The 25 Slays of Christmas


Well, it’s that time of year again ! No, not the October Horrorthon. Similar, but better and different ! Alright, maybe not better, but anyway, it’s time for my Holiday themed “25 Slays of Christmas” !! That’s right, 1 holiday themed horror flick for each day of December, capping off on Christmas Day with timeless horror (and Canadian !) classic “Black Christmas”.

I’ve made rough goes of this in years past. I started out by doing “The 12 Slays of Christmas”, but now there are far more holiday “classics” to choose from, including the impending remake of the classic “Silent Night Deadly Night”. Oddly enough, some of these 25 films are legit quality titles. Others …. Not so much. That said, I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen “Gremlins” (I know, I know) so that’s something, right ?

Anyway, without further adieu, I present to you,



1) Silent Night (2012)


Finally a remake that could actually improve upon the original ! Hilariously, many people prefer the sequel for its classic “Garbage Day !” bit (and the fact that it shows 90% of the original via flashback anyway), so I don’t think there’ll be too many people complaining about this one, even if it sucks. Thankfully “The Mayfair” is doing a screening of it the night of the first, so that should be a fun way to kick off our festivities !

2) Black Xmas (2007)


This is one remake that kind of gets a bad rap. Now, I’m not saying its great or anywhere near as good as the classic original, but the unrated version is actually pretty gory and entertaining (for a modern remake). I had extremely low expectations for it last year, but I certainly didn’t hate it. Plus I think the killer makes cookies out of someone’s back, so that’s something, right ?

3) Elves (1989)


I’ve never seen this one, but vengeful elves wrecking havoc and being pursued by a chain smoking drunk sounds like a pretty fantastic storyline to me. Then again, I’ve been tricked before …

4) Inside (2007)


Legit recent horror gem (that luckily happens to take place on Christmas Eve. Loophole !) making its first appearance on this marathon. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen it, but it’s arguably the best of the French Nu Wave horror flicks that blew up awhile back (Martyrs, Frontiers, High Tension, etc).

5) Saint (2010)


Another recent foreign entry that I have yet to see, this one is from the Netherlands and portrays St Nicholas as a murderous monster who kidnaps and kills children. Funny stuff !!

6) Gremlins (1984)


As I said, I’ve never actually seen this entire movie before. Maybe when I was a kid, but I feel like my parents might have thought it would warp my mind and turn me into some horror loving freak. Thank god that didn’t happen. Cough.

7) To All a Goodnight (1980)


Okay, this one has the rare distinction of being directed by genre vet David Hess (Last House on the Left, Smash Cut) and not even having a trailer (that I could find). It has a “Prom Night”-esque plot of an initiation prank gone wrong leading to deaths years later. Probably terrible, but I’ll give it a go.

8) Rare Exports (2010)


I still haven’t seen this one, but I’ve consistently heard great things about it. It’s a Finnish film about Santa Claus being unearthed by an archeological dig and escaping to cause havoc. Sounds pretty amazing, no ?

9) Home for the Holidays (1972)


This was a made for TV movie about an ailing father who summons his 4 daughters to come and murder his wife who he suspects is trying to murder him. The best part is that it stars Sally Field and Jessica Walter. Yay ! Bluth Family !

10) Silent Night Deadly Night 2 (1987)


In some ways this is the better known of the SNDN series, largely due to the hilarious “Garbage Day” bit. I picked this one over the original due to its increased comedy and the fact that it shows most of the first movie in flashbacks anyway.

11) Don’t Open Till’ Christmas (1984)


This one is a surprisingly grisly UK gem about a guy wandering around London murdering people who are dressed as Santa Claus. Kind of a neat twist on the usual “Killer Santa” genre, though its a bit of a mess (much like the bodies of his victims).

12) Silent Night Bloody Night (1972)


Another that I haven’t gotten around to seeing, this one actually sounds pretty cool. A guy is left a house that was formerly an insane asylum. A killer from another asylum escapes and hides in the house, killing people and making menacing phone calls. Actually, that sounds kind of weird now that I see it typed out. Anyway, a remake of this one is coming out this year, but it isn’t out yet. Maybe next year …

13) Jack Frost (1997)


This one is a modern cult Christmas horror classic, pre-dating the (presumably) crappy Micheal Keaton one by a few years. A serial killer becomes a snowman and keeps killing people. Good stuff.

14) Silent Night Zombie Night (2009)


Never got around to watching this one last year, but with a title like that how could it be bad ?! Pretty easily I’d guess. Anyway, this one sees the residents of Los Angeles becoming zombies. Just like in real life. Cough.

15) The Day of the Beast (1995)


This was originally on my “October Horrorthon” list, but I decided to bump it to this one since it takes place on Christmas Eve. It concerns a priest trying to track down and kill the antichrist. Supposedly a pretty sweet flick. Looking forward to it.

16) Two Front Teeth (2006)


This will probably suck, but sounds pretty neat. A tabloid writer is trying to expose a cover up that may have been perpetrated by Santa Claus. Now an army of zombie elves and a vampire Santa Claus are after him ! Man I hope this is as good as it sounds.

17) Sheitan (2006)


This is a French film (translated to “Satan”) about a group of friends who leave a Christmas disco party to go to a remote farm and party with some (seemingly) cool people. Except it goes terribly wrong for them, as I assume you’d guessed.

18) Satan Claus (1996)


Great title for a probably absolute garbage direct to video killer Santa flick. I figure I need to watch it at least once, largely based on the title. I apologize to myself on advance.

19) Jack Frost 2 (2000)


How about another dose of killer snowman ?! No ? Well, he’s back anyway, this time with a lower budget ! How could it be bad ? Well, I’ll let you know I guess.

20) Wind Chill (2007)


This was a late addition, but I was intrigued enough (and tired of the other garbage options) to add it to the list. 2 students are driving home for the holidays and are inexplicably attacked by the ghosts of people who have died on that stretch of road. Sounds ridiculous, but Emily Blunt is cute, so that’s something.

21) Santa Claws (1996)


Another classic title for another (supposedly) shitty flick. On the plus side, this one is written and directed by the co-writer of the original “Night of the Living Dead” !! It involves a b-horror actress being stalked by a crazed fan who thinks he’s Santa Claus. How could it fail ?

22) Santas Slay (2005)


This one is about a murderous Santa Claus (catching the theme yet ?) played by wrestler Bill Goldberg, hamming it up with many pun-sational catchphrases. I watched it last year, but I only remember not hating it. Hopefully this year I’ll find a way to completely hate it.

23) Pranks (1982)


Aka – “The Dorm that Dripped Blood”, this one is about a group of teens who are closing down a dorm over the holidays. Little do they know they’ll be murdered one by one by a mysterious … Murderer !! Oh, when will the lethal prancing end ?!

24) Christmas Evil (1980)


Aka – “You Better Watch Out”, this one is about a man who loves Christmas and keeps a “Naughty” and “Nice” list with all the neighbourhood children on it. Hope you don’t make his “Naughty” list …. !!!

25) Black Christmas (1974)


An absolute classic that I take pleasure in saving till Christmas day. If you haven’t seen this one, I highly recommend it. Brutal, well acted, great ending. One of the best horror films of all time, and certainly the best Christmas horror.

Well, there you have it ! 25 Slays for 25 Days ! It all starts tomorrow, ad I can’t wait to see a modern take on an old “classic” in the company of other likeminded monsters at the best theater in town, The Mayfair !

I’ll be posting daily reviews as I wade through the filth. I look forward to sharing the fun throughout the holidays. Have fun, and watch out for Santa !!!


10 Recent Overlooked Horror Gems

With so many hit and miss films out there (especially horror) it becomes taxing to sit through so much potential mediocrity after awhile. I’ve decided to assemble a top 10 list of recent gems worth checking out –

1) Session 9 (2001)


“Session 9” is a criminally underrated psychological horror about a clean up crew removing asbestos from an abandoned mental hospital on a tight schedule. It does a great job of getting under your skin and builds to a satisfying conclusion. Solid flick

2) May (2002)

“May” is an excellent character study of a girls decent into madness. It was a stellar debut by director Lucky McKee, with a powerhouse performance by Angela Bettis.

3) Inside (2007)


“Inside” was one of the titles from the French “Nu Wave” horror films that briefly overtook the genre. Of those (Frontiers, Martyrs, Sheitan, etc) this one is easily the best. It’s a claustrophobic thriller with a shocker of an ending. Brutal, intense, brilliant.

4) The Mist (2007)


“The Mist” is an excellent adaptation of the Stephen King short story of the same name. I loved the story and trusted Frank Darabonts’ vision, but it’s the gutsy ending that really surprised me and divided the audience. Very well done film, also available in a black and white version.

5) The Signal (2007)

“The Signal” is a product of three different Writer/Directors each filming part of the film before combining them into one cohesive story. It concerns a sort of madness outbreak, brought on by cell/cable signals. It’s a hauntingly well done film, especial considering its budget.

6) The Crazies (2010)


“The Crazies” is one of the rare times of a remake being better than the original. I’m actually a fan of George A Romeros’ original, but this one is much better paced and uses its budget and technology to good effect. It’s a very creepy character driven film, and I was pleasantly surprised with it.

7) The Dead (2010)


“The Dead” is the first zombie film to use similar zombie make up to Lucio Fulci’s classic “Zombi 2” (aka – “Zombie”). It’s a great stylistic choice, and this African-shot film boasts gorgeous scenery and a powerful storyline. Quite an achievement for a modern zombie film.

8) Frozen (2010)


When “Frozen” came out we all wondered how a full length film set (almost) entirely on a chairlift with 3 actors could be good. Much like the Ryan Reynolds starring “Buried”, this film uses a potentially gimmicky premise to its advantage and successfully milks the scenario. It really gets under your skin, very unsettling.

9) The Reef (2010)


“The Reef” is everything I’d wanted “Open Water” to be. It’s well filmed, uses real shark footage and is a genuinely terrifying film. Easily the best shark film since “Jaws” (and trust me, I’ve seen my share). Very impressively edited film.

10) Stake Land (2010)


“Stake Land” is a well done indie flick that is essentially “The Road” but with Vampires. The film does a great job ratcheting up the tension while maintaining a glimmer of hope amidst the hopeless surroundings. Nice to see a newer vampire movie adding a fresh fake to the mythos.

Hope that helps ! Happy viewing folks !

P.S – Looks like 2007 and 2010 were big years for horror. Who knew ?

October Horrorthon 2012 – Final Thoughts

And so it ends, another successful October Horrorthon. In the few years I’ve been doing this I’ve seen some pretty awesome flicks. Also some terrible ones.

Of course, many of them tend to end up in the category between both of those. I decided to do a bit of a rundown for this years flicks. A list that fluctuated midway through the month inexplicably.

Biggest Surprise – “Some Guy Who Kills People”

Strong acting, interesting story, very well done film

Biggest Disappointment – “The Burrowers”

Super boring, takes forever to get anywhere, not worth the trip

Best B-Movie – “Nightmare City”

Really enjoyable “bad” movie, great soundtrack, some good laughs

Straight Classics – “Creepshow”, “The Blob”, “Trick ‘r Treat”

Gotta catch em’ all !

Most Enjoyable – “The Stuff”

Very entertaining mix of “The Blob” and “Soylent Green”

Not as Good as I Remembered – “Leatherface”

Not bad, not great, oh well

As Good as I’d Hoped – “Nightbreed”

Very cool flick, hope to see the extended cut soon

Not as Good as I’d Hoped – “The Horde”, “The Dead Pit”, “Evil Aliens”, “The Stepfather”

Not good, not terrible, not terribly good

Didn’t Get to See But Will Soon – “Rec 2+3”

I hear good things. Just didn’t happen this time. Oh well

Also Rans – “The Omen 2”, “Race With the Devil”

My Omen 2 DVD wouldn’t play, couldn’t find my RWTD copy. Oh well

As you can see it was a pretty fun experience. I’m glad I don’t have to shoehorn a movie into every night now, and there were several late nights in my quest to pull this off.

Now I set my sights on “The 25 Slays of Christmas” with 25 Christmas Horror Films to delight your (and my) senses. For now though, I look forward to a (more) quiet November.

Keep up the good work kids !

October Horrorthon 2012 – 31 – “Halloween II”

Aka – Halloween II – The Horror Continues, Halloween II – The Nightmare isn’t Over!



Well, how else could I end the Horrorthon than with one of the Halloween flicks ? Specifically the newly released Shout Factory blu ray of “Halloween II”. You know, the GOOD Halloween II. I’d bought the Universal release of it on Blu last year, but I hadn’t opened it yet and heard this new one was much better in every respect. I sold mine and upgraded to this one for about a 5$ difference. What a deal !!


This is one of those rare examples of a sequel picking up seconds after the first one had ended. Personally I love it when they do that, but it’s actually quite rare. In some ways the first two Halloween films are one long movie, in a good way. True, Carpenter didn’t direct this one, but he did write/produce/direct some re-shoots, so the tone is consistent. It may sound blasphemous, but I actually prefer this one to the original. Yeah, that’s right, I’m not un-saying it either !


The cast from the original all return in this one, though Jamie Lee Curtis had to wear a wig as she had cut her hair between movies. The only exception to the original cast was Dick Warlock (great name) stepping in as Micheal Myers (aka – “The Shape”). He does a fine job (not that there were any lines) and the principal cast does a good job with the material.


I really enjoy this movie. Obviously it couldn’t exist without the original, a certified classic, but it ups the ante in the gore department, not unlike the jump between Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1 and 2. That’s not to say that gore makes a movie good, but it’s nice to have a similar looking sequel that develops on the first and sets itself apart by adding additional violence to the proceedings. I mean, he IS a murderer after all.


The movie was fairly harshly reviewed upon release, not too surprising for a follow up to a classic. Much like other underrated sequels like “Psycho 2”, “Sleepaway Camp 2”, “TCM 2”, “Jaws 2” and “Blood Feast 2” it is more bloody but has found it’s audience over the years. Are these sequels “better” than their classic counterparts ? Not necessarily, but they all add new elements and more extreme content, a sign of the times and a welcome addition to the genre (for the most part).


Shout Factory has indeed done a great job with this release. Not only is there newly released cover art (see bottom pic) but it also reverses to show the original poster art as well. The transfer is great, it includes deleted scenes, 2 commentary tracks, a documentary and probably the coolest addition – a second (DVD) disc of the TV cut of the film. This version takes out much of the gore and adds in many alternate scenes. Certainly not a “better” film, it’s an interesting curio and the first time it has ever been released legitimately.


Director Rick Rosenthal was quite upset at Carpenters’ reshoots of his film. Carpenter found his initial cut to be “boring” and felt they needed to step up the gore to compete with modern films (released that same year were “Friday the 13th 3D”, “The Howling”, “The Omen 3” and “The Evil Dead”). As I said, I personally enjoy the amped up murders in the film, but I can see people being thrown off by the slight shift in tone.


I was surprised at how much I dug this film upon re-watching it last year. It’s a very underrated slasher film, especially among sequels in long winded franchises. Had they just ended the Myers storyline after this film (as Carpenter intended) I think it works just fine. Then everyone hated (the underrated) “Halloween 3” and they inexplicably brought back Myers for parts 4-8 (+2 more).

Interestingly (for someone who seemingly got screwed over while shooting this) Rosenthal came back years later to shoot Halloween 8, which … frankly sucked ass. Also interesting is that Halloween 7 (aka – H20), which is considered a sequel to 2 and end of the storyline, was directed by Steve Miner, director of Friday the 13th 2+3. He went from directing a movie that went up against Halloween 2 to completing its story 17 years later. I guess it really is a small world after all.



October Horrorthon 2012 – 30 – “Trick ‘r Treat”

Aka – Trick or Treat



There aren’t many “classic” Halloween films. You know, ones that are set on Halloween and have tons of replay value. Christmas has a bunch, Halloween has …. Halloween. And don’t say “Ernest Scared Stupid”, that’s just not going to cut it. Sure there are many enjoyable Halloween-set films (and horror films) but it’s been awhile since a true classic came out and demanded yearly viewings on or around Halloween. Thankfully, this is one of those films.


“Trick ‘r Treat” combines two of my favourite things, Halloween and Anthology Horror films. The movie contains several stories intertwining, all taking place on Halloween night. There’s a mysterious little creature named Sam anchoring the stories which revolve around mentally challenged zombie children, werewolves, murderous fathers, an old man with a secret, a man who loves Halloween and his wife who despises it and a mysterious cloaked vampire looking to suck the fun out of the evening. The stories connect cleverly and it never feels forced or confusing.


The two biggest names in the cast are True Blood’s (and Oscar winner) Anna Paquin and veteran actor Brian Cox (X2, Braveheart, Manhunter). Leslie Bibb (Iron Man, Talladega Nights, Midnight Meat Train) is good as the bitchy Halloween hating wife, and really everyone in the cast does an excellent job. I’m sure it was a blast to make it, and it really comes through on screen.


Unfortunately (for all of us) this never received a theatrical release, and that’s a real shame. The production values are high, the acting is good, the stories are interesting and well crafted. I’d heard talk of an extended directors cut being released at one point, but 5 years on it still hasn’t materialized. In 2008 a sequel was announced (which also hasn’t materialized), so perhaps we’ll see an extended cut then. At 82 minutes though it’s quite the thrill ride.


For me, the best story is the mentally challenged zombie kids (a phrase I never thought I’d see myself typing). The flashback aspect is very well filmed, and there’s a real sadness to it all. The effects are extremely …. effective. The idea of the old quarry (and the horror anthology I guess) reminded me of “Creepshow” (The Crate) and that’s never a bad movie to conjure up.


The use of colour is very impressive throughout and really pops out of the screen (not literally, thank god). Whether its the jack-o-lanterns, the misty watery school bus or the films many costumes, it all lends itself well to the film and the Halloween esthetic it sets out to convey. It was filmed in BC and the scenery certainly reflects its beauty and adds another layer to this gem of a film.


The best thing I can say about this film is that it manages to avoid the trap that 90% of anthologies fall into – the boring story. Most always have that (at least) one story that doesn’t live up to the rest of the film. This is generally juxtaposed with that one great story it also has, making the bad story seem even worse. While I do think the schoolchildren story was the best, none of the other stories let the film down, and that’s quite a feat in its own right.


If you have yet to see this film, on Halloween or not, I urge you to check it out. It’s an extremely fun and well made horror anthology, an very well reviewed one at that. Finally we have another Halloween classic to trudge out year after year. Hear’s hoping the sequel (if it ever materializes) doesn’t miss the lofty mark set by its predecessor.



October Horrorthon 2012 – 29 – “Leatherface – Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3”

Aka – Leatherface, TCM 3



The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series is an interesting beast. The first one is a certified classic, though surprisingly tame in actual blood shown on screen. The second is completely different in tone and much gorier (thanks to our boy Tom Savini). The fourth is hot garbage (despite starring then unknowns Renee Zellwegger & Matthew McConaughey), the remake was okay, the prequel was awful and the upcoming “Texas Chainsaw 3D” could go either way. I’d always found the third entry to be underrated (among TCM films) but it had been awhile since I’d seen it. So, how does it hold up ?


The plot revolves around a couple who are driving through Texas on their way to a meeting. They drive past a bevy of policeman unearthing 30-40 bodies, presumably from the murderous Sawyer clan of TCM fame. They stop for gas, meeting a friendly cowboy (your boy Viggo) and the perverted gas station owner. Viggo tells them about a shortcut nearby, before being attacked and seemingly killed by the attendant. The couple takes the shortcut and are eventually forced off the road and stalked by Leatherface and the infamous Sawyer clan. Will a nearby motorist (Dawn of the Dead’s Ken Foree) help them escape and stop the Sawyers once and for all ?


As previously mentioned, the big two in this movie are (then unknown) Viggo Mortensen (foreshadowing the next movies’ use of McConaughey and Zellwegger) and Ken Foree (who has gone on to co-star in several Rob Zombie films). Viggo does a good job chewing the scenery (eerily like McConaughey in part 4) and Foree is great (as usual) as the tough as nails Benny. Interestingly, Kane Hodder does Leatherfaces’ stunts, interesting since he also played Jason multiple times.


I’m not sure what scale to use while rating these movies. I mean, this isn’t a great movie, but it’s instantly better than the 4th and 6th (prequel) ones just by having Viggo/Foree, so that’s something. I suppose you could argue that the first three films are their own thing, much like Hellraiser 1-4. The quality of each varies, but they pretty much continue the main story, never really living up to the originals (though Hellraiser 2 rules). That said, for a TCM flick, this ones not bad.


The first time I saw the original TCM I didn’t think much of it. I was in high school, we watched it in broad daylight (inside of course) and we pretty much picked it apart as we went. I appreciated it more on each viewing, much like its sequel. I’ve always liked the tone of the third film, I think it gets back to the grittiness of the first film while still containing some of the dark comedy of the sequel. It’s not perfect, but it’s a masterpiece compared to the follow up.


The MPAA ripped the film to shreds upon release. It was the last film to be rated X before the invention of the NC-17 rating. Interestingly, the second film had also received an X rating, so at least they maintained some consistency, right ? I was really excited when they released an extras packed DVD of the uncut versions of the second and third films. It may not make them “deeper” movies, but they sure are more fun to watch.


Our local Mayfair Theatre had a 35mm screening of this film on the same night that I watched it. I wasn’t able to attend (unfortunately), but at least I was able to pretend I was there by spilling soda on the floor and having my friends yell at the screen. It wasn’t quite the same, but I did what I could.

Anyway, you know what to expect from the series at this point. It is what it is, but it’s definitely fun to watch an early Viggo in something like this. It’s not the best or worst TCM film, but it does a good job with the premise and is certainly watchable. Just never watch the fourth one, please.



October Horrorthon 2012 – 28 – “Halloween 2 (RZ)”

Aka – H2, Halloween 2 – The Devil Walks Among Us









So much has been said about Rob Zombies entries in the Halloween series. For a franchise with many low points (but 2 classics, a misunderstood gem and a well received return to form) it was to be expected that a remake would receive a backlash from fans of the classic original. Zombies’ remake wasn’t terrible, it was just unnecessary, like most remakes. After the amount of bile that was spewed over the sequel, I figured I owed it to myself to give it a look. After all, I’d seen every other Halloween flick, so why not ?





The sequel picks up a year after the events in the first film. Micheal Myers had (seemingly) been killed and his sister (unbeknownst to her yet) Laurie Strode has become a shell of her former self, emotionally ruined by her ordeal. She’s moved in with her friend (and co-survivor) Annie and her Sheriff father (played by Childs Play’s Brad Dourif) but the events of the first film have put a strain on her and Annie’s friendship. As Halloween approaches, Laurie worries that Micheal isn’t dead after all, and is coming back to finish the job.





Most of the principal actors return in this sequel, and even if she hadn’t been in the first one you knew Zombies’ wife Sheri Moon would be in it. Malcolm McDowell adds some layers to his Dr Loomis character, Tyler Mane does a good job as Micheal (for a lumbering monster that is) and Scout Taylor Compton is … Okay as Laurie. I mean, I know the character has been through a lot, but she was really kind of bitchy and irritating at times, I’m just saying. Not terrible, but kind of shrill and shrewish.





Watching this movie was a lot like watching the remake of “A Nightmare on Elm Street”. I’d heard such terrible things about them, both essentially remakes of classic genre films that apparently dropped the ball big time. It’s really hard to be let down by a movie that has already let everyone down for a few years prior, but I like Zombie as a director and still wanted to hope this was a good attempt. At this point he may never top the (nearly) universally lauded “Devil’s Rejects” (itself a sequel to a RZ film), but how bad could H2 really be ?





The thing is, it’s not terrible. There have been several terrible Halloween films (no, part 3 isn’t one of them. I don’t care that MM isn’t in it, it’s a cool flick !) and its easy to make a “by the numbers” MM flick and be bored to tears throughout. H2 definitely isn’t a “great” film, but it’s very much a Rob Zombie film. It’s surreal, esoteric, out there, violent, etc, but it’s as interesting a Halloween flick as we’re likely to get. Unless you count the whole “Thorn Cult” thing in Part 6 with Paul Rudd, but that’s not so great either.





Now, make no mistake, I’m not saying this is a good movie or that I’m recommending it or will ever watch it again. I will say that I watched the Directors Cut which is apparently a much better version of the story. It’s dreamlike and strange, but it attempts things other Halloween films won’t / haven’t, and for being the 10th Halloween film, that’s something at least.

Halloween 3D has stopped and started a few times, and who knows what the next film will look like and who will shepard it’s story. A lot of the reason I didn’t hate this movie was how little I expected from it based on the onslaught of reviews condemning it. It isn’t great, but it did its own thing and Zombie won’t be back, so I guess I’m saying it’s not great, but I’ve seen much worse.