Santa and seems preternaturally drawn to kids and cookies. From there we get a few twists that I won’t spoil in this paragraph.

I will SPOIL them in THIS paragraph, though. What we find out is that our heroes don’t have Santa in their house, but instead one of the elves. Turns out the excavators did find Santa and he’s actually a giant, horned demon frozen in ice. The elves even swiped all the heating elements in town to defrost him as well as the kids. While the adults start freaking out, the kid — who of course did his research earlier in the film — steps up, develops a plan and helps save the day!

The beauty of this film — aside from how pretty it looks all around — is that it’s got a really cool, fairly high concept, but doesn’t over do things.¬†Helander and the other writers didn’t include a bunch of scenes depicting a crazy-huge Santa that would wind up looking super crappy thanks to low budgets and bad CGI. Instead, they did a lot with people, practical effects and the occasional computer addition which not only makes the film feel more solid, but will also make it more timeless in the long run. And, man, the very end of the film is such a clever turn that I didn’t not expect, so kudos all around!

Do note, I watched this one on Netflix Instant and the only version available on there is in Finnish. It starts with English, but then gets right into subtitles for most of the rest of the film. I was doing something else when it started, but wound up giving the movie my full attention once the subs kicked in, which tells you how much I was into this movie.

Halloween Scene: Jack Frost (1996)

After being bored with Terror Train and Funhouse, I knew I was going to have a good time with Jack Frost. And I knew this because it might be the horror movie I’ve watched the most. See, while older horror fans came up with a myriad of Friday the 13th and Halloween sequels, I was enjoying Scream and Jack Frost. I’m not 100% on the details, but I think I saw that crazy lenticular box at the video store and rented it. Then, when HBO did one of those free weekends, I taped it.

The plot follows a serial killer called Jack Frost who gets in an accident while being transported to his execution. His genes mix with the experimental genetic material in the oncoming truck and the snow which turns him into Jack Frost the killer snowman. So he heads back to Snowmonton, the town where he got busted by small town cop Sam. Now Jack is wreaking havoc while Sam, a government agent and a scientist try to put a stop to it.

As a teenager just getting into horror, this movie was perfect. You’ve got a villain who’s funny, but very scary in theory (how do you stop water?), some really creative POV shots, a ton of great kills and all kinds of humor. And it’s a great kind of humor because it’s very dark. Watching it again after a few years, I can also appreciate that the dark humor isn’t solely based on horror tropes. Yes, you get some of those, but then there’s just great throwaway lines like just before Jack gets splashed with the genetic goo and he says something like “This is gonna hurt.” I’m also not exactly sure if the story is supposed to be a joke all around (I would guess so), so the gaps in logic can either be read as funny or lame. I read them as funny. It’s a lot like Dance Of The Dead in that respect.

I was also impressed with the acting. Yes, the special effects look very homemade at times, but I thought the acting was spot on and realistic. And, as you may or may not know, one of those good actors is Shannon Elizabeth in her very first movie. Her character definitely falls into the logical gap I mentioned before (she wants to go out and party after her brother dies), but I took it as satire. She also takes part in the infamous carrot bathtub scene which is…weird to say the least. If you haven’t gotten enough Jack Frost goodness, hit the jump for my live blog of Jack Frost and tons of screencaps!

*Woah, I do not remember this weird voice over opening. This is super annoying. And not appropriate at all to tell a kid.

*Showing the credits as actual Christmas ornaments is very creative.

*Woah, I forgot Shannon Elizabeth was in this. Is she the carrot girl?

*”State Executional Transfer Vehicle” written on the side of the van transporting Jack? Seems like a highly specific vehicle, that county must have a ton of money.

*Haha, Snowmonton, that’s almost as good of a town name as Nilbog.

*Jack’s penchant for looking at the camera and tossing out one liners is pretty epic.

*Oh no, the Genetic Research truck flipped over. Too bad this isn’t a Marvel comic, otherwise, Jack would be moments away from turning into a superhero.

*The shots of Jack melting are pretty great, but the shots of the cop watching him are even better. He looks like he’s trying to do a Magic Eye from a few feet away.

*Yes! Animated DNA/snow sequence. As if you couldn’t understand what was happening.

*Now we’re introduced to our hero Sam, the guy who nabbed Jack and swore revenge.

*How had his son not heard about Jack Frost? Word like that spreads like crazy in a small town school.

*It looks like his son literally made him poop with marshmallows for breakfast. They’re actually oats and they’ll come into play later.

*Are those supposed to be real snowmen? How are they supposed to last till Saturday?

*Shannon Elizabeth is super hot in this.

*Haha, what the heck is this guy going to put that giant ornament on? He looks so happy about it too!

*Sam asks “What’s the matter, somebody die?” Then the secretary shows him the note “Somebody died.” Good stuff.

*Ah yes, the creepy “behind the dead, frozen guy in a still-rocking rocking chair shot. “Take your foot of the chair.” Damn this movie’s funny.

*Haha, the country store owner was also in Lost Highway!

*”It wasn’t meant to happen like this!” The scientist guys says they hadn’t even tested an acid on an amoeba, but why were they transporting an entire trunk of the stuff anywhere? Don’t scientists usually do experiments with a small amount of things?

*I like that the coroner actually knows his shit. This was even before CSI!

*The sound of Jack dragging himself is awesome.

*They probably should have filmed this movie somewhere where there might actually be real snow.

*How did those men find out about the killing so quickly? Sam JUST got back.

*Sam’s kid needs a freaking puppet to figure out where the coal and carrots go on a snowman? Yet, this isn’t the stupidest thing he does in the movie.

*Why does that bully talk with such a stupid accent?

*Also, why would you want to go on “black ice sled run” on flat ground?

*Yes! Decapitation! That’s what happens when you mess with Jack Frost! Why would their runners be so sharp?

*”He’s usually not so short tempered.” the dead boy’s mother says. Lady, your son just died, get emotional.

*Sam’s kid is old enough to know that telling anyone “the snowman did it” probably won’t make any sense.

*The acting in this movie is surprisingly strong.

*Woah, it was Shannon Elizabeth’s brother who died. “The lord forsook this house long ago.” – Shannon. That was intense.

*Screw physics, I love that Jack shoves the axe down Billy’s dad’s throat.

*Haha, Jack took the time to put the lights on the tree just to lure Billy’s mom into death.

*This goes to show how much of a bastard Jack is. Not only does he frame Sam’s kid for murder, but he also decides to off an entire family after killing their kid.

*Gotta love the meanness behind the death of Billy’s mom with her mouth stuffed with an ornament and her head smashed into the ornaments repeatedly.

*Yes! Another weird death POV shot, this time from inside the tree.

*ANOTHER cool POV shot: underneath the puddle.

*”F#cker’s a snowman!” – Paul

*”What the hell is eating him.” – one cop “I bet it’s not his girlfriend.” – the other cop

*Yeah! Jack Frost driving a cop car!

*The map of Snowmonton is hilariously basic.

*Shannon Elizabeth would rather break into the sheriff’s house to bone than mourn.

*The awkward winter strip down is hilarious (gloves, parkas, scarves, long johns).

*Now they’re stealing the sheriff’s wine? You never steal a man’s booze!

*Heh, the freezer just has a carrot sticking out of it and a TON of ice.

*”Who’s out there?” – Shannon’s boyfriend “Well, it ain’t f#cking Frosty!” – Jack

*Woah Jack can shoot icicles, forgot about that one.

*Yeah, she’s bathing in Jack. And there’s the carrot. Things are about to get…weird.

*Hey, where’s his carrot?

*”Looks like Christmas came a little early this year.” – Jack. Yeesh.

*You’re walled in, just tell Sam what’s going on!

*Haha, he’s shooting a puddle, but the floor isn’t getting damaged.

*I like that it’s the nerdy scientist who’s all “remember your orders to bring it back alive” and not the secret agent man.

*Yeah, hair dryer’s as guns, blowing him into the furnace.

*Hey, it’s not really over. That’s the brilliant thing about this character, you can’t really ever get rid of him because water can turn into steam, ice, etc. If it wasn’t so goofy, he’d be scarier than Freddy.

*Haha, Jack’s “frost bite” is awesome!

*Jack inside the scientist dude is pretty funny.

*Hey Sam’s son is a friggin psychopath, he put antifreeze in his dad’s food!!!

*Jack’s melted head looks surprisingly cool.

*Finally! A hero playing dead so the killer will stop strangling him, but it’s a trick!!!

*Gotta love the idea of killing the bad guy with a truck full of anti-freeze.

*Trusting the cap of a plastic bottle to be air tight is probably not the best idea in the world when dealing with a killer snow man, just saying guys.

*Now I just need to watch the sequel, which I’ve never seen. Giant pupper snowman on the beach? Score!

Halloween Scene: Silent Night Deadly Night 1 (1984) and 2 (1987)

8:18:12 pm

You know, sometimes you just want to curl up and watch a nice holiday movie. And sometimes, you’re looking through the Wizard DVD library and you come across a Silent Night Deadly Night double feature and decide to watch it. And really, it was like Christmas coming early with how bad and funny these movies are.

The first one follows a boy through three stages of his life. As a youngster he goes to visit his grandpa in the asylum (there’s a car shot that looks like something out of Vacation for a moment). The old man’s supposed to be catatonic, but becomes animated as soon as the parents leave the kid in the room, talking about how Santa punishes the bad kids and only gives presents to the really good ones and then goes back to being a vegetable when the parents come back in (hilariously great scene, I’d watch this old man in anything). Anyway, on their way home that night a dude dressed as Santa kills his parents. Skip ahead a few years and the kid and his brother (who was a baby in the first sequence) are in an orphanage run by violent nuns who are really into the idea of punishing the naughty. And finally, the rest of the movie focuses on our star once he turns 18, goes crazy and starts killing people.

You see, after turning 18, he’s too old to be in the orphanage, so one of the nice nuns helps get him a job at a toy store. If you’re a toy fan, go rent this movie right now and just watch the toy store scenes. I recognized a few choice toys in the background, including a Jabba’s Palace playset from Jedi. Anyway, the kid gets forced to dress up as Santa (who he’s understandably afraid of), flips and goes around killing a bunch of people for being “naughty” which brings us up to 3 (four counting the sequel) horror movies in the past two weeks that have stayed with the killer as a main character for a good portion of the movie.

From there, our Santa clad killer goes on a bit of a spree. It’s pretty mindless, but I do have two favorite scenes from this part of the movie. In one sequence we cut to two kids sledding in the woods at night until two older bullies scare them off, steal their sleds and, well, go sledding. The first makes it down the short looking hill with no problems, but his buddy meets the sharp end of our killer’s axe as he jumps out of the woods from nowhere and beheads Bully #2. Apparently the hill’s a lot bigger than it looks as Bully #1 is at the bottom still waiting for his buddy to come sledding down, but all he gets is a rolling head and a decapitated body on the sled. It definitely comes off as the kind of scene where the writer just had a great idea for a kill even though it didn’t really make sense in the film. But hey, I loved it, so I’m not complaining.

My other favorite moment comes when our killer gets to the orphanage to wreak some havoc and for absolutely no reason cuts the head off of a snowman on the way. I wish I had been watching this movie with people because there’s all kinds of moments like that.

I dug the first one so much that I figured, why not pop the sequel on right away? Well, before I did, I did a little reading and found out that 2 is about 50% footage from the original with extra shots thrown in. The plot of this one follows the brother of the killer from the original. He’s in an asylum and some doctor guy is going over his case, which is where all the footage from the original comes in. I found myself fastwordarding through all that junk and stopping when we got back to our spectacuarly over the top main character and the doctor who, at times, had the same look of disbelief on his face as his co-star’s acting abilities as I did. My personal favorite part about these flashbacks is that not only is he remembering things that he wasn’t privy too (“My brother told me everything.”) but he’s also recounting scenes that neither he nor his brother saw first hand. Brilliant!

But there are also original flashbacks showing us that this guy is completely nuts on his own. The color red (especially in the form of a car) sets him off on crazy rampages. He even starts blasting away at random people in the streets for no reason. Haha, oh man. Anyway, as you’d expect, he kills the doctor and breaks out of the asylum to go back to the orphanage and wreck shop on the old lady Mother Superior who’s got a pretty gnarly scar on her face.

I highly recommend renting this bad boy as both movies are on opposite sides of the same disc. The original is a great over-the-top slasher flick with some pretty fun kills. And if you do rent it (or buy it, I’m looking for a copy of my own!) make sure to watch the sequel right afterward and just fast forward through all the recap stuff, it’ll be worth your while to see our leading man. Oh boy, is he a hoot.