Horror Movie Dictionary: Christmas

Horror movies are notorious for being calendar cash-ins. There are movies centred around Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, New Year’s Eve Spring Break, and of course, Christmas. Things have gotten so out of hand, there’s even a Bloody Wednesday.

Since their advent (see what we did there?) there’s seemingly a new Kris Kringle killer film every year.

For the most part, they’re exquisitely awful. Luckily for us though, there are exceptions.

There is the morose, downbeat psycho-slasher Christmas Evil, cited by John Waters as “the greatest Christmas movie ever made,” (take that, It’s a Wonderful Life). The French new waver, À l’intérieur (Inside) is undeniably excellent, and there’s no denying Black Christmas was influential laying down the North American template for stalk ‘n’ slash POV, even if Mario Bava beat it to the punch.

The 2010 Dutch import Saint (Sint) gives us a not-so-jolly St Nick light years removed from cringy fire-engine felt mall Santas, and Night Train Murders is a stylish Video Nasty from the 70s, set in Munich on Christmas Eve.

When it comes to snowy desolate isolating winters, nothing beats Kubrick’s The Shining for capturing the chilly milieu.

And for our money, far and away the best snow death is featured in the Canadian classic, Curtains (For our take on that epic tax shelter flick, check out our Curtains discussion on the Really Awful Movies Podcast).

And speaking of Christmas, if you’ve got a horror movie fan in your life (and really, if you don’t, you probably should)…check out our book, Death by Umbrella! The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons.

It’s the perfect stocking stuffer (or is that, “stalking” stuffer?). But don’t take our word for it (this is just an expression. Take our word for everything else that appears on this site). Rue Morgue Magazine said:

“…what separates Death by Umbrella! from your run-of-the-mill glossary is the amount of heart and appreciation within its pages…Recommended for gorehounds, list-lovers and trivia fiends…”
The very best (and even some of the worst) films have heart and appreciation. We did our best to reflect that in our selections.

House

An American Ghost Story, Sinister, The Shining — there are a spate of movies about writers seeking solitude in a house, only to find the exact opposite. House is different it in that it throws in a dash of vetsploitation flavor, while employing practical monsters rather than the usual phantasmagoria as the personal demons.

House’s protagonist Roger Cobb should’ve heeded this advice: Don’t go in the house (also the title of a fab pyro-horror).

Where “horror has a new home,” House features that 80s genre staple: the cheesy prologue. Young Rog walks into a bedroom to find his aunt has hanged herself (it’s actually quite an affecting scene, as the old lady is creakily swinging to and fro).

Undeterred, Rog grows up to occupy the house as an adult — a successful trash novelist looking to get serious with a memoirs detailing his experiences in ‘Nam.

These horror people. When will they ever learn? Never rent bad Mojo domiciles, even if they seem like a steal, even in a tight rental / buyers’ market. Nothing good will ever come of it — unless you flip it real quick before you’re sucked into the Nether World.

So, what distinguishes this house, from any other on the market? There’s its foundation, built on a top-notch cast that includes William Katt, George Wendt, Richard Moll, and Kay Lenz. Wendt (Norm from Cheers) is the jovial neighbor who happens by to ask if everything’s alright at the Cobb house (Rog has been dressing in army fatigues and has set up camera equipment to capture a monster lurking in the closet). Moll, the towering bailiff from TV’s Night Court, plays Rog’s Vietnam war buddy who appears in flashback (At 6’8, there’s one infantryman who’d be quite the sitting duck for the Viet Cong).

Ultimately, House is a middling fun, tongue-in-cheek haunted house creature feature. Similar in sensibility to Video Dead, it’s solid if unspectacular sick day viewing.

**3/4 (out of 5)

[Check out our podcast discussion of House on the Really Awful Movies Podcast]