Christmas? Bah, Humbug! If, like me, you prefer "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" to "The Muppets Christmas Carol" and are looking for a few festive chills over the Christmas period, there are plenty of seasonal slasher films out there, and here's my Top 5 personal favourites....
5) - Don’t Open till Christmas (1984).
A serial killer goes around murdering people who are dressed
as Santa in this obscure British horror film from 1984. Directed by British
Actor Edward Purdom (a regular in Italian horror films), who also plays the lead
detective. Highlights include one Santa getting harpooned on stage during a charity
event, another getting roasted over an open fire, whilst one very unfortunate Santa
meets a very cringeworthy end in a public lavatory with a cut-throat razor (you can guess what happens there)!
The plot does get a little disjointed in places, as Purdom
walked out half-way through production, meaning they had to rewrite the script and
other characters cover the remaining scenes he was supposed to fill. But its
still pretty good fun and also features a guest appearance from B-movie actress
The film suffered at the hands of the BBFC for its original release, but was later passed uncut for DVD, though this is currently out of print. Fortunately, US DVD is available.
The film was also the subject of a documentary “The Making
of a Horror Film”, which is also worth a watch, if you can track it down.
4) - Jack Frost (1997).
Not to be confused with the thoroughly innocent kids film of
the same name, this one concerns a death row inmate, who’s involved in a
collision with a tanker full of chemicals during a snowstorm, which transforms
him into a giant killer snowman.
He then returns to his former home town of Snowmanton (what
an original name???) and goes on a killing spree. Shooting people with icicles, stringing them up with Xmas lights and freezing them to death in their bath tubs (look out for a pre-American Pie Shannon Elizabeth as one of his victims).
Thoroughly ridiculous, the film proves highly amusing and is exactly what you'd expect from a low budget horror comedy of this nature. A sequel, Jack
Frost 2, followed a couple of years later, in which he goes on the rampage in the Caribbean.
The film has been released on DVD,
along with its sequel, though these are both currently out of print. So if you fancy picking this one up, try Ebay.
3) - Silent Night Deadly Night (1984).
One of the better “killer Santa” films out there, a young lad
named Billy is orphaned one Xmas, when an escaped criminal wearing a Santa suit attempts
to car-jack his family. Raised by abusive nuns, they subsequently get him a job
at a toy shop, of all places, when he turns 18, which predictably goes awry
when December comes around and he’s asked to fill in for the stores resident
Grabbing a fire axe, Billy proceeds to go on the rampage in
his Santa suit punishing people he thinks have been bad. A couple of obnoxious
snow boarders are summarily beheaded and scream queen Linnea Quigley gets
impaled on a mounted set of deer antlers, which protrude through her breasts,
as he carves a trail of destruction back to the orphanage.
Good fun, this one was heavily censored by the US
ratings board for its theatrical release and gained notoriety when angry
protestors started picketing cinemas screening it, resulting in the studios
pulling the film after only a fortnight.
The film has since been released fully uncut to DVD
and BD in both the US
and UK, though
you may wish to avoid its many sequels, which proved significantly less
2) - Black Christmas (1974).
The girls at a college sorority house find themselves being
picked off by a deranged killer during the festive season, who then starts
sending them obscene phone calls. A pre-Superman Margot Kidder, along with Olivia
Hussey (Psycho 4) play the lead roles, as a couple of the sorority girls who
find themselves being menaced by this unseen assailant, whilst cult movie star
John Saxon plays a police detective.
Regarded as the forerunner to the modern slasher film, this
was actually one of the movies that influenced John Carpenter when he made “Halloween”.
The film is perhaps a little dated by todays standards, but contains most of
the elements that would go on to become a staple of many a horror film.
Most definitely one for cult movie enthusiasts, the film was
later remade, rather badly I hasten to add, in 2006. But I would strongly
advise avoiding that version and sticking with the infinitely superior
1) - Santa’s Slay (2005).
Without doubt the most fun Xmas horror film ever made,
former WWF wrestler big Bill Goldberg plays a demonic Santa Claus, who proceeds
to bring a little Yuletide “fear” to the people of the appropriately named
Alaskan town of “Hell”.
Seems he’s got a bone to pick with young Nicholas Yuleson
and his grandfather (played by veteran B movie actor Robert Culp) and proceeds
to massacre his way through the town. Taking out the police station and strip
club in the process, as well as giving some of the towns children some presents
they wont forget in a hurry (nooo I don’t mean like “that”).
There’s also a hilarious opening scene in which an obnoxious
family, consisting of James Caan, Fran Drescher and Rebecca Gayheart get
massacred at the dinner table when “Santa” bursts out of the chimney.
Surprisingly, this one doesn’t seem to be regarded as highly
as other Xmas horrors, which is a great shame as its full of tongue in cheek
humour and features a good supporting cast and some hilarious kill scenes. Making
it one of my personal faves!