Posts

Showing posts with the label Horror

The Curse of the Cat People (1944)

Image
First, let's get this out of the way: I'm not really convinced this qualifies as a Christmas movie. We have a fairly convoluted series of litmus tests we use to determine whether or not a movie is fair game, and the only one Curse of the Cat People doesn't fail is the most subjective of the bunch - Christmas arguably plays a pivotal role in the story.

If this were a less interesting movie, I'd probably set it aside, but - frankly - it's unique enough that I'm willing to give it the benefit of the yuletide doubt. Besides, while I can't claim more than half the movie was set at or around Christmas, a solid third absolutely was, so it's not that much of a stretch.

The movie itself is somewhat complicated. It's fundamentally a story about imaginary friends and the value they can have for children. But it's also the sequel to a 1942 movie about a were-panther fighting against her past and ultimately losing her life. Incidentally, the first film, Cat…

Rick and Morty: Anatomy Park (2013)

Image
I'm a late convert to this show, which is more than a little odd considering my all-time favorite live-action series, Community, was made by one of Rick and Morty's showrunners. Despite that, I was reluctant to get involved with this show, mainly due to its grotesque visual style. But I eventually gave it a try, and...

Yeah. Based on the first few episodes, it's pretty fantastic.

Lindsay and I were surprised to discover the third episode, "Anatomy Park," was holiday themed. Based on the title, I'd assumed it was some sort of Jurassic Park/Innerspace mash-up. Which... it actually still is. But it's also set at Christmas.

The holiday elements are more central to the B-plot, which centers around an awkward holiday gathering. Jerry's parents are visiting for the holidays, so he's obsessed with having his family interact in person, without any digital distractions. Only they arrive with an added guest, Jacob, who's in a polyamorous relationship wi…

Podcast Episode 3: Kevin's Shadow

Image
Just in time for Halloween, Mainlining Christmas explores one of Christmas's most infamous horror icons: Kevin McCallister.

Listen above, or on Soundcloud, Stitcher, iTunes, or almost any podcast app.
References:Home AloneHome Alone 2 The Good SonBetter Watch Out:DRYVRS Ep. 1 "Just Me In The House By Myself" starring Macaulay Culkin & Jack DishelScreen Junkies: Honest Action [i.e.: Marv and Harry body count]Washington Post review for Home Alone 11/16/1990 complains about violence, but doesn’t tie to Kevin directlyNYT review of Home Alone 11/16/1990 describes it as a “black comedy for children”Entertainment Weekly 07/25/2007 complains about violence in Home Alone 2Roger Ebert's review of Home Alone 22015 Mashable article arguing Kevin is a sociopath2015 Entertainment Weekly interview with Home Alone director, Chris Columbus. Includes reference to how frightening it was filming the stunts.Article from The Independent on The Good Son’s trek through development Hell…

Better Watch Out (2016)

Image
I found Better Watch Out on a list of well-reviewed Christmas movies posted by Rotten Tomatoes and added it to my Netflix queue. Turns out, it's well reviewed because it's a good (arguably great) horror flick. Unfortunately, the bulk of what makes it great are the movie's twists, which I really can't avoid discussing.

So. If you're a fan of horror - particularly the psychological variety - you might want to stop reading until you've had a chance to track this one down. In particular, if you love Christmas movies AND horror, seriously: STOP READING NOW.

Last warning, and this one's going at the end for a reason. If you're a fan of the Home Alone series who also enjoys horror movies, for the love of God, I hope you never made it to this sentence, because I just gave away way more than I wanted to.

For the rest of you, here's a synopsis. Ashley is a seventeen-year-old babysitter looking after Luke, a twelve (almost thirteen) year-old boy. After his pa…

Silent Night (2012)

Image
Silent Night is a quasi-remake of the 1984 cult classic, Silent Night, Deadly Night, which - I'll be the first to admit - I really need to see. Not that I really want to see it, mind you, but it's probably one of the more significant holiday films I've yet to get around to.

At any rate, let's talk about the 2012 version, which - judging by the plot synopsis I just skimmed for the 84 - is probably is more of an homage than a remake. The only scene that reads the same is one where the killer impales a woman on deer antlers.

To be fair, that accounts for a good 20% of the plot.

Or, to put it another way, this movie is light on substance. The premise is pretty much summed up in the movie poster: killer Santa. The one innovation present is setting the killing spree during a "Santa parade", making it virtually impossible for the police to identify a suspect. That should have been an interesting twist to a cliched formula, but they didn't really use it to its p…

Black Mirror: White Christmas (2014)

Image
People have been telling us for years we should check out Black Mirror, a British (well, formerly British now Netflix-produced) science fiction anthology series, but we've been busy. We finally got around to at least watching the Christmas special, and we were... I don't know. Not overwhelmed, not underwhelmed. I guess we were whelmed.

The production values were certainly impressive. The writing was solid, though I didn't find this special spectacular. The holiday elements felt tacked on - I wouldn't be at all surprised if this were originally written for another purpose than altered to fit a holiday mold.

This is really three short bits tied together by a frame story about two men ostensibly living and working together in some snowbound environment. It's meant to be ambiguous at the start, but I doubt I was alone in assuming it was some sort of purgatory or hell.

And I was right. It's essentially a digital purgatory, which becomes pretty obvious quite a while…

Book Review: Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus

Image
Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus
Edited by Kate Wolford, 2014

Premise: Twelve short stories about Krampus. Variously known as the Christmas demon, the punisher of naughty children, and the star of severalrecent horror movies, Krampus has been having a bit of a moment recently.

Anthologies are generally hit and miss, and in attempting to please many tastes, this one definitely had some misses for me.

It starts fairly strong. "Prodigious" by Elizabeth Twist straddles myth and contemporary fiction tropes decently with a young man who plays Krampus at a toy store. "The Wicked Child" by Elise Forier Edie follows with something akin to a fairy tale, blending aspects of St Nicholas and Black Peter.

"Marching Krampus" by Jill Corddry was not short or funny enough for its thin "bratty sibling revenge" concept.

"Peppermint Sticks" by Colleen H. Robbins has some strong ideas about a darker interpretation of Christmas elves, but I didn't …

The Real Ghostbusters: X-Mas Marks the Spot (1986)

Image
The Real Ghostbusters has been largely forgotten, which is kind of a shame. The series started in 1986 and serves as something of a missing link between the comical, kid-friendly cartoons of the 80's and the more adult story-driven adventure shows of the 90's. This certainly isn't Batman: The Animated Series, but it's not Scooby-Doo, either. There were some creepy villains and monsters in this show, along with some cool concepts. The story editor was J. Michael Straczynski, who also wrote a vast number of episodes, including this one.

"X-Mas Marks the Spot" was the last episode of the first season. It's set on Christmas Eve, or more accurately on two Christmas Eves. After bungling a job in upstate New York, the Ghostbusters wander through a time portal and find themselves in Victorian London. Not realizing what they're doing, they help Ebeneezer Scrooge with a haunting and wind up capturing the three Christmas ghosts.

Still unaware where they are, th…

Alien: Covenant (2017)

Image
When this movie came out, I asked the first person I knew who watched it one question. I didn't care if it was good or bad, intelligent or idiotic, whether it tied to Prometheus or to the original movies... I just wanted to know if it was set at Christmas. The person I asked assured me it wasn't.

Turns out, he was wrong.

To be fair, you really needed to be paying attention to catch it. The first shot after the intro provides the movie's only date: December 5, 2104.


The ship is almost immediately damaged, requiring repairs before they can continue on their journey. Helpfully, the movie tells us it will take about 48 hours to make those repairs. That takes us to December 7. At this point, they decipher a message and change their destination to a planet "a few weeks" away.

Assuming "a few weeks" translates to fourteen days, they arrive at the film's alien-infested world on December 21. Where do I remember that date from?


Yup - it's the date the Pr…

On Horror at Christmas

There's an article up on comingsoon.net offering a brief look at a handful of Christmas horror movies. It's a good read with some interesting insights into the sub-genre, but it doesn't really delve into the origins. Instead, it points out the more horrific aspects of modern Christmas, which are of course worth exploring. But it got me thinking about the depth of horror as it relates to Christmas, and I wanted to dig in a little deeper.

Over the last century or so, pop-culture and entertainment has mainly embraced the funny and whimsical aspects of Christmas, leaving things like horror seeming subversive. It hasn't helped matters that the vast majority of Christmas horror has been extremely campy, giving the genre the sense it's trying to mock or parody the season from the outside. All but one of the movies the article I linked to above fits that mold (the exception being Black Christmas).

But this is all pretty new. Pull off a layer or two of cheer, and you find h…

Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

Image
I'm counting this as a Christmas movie, even though it means watering down the litmus test we've used in the past. The lead-up to Christmas itself only requires a third of the movie's 90 minute run-time, while New Years Eve falls at the halfway mark. Still, Christmas decorations are present until the end, so I'm giving it a pass.

I should probably mention I've only seen the first Jaws and this one. In theory, that should mean I'm missing two movies from the story, but Wikipedia assures me the third installment was excised from continuity.

The Revenge opens with a holiday celebration in Amity, where the original was set. At some point, Martin Brody, the protagonist of the original Jaws movie, died of a heart attack (i.e.: wasn't interested in making another of these damn movies). His wife and older son, Ellen and Michael, take over as the leads, while his younger son, Sean, is killed off in the first few minutes.

There are two culprits resonsible: the first…

Supernatural: A Very Supernatural Christmas (2007)

Image
It's always awkward to jump into the middle of a plot-heavy series for a holiday installment. Supernatural is a long-running genre show with a pretty passionate fan base. This is the first time we've seen an episode.

This one's from the third season, and it's packaged as a full special, despite really only being an episode. The producers arranged to start with the old CBS "A Special Presentation" title card as an homage to holiday fare from the 80's. And, naturally, they end with snow falling.

There are a few story lines playing out simultaneously. A monster-of-the-week mystery forms the backbone, while a series of flashbacks to a Christmas Eve when Sam learned the truth about their family's legacy provides some heart.

The episode opens with another flashback, this one just a year prior, showing a man being pulled up the chimney on Christmas Eve while his son watched. A year later, and the situation is repeated in another state, but this time monster…

The Good Son (1993)

Image
Once again, our tolerance for what constitutes a "Christmas movie" has been put to the test. This time, it's for entirely different reasons. Strictly speaking, The Good Son should meet our litmus test, as it seems to take place entirely around the holidays. However, that's really a technicality, as the producers don't seem to have realized that Christmas should be going on.

See, there's a line early in the movie establishing that the events unfold over "winter break." I'm assuming this was done to explain why no one needs to go to school. Unless there's another "winter break" I'm unfamiliar with, that means this should be set at Christmas. But at no point is the holiday referenced, nor are there any decorations or lights shown.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the winter break line was either an error or an artifact of an earlier draft, and that for all intents and purposes the movie was set over some mysterious …

Stranger Things: Season 1 (2016)

Image
Let's get this out of the way - in the opinion of Mainlining Christmas, season one of Stranger Things does not technically qualify as an Christmas story, nor does any single episode feature the holidays to a significant extant to be accurately called "a Christmas episode."

Which is why we're doing this now instead of in December.

Excluding flashbacks and an epilogue (which does take place at Christmas), the series takes place over a few days in what's presumably late November. Christmas decorations have started going up, but they're certainly not ubiquitous, and stores are stocking holiday lights.

It's those lights, incidentally, that I mostly want to address. The story of the series centers around --
STOP!
Oh, yeah. Spoiler Alert, and all that.
Where was I?
Right. The story centers around a missing child who's pulled into a parallel universe by some sort of alien monstrosity. I say "parallel universe" in keeping with the series, but in cur…