Because nothing says Christmas quite like wintery murder movies! Here are the movies I watched over the weekend to get into the holiday spirit:
Home for the Holidays (1972): It’s Christmas time and four estranged sisters reluctantly return home to visit their their father on his death bed. He tells them he is being poisoned to death by their stepmother and it’s in their best interest to kill her before she kills them. Dude is rich, mean, and does not mince words! There are the trappings of an early slasher movie with a final girl and a pitchfork-wielding killer but the movie works more as a campy whodunit. All the actresses turn in excellent performances but Jessica Walter (Lucille Bluth!) is unforgettable as the alcoholic sister who throws a booze-fueled tantrum in front of a painting. Ugh, love her. Everyone in my viewing party enjoyed the intense zoom-ins, the perpetual thunder storm, and adorable Sally Field. Also, it is now my goal in life to achieve beautiful, shiny ’70s hair. Heh, I also really liked that when the phone made an out-of-service noise, we could turn to my co-worker Dave Holmes to see if this used to be a familiar thing (it was). I’m so happy Dave Holmes watched this with us! For anyone interested, the whole movie is on YouTube.
Tales From the Crypt “And All Through the House” (1989): A woman kills her husband in cold blood for his life insurance. It’s clear from the get-go this lady isn’t skilled at body disposal but things only get more complicated when a deranged man dressed as Santa shows up. Psycho Santa is no genius either but what he lacks in tactic, he makes up for with the unstoppable strength of an insane-person. As an episode of Tales From the Crypt, the story zips right along with a fun, slapstick pace. It’s hard not to laugh whenever Santa grins with his rotten teeth and crazy eyes. This is also available to watch in its entirety on YouTube. And here’s a nifty link to ‘The Vault of Horror’ comic story the episode is based on.
Rabid (1977): After a near-deadly motorcycle accident, Marilyn Chambers receives radical skin graft surgery and wakes up with a phallic parasite in her arm pit. Soon she develops a taste for blood and starts a zombie-like epidemic. I’m a fan of David Cronenberg but this is the first movie I’d seen of his made before Videodrome. It is terrific and the parasite is effectively repulsive. I got a kick out of the scene where pretty Marilyn preys on a creeper at the porn theater (also worth noting: why does she buy popcorn there?! That seems deeply unsanitary somehow). The best scene though, and in case there are any doubts that this is a Christmas movie, is when an infected zombie starts going nuts on a mall Santa. Tears from laughter at the exploding tree ornaments! We watched this one at Ben’s place by the comfort of a crackling fire. I can’t think of a better contrast than a cozy fireplace and a mutated lady pit…
Black Christmas (1974): It’s Christmas break at a sorority house and the sisters keep receiving obscene anonymous phone calls. ‘It’s the moaner!’ Oh man. Black Christmas is one of my all-time favorite movies, horror or otherwise. I’m about to drop a lot of spoilers so please just go out and buy this movie if you haven’t seen it. Things I will never get sick of: Mrs. Mac’s hidden booze bottles, bratty but beautiful Margot Kidder, and Billy’s voice which still sends shivers down my spine. Thanks to the movie buffs in the room, I learned that director Bob Clark went on to direct Porky’s and A Christmas Story (what?!). We all laughed when Mrs. Mac pulled off a hat that looked like it was trimmed with her own hair and shouted at Jess’s emotionally unstable boyfriend. Somehow, even when he’s revealed innocent, the boyfriend is more upsetting than Billy the killer. A classic for the season.
Happy Holidays! I hope everyone is having a creepy Christmas with good friends and good movies. As I type, Dean is already tucked in bed, James and his cat are passed out on the sofa, and I’m about to cook a late night casserole for our Christmas potluck. :)