Ho-ho-horror, everyone! M.L. Miller aka the @$$hole formerly known as Ambush Bug here. Continuing the countdown fun, I’ve decided to finally compile a list of the Best Holiday Horror Movies this December. Some of these films can be found in theaters, but others have unfortunately only seen the light of day on Video On Demand or simply go straight to DVD, BluRay, or digital download. I’ve tried to indicate in the reviews where you can check these films out as thoroughly as I can.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, there’s no real method to my special brand of madness. Having seen quite a few holiday horrors, I simply have been keeping a list and checking it more than twice throughout the year. I’ll be counting down every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through December to my favorite holiday horror film of the year. I’m sure there are some that I’ve missed, overlooked, or simply haven’t seen yet, but that will leave leftovers to cover in upcoming Decembers
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, come up with your own damn list…let’s go!
#11 CUENTO DE NAVIDAD (THE X-MAS TALE) #11
Why is CUENTO DE NAVIDAD #11? Because it’s one of Paco Plaza’s first films. Plaza was one half of the team that made [REC] and [REC]2 and he also crafted the upcoming horror treat VERONICA. But before all of that, he did this film which is an utterly unique story set to an Amblin-vibe that all the hip movies are referencing these days. If you don’t mind the subtitles, you’re in for a different kind of holiday horror story with this one. You can find it here on Amazon here!
CUENTO DE NAVIDAD (THE X-MAS TALE) (2005)
Directed by Paco Plaza
Written by Luis Berdejo
Starring Maru Valdivielso, Ivana Baquero, Pau Poch, Christian Casas, Roger Babia, & Daniel Casadella
CUENTO DE NAVIDAD or simply THE X-MAS TALE is one of those little gems you don’t hear about, but as soon as you see it, you want to share it with as many people as you possibly can. The closest thing I can compare this Spanish film to is EXPLORERS or GOONIES, where a group of kids are put into a very dire situation and because the adults around them are either negligent or busy, it is up to them to face the challenge. But unlike EXPLORERS or GOONIES, CUENTO DE NAVIDAD is an undeniable horror film. The best aspect of this film is that the children are in danger. CUENTO DE NAVIDAD doesn’t pull any punches. The terror in this one is for real.
A group of kids find a person dressed as Santa Claus at the bottom of a large hole in a forest. They soon find out that this isn’t jolly old St. Nick, but a female bank robber dressed as Santa Claus (played menacingly by Maru Valdivielso). But these kids aren’t really on Santa’s nice list as they try to blackmail the robber into telling them where her stolen money is by keeping her in the deep hole in the cold earth without food or water. One of the kids, Ivana Baquero (who you’ll recognize as the little girl from PAN’S LARYRINTH) feels bad for the robber, but the rest are little shits to her.
There’s a cool irony at play here that they are too old to believe in Santa Claus, the kids do believe in the voodoo zombie rituals that take place on the Saturday afternoon horror shows on TV. But though this is an endearing trait, you sort of find yourself rooting for the bank robber in this one as these kids are clearly not as clean and wholesome as the kids from Speilberg’s films. And this isn’t the anti-hero affinity one feels while watching Freddy or Jason kill off annoying twenty something actors. This is the feeling that these kids need to be punished for acting the way they do. Sure they have some endearing quirks with one kid loving the KARATE KID so much he applies Miagi’s teachings to mostly everything he does, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that they extorted money from, starved, and tortured a woman in a hole for two-thirds of the movie. So when the red coated robber gets out of the hole and goes looking for the kids, there’s some nice hell to play.
The film only loses steam towards the end as the mysticism from the Saturday afternoon schlockers are employed, which makes for a last act tonal switch. The decision to go this route kind of lessens the impact of this powerful film, but it ends so quickly, CUENTO DE NAVIDAD does not suffer much for it. When I first heard of CUENTO DE NAVIDAD, I wasn’t too excited to see it, but after watching it, I’m kicking myself for not checking it out sooner. It offers some nice moral ironies, has great performances from Maru Valdivielso and Ivana Baquero (who will definitely be a huge star someday), and has a tone of terror with children that one doesn’t see very much anymore.
If you like what I said about, help me out and click on the link to buy it on Amazon here !!!
THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…
#13 – THE HORROR NETWORK V.1 “Merry Little Christmas” segment
#12 – STALLED
#11 – CUENTO DE NAVIDAD
M.L. Miller goes by many names—Ambush Bug, Mark L. Miller, hey you jerk over there! He’s an original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
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