Good Tidings A Christmas Siege Horror/Thriller Coming Xmas 2016

gt1Good Tidings

A Christmas Siege Horror/Thriller

RELEASED CHRISTMAS 2016

‘Christmas Can Be Killer’
Two-Headed Snake Entertainment are happy to announce that pre-production is underway on the upcoming Christmas themed horror/thriller ‘GOOD TIDINGS’.

The movie draws inspiration from genre classics, taking influence from Black Christmas, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Silent Night Deadly Night, Assault on Precinct 13, whilst still harkening to the new breed of horror thrillers like You’re Next, The Devils Rejects and The Purge.

Due for release Christmas 2016. A homeless war-veteran with a chequered past must rely on a side of himself once thought buried when he and his companions are targeted on Christmas Day by three vicious psychopaths in Santa suits. Written and conceived by horror enthusiasts Stu Jopia, Stuart W. Bedford and Giovanni Gentile, who recently penned this years zombie action thriller ‘Apocalypse’ and next year’s monster fuelled H.P Lovecraft inspired horror anthology ‘Dark Continents’.

Shot on a location in a disused courthouse in Southport, Merseyside. Amanda Robertshaw has opened the courthouse doors for the first time and allowed a film crew inside to create this daring 70’s style siege movie.

gt2 Director/Writer Stuart W. Bedford tells us “We’ve always been fascinated by Exploitation movies. Good Tidings is our love-letter to those phenomenal slashers from the 70’s and 80’s, tied together by a festive satire: Christmas is cruel to the poor.” Writer/Producer Stu Jopia says “Christmas themed horror movies are my favourite holiday movies, so much festive fun to be had, and a slasher/siege movie featuring three psychopathic killer Santa’s is exactly what Christmas time has been crying out for.” Producer/Writer Giovanni Gentile adds “There are not enough Christmas slashers out there. It is our mission to add to this genre pool, and have a merry bloody time doing it.”

#goodtidingswebring

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4823524/?mode=desktop&ref_=m_ft_dsk

https://instagram.com/goodtidingswebring

https://goodtidingswebring.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/goodtidingswebring

https:/www./twitter.com/good_tidings666

Pranks aka The Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982) Review

pranks1Pranks (1982)

a.k.a. The Dorm that Dripped Blood

Dir. Stephen Carpenter

“When the kidding stops … the killing starts.”

A college dorm has been condemned and slated for demolition. Four college students—Joanne, Patti, Brian and Craig—have volunteered to move everything out of the hall over the Christmas break. They have to clean the place up, conduct inventory and sell off the surplus items, and lock the place up.

It’s a big job to be sure, but the two weeks look like they’ll be trying in more ways than one when a stranger appears to be stalking the campus, and the students’ lives are threatened. Could it all be the work of John Hemmit, a frizzy-haired oddball whom nobody likes, or is there someone even more twisted and terrifying at work here? Working with that barebones premise, PRANKS cuts to the chase faster than most slashers I’ve seen. In fact, before we even meet protagonist/final girl Joanne, a random student is killed in the bushes near a pre-Christmas break party, his hand stabbed, pinned to the ground, as he is choked to death.

pranks2By the 16 minute mark, one of the student’s father is bludgeoned with a nail-studded baseball bat, her mother is garroted with her own necklace, and the student herself run over with the family car. After slowing down the pace to build suspense, we’re then treated to a  power drill attack in the mens room, followed by an unconscious girl shoved into an industrial-sized steam cooker. Throw in a big fat red herring, a predictable reveal, a chase and a showdown, and you’ve got yourself a fairly average slasher.

But wait, what’s this? There’s five minutes left?  The police have arrived and they’re not stopping the killer? The final girl is unconscious and helpless? Oh dear, what could happen next ….

In addition to a truly unexpected ending, PRANKS has decent effects and an above average score by Chris Young, who went on to  compose for more than 100 films, including many horror genre entries (Drag Me to Hell, The Grudge, The Gift, The Fly 2, and Hellraiser to name a handful). Not the best, not the worst, PRANKS is worth a watch for fans of the slasher subgenre.

pranks3But in full disclosure, I am baffled by the title, PRANKS. While one of the male students occasionally plays with the lights or says something to irritate the girls, I don’t recall seeing one practical joke. As a matter of fact, before watching the film, I was under the impression I’d seen it before but in fact was thinking of SLAUGHTER HIGH (1986).

5/10

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

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

Santa Claws (1996) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

SANTA CLAWS 001SANTA CLAWS (1996) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Debbie Rochon, Grant Kramer, John Mowod, Dawn Michelucci, Marilyn Eastman

Written by: John A. Russo

Runtime: 83 minutes

Directed by: John A. Russo

 

John A. Russo’s name will forever be synonymous with his contribution to the screenplay of one of the most iconic horror films ever made – Night of the Living Dead (1968). Since that time he’s stayed in the horror industry but with markedly less success than his former colleague George A. Romero. If you can track down Midnight (1982), then that’s a worthy addition to his canon – it had a sublime release from Arrow Video last year, but when it comes to Santa Claws (1996) you may want to avoid this festive ‘delight’.

 

We open with young Wayne (Christopher Boyle) who is not too happy about his mother being boned by his uncle in the wake of his father’s passing, so he decides to express this disgust in the not too appropriate way of shooting them both to death. Cue an opening credits sequence which finds b-movie actress Raven Quinn (the legendary Debbie Rochon) wandering around the city to the tune of a crooning title track which drearily pines how “I’ll be spending Christmas by myself”.

 

SANTA CLAWS 002Raven is about to star in a dubious festive T&A video centred around scream queens, and it seems she has quite a following – certainly enough to have her own life-sized doll produced in her image. We know this because one has been purchased by, yes – you guessed it, adult Wayne! (Grant Cramer) who seems to spend his days holed up in his bedroom while his imagination manages to bring his Raven Quinn doll to life for some salacious goings on.

 

It’s not long before we discover that Wayne lives right by the object of his affection, and is a frequent visitor with presents for her kids. Meanwhile Raven is at a low ebb with her marriage beginning to disintegrate, arguments with her in-laws and a philandering husband, she’s in a fairly emotionally susceptible position. All of this upheaval in Raven’s life, along with the need for a shoulder to cry on gives Wayne the perfect opportunity to move full throttle into stuttering stalker territory, and it’s not long before Raven finds herself and her colleagues at the mercy of this deranged stalker.

 

Low budget works for me as I find it can often bring out the best in filmmakers as they search for originality with regard to accomplishing art on a limited budget. Sometimes though it backfires and can be prone to predictability and amateurishness, and sadly, this is where Santa Claws falls. Its main downfall is undoubtedly the character of Wayne who comes across as menacing as a frosted mince pie, and for his weapon of choice uses a garden implement that seems as deadly as a turkey baster.

 

SANTA CLAWS 003Debbie Rochon does her best as is always the case, but with the film interspersed with T&A photo shoot footage it becomes a bit of a yawn-fest complete with 90s style wince inducing porn boobs. With little horror action taking place in the first hour, this could well prove to be a test of patience for any unassuming viewer, and with another rendition of “I’ll be spending Christmas by myself” before the halfway point, if you began the movie with any horror fiend buddies, you could well end up “watching the end of the movie by yourself”.

 

3 out of 10

Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman (2000) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

JACK 001JACK FROST 2: REVENGE OF THE MUTANT KILLER SNOWMAN (2000) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Christopher Allport, Eileen Seeley, Chip Heller, Marsha Clark, Scott MacDonald (voice)

Written by: Michael Cooney

Runtime: 88 minutes

Directed by: Michael Cooney

 

Ah yes, the old film about the murderous wise-cracking snowman that goes on a killing spree. This sequel in the wake of the baffling success of the first movie (I think the holographic VHS sleeve contributed to that though…. maybe!) isn’t much cop at all. It is though a shamefully guilty pleasure that my approval of would lead to the removal of even the slight amount of credibility that I’ve been able to muster. But hey, it’s a killer snowman movie, let’s enjoy!

We begin by reacquainting ourselves with Sam Tiler (Christopher Allport) who is sat in his (bored) psychiatrist’s office recounting the events of the first movie, much to the mirth of the folks in reception who are party to his confession due to the analyst putting his session on speakerphone to ease his perpetual boredom with this outlandish scenario. With Sam still stressed about his ordeal, his wife has managed to convince him to jet off on holiday to warmer climes to rid himself of the baggage of what he endured one year prior.

JACK 002Meanwhile, back on the mainland some wise guy has had the bright idea to dig up the jug of antifreeze from an unmarked grave that was the final resting place of Jack Frost. Before you can say frosty jack some galute has spilled his cup of coffee into the mix and low and behold our fabled snowman is back in action (although yet to reach solid form!). With a cohesive manner for a liquid snowman reaching the Caribbean being seemingly unimportant, it’s not long before mutant killer Jack arrives onto the shore in the form of a carrot (long story) and begins to gradually piece himself together in order to exact his revenge on Sam.

I’m not sure whether the most baffling thing about the Jack Frost films is a) that they even exist or b) that they’re written by a successful English playwright. Michael Cooney went on to also write two killer screenplay’s for The I Inside (2004) and the excellent Identity (2003), not to mention there’s also his Dad, Ray Cooney (who plays the bumbling Colonel Hickering here) who had a successful stage career – but then he directed Danny Dyer in Run For Your Wife!

JACK 003Family ties aside, Jack Frost 2: ROTMKS is a fist-chewingly terrible attempt to take a crazy idea that generated a genuinely kooky curio and prolong its life more that is rightfully possible. Its jokes are awful, the performances are ham-fisted and it feels like an idea written on a napkin over-extended into a 90 minute movie. However, it is oddly compelling and I think it just about scrapes it into the Evil Bong / Gingerdead Man pool of “so bad, it’s good”. Well, when I say good I must insist on the vital caveat of “providing you’ve ingested your own body weight in alcohol”.

 

5 out of 10

Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 : Better Watch Out! (1989) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

SNDN 001SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT III: BETTER WATCH OUT! (1989) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Bill Moseley, Samantha Scully, Richard C. Adams, Richard Beymer, Eric DaRe

Written by: Carlos Laszlo (story and screenplay), Arthur Gorson (story), Monte Hellman (story)

Runtime: 89 minutes

Directed by: Monte Hellman

 

After an early career amongst the low budget B’s of the 1960s, Monte Hellman went on to reach both cult and critical acclaim with Cockfighter (1974) and most notably Two-Lane Blacktop (1971). It’s with some surprise then that we fast forward to 1989 to discover him behind the camera on the third entry in the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise.

To recap on the events of the series so far, the killer in the initial Silent Night, Deadly Night had a brother called Ricky who sought revenge in Part II but was swiftly nullified… so we thought, but alas Part III opens with Ricky (Bill Moseley) lying in a hospital bed with his brain exposed. The reason for this intriguing plot development is that Ricky is being kept alive on purpose as in the same clinic is Laura (Samantha Scully), a blind psychic who is being coaxed into making contact with Ricky to ‘get inside his head’.

SNDN 002The doctor doing this bizarre experiment is Dr. Newbury (Richard Beymer) who reconstructed Ricky’s brain after he was shot six times at the end of the last movie, so considering his efforts he has a real desire to see some results from his experiment. Laura on the other hand is reluctant to tell Dr. Newbury exactly what she sees when she makes contact with Ricky, and as coincidence should have it it’s time to head home for the holidays which gives Laura the ideal opportunity to get away from this traumatic scenario.

Collected by her brother (Eric DaRe – with an alarmingly awful perm) and his girlfriend (Laura Harring) they head off just before we bear witness to the predictable reawakening of good ‘ole Ricky Caldwell. During a lifetime of watching horror movies, we’ve all seen some classic ‘killer comes back to life’ situations (Jason being electrocuted back alive underwater in F13thVIII for example) – here though we can enjoy the sight of a drunken Santa Claus stumbling into Ricky’s hospital room, in which the sight of him snaps Ricky back to life, onto his feet and out the door of the clinic. He also manages to spectacularly tune himself in to Laura’s psychic frequency and get the directions to where she’s heading for her holiday stay – genius. Perhaps most enjoyable is how Ricky, clad in hospital gown with a fish bowl on his head displaying his brain finds it so easy to hitch a lift.

Silent Night, Deadly Night III is worth watching purely for such idiocies. It is quite possibly the most laughably awful yet memorably enjoyable horror movie that I like to revisit from time to time. Bear in mind I’ve only given you an insight there into the first half an hour, there is far more crazy exposition yet to come including the appearance of Robert Culp as a detective hot on Ricky’s trail, and a phone sex obsessed gas station attendant. It’s also filled with goof-tastic quotes such as “he sees what she sees” – but she’s BLIND!

At a showing of the movie in Austin in 2008, Hellman introduced the film by saying it was his best work (without sarcasm apparently), though he based this assertion primarily on the speed at which he was able to turn the project around which included re-writing the script in 7 days (that long?).

SNDN 003This in my opinion is far from Monte Hellman’s best work – it’s not even in his top 10, but that said it is worth hunting it down if only to see Bill Moseley in one of his most restrained roles as Ricky. Good luck with finding it though, it’s never had a UK release and the set from Lionsgate released in 2009 is now pretty hard to come by.

 

5 out of 10