It’s that time of the year again when there isn’t a single holiday worth a damn in sight. July 4th is a distant memory, the fall and winter festivities are a dot on the horizon, and does anybody really care about Labor Day? But hey, it’s always a murder holiday in our hearts, and in the realm of horror, the holidays have long played host to murder…
1972 saw Joan Collins stalked by a psycho Santa in a memorable — and much copied — segment from Tales from the Crypt. That same year, Sally Field went Home for the Holidays and was chased around by a pitchfork-wielding killer in an ABC Movie of the Week from Outer Limits scribe Joseph Stefano. But it was the 1974 proto-slasher Black Christmas that wrote the rule book for what was to come, and truly perfected the blend of holiday and horror.
It’s a blend that led to — what was for a time — the most successful independent film of all time: John Carpenter’s Halloween. And as soon as that money started pouring down like snow on Christmas Eve, every holiday was up for grabs. There was My Bloody Valentine, New Year’s Evil, and Creepshow even squeezed in a Father’s Day segment. Hell, 1986 alone saw the release of three different April Fool’s Day flicks.
But we’re not here to argue over what the best April Fool’s Day movie is (it’s Slaughter High, by the way), we’re here to check out which holly jolly horrors are available for you to watch on VRV. So pour yourself a glass of seven month-old eggnog, light up those leftover fireworks, and throw the rotting skeletal remains of last November’s turkey on a platter, because the murder holiday is about to begin.
For young Harry Stadling, there was nothing more magical, more enchanting than ol’ St. Nick. But then like so many of us did on Christmas Eve back in 1947, he walked in on Santa sniffing mommy’s crotch. Now he’s a middle-aged man in Santa pajamas played by Fiona Apple’s dad. He also spies on the neighborhood kids, carefully detailing who’s naughty and who’s nice in a collection of hardbound tomes. And he occasionally drops by his younger brother’s house to watch him have sex.
Not a slasher à la Silent Night, Deadly Night, but a stark, Taxi Driver-esque character study about a man’s descent into a madness. A descent we witness as we count down the days until Christmas, Harry’s rage over little Moss Garcia wanting a lifetime subscription to Penthouse Magazine building by the second. And when the big night arrives, you will see the effects of a toy soldier to the eye, and the anguish of a deranged Santa Claus who can’t fit down the chimney. John Waters calls it the greatest Christmas film of them all, and I can’t disagree.
This one was a big deal when it graced the New Release shelf back in the video store days. Not because it was scripted by Larry Cohen, or because it was directed by Maniac Cop’s Bill Lustig. No, it was a big deal because it had a lenticular VHS box. You see, if you stood in one spot it looked like regular old Uncle Sam was pointing at you with the tagline “I Want You.” But if you took one step over, he was suddenly zombie-faced, and by god, he didn’t just want you, he wanted you DEAD.
Sam Harper is a kill-happy Gulf War vet with an abusive streak who’s a tad too devoted to the red, white, and blue. He also has a nephew named Jody, thus making him an Uncle Sam. Oh, and he’s a charred corpse who rises from the grave on July 4th to slaughter those who dare disrespect the flag, or protest the National Anthem.
All that stands in his way is his turd of a nephew, some kid in a wheelchair who has a psychic link to him due to being burned by fireworks, and Korean War vet Isaac Hayes, who likes to remind the children that he did NOT lose his dick to a land mine.
So maybe the movie is not as ingenious as that VHS box, but what is, really? And it’s still far and away the best 4th of July themed slasher that doubles as a scorching critique of the military-industrial complex. In fact, it’s not just the best, it’s the only one, and for that we salute you, Uncle Sam.
You’d think there’d be a lot more killing on Thanksgiving. You’re celebrating genocide by sitting around and staring at your miserable-ass family, there’s no presents, and you don’t even get to wear a costume. If it weren’t for my crippling addiction to ambrosia, I wouldn’t even bother to show up. A slasher coming by would be something actually worth giving thanks for.
Until that glorious day arrives, there’s always Blood Rage.
Terry hacked up a couple with an axe at the drive-in and blamed it on his dopey twin brother Todd. Ten years later, Terry is still a douche, and Todd is still a little wiener. Only Terry now lives with his mother in the Shadow Woods condo community, and Todd is locked away in a mental hospital. I’m not sure which is supposed to be worse.
Todd escapes, and heads back home for Thanksgiving, allowing Terry to get back to chopping people up into pieces and blaming it on his idiot brother. Brutal dismemberment and the flagrant abuse of pumpkin pie ensue. Louise Lasser plays the mom, and appears to be in the midst of a nervous breakdown whenever she’s on camera — bringing an authenticity to the Thanksgiving setting. I think this movie may have been beamed to us from another dimension. A true holiday classic.