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!
#8 TALES FROM THE CRYPT 1972: “And All Through the House…” segment #8
Why? While I’m sure there are those who wanted the HBO TALES FROM THE CRYPT version of this tale showing up on this countdown, I feel the segment from the 1972 film is much scarier. The main reason being that the Killer Santa attacking Joan Collins is so damn creepy. This Santa, with his blank stare and dirty face feels like a real deranged lunatic and to me that’s much scarier than Larry Drake in fright makeup. I couldn’t find this on digital download, but you can buy the two-disk set on Amazon here!
Available in a TALES FROM THE CRYPT/VAULT OF HORROR Double Feature BluRay from The Shout Factory!
TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972)
Directed by Freddie Francis
Written by Milton Subotsky (screenplay, from comic book stories in TALES FROM THE CRYPT and THE VAULT OF HORROR by writers Johnny Craig, Al Feldstein, & William M. Gaines)
Starring Sir Ralph Richardson as the Crypt Keeper
Segment One “And All Through the House” – Joan Collins, Martin Boddey, Chloe Franks, Oliver MacGreevy
Segment Two “Reflection of Death” – Ian Hendry, Susan Denny, Angela Grant
Segment Three “Poetic Justice” – Peter Cushing, Robin Phillips, David Markham, Robert Hutton
Segment Four “Wish You Were Here” – Richard Greene, Barbara Murray, Roy Dotrice
Segment Five “Blind Alleys” – Nigel Patrick, Patrick Magee
While it’s not the strongest of anthologies, there is something dark and diabolical about this film. Maybe it’s the grimy and low fi effects or the extreme angles and claustrophobic closeness director Freddie Francis chooses to film this film with. Either way, it’s an effective little film. Though there’s no puppet Crypt Keeper cackling, and cracking bad puns and the wraparound story is rather weak, the stories themselves are downright scary.
The first story is one those familiar with the HBO series will remember. “…And All Through the House” stars a pretty smoking hot Joan Collins as a moneygrubbing wife who offs her husband on the same night a lunatic in a Santa costume decides to come knocking. While Collins inexplicably kind of forgets about the killer she sees outside and begins to clean up the murder scene, there are some fun thrills as Santa finds his way inside. The ending is a classic, and one that is downright haunting since the killer Santa does indeed look like a lunatic.
Story two is “Reflections of Death”, about a man leaving his wife for another woman only to get into a car crash as he makes his getaway. It’s a pretty simple story, but made ultra-creepy with some first person POV and some extreme and up-close shots of the crash, all of which add to a nice little twist ending that, while rather goofy, does deliver quite a shock.
Like most of these shorts, everything in the third installment “Poetic Justice” drives towards a shockeroo ending. This one is a damn fine and gory one, but it’s Peter Cushing’s gentle turn as a toymaker that really makes this installment special and really sparks the investment. The story is a rather cruel one as Cushing’s neighbors simply don’t want him in the neighborhood and do everything they can to get him out. Of course, this comes back to haunt them.
There’s a lot to like about segment four, “Wish You Were Here.” This twist on the “The Monkey’s Paw” tale is a little too on the nose for my tastes, but it does offer up some fun imagery as a skull-faced motorcycle rider shows up to torment a man in financial trouble. When the man crashes his car and dies, his wife wishes for his return, but as with “The Monkey’s Paw,” this wish comes with a curse–one that is much more tactile and gory than the original tale, making it all the more devious and memorable. Still this one will leave you writhing and screaming, much like the characters in this segment.
The final tale, called “Blind Alleys”, stars Nigel Patrick as a rigid new headmaster at a hospital for the blind and Patrick Magee as a blind spokesman for the patients there. This one feels more nuanced than the other episodes, reminiscent of WWII and other atrocities that happen to the downtrodden. While the elaborate method the blind men take in getting revenge on their harsh caretaker is a bit farfetched given their disabilities, the scheme they hatch is pretty original and devious. The ending of this one definitely has a dark tone, and the wall of razors is realized rather well as the razors make one tiny cut after another and Nigel Patrick’s performance and Francis’ tight direction make you feel every slice.
Sir Ralph Richardson is no KNB effects-made Crypt Keeper puppet, but he’s ominous enough a host for this anthology. It’s pretty obvious what all of the people who end up in the crypt are there for, so the “twist” ending really isn’t a shocker, but the morbid installments and effectively creepy twists more than make up for it. TALES FROM THE CRYPT is paired with VAULT OF HORROR in this Shout Factory Double Feature BluRay.
If you like what I said above, 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
#10 – A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY
#9 – THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER
#8 – TALES FROM THE CRYPT 1972 “And All Through the House…” segment
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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