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.

Horror Movie Dictionary: Billhook

Is there a more sinister horror movie weapon in the pantheon of horror movies than the billhook? Many people don’t know what that is (including the authors of this site until very recently). The dictionary definition of a billhook is as follows: “a tool with a sickle-shaped blade with a sharp inner edge, used for pruning or lopping branches or other vegetation.” There’s also the very similar reap-hook (pictured above in the hicksploitation / Pennsylvania Dutch-sploitation Children of the Corn, which we covered on the Really Awful Movies Podcast).

According to the book, A History of the Garden in Fifty Tools, it’s close in kin to the Malay panga, the Cuban machete, the German forester’s heppe, the Italian roncole…author Bill Laws says “it’s more likely to be found in the hands of a butcher than a gardener.” How true that is, for our purposes here.

Bottom line: they’re scary and deadly. Why? It’s that curved end.

Curved weaponry are almost always more sinister than straight-edge blades in horror films. Case in point: the incredible use of the razor-sharp metal hook by the Berlin coven in the re-imaging of the Argento classic, Suspiria. Mario Bava used one to terrific and terrifying effect in his incredible A Bay of Blood. (In fact, they’re common enough they didn’t even make it into our book, Death by Umbrella! The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons).

Fiction met fact when in August, 2018, The Independent reported on a film assistant who ran amok in an artists’ commune in North London, wielding a two-foot machine with a bill hook. The accused was reported as saying, “I’m going to cut you. I’m going to burn you. I’m going to kill you.”