24 Hours of Christmas Horror

For Halloween, I made a list of 24 hours of horror movies for Halloween (you can read that post here).  I had a lot of fun doing it, so I thought I’d make one for Christmas.  This list assumes a two-hour running time for each movie.

So, if you don’t feel like spending time with your family – or if you feel like watching a ton of horror movies with your family – here is a way to spend your Christmas.

Gremlins (1984)
12:00-2:00 AM
I thought we’d start off with something light-hearted.  And by “light-hearted” I mean “murdering goblins running loose and talk of a sweet girl’s father dying in a chimney.”  Hurray!
Also, Phoebe Cates.

Dead End (2003)
2:00-4:00 AM
A Christmas shortcut turns into an endless drive filled with death, confusion and a sinister hearse patrolling the road.  The ending is a bit predictable, but the acting is tremendous (with Ray Wise and Lin Shaye on board, how could it not be?) and there are some great visuals.

P2 (2007)
4:00-6:00 AM
Rachel Nichols is stalked in an empty parking garage on Christmas by a psychopathic Wes Bentley.  He dresses as Santa and uses “Blue Christmas” as a means of psychological torture.  I can fully understand why some people wouldn’t like this, but I’m a huge fan (mainly because I love the two leads).

Santa Claus (1959)
6:00-8:00 AM
Santa enters into battle with one of Satan’s minions for the soul of a young girl.  Or something.  It was hard to follow at times.  It’s cheap and stupid, but it killed me.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
8:00-10:00 AM
It’s cheap.  It’s dumb.  The motivations of most of the characters make no sense.  But it’s a lot of fun.  There’s a happy little montage of grown-up Billy (wearing clothes that are entirely too tight) helping people at a store.  An elderly, deaf priest dressed as Santa is shot in the back.  Linnea Quigley makes a brief appearance.  It’s entirely ridiculous, but highly enjoyable.  NAUGHTY!

Santa’s Slay (2005)
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
Where Silent Night, Deadly Night was unintentionally ridiculous, this one is intentionally ridiculous.  A star-studded cast in the opening scene (James Caan, Rebecca Gayheart, Fran Drescher, Chris Kattan) is quickly killed off, which sets the scene for an over-the-top killing spree by Bill Goldberg’s Santa Claus.  It’s completely over-the-top, and I really liked it.

Christmas Evil (1980)
12:00-2:00 PM
A slow-build that never gets overly crazy, but does have some pretty fun kills and a handful of great moments.  There are some great performances here as well.  They really help keep my interest throughout the entire film.

Silent Night, Zombie Night (2009)
2:00-4:00 PM
Low-budget and pretty stupid zombie movie.  It’s not great, but, if you’re in the right mood (and have a good amount of alcohol in your system), it can be fun.

Jack Frost (1997)
4:00-6:00 PM
Murdering, wise-cracking snowman.  Not quite as over-the-top as Santa’s Slay, but still pretty ridiculous.  Fun watch with a group of friends.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)
6:00-8:00 PM
Black Christmas is held up as the crown jewel of Christmas horror (and rightly so), but it seems to borrow heavily from this movie.  Has a similar look and feel, with a good sense of mystery and tension that holds through the entire movie.  This isn’t as good as Black Christmas, and it kind of starts veering off the rails by the end, but I really love this movie.

Rare Exports (2010)
8:00-10:00 PM
A unique view of Santa Claus.  Creepy, weird, and pretty funny.  It’s not for everyone, but I love it.  It has quickly become a must-watch movie this time of year.  (I recently talked about this movie here and here, and Fremont talked about it here.)

Black Christmas (1974)
10:00 PM – 12:00 AM
We close our Christmas with what is widely regarded as the best Christmas horror of all time.  I didn’t see this until recently, so I don’t have quite as high an opinion of it as others, but I still really love it.  A great movie to close out your Christmas.
This is also talked about as the first modern slasher movie.  And, while I don’t agree with that statement, I can certainly see the merits in the argument.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

24 Hours of Horror Movies for Halloween

A good friend of mine posed this question to me this past weekend: “If you wanted to watch movies for 24 hours on Halloween, what would your list look like?”  For the sake of ease in this, he told me to assume every movie was 2 hours long.

I really loved this question, so I thought I would put together a viewing list for Halloween.  24 hours of horror movies.  What could be better than that?

One note before I dive in: this does not double as my list of favorite horror movies.  Rather, this is a list of movies that put me in the Halloween spirit.  I had to leave plenty of great movies off this list.  Some day, I’ll put together a list of my favorite movies.  This is not that day.

Feel free to add your own viewing lists in the comments.

12:00-2:00 AM
What better way to kick off the day than with a viewing of the John Carpenter classic?  Beyond being a perfect way to set the mood, it also gives you a lot of tips of what not to do in case the boogeyman decides to show up in your small, nondescript town.  It also reminds us that everyone – even a cynical old codger like Dr. Loomis – is entitled to one good scare.  Use it wisely.

The Orphanage
2:00-4:00 AM
The atmosphere throughout this entire movie is perfect for late-night (or early-morning) viewing.  It’s a beautiful and spooky little ghost story.  It’s not uncommon for mist to rise around this time of day, which would be the ideal setting to watch this.

Evil Dead [2013]
4:00-6:00 AM
I realize this might seem a bit early for such a gory, intense movie.  But I believe in you.  If you’re willing to watch 24 hours of horror movies, you can deal with watching the insanity that is this movie at 4 in the morning.  I may just end up watching this every morning when I get out of bed.  Better than a cup of coffee.
Anyway, this movie is amazing.

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
6:00-8:00 AM
The sun is starting to come up, so we need to move to some lighter material (mainly because it just doesn’t feel right watching some movies when the sun is out).  This seems like a good way to kick off this portion of the day.  It’s a smart, funny, perfect deconstruction of the slasher genre, while still managing a few scares.  This is one of my favorite modern horror films.

Drag Me to Hell
8:00-10:00 AM
Sam Raimi’s return to the horror genre is a ton of fun.  Dancing goats and gypsy curses and horrible, horrible things happening to an adorable blonde.  Justin Long is terrific, and David Paymer even makes an appearance.  More like Christine on the hoof, amiright?  Anyone?

The Monster Squad
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
I hadn’t seen this movie since elementary school, and wondered how well it would hold up.  As it turns out, it holds up wonderfully.  It’s The Goonies with monsters.  It’s funny and odd, and it’s everything I wanted to be a part of as a kid.  And now.  I would totally be in The Monster Squad right now (although it would probably look like Mystery Team at this point).

Return of the Living Dead
12:00-2:00 PM
Crazy, bloody fun, with Linnea Quigley dancing on graves as an added plus.  It’s a fun addition to the zombie genre.  It’s extremely funny, and I find something else to love about it every time I watch it.
It would’ve made sense to watch Night of the Living Dead before watching this, but I just couldn’t find room for it so early in the day.

2:00-4:00 PM
I don’t know what it is about this movie.  This series doesn’t get overtly goofy until the second movie (and that goofiness really hits hard in the third and fourth), but this movie is pretty unintentionally goofy.  The effects are pretty bad.  The Ghoulies look ridiculous.  But there’s just something I love about this movie.  It doesn’t feel like Halloween until I watch it.

4:00-6:00 PM
As we transition to dusk, it’s time to get away from the lighter stuff and back into the darker side of the genre.  May is a perfect fit.  It’s a darkly funny movie, but it has a heavy dose of gore and creepy moments as well.  It’s The Bride of Frankenstein or Pieces, as lived through an awkward girl who wants nothing more than to fit in.  It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking movie.  I’m always left wondering whose side I’m on.

Night of the Living Dead [1968]
6:00-8:00 PM
This movie may not be as terrifying as it was when it was first released (and violence against women is generally frowned-upon these days, even if they are in a state of hysterics about how the walking dead killed their brother), but it still holds up extremely well.  An air of creepiness surrounds the entire film.  This is still my all-time favorite zombie movie.

8:00-10:00 PM
The day is winding down.  It’s time to get uncomfortable.  This movie is less scary than it is deeply unsettling.  It has a great story and atmosphere to it.  And, while there are a handful of moments that I would cut (the “children dancing in the hall” scene was downright laughable), it never quite lost me, and it drew me back in immediately afterwards (this is in stark contrast to Insidious, which lost me fairly early and never regained my trust).  This is a dark, twisted movie that will stay with you for long after the credits have rolled.

Trick R Treat
10:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Our day ends with Trick R Treat, which takes 5 stories (all taking place on Halloween in a small town) and weaves them together through the use of interacting characters and Sam, an undersize pumpkin-man who seems sworn to uphold the ancient traditions of Halloween, enforcing them with swift justice and a sharp lollipop.  There really isn’t a likable character to be found here, but I love the stories and the feel of the movie.  If nothing else, it’s pretty good justification for staying inside on Halloween and watching movies.  It’s better than being a disturbed principal’s human jack-o-lantern.  Just make sure to keep that pumpkin lit.

And there you have it.  Twelve movies to fill up 24 hours of your day on Halloween.  Of course, limiting myself to only twelve movies assures that some terrific options were left off.  Also, in looking at the actual running time, these would not take up the full 24 hours.  So feel free to plug any of these into the list.  They just narrowly missed the cut, anyway.

Psycho [1960]
Cabin in the Woods
Amityville Horror [2005]
The Haunting [1963]
A Nightmare on Elm Street [1984]
The Bride of Frankenstein
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre [1974 or 2003]
Shaun of the Dead
Final Destination
Paranormal Activity