I love the holiday season, but December 25th has always been more of an ending than a climax in my mind. So to fill the time until that fateful day, I chase the Christmas dream by watching a Christmas movie every day during the month of December. It can be any genre, any story, any quality. It just has to take place around everyone’s favorite time of year! No, not Halloween.THIS IS THE CHRISTMAS MOVIE MARATHON!
#1 THE KILLING OF SANTA CLAUS (1941)
It’s impossible to watch this small town noir murder mystery and not keep thinking “Holy shit. This was the first film sanctioned and made during the Nazi occupation of France” With that under consideration, the story gains even deeper dimension, as every little details reflects the filmmakers present state of mind. It’s a exquisite little number with half a dozen characters living in a snow capped French town when a a man in a Santa suit is shot in the head during midnight mass. Was it the chemist? The priest? The drunken globe maker? The ending may not be that much of a shocker, but it’s the film’s exquisitely shot sequences filled with gliding camera moves, and heartfelt character beats, that make the film truly sing. Plus, it was made under goddamn war time! Sadly, this was one of the lead’s (the globe maker) final film. He was tortured to death by the Gestapo.
#2 SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 5: THE TOYMAKER (1991)
After watching the impressive (and unrelated to the first three) SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 4: THE INITIATION, I was ready was ready to watch the fifth one and go “Why haven’t more people watched this? This is—” but I was stopped dead in my tracks because the film is a lame mess. The story is about a boy who witness his father get killed by a toy crafted by an evil toy maker should be goofy horror fodder, but this one is constantly dropping the ball. The pace is limp, the toy attacks are viciously nasty, but way too spaced out, and the final act has a flat TV feel to it. There’s one decent toy attack scene, but even then, it pales in comparison to something like Stuart Gordon’s DOLLS.
#3 TANGERINE (2015)
So damn good. One of the best films of the year that a thousand people have written about more eloquently then I could do here. Go watch it now.
#4 HOLIDAY SLASHER REMAKE DOUBLE: BLACK CHRISTMAS (2005) and SILENT NIGHT (2012)
If I had to pick two of the most famous Christmas horror films, they would undoubtedly be the original BLACK CHRISTMAS and SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT. But I’m not going to watch those, I’m going to watch their remakes
BLACK CHRISTMAS (or BLACK XMAS) is a surprisingly fun time that I’ve ignored it since its release because of the terrible reviews and the documented fact that the director/writer didn’t’ want to make it. I decided to give it a watch today because I love Holiday horror – and surprise surprise – I found it to be a goofy murder filled fun time with some one of the most Giallo-esque style I’ve seen in years. It’s got a fetishistic obsession with close-ups of objects, a super twisted backstory (involving incest and Christmas cannibalism) and more eye violence then a Lucio Fulci film. It’s female leads are bland city, and it does have a head scratchily superfluous climax, but it’s an inventively gory Christmas treat that people should give a chance.
SILENT NIGHT doesn’t fare as well because it’s style is much more pedestrian and its violence leans more heavily into the torture stuff. It ditches the original’s plot completely other then the Santa Claus killer and a few off the cuff reference, and it focuses itself on too many characters spread too thing. There’s some fun to be had, but nothing that really sings, and nothing that will stay with me once I go to my next dose of Santa slashing. I did like the fact that the killer’s identityis not a big reveal.
#5 THE CHILDREN (2008)
At a remote cabin during a Christmas vacation, a virus turns a bunch of kids murderously psychotic and the parents can bring themselves to kill them. This one could have turned into a Killer Kiddie (Is that a genre?) thrill ride, but the film fumbles by making the parents unlikable twats, taking too long to get to the good stuff, and clutching tightly to the drama inherent in having a parent have to kill their child without exploiting it in an engaging fashion. WHO COULD KILL A CHILD? got a lot mileage out of the same idea by coating it in surreal suspense, but all THE CHILDREN does is have the adult characters weep and cry for ages. Overall it’s a bore, with some nasty gore livening things up, but not being enough to make this one a worthwhile watch.
Those were my first five films. Now, onward and upwards into the cinematic wonderland of snow and bright lights. THE CHRISTMAS MOVIE MARATHON CONTINUES!