Archive for the 'Cult Film' Category

May

When we last left Pinhead n’ pals at the end of “Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth,” Pinhead had been reunited (and it felt so bad) with his ghost, Captain Elliott Spenser, in hell, and the heroine, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Jadzia Dax, plunked the Hellraiser box in the drying foundation of a building, the better to keep people’s mitts off of it. At least people who aren’t Kitty Pryde. And then we see a building with Hellraiser box décor erected on the building site. But Pinhead’s in his hell, the gate to which is literally encased in tons of concrete, and all’s right with the world, right? Right?!
Of course not.
You know how when “Jason X” came out, everyone chortled “haw haw, it’s Jason – in space!” (I love “Jason X” so much, don’t get me started.) But Pinhead did it first and he did it here. The movie opens in the plausibly-distant future with standard issue space marines storming a space facility where a mysterious man, Dr. Merchant, sets a poor innocent low-end Terminator to solving the puzzle box.

The man successfully activates the box-by-bot just as he is captured by Rimmer, the Ripley of this set of space marines, and he pleads with her to get off the station and let him finish what he started. Finish what? Hope you brought some popcorn, Rimmer. Settle in.
The previous Hellraiser movies never really got into the background of the box sketched out in the “Hellbound Heart” novella, although neeeeeeerds still picked up it’s called Lemarchand’s box or the Lament Configuration. The franchise is gonna fix that with Dr. Merchant’s Introduction to the Hellraiser Box 101, and the course materials are a couple of big-ass flashbacks. Because, you see, his bloodline is the bloodline of the title, as his ancestor was the one to create the box in the first darn place. Good one, Merchant family.
And so we’re in powdered-wigs-and-tights era France where a toymaker named Philippe Lemarchand, who looks exactly like Dr. Merchant, has whipped up the Hellraiser box to order for a wealthy client. Of course, he somehow designs it to his patron’s specifications without realizing what it does, and his wife is unimpressed when all he can get it to do is open and play tinkly music. Oh, you just wait, hon.

Lemarchand delivers the box to his client on a dark and ominous night. The client, Duc de L’Isle, looks sort of like an evil harlequin Bea Arthur, and he receives the box while a woman he and his trusty apprentice Jacques – Adam Scott’s first film role, everybody! — have just ganked cools offscreen. Then Lemarchand hangs around watching through the windows while the pair use the box to invoke a demon to possess the dead lady. The sequence is long enough to be montaged, so I have to assume Lemarchand is out there for hours. He should have brought a lawn chair.
And, kids, if you’re going to raise the dead in the front room, consider pulling the drapes.

Understandably bummed, Lemarchand relates all he witnessed to a friend, while his friend chops up a dead body for study. His friend has good advice while rib spreading a corpse – if you made a box that can summon demons, maybe you can make one that can destroy ‘em? And so Lemarchand sets to designing a box for just that purpose and goes to L’Isle’s digs to retrieve the original.
He finds the box, but he also finds L’Isle with an extra red smile bisecting his face, and the demon, Angelique, is now shtupping Jacques. Well, Jacques is a better deal, can’t blame her. They catch Lemarchand and moiderize him, but he has a pregnant wife, so the story’s not over, even though his story so is.

Hundreds of years pass, but we don’t have to watch that. What we do have to watch is brilliant architect John Merchant – same face, got some powerfully stubborn genes in that family – as he unwittingly designs a whole building’s worth of Hellraiser box. You know the box in the foundation and the Hellraiser building from the end of III? Yeah, this is that. Angelique and Jacques have been bumming around Europe, living an Anne Rice novel or summat, when she catches wind of this and wants to go do something about it. Jacques says no, and no means dead.
Angelique tries to seduce John, but he has just enough sense and foreboding ancestral dream knowledge to resist. Going with plan B, she finds the original box in the foundation and seduces a meaty partygoer into solving it, opening the portal to hell. Angelique meets Pinhead and the two do shop talk about hell for a bit, both ultimately very interested in making the building itself into a permanent gate to hell. Angelique thinks she can snuggle it out of John, but Pinhead would prefer to rip it out with serrated hooks. Their blue state/red state approaches put them at odds, but neither way looks very good for John. Good thing he also has a son.
No spoilers because you already know this thing will end where it began, back to the future, with Pinhead in space and a whole bunch of dumb, squishy space marines. They should beam over to LV-426 while they’re at it.
…Did I mention Pinhead has a dog in this one?

Overall, this is probably some of Alan Smithee’s best work. Actually Kevin Yagher directed this, and it’s seriously not bad, but the studio meddled in hell’s domain too damn much and prompted him to quit and take his name off. The elegance and intimacy of the original “Hellraiser” has been purged here and they’ve grafted on a luxurious temptation backstory with the Merchant family – none of whom are interesting enough to be tempted to do anything – and an Alien-esque space marine slasher crescendo. The Cenobites are much improved over the punchlines of III though, and that includes the Chatterer Dog Cenobite. Of course, you do get chains and graphic violence and all of that stuff, but at this point, it’s expected, so having a guy’s skin ripped off is little bit of a yawn.

This is, by the way, the last Hellraiser movie Clive Barker was at all associated with, and we’re not even halfway through the franchise.

roadside attractions

  • Piercings
  • Chainings
  • Reanimation
  • Demon possession
  • Extreme Cenobite Makeovers
  • Piiiinheeeeeaads in Spaaaaaaace!
  • Man’s Best Cenobite
  • French stuff
  • Three eras of Bruce Ramsay’s face
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Yes. Kinda boring blood by Hellraiser standards though honestly.

0

blood

BREASTS


No boobs. Well, a couple of really dumb guys, yeah, but not boob boobs.

7

beast

BEASTS New and improved Cenobites, including the Odie of the Damned, but that’s it.

7 OVERALL Crappy sequel to some, last decent sequel to others.
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Watch the trailer to “Hellraiser: Bloodline”

trailers

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Apr

On May 19, 2015, Clive Barker unleashes the long-awaited The Scarlet Gospels on the world. It’s being billed as the last Hellraiser novel and Clive is spoiling us all by letting us know the Hell Priest Pinhead is getting deader than usual, for reals, forever, run up the curtain and joined the choir invisible.
At this point, I go fully Brainy Smurf and point out there has only been one Hellraiser novel, which was a novella called “The Hellbound Heart.” Although, yeah, Pinhead and his S&M monster sect, the Cenobites, were briefly mentioned in his novel Weaveworld as “the Surgeons.”
Really Pinhead and his homies were fleshed out in the movies, of which there are nine. Same number as levels of hell. Coincidence? We’ll see. In celebration/fearful expectation of The Scarlet Gospels, I’m going to watch all nine of these bad boys and review them all here. Assuming I’m not scrawling crosses on the wall in my own excrement by the time I get to “Hellraiser: Deader.”

The 80s gave us so many great monsters – Pumpkinhead, Chucky, the Leprechaun, Michael Myers, the Tall Man, Angela from “Sleepaway Camp” AND Angela from “Night of the Demons” – but Pinhead stands proudly in the winners circle of the greatest monsters of the Reagan years with his arms slung around Freddy and Jason, probably keeping them from going for round 2 against each other. His image is familiar to everyone. He has been on the Simpsons. Your mom knows Pinhead, and for once, that’s not a reflection on your mom. Although time, and so freaking many sequels, clouds the memory, and even if you are a fan, “Hellraiser” might not be entirely the movie you think you saw.
First off, in the novella that spawned it and the first movie, Pinhead and the Cenobites aren’t the Big Bads here, not really. It’s kind of like the first Friday the 13th and Jason’s mom. The real bad guy here is Frank Cotton, a smoldering bad boy hunk and sociopathic hedonist looking for the ultimate in transcendental sexytimes. And so he comes by the box, that iconic Rubik’s Cube of the damned, and retires to his dead mother’s house in London, fingering the box’s faces until the CGI kicks in. The prize inside, however, while not safe for work, is not so much sexytimes as total evisceration, courtesy of the Cenobites. But hey, he asked for it.
If he’s eviscerated, how is he the Big Bad, Angela? OK, fun story. Some indefinite time later, Frank’s brother Larry shows up with his frosty, semi-detached wife Julia in tow. Larry has a great new job in England and intends to reclaim the old homestead, also setting the stage for a fresh start with the pissy missus.
They tour the old house and find lots of Buddy Christ-grade religious iconography, presumably his mom’s, a kitchen given over to maggots, and some of Frank’s things, but no Frank. Not even pieces. The Cenobites love their work.
Larry dismisses it as his ne’er do well, and inexplicably more gorgeous, brother making a smooth criminal exit, but Julia, who was so icy towards her husband, suddenly gets her motor runnin’ and agrees to stay.
On moving day, in a really beautifully-done sequence – have I told you I love this movie? – Julia obsesses over Frank’s picture, and we get flashback mushy stuff as she gets all het up about how he seduced her before her wedding. While she’s, ahem, remembering, Larry and nondescript friends heft the marriage bed upstairs. In the process, Larry accidentally rips his hand open on a nail, and he goes to Julia for help, bleeding all over the floor of Frank’s room. The room Frank was eviscerated in. The floorboards suck the blood up like Karo syrup on a Brawny towel and Frank’s body begins to reconstitute itself underneath the floorboards. It is all very gelatinous and extensively foleyed.
Cut to a dinner party. Larry’s daughter Kirsty is there, and she is about horror movie heroine age and so beautiful. You guys, she is the proto Noxzema girl. Kirsty flirts with one of her Dad’s younger friends, who’s supposed to be British, but speaks with an American accent, and that troubles me at night sometimes. There’s booze and raucous cheer. Except —
Kirsty doesn’t like her stepmother Julia, and while the hostilities aren’t open, Julia is too distracted fantasizing about Frank to be a bitch. She leaves the party to go sniff around in Frank’s things and surprise! Her lover is back, sort of. Some of him. Larry’s blood was enough to bring Frank back to Slim Goodbody suit status, but he needs more. A lot more. Also skin. And he insists Julia help him.
Julia is torn between many competing emotions like so much chain-hooked body, and my God, Clare Higgins deserves an Oscar. Frank is a disgusting monster. But he is also Frank (who is a disgusting monster anyway, but she’s lust-blind to that.) And Frank is a terrifying monster, which both makes him intimidating and something to go screaming to your insignificant other about. And Clare gets all of this across beautifully with wild looks and halted breaths and trembling.
So, Julia consents to help Frank, and the way she’s going to help Frank is by luring men back to the house to bludgeon with a hammer and let Frank suck dry. She starts out very nervous, terrified really, of the men, of herself, and of course, of the thing sucking the marrow out of the guy she just whacked, good old Frankie-poo.
Meanwhile Noxzema Girl Kirsty has troubling dreams with more symbolism than an 80s Heart video, and she begins to worry about her dad. She also has a run in with a really weird guy in the pet shop she’s now working at, and while it’s probably par for the course in New York or L.A. or New Orleans, in England, I gather cricket-eating hobos staring hungrily at you is more of an event.
Kirsty eventually stumbles upon Julia and Frank’s white doughy Englishman abatement service and, after Frank leers at her real good, manages to steal the box and get out. She really does some prime horror movie heroineing here. But then she passes out, and wakes up in a hospital from dreams of a red blooming flower. Mm-hmm.
When a doctor tries to interrogate her, Kirsty insists she remembers nothing. She’s left to recuperate, with the puzzle box as a spur to her memory. So she does what everyone does when they’re left alone with the box and starts feeling it up to reveal its secrets. First, she manages to open a gateway to a fun slobbering, snapping thing that defies physics when it flies and has a stinger for a tail, but after she escapes, she meets the Cenobites. And the only thing the Cenobites want more than to play with Kirsty is to get Frank back.
As gory as it can be, the meat of this movie isn’t effects; it’s Julia turning into a monster for the sake of her love of Frank and it’s Frank being an inhuman bastard who has a 50/50 shot at sticking a knife or his penis in you, and even then probably not where you’d expect. It’s Larry’s marriage turning to ash in front of his hapless, loser eyes and it’s Kirsty being unable to save her father from his own mistakes. The Cenobites are hella memorable, but in this movie, they’re more of a force of nature being invoked by some terribly human appetites.

Also, the Cenobites aren’t clearly Satan-based demons here, despite the title. The Lead Cenobite (Pinhead to you) announces them as “angels to some; demons to others.” That was on the posters, and it’s pretty damn apt. They get to be both in this movie, and while there’s an oblique acknowledgment of hell, it’s arguable whether it refers to a literal Judeo-Christian hell. I’m making that point, because later films are going to go backsies on some of this. But as far as we know in the first movie, they’re just supernaturally-endowed swingers from another dimension.
This is a film Clive Barker made after seeing other filmmakers butcher material from a couple of his other short stories, and he basically said, [bleep], I’m going to do this my way, and it’s going to be awesome. And then he said, oh, [bleep], I don’t know what I’m doing. But he was wrong about that. It’s a tight script and he directs the hell out of it, including some really clever shots and setups. All the actors give it everything they’ve got. There are no limits. So decades later, it’s still scary and there’s not much like it; Phantasm probably is the only series I can think of with a similar feel. I do still have eight movies to go in my Hellraiser-a-thon, but I feel pretty safe saying if there’s one Hellraiser you should see, it’s this one.

roadside attractions

  • Piercing fetishes
  • Extreme maggot wrangling
  • American-dubbed British people because U.S. market
  • Chains of love
  • Guys getting hammered
  • Lots of ectoplasm. At least, I hope it’s ectoplasm.
  • Cannibalizing action
  • Full backal nudity
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

Everything that is inside eventually comes outside in this movie.

0

blood

BREASTS


…Except boobs. No boobs. If you don’t look away in time, you may see Frank’s junk though.

10

beast

BEASTS Big slobbering stinger-equipped monster, big flying pterodactyl-like monster, skinless Uncle Frank, and Cenobites for the win.

9 OVERALL Even with some dated SFX, the movie holds up and is still scary, provocative, and – why not say it? – artistically fulfilling. Check it the hell out.
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Watch the trailer to “Hellraiser”

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Mar

Welcome back to another review, folks. And to one, in a tired genre, that actually somehow manages to creep me out a bit. Not spill my popcorn scared, or even jump scare…scared, but the kind of genuine creep you can only get from certain kinds of movies. We all have that one little niche that makes us cringe at the very thought of watching something in that little caveat. For some it’s creepy children, for others it’s clowns, other have bugs, and I happen to have possession movies.

Now, in this day and age there are a hundred million billion and five found footage films. Add this one to the pile. After some student, who’s studying Alzheimer’s and it’s effects on people and relationships, finds the perfect family to study, all goes wrong. It seems that the whole thing might go a little bit deeper than just a disease. Good setup, I’m not gonna lie. But. Let’s count the stereotypes, shall we? Victims…I mean students, grainy footage, an older actress willing to subject herself to some harsh conditions for some recognition, and a whole lot of jump scares. We’re ready.

After arriving at murder farm number 19,234 our crew sets up and begins interviews for the entire documentation of what their entire trip is going to entail. This is as boring as it sounds, folks. I’d like to say that they’re building a bit of a relationship with the characters, but it all ends up very muddled due to bad editing. In fact, the editing gets so bad in some parts that I had to question where in the timeline it was all happening. I’m not sure if that was done intentionally, to throw the viewer into as much confusion as the actors and characters, or if someone just thought themselves clever. Either way, it gets old quick.

Now, the trick to building a scary movie, or even a creepy one, is to build a story behind what’s in front of the camera. And this movie takes that to task, and actually pretty well, I’m not afraid to add. We start learning of the town they live in’s mysterious past, several deaths that lean towards the ‘Ritual Sacrifice’ way of bad things, and even a very disgruntled farmer from next door. Now, this would be enough, if it weren’t for the whole ‘suffering daughter’ subplot that they shove in our faces. Honestly, if this movie were to cut just a few things out, it’d be a whole lot better. I’m not trying to be insensitive, but when there’s cliches in a cliché movie, it makes me want to sigh so hard I knock over my drink.

Of course, as dictated by the laws of found footage films, we hit the ¾ mark and finally start getting some spooky stuff, and I’m not gonna lie, it gets pretty intense in some scenes. An old piece of phone equipment fires up and starts spewing voices, a window that was just nailed closed is open suddenly, paintings by the ailing mother depict a figure that keeps getting closer, and a few more scenes that I’m not going to spoil for anyone. As we creep closer to the final scenes more and more of that whole ‘mysterious town’ thing start popping up.

After a rushed explanation and some quick exposition that takes us from that small farm to a hospital, then back to the farm, then back to the hospital….I think. I lost track, sorry. We get confirmation of a lot of things that most viewers could put together in passing as the final scenes come into play. I’ll say this, as I don’t like spoilers: They went into the woods.

With some interesting scenarios sprinkled throughout the movie, bad acting balanced out with some good acting, and scares that are actually creepy, this movie takes a long time to shape up, but it goes out swinging. I recommend it to anyone wanting a bit of a creep fest before bed. Thanks for reading, folks. Stay tuned!

roadside attractions

  • Operating machinery nude
  • Eat Dirt Taken Literally
  • That had to hurt
  • Never go into the woods
  • Snakes are not good
  • Told you not to go into the woods
  • You are what you eat
totals

2

blood

BLOOD

More creep than gore.

1

blood

BREASTS

The number depends on your taste.

4

beast

BEASTS

It’s a possession movie. You’ll see.

7 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for “The Taking of Deborah Logan”

trailers
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Feb

posted by admin | February 20, 2015 | B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Cult Film, Cult films, Guest Review, Horror movies

TV raised Angela Englert, so she’s a lot like one of those Junkion robots from the Transformers movie, including the Weird Al soundtrack. She loves genre stuff. She hates Oscar bait. Her party trick is reciting Dr. Loomis’s lines from the Halloween movies. You can follow her inevitable downward spiral on Twitter, @mechaangela.

This is a movie about sex. That’s not too surprising; most human endeavor is about sex – getting it, having it, cleaning up afterwards so you don’t get itchy or divorced. But this movie is really about sex a lot, more than most in fact, and it doesn’t try to be cute about it. If anything it tries to be cute about not being cute about it being about sex. But I digress. This movie is about sex.
We open on a yawning cavern in the face of a mountain with splashy script titles in Hammer Horror red (pantone 762) after someone hit the “horror movie soundtrack demo” button on a Yamaha keyboard. Nothing else happens for a couple minutes, but so mood, much ominous. This is clearly a very important hole.
Next, a Scottish Egon Spengler shouts for joy; in about 85 minutes, you’ll recognize this is Peter Capaldi, TV’s Doctor Who, but not yet. He’s too dewy and friendly. Peter is playing Angus, student archeologist and for my money, the real hero of this film, no matter if Hugh Grant is on the cover because he’s more handsome and famous. Angus dug up a huge skull of some kind, dinosaur maybe, and he’s never seen a horror movie because he’s really happy about it. Angus tells sisters Eve and Mary, who run the bed and breakfast he’s apparently excavating, and then they go to a party, like you do.
At the party, an ersatz Dexy’s Midnight Runners tell us the local legend of the D’Ampton Wyrm in song, while the locals act out the ritual killing of the wyrm — i.e. dragon, i.e. big-ass snake – with raucous line dancing antics. Hugh Grant joins the cast as James, the young lord of the manor, descendant of Sir John D’Ampton what slew the worm of legend. Then our couples pair off, and we follow Angus and Mary as they take a scary misty shortcut through the woods back to the bed and breakfast.
Mary relates to Angus how her parents disappeared taking this very shortcut home from the pub on a night very like this. (Boo!) Angus senses weakness and zooms in for the snog. Mid-snog, they catch sight of a long, silvery car snaking its way through the dark with dimmed headlights. Mood’s gone, Angus. They arrive back at the bed and breakfast to discover policeman Ernie, who’s pretty much the Andy and the Barney of this sleepy village, waiting with Mary’s Dad’s watch, recently discovered in Stonerich Cavern. That’s that hole we looked at for a couple minutes earlier.
At this point, Ernie goes to check out where Mary and Angus saw the spooky car. Strange cars at night must be a local ordinance violation or something. He’s instantly bitten by a snake and surprised by Lady Sylvia, Amanda Donohoe eating the scenery with fork and knife and a lot of tongue, who has returned to her estate after wintering…somewhere, doesn’t matter. Anyway, Lady Sylvia is wicked and sexy and would straight up short out Beavis and Butthead with all her dirty double entendres. She treats Ernie’s snakebite with her mouth.
The next day, Lady Sylvia sneaks into the bed and breakfast and steals the skull while Mary and Angus are searching for remnants of Mary’s dad, and I guess all the other guests are antiquing or something else pastoral and English. On her way out, she takes a moment to projectile spit venom onto a crucifix. When James finally brings Eve home after a night of “dancing,” Eve touches the venom and has a bad trip like gangbusters, full of over-saturated colors and Roman soldiers raping nuns.
Lady Sylvia, it will surprise no one, is the immortal vampire-like priestess of an ancient snake god cult that venerates the D’Ampton Wyrm, and she’s back to get the skull Angus found and sacrifice some dim blondes while she’s at it. You have to admire how fast she got on that skull getting thing. She must get snake god skull unearthing alerts directly to her inbox. (If I were Lady Sylvia, that would be a dirty joke.)
First though, there’s a fun scene where she seduces a boy scout with sacrificial results. Then she meets James, who seems a little suspicious, but then maybe he’s just mesmerized by her thigh high boots. That scene kind of meanders into her kissing him. Make with the snakes, movie. Come on.
James goes home and pretty much has clues to the entire mystery waiting for him in his luxurious bedroom suite. It’s like his house is one of those point and click computer games from the 90’s. Then he has a Skinimax-grade dream featuring Mary, Eve, and Lady Sylvia that doesn’t actually involve nudity, but somehow would be less sexual if it did. James wakens with a clue and…probably something else. He does have his randy butler give him his coffee in bed.
I won’t spoil the rest of it, but there’s plenty of snake charming, snake handling, snake spitting, snake splitting, snake biting, and snakebite sucking as James and Angus work to save their girlfriends from the mystery of Stonerich Cavern and its white worm. If you’re iffy on snakes, there’s only two actual snakes in it. One is unseen and the other is a pretty cute FX monster. It’s loads of fun, with plenty of dark humor, dirty wordplay, leather lingerie, and satisfying gory bits. For a movie with so much biting, it really, really doesn’t. You should check it out.

roadside attractions

  • Mouth organ AND bagpipe charming
  • Strategic mongoose usage
  • Neighborhood noise level violations
  • Angus keeps WHAT in his sporran?
  • Subtext as text
  • That’s a really big dildo
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

A respectable amount of limb lopping off and grody puncture wounds, but nothing that would make it hard to eat a Philly cheesesteak or anything.

7

blood

BREASTS

They’re not the only ones on offer, but Amanda Donohoe’s boobs are very well-documented in this film.

7

beast

BEASTS

The snake god is slightly less convincing than Kermit. His snake vampire minions are pretty freaky though.

7.7 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer to “Lair of the White Worm”

trailers

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Dec

Christmas Evil
“Better Watch Out… Better Not Cry… Or You May DIE!”

1980 – R – 100 Minutes – Vinegar Syndrome
Starring Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey Demunn, Dianne Hull – Directed by Lewis Jackson

The idea of Santa Claus is pretty creepy once you start to think about it. I mean, a man who wears the same suit every day of his life and shakes like a bowl full of jelly watches kids and everything they do every single day of the year, then if they are “good”, he breaks into their home to leave them gifts. And we actually let children believe this! That’s pretty horrific, but perhaps something more horrific than that would be a man driven so insane by the cheerfulness of jolly ol’ Saint Nick that he starts to believe his is Santa Claus!

Oh yeah, there’s a movie for that. Christmas Evil or as the title card would suggest, You Better Watch Out. Actually, that’s the title of the film. It was later changed before release to Christmas Evil to seem more appealing to the slasher crowds that were booming at the time. This debately only hurt the film over time, but luckily due to Synapse putting the DVD out a few years ago and now Vinegar Syndrome just recently releasing it on Blu-ray, it seems to be finding a bigger audience every year. It’s what John Waters calls “the greatest Christmas movie ever,” so let’s check it out.

On a totally unrelated note, star of the film, Brandon Maggart, is the father of Fiona Apple. Remember her?

ce_2Late Christmas Eve in 1947, young Harry sneaks from his room to see Santa, which is really his father dressed up, licking his mom’s leg like a lollipop. This sight is so traumatic that he smashes a snow globe open and gouges his hand with a shard of the broken glass. Cut to (non pun intended) present day 1980 and Harry is obsessed with Santa. You know those older guys that still collect toys (guilty) or are so obsessed with Spider-Man or something and they still wear the pajamas, watch the cartoons all day and hum the little jingles? That’s Harry. Thankfully, the guy doesn’t go around in public wearing his Santa jammies. He does, however, wear them inside his all year around Christmas decorated home. It’s kinda like the Cracker Barrel if they decorated for Christmas every single day of the year.

Harry also happened to land himself a supervisor position at the toy factory he works at, Jolly Dreams. It’s a non-union job, so nobody listens to him, treat him like crap and look down at him for taking the position, like he betrayed the other workers. But he’s still a good guy that he even takes crummy worker Frank’s shift for him that evening. Luckily, he has his hobbies to take his mind off things, like spying on the neighborhood kids from the rooftop with binoculars, jotting down who’s being a good or bad boy or girl in his naughty or nice books, of which he has several. Oh yeah, he’s been doing this for a long time. You may want to take a break from the film to scrub yourself clean right now.

Heading home from a long day at work, he spots Frank, the co-worker who shift he covered, getting nice and drunk and calling Harry a shmuck. Harry heads home in a hurry for some therapeutic squeezing a toy soldier until it breaks while humming a Christmas tune as he increasingly becomes more anxious doing so. Ah, doesn’t that feel better?

ce_3Thanksgiving passes, Harry blows off his brother Phil (played by Jeffrey DeMunn) and his wife and two kids, and his company’s Christmas party is in full swing. And brother, is it swinging! White people be getting drunk up in there! Through a televised announcement, Harry learns that Jolly Dreams will be donating toys to less fortunate kids, but only if profits increase. Harry asks his supervisors about how many toys are being donated and if all of the kids will receive something, but they don’t seem to care. But what of the little children and their toys? Harry decides to step in and take action! While the party is still in full effect, he marches right on down to the assembly and steals toys to give to the good boys and girls. Call the guy a shmuck all you want, but he has a good heart.

But if you are gonna play the part of Santa, you may as well become Santa. Harry finally melts down, making toys down in his basement, gluing a beard to his face and dressing in full Santa garb. He packs the toys in his van and does what would be considered the most charitable thing a man could do, if you didn’t know he was totally bonkers, and drops off toys to Willowy Springs State Hospital. It’s actually a very heartwarming moment to think those kids were just given a Christmas by a total stranger who cares about their well being, but then you start to dial that thought back once the night further unfolds.

Stopping by at a nearby church after mass where a few of his supervisors are attending, Harry waits outside for the place to empty with a glare Jack Torrence would shudder at. As the crowd exits, Harry starts to make a move toward his bosses, but is stopped by some yuppies, none of which are Patrick Bateman. They taunt and tease Harry, but he has more than toys in his sack! Jabbing one of their eyes out with a toy soldier, he then proceeds to hack them to death with a rather festive looking Hatchet and darts off into the night, taking cover in a Christmas party and giving the most chilling Santa speech to some children. Good thing Billy from Silent Night, Deadly Night was someplace else.

ce_4The night is still young and Santa’s work isn’t over. Harry stops by Frank’s house, first by trying to squeeze through the chimney, further validating his insanity and giving a claustrophobic like me anxiety. Realizing that won’t work, he breaks into Frank’s home like a normal person, through the door, dropping off some toys for his children under the tree… then paying a visit to Frank himself, who is tucked in bed, fast asleep next to his wife. Harry gives another dark speech, then tries to smother him to death with a pillow, but ultimately slashing Frank’s neck with a Christmas ornament, which is more fitting. Tis the season afterall.

Phil knows something is wrong when Harry (who is busting up toys at Jolly Dreams) is absent on Christmas day and comes to the realization that his brother is the psycho-Santa he heard about on the news. Later in the evening, Harry’s van breaks down on the wrong side of town… the kind where apparently they have frequent Frankenstein’s monster problems as he finds himself being chased by a torch carrying mob after his cover is blown. He manages to escape and seeks help from Phil, who greets him by strangling Harry over what he’s done and drags him back into his van. However, Harry isn’t dead and knocks his brother down with a punch and speeds off just as the lynch mob is catching up. Phil chases on foot only to witness what is debateably among fans either a miracle or a tragedy; Harry swerves to dodge the mob, only to have his van crash off a bridge as it soars into the sky as he recites the final lines ‘To All a Goodnight’. Did his van crash off the bridge, killing Harry or did he actually become Santa and soar into the sky? The sound certainly sounds like a crash, but the look on Phil’s face says otherwise… that is left up to the viewer, which ultimately makes for a better ending.

Christmas Evil is kinda like the Taxi Driver of Christmas. You watch as a man being bullied by coworkers, surrounded by greedy people who don’t care about the less fortunate, basically completely overwhelmed by the scum of the Earth as the needy are laughed at, loses his mind. He goes so far over the edge to actually believe he is Santa, much like Travis saw the same atrocities and believed himself to be some sort of equalizer or cleanser. Brandon Maggart’s performance as Harry is downright unnerving, as you watch a normal man who isn’t all there, be pushed over the edge to the point of no return. You feel sad for him, but your feelings are put to question once you begin to realize how sick he is and what he is doing is wrong. You want to help him, then he murders a few people and you aren’t sure how to feel. But that’s what the filmmaker was going for. This is more of a character piece than it is a slasher. And that’s a common misconception most people have with this film and as I stated earlier, it could be due to the way the movie was marketed, is that it’s viewed as a slasher, when it really isn’t. Sure it has slasher like elements and he slashes a few people, but the overall arch is about Harry’s fall into madness.

Christmas Evil
It’s a great film, swimming with two kinds of mood; the kind that gets you geared up and excited for the holidays and the other kind that sends shivers down your spine and cautious of anyone that is dressed like Santa Claus. The festive Christmas lights against the dark sky as Harry stands in the cold night, breath visibly exhaling from his body, in a dirty Santa suit is one of the scariest images I can think of. Although the pacing itself is slow and there isn’t much gore, there is still a chilling and shocking story to find here. Give yourself a gift this year and watch what is probably the best Christmas movie of all time. Eat it, A Christmas Story!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • A Travis Bickle Christmas.
  • Fiona Apple’s dad.
  • Crazy-Claus
  • Eye see toy soldiers.
  • Hatchet induced migraines.
  • Christmas star throat slashing.
  • Full size van sleigh.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

The eye gouge and hatcheting are heavily cut, but there is still some there to be enjoyed. Someone’s on the MPAA’s naughty list.

2

blood

BREASTS

No bewbs this Christmas, but a little leg.

10

beast

BEASTS

You better be good or else Santa will come for you.

6 OVERALL
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About the Highway

Lost Highway is your satirical detour down the twisted back roads of b-movies and cult films reviews. learn more >>