The UKHS Writers Christmas Horrors – ‘Sint aka Saint’ (2010)

The UKHS Writers Christmas Horrors

Sint aka Saint (2010)

Writer & Director: Dick Maas

Starring: Egbert Jan Weeber, Bert Luppes, Huub Stapel

Studio: Tom De Mol

Runtime: 85 Minutes

In 1492 a ship lands on the shores of Amsterdam, aboard is a renegade Bishop named Nicklaus. Along with his men they terrorise the local village, stealing and murdering as they go, but the villagers decide to retaliate. The villagers creep onto the beach and set fire to the ship, burning alive Nicklaus and all of his men.

We cut to a farm in 1968. It’s the 5th of December and the children in the house are celebrating the eve of St Nicholas and the eldest child, Goert, is sent to check on the livestock. Whilst outside he notices something on the roof, it is a bishop atop a grey horse. Inside the house all of Goert’s family have been murdered.

We discover that the vengeful spirit of St Nicklaus returns when the full moon appears on December the 5th, which brings us to the present day. Goert, now a police detective has gone on the offensive, preparing himself for what he knows is coming, he is joined by Frank. Frank is the audience character, he’s a sad state of affairs, his girlfriend publicly dumps him and then is promptly killed by Nicklaus. Frank is a prime suspect in a murder case and the only one who believes him is Goert. This sets the scene for a chase across the Amsterdam rooftops and plenty of gore along the way.

Sint is a fantastic movie and there is great fun to be had providing you remember that its tongue is sat comfortably in its cheek. Writer/Director Maas mixes the light and dark extremely well, giving us enough to jump at but equally enough to giggle at. His visuals are akin to splash pages in a comic book and I sat thinking, on many occasion, ‘that looks so sweet!’ The kills are happily up close and in your face, practical effects are the order of the day for the majority of the special effects, even when CGI is used it is to good effect, a good example of this would be Nicklaus riding his horse across the rooftops. No one is safe in this movie, adults and children alike fall victim to Nicklaus and his army of burned minions.

Maas knows the genre well and I felt that he was referencing John Carpenter on a few occasions. Two sequences stood out, one scene on a boat was riffling very much on the classic Carpenter movie ‘The Fog’ and very early on three young women were leaving school, walking home and talking about their sex lives before leaving for each other’s homes, just like the introduction to Laurie Strode and friends in Halloween. Also, similarly, Maas scores his own work, which here never intrudes and blends in well.

Maas has surrounded himself with a talented cast, both young and old, each bringing believability to their characters, despite the situation. Also praise should go to cinematographer Guido van Gennep for shooting this movie like a fairytale, quite snow fall, deep shadows and lashings of atmosphere.

Sint is a wonderful and silly modern fairytale. It delves deep into the rich history of St Nicholas and the Dutch traditions whilst giving us a good giggle along the way. If you like your horrors daft and festive then give it a go. If you enjoyed Dead Snow then you’re in familiar territory.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good fright

8/10

Krampus: The Christmas Devil (2013) DVD Review

krampuscd1Krampus: The Christmas Devil (2013)

Written & Directed by: Jason Hull

Cast:  Jay Dobyns, Paul Ferm, Andrew Ferrick

Running Time: 79 Minutes

UK Certificate: 15

Format: UK DVD available from 2nd November 2015

Studio: High Fliers Films

Here is a little trivia for you. At the end of 2014 I started planning out a story for a short film about Krampus. To my knowledge a film had never been made about him and thought I’d get the jump on it. The story of Santa’s evil helper, punishing the naughty children, was ripe for a film adaptation in the style of a Grimm fairytale. Then I discovered that Michael Dougherty was producing his own bug budget version and American Dad had a musical episode based on it. I moved on. Then this screener popped through my door and I thought another Krampus movie? Surely this has to be a quick release to jump on the marketing train that Dougherty’s Krampus is getting on.
I was right.

Krampus: The Christmas Devil is a wonder, what I mean is it’s a wonder how this ever made a commercial release. The plot, for what it’s worth, sees a young boy who escapes the clutches of Krampus and become a cop who is determined to put a stop to the annual child slayings once and for all. Does he do it? To be honest I didn’t care. Audiences will be so thrown off by the extreme amateur nature of what is on screen that I doubt they will make the full 79 minutes.

krampuscd2Normally I would endeavour to find positives in even the worst movies and I can, hand on heart, say that Krampus: The Christmas Devil has none. The direction by Jason Hull, who at the beginning of this I thought was a GNVQ student who had stumbled on some money (turns out he’s a grown up), is uninspired, amateurish and messy. Shots are out of focus, actors look down the camera, shots aren’t locked off and framing is all over the place.

Jay Dobyn’s ‘Jeremy’ acts as though he was told to watch every detective show and mimic what he saw. Paul Ferm, who is a real life ex-cop, plays Santa who is just a dick. I’d hope Santa would remain a jolly, fat man who likes to bring joy to all the children of the world, this Santa will tear you a new one just for looking at him funny. There is little contrast between Krampus and Santa, which in a tale of good and evil, you would hope you would see. The editing, I can only assume, was done on windows movie maker and every FX filter was thrown on top of scenes that didn’t need them just to spice things up a little.

The score, if you can call it that, was a mixture of ‘original content’ mixed with samples you’d find freely on the internet. Let’s talk about Krampus himself. Many descriptions have him ranging from hunched, bearded weirdo with chains and a cloven-hoofed foot to a full on, satan-like creature. This film version of Krampus is a collection of items you’d find in Wilkinson’s seasonal aisle, a Santa robe from the now in stock Christmas selection and a mask from the now reduced Halloween section. Little to no effort was put into this design. Somewhere along the way I discovered that the budget was $200,000 and I can’t understand where that money was spent.

krampuscd3I recently discovered that Mr Hull and his team are making Krampus 2. I won’t be wasting my time. I don’t like giving bad reviews, especially ones that are as negative as this and believe me I have tried to find something good to talk about but it just doesn’t want to be found. This Christmas stay away from this Krampus tale at least, I have wasted 79 minutes of my evening so you don’t have to.

0/10

Five Unfestive Christmas Treats

FIVE UNFESTIVE CHRISTMAS TREATS

By Daniel Stillings

christmasevilCHRISTMAS EVIL (1980)
Director: Lewis Foster.
This is arguably the best Christmas film of all time. Also known under the director’s prefered title, You Better Watch Out, Brandon Maggart plays the meek employee of a toy company who as a child was traumatised after witnessing his father dressed as Santa getting frisky with his mother. As an adult he loves Christmas so much that he keeps his own records on the neighbourhood children, making notes on who has been naughty and who has been nice. He really wants to be Santa, but he’s also a psychotic freakshow who goes about fulfiling his wish by stabbing the bah-humbug brigade with sharp tree ornaments and taking presents to the sick children’s hospital after stealing them from people’s houses. There are some spectacularly unease scenes where he gatecrashes a posh party and gives the most threatening festive speech ever and is then pursued through the streets by a torch carrying lynch mob. It’s often very funny, but also kind of tragic, far better than the controversial Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) and it leads to a fantastic, mind bending climax.

DIE HARD (1988)
Director: John McTiernan.
A Christmas party, a group of thieves, a high rise office building, Alan Rickman as one of the all time great bad guys and Bruce Willis in a white vest of steadily deteriorating quality. Do you really need more than that? There have been other action films to be set at Christmas like Lethal Weapon (1987) and The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), but this is not only the best of the bunch, it’s a genre classic in its own right. Yippee Ki-yay, melonfarmer…oh yeah, don’t watch it on TV, just in case.

invasionusaINVASION U.S.A. (1985)
Director: Joseph Zito.
Die Hard’s Alan Rickman may have threaten to cancel Christmas in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (1991), but Richard Lynch, the sheriff T. Bastard of eighties action cinema went one better and actually took a rocket launcher to the festive season in this commie bashing eighties exploitation film. Luckily, Chuck Norris is on hand to sort things out, and start racking up the healthy death toll. In an interesting footnote, Richard Lynch who sadly died in 2012 may have wrecked Christmas here, but he once played Jesus…well, Jesus as a Christ-like extraterrestrial visitor with a vagina.

RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE (2010)
Director: Jal Mari Helander.
This Finnish horror movie is a macabre treat. An archaeological dig uncovers the real Santa Claus, imprisoned hundreds of metres underground, and it’s not the Santa we all know and love. This one doesn’t care if you’ve been naughty or if you’ve been nice. In fact he doesn’t really give a shit about anything…except abducting children. Not really one for the whole family,

Black Christmas#1BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)
Director: Bob Clark.
Since Halloween came out in 1978, the reputation of this Christmas themed slasher – one of the earliest entries in the genre – has fallen out of favour, but it’s still a disturbing film with an ending which is even more cryptic and unsettling than the open ending of John Carpenter’s classic. Clark also directed the family Christmas film A Christmas Story (1983) which is worth a look if obscene phone callers and mysterious killers aren’t your thing.

Black Christmas (1974) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

BC1Black Christmas- 1974

Dir. Bob Clark

Starring: Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder, Keir Dullea, Andrea Martin, Marian Waldman and John Saxon

The girls of a sorority house have been receiving highly disturbing phone calls from a sick-minded prank caller during the Christmas season. Unbeknownst to them, they have an uninvited guest hiding in their attic, who slowly and meticulously starts to murder each girl in increasingly brutal and terrifying fashion.

Ah dear reader, so you’ve chosen to draw yourself away from the comforting glow of your Christmas decorations and the empty expectant space beneath your tree to join us here for the recounting of the macabre tale of Bob Clarke’s ‘Black Christmas’ this cold Christmas Eve? Very well, let us begin…

I can still remember the exact feeling I had after watching this film for the first time, mainly because it is still the very same feeling I get as I watch it every year as a Christmas tradition! This is a film that, aptly to coincide with the season, chills you to your very core, leaving you frozen rigid in fear as the terrible endless and empty ring of the sorority house’s telephone haunts the end credits.

BC2 The first American slasher film (sorry ‘Halloween’) is special for 2 reasons, firstly, it was filmed in Canada and secondly, it is darkly amusing that director Bob Clark is most fondly remembered in the American psyche for a VERY different Christmas film, namely ‘A Christmas Story’. Now whilst the quirky whimsy of ‘ACS’ is all good and obviously infinitely more popular in the public eye, ‘Black Christmas’ is the director’s greatest Christmas film, as important a traditional viewing in my household as ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’, ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ and ‘Fireman Sam’s Christmas Special’. Now there’s some good, varied company.

It seems odd to gush and feel full of the seasonal spirit over a film that is incredibly bleak and downright scary, but that is ultimately ‘Black Christmas’s greatest achievement. In a way, it is modernising the Victorian tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas, it perfectly off-sets the optimistic and cheery mood associated with the season with whilst still, somehow, intrinsically linking the two polar opposite moods together. If ‘Black Christmas’ was nothing more than a slasher film where a bunch of sorority girls get brutally murdered, no-one would really remember it or care, also it would be called ‘Sorority Row’ ba boom tish.

BC3 What really sets the film apart is that it somehow manages to balance the responsibility of having an awful lot of characters and yet somehow gives them a perfect amount of screen time each and develop their characters. Obvious ‘final girl’ Jess (Hussey) is the shy, reserved and good natured one who provides the perfect mid-point between the bright and cheery Phyl and the drunken, brash hellraiser Barb (Kidder). It may seem an obvious final trio to some as these three get the most screen time, however the real joy here is that they’re all incredibly likeable and realistic characters, doing away with hedonistic stereotypes of bitchy and sex-obsessed sorority girls as represented in just about every other film ever made, including one certain remake. We do NOT want these characters to die and therefore it’s much more of a tragic shock, when the film cold heartedly dispatches them without mercy.

Whilst they are pushed into the background, the importance of the brilliance of some of the male performances must not be ignored. John Saxon plays the gruff but loveable police chief (thank God he was never type-cast in that role, eh?) who so expertly conveys great concern and determination without ever going overboard. More interesting and intensely creepier is the role of Peter as played by Keir Dullea. The senior boyfriend of Jess, Dullea is weird and skin crawling without ever being too OTT from the minute he first turns up on screen. I know exactly what you’re thinking, right, duh? He’s so obviously the killer! He’s weird and she leaves him so, yeah! Obvious! Well, no. This film is far cleverer than that and like a very twisted magician, this is the film’s chilling piece de resistance of misdirection and sleight of hand. Don’t ask me how, but somehow Clarke is subverting the genre’s boundaries at the same time as creating them in truly magnificent fashion!

BC4Don’t go thinking that the film is nothing but oppressive atmosphere and morbid murders, it does have a surprisingly strong funny bone that at least goes some way to keeping the festive cheer. This is primarily embodied in the sorority’s sozzeled house mother, Mrs. Mac (Waldman). Merrily cursing her way through her life and hiding a hearty supply of booze in some truly novel locations, it’s rare that her time onscreen isn’t leading up to some hilariously sharp piece of dialogue or boozy antics.

This is superbly counter-balanced by the incredibly straight-laced and proper performance of James Edmond as Mr. Harrison, a father of one of the girls. His sour lemon face when enduring the vulgar chatting of Mrs Mac or Barb is painfully funny and eventhough he comes across as a miserable character in relation to the plucky youngsters, it must be remembered that tragically the audience all know that his daughter is already dead and in the attic above him.

BC5It may sound odd to say, but the reason why the killings in ‘Black Christmas’ remain so harrowing after many a re-watch is because they feel incredibly real. I appreciate that sounds daft and keep repeating ‘It’s Only A Movie’ however the objects used and the manner in which the deaths are filmed, often totally without the irritating accompaniment of screeching instruments, leaving nothing but the groans and crunch noises of the victims. This is infinitely more terrifying and like all truly great horror films, it invades that dark space in your mind and opens the terrifying door that suspends your disbelief. The fact that Claire Harrison’s ( Lynne Griffin) corpse with a plastic bag over her head in a rocking chair simply does not move for the whole film is absolutely skin-crawlingly uncomfortable. It’s the film’s most iconic image, but still one that induces dramatic shivers just by looking at it.

When the killing takes place, we always see it through the murderer’s perspective. It might sound simple, but this remains a brilliantly unnerving trick that has been assimilated by many other horror films, such as ‘Halloween’ and more recently the ‘Maniac’ remake. This remains devastatingly unsettling as it is making the audience feel that they have become part of the mindset of the killer, associating with them and carrying out these horrible acts themselves. The ‘voyeuristic’ element makes you feel unclean and even guilty and Clark has absolutely mastered its power here.

BC6It always saddens me that the antagonist, ‘Billy’ (it’s still debateable who on earth it ‘really’ is) does not get the credit they deserve for being one of horror’s all time scariest boogiemen. We NEVER see what he/she/it looks like but for two shots of a terrifyingly crazed eyeball, leaving their appearance to our own terrifying imagination. On top of this, those blood-curdling telephone calls and grunts always stay with you long after seeing the film, making you distinctly untrustworthy the next time yours should happen to go off (as a fun bit of trivia, it was in fact a combined effort of director Clark and an assistant making those awful noises together). They are both human and inhuman, there seems to be several voices and it is through these phone calls that arguably the most intriguing element of ‘Black Christmas’ comes through.

There is some sort of back story here, possibly involving a baby called ‘Agnes’ and we presume ‘Billy’ has done something to her. What? Who knows? Crucially, we don’t ever want to know, thank you very much 2006 remake! It can be a risky game to play when withholding information from an audience. It can either backfire, leaving people scratching their heads in annoyed confusion, or as it is here, leaving them shivering and alone in the dark, totally unaware of what’s coming up behind them. Why is ‘Billy’ doing this? We’ve no idea, it’s just cold, remorseless murder. I don’t know about you, but that always puts the frighteners on me!

BC7The scariest part of the entire film is THAT ending. There is no stinger or final “BOO!” just pure concentrated fear as we see that “Billy” is still muttering away in the attic,  Claire’s corpse still sits by the window and the death-knells of the phone ringing is the only sound to accompany the end credits. Upon a first viewing, my family and I just sat there, as still as the grave, 100% blown away. Seldom ever do horror films end properly and but my word this one stands amongst the greatest ending of all time!

Snuggle up with your loved ones, turn off all the lights but for the twinkly ones that adorn your Christmas tree and enjoy one of the very scariest films ever made…just remember to lock your attic door…

Merry UKHS Xmas!

Verdict: The very coldest in winter chillers. The perfect festive horror film that will never be bettered. 10 out of 10 Glasses of Finest Bloody Mulled Wine. 

ELVES (USA, 1989) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

ElvesVHSCoverELVES (USA, 1989)

Director- Jeremy Mandell

Starring- Dan Haggarty, Julie Austin, Dianne Lund

“There not working for Santa…..anymore!”

So goes the tagline for this poorly produced and possibly bat shit crazy seasonal horror flick. ELVES very idea and plot is the attraction in this hard to find masterpiece, and boy is it terrible but all the better for it. Remember when you watch a bad film that ends up being so barmy and brilliant that it transcends that fine line of being completely painful and embarrassing to watch, to instead be an almost grandiose quality of badness that you end up loving it for all the wrong reasons, there are many of those sort of films and ELVES is one of them. The film is terrible no doubt about it, with piss poor acting, scenes that don’t need to be there, awful production values and awful effects, yet these terrible quality’s lie in the attraction of the film and so does the plot, and that’s where the audacity and madness of ELVES succeeds.

The plot concerns a young girl, Kirsten (Julie Austin), who along with her two friends, go out into that part of the woods that they’ve been told not to go to, by their parents. Kirsten accidentally cuts herself and it’s this pure virgin blood that spills onto unhallowed ground that resurrects an evil elf. When Kirsten’s Grandpa finds out about her trip to the woods he’s none too pleased and realises that she may have resurrected the evil elf. This is good for Gramps fellow Nazi’s though, who want the elf to procreate with Kirsten, as she is pure and with the impregnation will bring about the rise of a new breed of supermen and the fourth Reich (I told you this was bat shit crazy). In the meantime the elf relentlessly pursues Kirsten and murders anyone who gets in its way including a sleazy coke headed department store Santa, who he castrates after he tries to proposition Kirsten with the classy chat up line “Santa said Oral.” This sudden murder allows our central hero character of the piece Mike McGavin (Dan Haggerty) to take his place, as he is an ex-cop, ex-store detective, ex-alcoholic, and now recently evicted and desperate for a job. But it’s with the previous Santa’s murder and a shoot out and confrontation with the Nazi’s and the elf, in the department store that leaves Kirsten’s friends dead, that brings out McGavin’s detective instinct to investigate what’s going on and help Kirsten from the advances of the Nazi’s and the horny killer Elf.

Elves1Everything about ELVES plot just screams campness and the fact that this is taken with such seriousness, and no hint of self referential or ironic nods to the audience makes it all the more audacious in that respect. Don’t go into this expecting balls to the wall terror or a half decent attempt at horror, or even half decent attempt at a film, as you will be disappointed. Instead expect awful acting, I mean truly awful the type that veers from almost deadpan delivery of lines such as “What’s going on? Are we gonna be alright?” “No Willy, Gramps is a Nazi!” to the scenery chewing style of acting from some of the cast. The Nazi’s themselves also have the slightly awful English/German accent, that seem to have come out of an English world war two film (“Ze bleeding has stopped”). The dialogue also has the balls to take lines from horror classics and change it to their own, for instance Ken Foree’s immortal line from DAWN OF THE DEAD (“When there is no more room in hell. The dead shall walk the earth”) is changed to “When there is no more room hell. The elves shall walk the earth.”

As for Haggerty himself, the ex-Grizzly Adams star, obviously seems to be tired being there, and chains smokes his way through the entire film. Seriously this guy is trying to give himself lung cancer, he smokes during shootouts and even when brushing his teeth. He has one particularly brilliant scene though, where he gatecrashes an academics Xmas eve dinner with his family, much to his annoyance, but this academic happens to know much about Elf mythology and Nazi’s (always helpful in any place where elves have been resurrected and Nazi’s are around) and goes onto explain, while his daughters look on, that the Nazi’s used Elves as assassination squads in World War 2, and their also the carry’s of the master race sperm!?

elves2 Haggerty, who had fame from Grizzly Adams, but was done for narcotics not long before this, is obviously there for the money, what little of it is he got paid for it we don’t know, but he at least provides and entertaining and nicotine addicted hero. As for the evil elf itself, the budget must have been spent on it, but that’s not to say it’s a brilliant piece of effects work, no in fact it’s quite comical in it’s one frozen expression on its face, and the fact that we only see it usually from the waist up for the majority of the film, and it also has the ability to hold objects in scenes such as a knife and a handgun. Yes towards the end, the elf packs a pistol which is a truly brilliant sight to behold.

When you watch a film like ELVES, you wonder how this gets made, but then that’s the case with any bad film, how does it gets made? Who funds it? Hey, who thought that this was a great idea on paper to warrant funding? But then you realise, if this wasn’t made we wouldn’t have a piece of cinematic awfulness that leaves you gobsmacked, thanks to its lunatic plot, awful acting, awful effects and general bad production value. This is the sort of film you should gather your friends around to watch before Christmas. Get a few cans of beer or mulled wine, whatever your seasonal tipple is, gather round and bask in the awful glory of ELVES.

 

elves3If you would like to watch ELVES please click on the link below……

http://cultmoviesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/elves-1989.html

 

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

SNDN 5Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991)
aka The Toymaker
Directed by Martin Kitrosser
Starring Mickey Rooney, Jane Higginson, Brian Bremer and William Thorne

“Evil never dies” I was once told. It’s something that probably explains diminutive actor Mickey Rooney’s longevity in the film business, having seemingly began his showbiz career round abouts the same time as when Jack the Ripper was still at large. All flippancy about the quirky stars age aside, it’s baffling how in the hell he ended up in this, the fifth and final entry in the fruity Crimbo horror series. Especially so since he wrote a damning letter of protest against the original back in 1984, angrily declaring that the filmmakers “should be ran out of town”. Money really is a powerful thing…

Anyway, here Rooney toplines as Joe Petto, the owner of a small toy shop whose unique toys and strange son, Pino (Bremer), just might be at the centre of some gruesome festive killings.

SNDN5 1Moving further still from the original slasher angle already dumped in part four, The Toy Maker continues the series’ attempted anthology- stylye reinvention. It’s another stand alone entry, though one that’s chock full of truly bizarre nods to the last installment thanks to a two character crossover sub-plot and a weird meta moment where said film is actually being watched on TV by someone (!). Hell, even Clint Howard pops up again as a grubby little fellow named Ricky so God knows what it all means…

Interestingly, like four the comparisons to Halloween III are impossible to ignore: whilst Initiation flirted with a similar witchcraft slant, this cheeky little number seems to operate on a smaller variant of Silver Shamrock’s “kill people with the stuff we’ve made” business ethos.

So is it any good? In a charming and energetic straight to video way, yes, even if the nutty “surprise” ending is telegraphed a mile off (did I mention Rooney’s character was called Joe Petto and had a son called Pino? Joe Petto. Pino. Get it? Good). It’s a lively and thoroughly enjoyable camp schlocker, very much what you’d expect from a Martin Kitrosser/Brian Yuzna (who co-scripts and produces) collaboration. These are the guys behind one of the most daring Friday the 13th’s, the not quite Jason A New Beggining, and Re-Animator, don’t ya know…

SNDN 5 2Weirdly, this was the first Silent Night, Deadly Night flick to make it to UK shores, waaaay back in ’93. It’s a beautiful, long out of print big box from High Fliers under the franchise free title of The Toymaker. British video enthusiasts seek it out. Everyone else, get a hold of the Lion’s Gate Region One triple where it’s bunged with Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 and 4. Import, import, import!

Seven dead elves out of ten

Treevenge (2008) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

treevenge1Treevenge (2008)

Director – Jason Eisener – 16 Minutes

Starring – Jonathan Torrens, Sarah Dunsworth, Maris Morgan, Jayden Taylor, Jason Collins.

 

I thought that rather than review a feature for one of my Horror Advent additions , I would focus on a short that I simply love.

 

Treevenge starts with a group of lumberjacks chopping down Christmas trees in a forest, they are taking extreme glee from their task and unknown to them the trees are communicating with each other. The scene is portrayed almost as a mass slaughter and the poor trees are helpless to do anything.

 

The trees are then loaded into the back of a large van and while in the van they all stand around and start to formulate a plan to gain revenge. Yes I know these are Christmas trees I am talking about but their communication is subtitled so you can understand what they are saying 🙂 .

 

treevenge3The trees arrive at their destination which is a tree sales lot where families turn up to purchase the spiky evergreen conifers. The story now follows one of the trees as it is bought by the MacMichael family (with Jonathan Torrens and Sarah Dunsworth as the parents – you may know them as J-Roc and Sarah from Trailer Park Boys) and taken back to their home, here they place the tree in the living room and proceed to decorate it with lovely baubles and tinsel. Next it is Xmas morning and the kids sit around the tree eagerly ripping open their presents and …… well you will just have to watch Treevenge to find out.

 

Treevenge is from the team that made Hobo with a Shotgun three year later, namely Jason Eisener is the writer/director and Rob Cotterill is also the writer. And from the superb over-acting from the lumberjacks and treefellers (or were there 4? – sorry for the shit Irish joke there!) to the huge amounts of blood this is just something to be loved.

 

There is really dark humour throughout with some inventive and really gross-out kills, I especially liked the horny young couple’s death scene which was brilliant. The last three minutes is a full on in-your-face splatterfest and not for the faint-hearted with one death scene that made almost everyone I have watched this with gasp , you will know when it comes!!

 

treevenge2I have seen Treevenge numerous times and just totally and utterly love it. If you liked Hobo With A Shotgun then you will love this, it is funny, bloody and completely OTT and it has talking, killing Christmas trees in it – cmon !!

 

Easily THE best Christmas short I have seen 9/10

 

Watch it below and be prepared to never look at a Christmas tree the same way again !!

 

[youtube=www.youtube.com/watch?v=kicdSI_-XpE]

 

 

Crooked House (2008) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

C1Crooked House (2008)

Dir: Damon Thomas

Starring: Lee Ingleby, Mark Gatiss, Phillip Jackson, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Jean Marsh, Ian Hallard, Jennifer Higham, Daniela Denby-Ashe and Derren Brown

Upon discovering a mysterious old door knocker, the Curator (Gatiss), recounts the disturbing history of the knocker’s home, Geap Manor to its discoverer Ben (Ingleby). Learning that his new home is built on the old sire of the manor, Ben soon begins to realise that the evil spirit from the manor may still not be laid to rest…

Broadcast on the run up to Christmas in 2008, with the chilling conclusion broadcast late on Christmas Eve, ‘Crooked House’ was a tragically under-seen gem that attempted to resurrect the Victorian ghost story tradition and succeeded in scaring the absolute bejeezus out of all those who witnessed it.

Irritatingly under-valued horror maestro and aficionado Mark Gatiss is quite possibly the greatest modern supporter of the ‘less is more’ approach to horror.  Using his own superbly twisted spin on Jackanory, he delivers three bone-chilling tales that sprawls throughout the centuries whilst built upon the ever reliable foundation of  a house that is simply ‘evil’ with no need to drag out a long explanation as to ‘why’ or ‘how’. The original owner, Sir Roger Widdowson (Brown) of the Tudor era was determined to have a son and so consorted in the dark arts with a fierce necromancer named Unthank in the hopes of somehow gaining an heir.

C2A simple yet sturdy basis on which to launch some truly terrifying tales.

To give away the full extent of the plots to each other three terror-filled tales would be to ruin the surprise and believe me, this mini-series is jam packed full of intriguing and blindsiding twists and turns!

The first tale is set during the 18th century and is simply titled ‘The Wainscoting’. A wealthy trader named Joseph Bloxham (Jackson) has moved into the dilapidated Geap Manor and is having renovations put in. Bloxham has a reputation as a cut-throat businessman, whose actions have caused the devastation of many an investor’s family. With the slow work of the builders, only one room is ready and fitted with the titular wainscoting and herein lies the short’s horrifying driving force.

C3All the ‘action’ is restricted to the one room and centres around a largely ‘unseen’ malevolent force, a simple trick that plays on the infinite possibility of the imagination and one that has a truly brilliant pay-off when the cause is finally revealed. This short has by far the mini-series’ greatest moment, when a ‘friend’ of Bloxham (Rhind-Tutt) described his experience when left outside the manor as a young boy. We do not see this in flashback, nor does Rhind-Tutt describe any horrific event, just the coldness in atmosphere and the house’s relentless ‘gaze’ into one’s soul. A brilliant skin-crawling moment of fear, all conveyed in dialogue.

The second tale, with the brilliantly obtuse title of ‘Something Old’, jumps forward in time considerably to the 1920s where a Gatsbian party of grand proportions is in full swing at the manor. The young heir to the estate Felix (Hallard) has chosen the occasion to announce to his grandmother and all his friends his engagement to his girlfriend, Ruth (Higham). This ‘happy’ news deeply troubles his grandmother, Lady Constance (Marsh), a woman haunted by the death of her sister, who killed herself on the day of her wedding. Since that tragic day, unnatural forces had determined that would be, “Never Another Bride”.

C4Again, to reveal the origin of that ominous statement would ruin the greater picture of the haunting puzzle that’s menacingly put together as this story snakes towards its terrifying conclusion. It’s the slow burn malevolence of something indefinably wicked this way comes that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout this one. Primarily it’s the great foundation of an engaging story that pricks up your interest, alongside a superbly recreated 1920s atmosphere.

Above all, the fact that the main character of Ruth is really the only likeable character in amongst a sea of acting-too-adult tweenager snobs, helps you gain a huge amount of sympathy for her in an incredibly sort amount of time. Too often are we presented by profoundly unlikeable and irritating characters we hope are all set for the chop but Gatiss finds a perfect foil for all the snobbery in the down to earth and naive Ruth.

The final tale simply titled ‘The Knocker’ brings us right back to the present day and sadly is the hardest to talk about without giving anything away! Suffice to say that this is almost definitely the scariest segment and yet with the most stripped back and raw scares. Some of these scares are rehashes of things long come before, such as 3 in the morning being a particularly bad time for young Ben. However, somehow the strikingly realistic approach driven hard by director Damon Thomas and Gatiss makes you forget all that and has you scrambling for the safety of that age old crawlspace, behind the sofa.

C5Come the jaw-dropping climax, your head has been figuratively abused by the onslaught of a mix of sheer inventive terror and a wonderfully complex structured narrative that somehow manages to tie in several different centuries and plot strands together in one gloriously terrifying Christmas present, you know, like the one that hides at the back of the pile…waiting…

If I had but one complaint about this small piece of genius, it would only be that there weren’t enough creepy tales of the manor! Gatiss’ Curator mentions several other interesting stories that all sound fantastic and it’s just a shame that we didn’t get to see more of them!

Ah well, like the festive food we gorge ourselves on, sometimes too much of a good thing can eventually be off putting, or resulting in a mad dash to the bathroom. Much like Gatiss’ other somewhat popular series, ‘Sherlock’ (heard of it? Nah, me neither), restricting the series to 3 perfect episode completely satisfies our need to be frightened with great aplomb and yet leaves us hungry for more!

With an adaptation and documentary of an M.R James story set to screen this Christmas, now is the perfect time to catch up on the ghoulish power of the Gatiss!

Verdict: 9 Creepy Doorknockers out of 10

 

Scream Queens’ Naked Christmas (1996) A UKHS Xmas Review

SQNC1Scream Queens’ Naked Christmas (1996)

Director – John A. Russo      –      59 minutes

Starring – Grant Cramer, Debbie Rochon, Amanda Madison, Lisa Delien, Sue Ellen White.

 

Well it is Christmas and as editor of UK Horror Scene I have asked all the writers to send in Xmas themed films so we can post at least one upload every day. I have just sat back in my Dr Evil style chair and admired the varied and excellent pieces that have rolled in daily, but then I realised that I myself had not added anything!

So firstly I watched and reviewed Two Front Teeth and then today I go to retrieve the document only to find that my youngest son has instead saved his ICT homework into the file and completely written over the review with a timetable of train schedules from Manchester to London – so that review is not happening today and as I watched the film a fortnight ago I would need to rewatch it to re-review it , anyway you get my point. And my point is I would have had a review up if it wasn’t for that meddling kid!!!

 

So I decided to also look at some of the more obscure horror related releases, and when I was going through I found something called Scream Queens’ Naked Christmas.? In 1996 there was a low-budget shocker called Santa Claws (see DW’s review HERE) directed by John A. Russo, and in Santa Claws the story centres around the making of Scream Queens’ Naked Christmas and as if by magic John A. Russo actually made that feature . It was released with Santa Claws as an added extra and it was also released independently .

 

SQNC2So what we have with Scream Queens’ Naked Christmas is four young ladies doing some individual sexy stripteases and interspersed between each dance is stock footage from Santa Claws and also Grant Cramer (Wayne from Santa Claws) giving a little monologue .

 

There is absolutely nothing good about SQNC other than its oddity value (or should that be odititty value?). It is poor quality , the strip sequences are wince inducing and it is almost unwatchable. Remember this is naked ladies people , and I am saying naked ladies are not worth watching!!

 

The music these poor women dance to is dreadful, it is slow and monotonous and has no rhythm. So how this transfers is just awful, you have Lisa Delien grooving away to a tune that has around 4 BPM – it is hilarious. The only bright spot in the entire hour-long débâcle is the wonderful Ms Debbie Rochon , an actress that has on many occasions raised the bow of a sinking B-movie on her own . But even the lovely Ms Rochon cannot save this sinking ship and of all the Scream Queens in this she has the least time on-screen .

 

SQNC3Scream Queens’ Naked Christmas was a quirky little find that in the end has no interesting qualities, no redeeming features (Debbie Rochon aside) and no reason to ever watch this. If you are interested in finding this for comedic value or you are a total completionist then it still can be purchased on VHS from Amazon US for a couple of dollars, but even that is over-priced.

 

Less a Christmas cracker and more a half-eaten week old turkey 2/10

 

 

 

Santa’s Slay (2005) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

santa'sslaySanta’s Slay (2005)

By: Joey Keogh
Dir: David Steiman
78 mins
Media 8 Entertainment

There is absolutely nothing more festive than the sight of WCW legend Bill Goldberg, dressed in a ratty, vintage Santa costume, laying waste to everyone in sight in the goriest, most Christmas-themed manner possible.

Though the premise is of little importance, considering how balls-to-the-wall nuts the film is, ‘Santa’s Slay’ is set in the sleepy, snowy, Canadian town of Hell, where Santa has apparently not attacked for one thousand years.

In a wonderfully hammy prologue, that sets the tone for the events to follow, we are introduced to Goldberg’s bloodthirsty Santa as he slaughters the members of a bickering family, just as they are settling down to Christmas dinner.

This wondrous sight is somehow bettered over the course of the breathtakingly short flick (less than 80 minutes total, with not one wasted), which makes the intricate death scenes in ‘Black Christmas’ look Disney quality in comparison, as Santa uses even the most basic instruments to murder everyone in his path, from candy canes to his own, battered sled.

‘Santa’s Slay’ doesn’t take itself seriously for a second. It knows it’s a B-movie and this fact is relished throughout. Goldberg seems to be having the time of his life, while also managing to toe the line between making fun of what’s asked of him, and having fun with it.

santa'sslay2There’s never a sense that this film is below him, or that he’s just phoning it in for a pay cheque, which is refreshing, considering the behaviour of fellow wrestling relic Hulk Hogan, a man whose mere presence in a film renders it practically worthless.

Though Goldberg is front and centre throughout, his supporting players do a good job of keeping straight faces in spite of the wacky material, treating the idea that Santa is actually Satan as though it makes total sense.

Elsewhere, the grandfather’s revelation that he is a guardian angel somehow manages to click everything into place for his poor, long-suffering grandson who hasn’t been allowed to celebrate Christmas, and has suffered the indignity of being related to an assumed nutjob, for most of his life.

Douglas Smith is charming as the bored teenager who has to save the day, and Christmas, before the rest of the town realise what’s up, while ‘Lost’ alum Emilie De Ravin is great as his plucky, tomboyish sidekick.

But it is Robert Culp, as the granddad/guardian angel and Santa’s arch nemesis, who makes ‘Santa’s Slay’ nice rather than nasty. A consistently kind-hearted foe for Goldberg’s demented Clause; the two do battle in the most Canadian manner possible – with a rousing game of curling.

Truly one of a kind, ‘Santa’s Slay’ is a B-movie with a heart of gold. Simultaneously an ode to and destruction of the most overblown of holidays, it turns Santa into a villain for whom we can root, without being cynical, or indeed saccharine, about what makes the day itself so special.

santa'sslay3Sure, Gremlins are cute and Jack Frost has more chance of popping up where one least expects him (like the shower!), but there’s something about the incomparable ‘Santa’s Slay’ that captures the magic and fun and madness of Christmas, in a way that no other film of its ilk does.

It’s probably not your first choice for holiday viewing, but it really should be.

Rating: 9/10