4 Prank Endings in Horror

Beware! Here be spoilers!

There are plenty of twists in horror films, some are good, some are awful. Then, there are some that feel like the filmmakers pulled back the curtain and yelled “Gotcha!”. Unlike most twists in horror, which are used to increase the terror, these prank endings reveal that there was never any horror to begin with. It’s the movie equivalent of the end of every Scooby Doo episode ever. If there was ever a time to take a look at these wacky film conclusions, it’s April Fool’s Day. Let’s get started!

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April Fool’s Day

April Fool’s Day is the most obvious choice on this list. This 1986 slasher is part of a whole batch of holiday themed horror films of the 80s. This weird movie follows a group of bonehead college students that take a trip to their friend Muffy’s home over the weekend of April Fool’s. The group soon realizes that Muffy’s name isn’t the only odd thing about her. She seems obsessed with pranks. It starts innocently enough, but gradually her pranks become more and more sinister. Then people begin turning up dead. The last couple survivors soon discover that Muffy isn’t the killer, her evil, psycho twin Buffy is. The final girl is pursued by a knife crazy Buffy. She runs into a room, fleeing for her life.

There she discovers the whole group alive and well. What the hell happened? It turns out that there never was a Buffy and no one was ever killed. Muffy set the whole thing up as one gigantic, elaborate joke. This ending pissed many viewers off, but no one can deny that it’s clever. If you haven’t seen this underrated slasher, be sure to check it out.

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The Village

It wouldn’t be an M. Night Shyamalan film without a twist, right? Well The Village has one hell of a twist. The Village begins by introducing the audience to a village of what seems to be 19th century settlers, who live in fear of the monsters in the forest. The villagers are taught that they’ll remain safe, as long as they follow a certain set of rules and never venture into the woods.

When blind protagonist, Ivy wishes to journey through the forest to retrieve medicine for her dying love, it is revealed to the viewers that the monsters are actually the village elders in costumes. They perpetuate the legends, in order to exert control and dissuade people from leaving.  Ivy is permitted to enter the forest, where she encounters the violent, mentally disabled Noah who is dressed as a monster. In her attempt to get away, she ends up causing his death. Believing she has successfully defeated one of the monsters, she is able to reach town.

Here’s where the real twist kicks in. It is revealed that it is present day, rather than the past. The elders were just a group of individuals who experienced so much trauma in their lives that they retreated to the woods in order to live a life separate from the dangerous outside world. Due to the fact that Ivy can’t see, her interpretation of events, allows the elders to continue their lies. If you want to see a beautiful romance, a strong protagonist, and a crazy twist then you should give this movie a chance.

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Baghead

This charming mumblegore favorite revolves around a group of struggling filmmakers that retreat to a remote cabin to come up with a film script. Unfortunately, coming up with a solid film idea is more difficult than they thought. Then bubbly blonde Michelle spots a creepy figure wearing a paper bag over his head. She believes that it was all a dream, and pitches her idea to the group. They love it and quickly get to work. Then Michelle has another encounter with the bagheaded figure.

Accusations fly as Matt, Michelle, Chad, and Catherine debate over the identity and the existence of the Baghead. A couple pranks/betrayals later, Matt and Chad spot the Baghead and go to check out the situation. They realize that the situation has become dire.  The next day they attempt to flee on foot. The Baghead kills Matt, and the other three manage to run to the highway. All the chaos results in Chad being plowed down by a car.

As he recovers in the hospital, it is revealed that Matt is actually fine. He and his friend had arranged the whole thing, in order to create a movie. Chad is rightfully pissed, but after some thought, he agrees that it’ll make a great film. Baghead says a lot about the nature of the film business, and the relationships dynamics that exist within friend groups.

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Mark of the Vampire

Have you ever wished that Tod Browning’s Dracula was a bit more of a mess? Well then, Mark of the Vampire is the film for you. Browning’s 1935 follow-up to Dracula was intended to be a sort of remake of London After Midnight. The plot follows the investigation into the death of a rich nobleman. His death has been attributed to a pair of vampires. The vampires are an undead father and daughter, with the father vampire being played by Bela Lugosi.

Unfortunately for Browning, the film was too ahead of its time. Throughout the film, Lugosi sometimes sports a bullet wound in the head. This was because he had an incestuous relationship with his daughter that resulted in a murder/suicide. Due to the uproar surrounding Freaks, MGM felt the audience would find this idea too shocking, and cut 30 minutes from the movie. The result was a major plot hole.

However, that little slip up turned out to be irrelevant, because at the end of the film it is revealed that the vampires were actors hired in order to help solve the mystery. Why? Well it’s a bit illogical, but that doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyability of the film. It is moody, quirky, and satirical all at the same time. Just don’t go in expecting a typical vampire movie.

There you have it folks, four films with joke endings. If you’re thinking of playing some April Fool’s pranks, maybe these slices of cinema will give you some inspiration. If not there’s always rubber spiders, fake fingers, and ketchup blood.

 

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A Cure For Wellness- A Gothic Spectacular

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Visionary director, Gore Verbinski is back with his first horror film since The Ring. 2017’s A Cure for Wellness blends Verbinski’s meticulous attention to detail with elements from gothic and weird fiction. The resulting film contains a few flaws, but overall is a beautiful and unique cinematic experience.

A Cure for Wellness follows ruthless young businessman, Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), on his mission to Switzerland to convince his company’s head to return to his life in New York. Lockhart is the kind of guy who will do anything to achieve a goal, and he isn’t afraid to push people around in order to get what he wants. His arrogance leads him to believe that retrieving his boss will be a simple task, but he quickly discovers the sanitarium is hiding secrets in every corner, most of them related to the water.

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From a technical perspective, A Cure For Wellness is a feast for the eyes. Verbinski’s clear understanding of visual storytelling, creates a tense atmosphere of foreboding that is present in every scene. Whether the camera is following the dizzying movements of a group of white robed dancers, or showing a static image reflected in the eye of an animal bust, there is a grandness created within the frame. His indulgent style is an excellent fit with the dramatic storyline.

As for the story itself, there’s a bit of everything for all types horror fans. Fans of gothic horror will be attracted to the old buildings, incestuous relationships, and the forbidden romance. Those more drawn to Lovecraftian themes will enjoy the slimy creatures, the body horror, and the overall sense of individual oppression by the seemingly larger than life institution.

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The mystery behind the water in A Cure For Wellness is compelling, but a bit predictable. Chances are, most viewers will figure out what’s going on, pretty fast. That doesn’t make the film less enjoyable, just don’t expect to be shocked. It’s also a little on the long side, but because Lockhart is learning more and more with each scene, it doesn’t seem slow or boring. However, it might upon repeat viewings.

The film is at its very best when it relies on the creepiness of the characters and the cult-like mindset of the institution. The weird water based treatments, the polite but stiff staff, and the zombified patients in white are what makes the movie so spine chilling.

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The film is at its worst when ventures beyond the atmospheric and the psychological. The climax boils down to a physical fistfight between Lockhart and a character that basically transforms into Skeletor (No spoilers, here.). For a film that spent two hours being so thought provoking, it seems jarring and out of place for a high action scene to occur. For some this borderline comedic resolution may ruin the film. For others it’ll just seem like a sizeable bump in the road.

A Cure For Wellness is likely to be on many top 10 lists for 2017. Even though, it contains some significant blemishes, it still possesses many brilliant qualities. Like Crimson Peak, its gothic aesthetic and precise performances more than make up for its basic storyline. Verbinski may not have created a genre masterpiece, but A Cure For Wellness still way exceeds most studio horror productions.

Rings- Too Little, Too Late

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Rings, the third film in the American Ring franchise comes more than a decade after The Ring 2. Like the first two films, Rings focuses on a cursed video tape, and the mythology surrounding it. Since it’s 2016, one might expect Rings to focus on social media, and the way a video can go “viral”. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Instead, the movie delves deeper into the history of the tape, creating a boring, disjointed narrative.

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Rings follows two college aged students (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz and Alex Roe) that become involved with the tape and the mystery of Samara. When Holt (Roe) begins attending college, he is convinced to watch the tape by his professor, Gabriel (Johnny Galecki). Gabriel believes the tape provides absolute proof of life after death, and he has created a club dedicated to watching and spreading it. While the tape is a sure death sentence, that death can be avoided if you have someone else watch it. Julia (Lutz) watches the tape to save Holt. After that she begins experiencing visions of Samara, the legendary girl from the tape. These visions, accompanied by clues from the tape lead Holt and Julia to the small town where Samara was born. The couple struggle to put the pieces together, before it’s too late.

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Rings has some intriguing stuff in it. The idea of a club being built around the tape is a good one. The film also shows the innovative ways the tape can be viewed and shared. However, these aspects of the movie are minor and are never given enough time to fully develop. Instead, all of the emphasis is put on Samara and her history. The 2002 Gore Verbinski film did an excellent job of detailing Samara’s story, Rings only adds details that are both unnecessary and confusing. In the final act, Rings attempts to redeem itself by adding a plot twist involving Vincent D’Onofrio. Unfortunately, it falls flat.

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In addition to the details of the story, the film suffers from a distinct lack of worthy characters. Julia and Holt lack personality. Their love story feels hollow. There’s just nothing there to make the viewer feel attached to them. The film would be much better, if it followed Gabriel the professor, and his obsession with the tape.

Finally, there’s Samara herself. She’s a creepy character by nature. However, Rings attempts to make her more menacing by adding excessive makeup and CGI. She’s reduced to a silly parody of the Samara/Sadako fans have come to know and love.

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Rings isn’t a terrible film, it’s just boring. The plot is too tedious. On the surface it seems like the story makes sense, but it can be picked apart with ease. It does nothing to enhance or further the franchise. Rings played it too safe. Director, F. Javier Gutierrez attempted to copy the format of the Verbinksi film, but had little success. The end result is another sloppy, paint by numbers horror film.

 

Split- M. Night is officially back!

Every horror fan knows that M. Night Shyamalan has had a rocky career. He’s hit some high highs, but unfortunately he’s also hit some extreme lows. In 2015 he gave us the Wayward Pines series, which I’ve yet to finish, but showed promise. He also released The Visit which falls into a weird gray area where it manages to be both awesome and awful. His latest film, Split places him firmly back into good filmmaker territory, well at least for now.

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Split follows a teen outcast (Anya Taylor-Joy) and two of her classmates (Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula) that are captured by a man with multiple personalities (James McAvoy). The girls must figure out how to stay alive, and how to protect themselves from their attacker’s 24 identities.

Split relies on heavy tension and well crafted characters to hold the viewer hostage until the very end. Each one of McAvoy’s personalities is unique and feels like an actual person, or perhaps even something supernatural. He sheds personas with ease, allowing him to shift back and forth between characters. Like his captives, the audience is left waiting for him to snap and change into someone or something else.

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The film tackles issues of mental illness and abuse with an unexpected level of compassion. Split makes you feel for McAvoy’s character, even as he commits horrific crimes. There is great deal of debate about whether Dissociative Identity Disorder/Multiple Personality Disorder even exists. For the purposes of Split, DID is both a gift and a burden. McAvoy’s character, possesses a multitude of talents, due to the diverse nature of his personalities. However, it makes life difficult for him, as he essentially has 24 identities competing for control, and some of them have bad intentions. In addition to DID, Split also delves into abuse. Both the protagonist and the antagonist are victims of child abuse. This is intriguing, because in a sense it makes them kindred spirits, who have wound up on different paths.

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Split is a great theatrical horror film to kick off 2017. It’s smart, it has fully developed characters, and one hell of an ending. Hopefully M. Night can keep producing quality work like Split.

 

Lola’s Top Ten Worst Films of 2016

While 2016 was mostly a good year for the horror genre, there were still some major flops that slipped through the cracks. My list consists of the films that were not necessarily the worst, but the ones that I found most annoying. I’ve ranked them accordingly.

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There isn’t much to say here. I think Wentworth Miller had some sort of gothic trope check list that he used to create this script. The sad thing is, he’s an excellent writer. Stoker is a favorite of mine. If you want to see a good gothic thriller starring Kate Beckinsale, I’d go with Stonehurst Asylum.

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9. Holidays

There have been some great anthology films of late. Unfortunately, Holidays falls into the weird and stupid category next to The ABCs of Death. The best segment of the batch is the Kevin Smith one, but even Smith’s piece seems lacking. The worst one is the Saint Patrick’s Day one, which crams a shitty 90 minute film into about 15 minutes.

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I know many of you are going to disagree with me about this one. I liked the director’s first film, Blue Ruin, but Green Room seemed sloppy and nonsensical. It was drastically underlit, and I frequently couldn’t tell where the characters were in relation to one another. I’m also confused as to why this massive group of white supremacists couldn’t wipe out a few punk rockers. Finally, I have to talk about Patrick Stewart. His performance was almost unwatchable. He mumbles his way through the whole damn movie, like he’s sedated or something.

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7. Intruder

If I were ranking these films based on how poorly they were made, Intruder would be at the very top. This Netflix original had little to offer except unintended laughs. The most cringe worthy scenes are the ones where Moby attempts to act. Also, why can’t that girl see her stalker when he’s standing right next to her while she’s in the shower? She better get her peripheral vision checked.

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6. The Purge: Election Year

The Purge is a fun concept, and I enjoyed the first film and parts on Anarchy. However, Election Year just took it way too far. I didn’t hate this film, but it was just trying too hard. There were moments and characters I enjoyed, but the film as a whole felt like silly political propaganda.

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5. Ghostbusters

Ok, so Ghostbusters isn’t a horror movie, but horror sites covered the hell out of it and it has ghosts. To be honest, I couldn’t sit through the entirety of this film. The jokes fell flat as a pancake, and the characters made my flesh crawl. Whoever thought this script was good must’ve had their streams crossed.

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4. Morgan

This film had so much potential to be smart and scary. Instead, audiences were forced to endure some needless action scenes and an obvious plot twist.

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3. Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever gets the award for most pointless remake of 2016. Ever wonder what would happen if you took the exact same script, and reshot it with different actors? Yeah, neither did anyone else.

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2. Blair Witch

The Blair Witch happens to be one of my very favorite films. When I heard about the new film, I was pretty excited. The trailer looked good, and I knew it was in the capable hands of Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a messy, confusing rehash of the original. Dumbest part of the movie? The drone, definitely the drone. They set it up to be an important part of the film, and then did nothing with it, what a waste.

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1. The Darkness

This film is so rubbish, it’d be comical if it wasn’t so sad. The trailer offered promise of an unusual ghost story, with Anasazi gods at the heart of it. Unfortunately, the Anasazi gods were only a minor part of the film. Instead, the audience was forced to endure haunted house 101 gimmicks, and a family that is full of dysfunction and low on likability. Kevin Bacon, you can do so much better.

 

 

Lola’s Top 5 Episodes of The Twilight Zone

It’s a tradition for the SyFy channel to air a marathon of The Twilight Zone every New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I thought, what better time to countdown my own favorite episodes of Rod Serling’s classic show. I imagine some may be surprised by my picks. Most of my favorite episodes fall into the psychological horror category, and they’re not necessarily the most popular of episodes. However, these are the ones that I believe are the most bone-chilling, the most unsettling. Bottom line, these are the episodes that give me the creeps. Enjoy!

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5. The Hitch-Hiker

I love driving alone in the middle of nowhere. There’s this feeling that anything could happen at any time. It feels a little dangerous, and a tad thrilling. Add in a mysterious stranger lurking on the side of a desolate highway, and you’ve got yourself a situation that is ripe with horror potential. The Hitch-Hiker isn’t especially groundbreaking with its plot twist. However the setting and imagery is darkly poetic, and the lead character’s terror is palpable.

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4. The Masks

I think I love this episode so much, because I just love masks. Masks fall into that wonderfully wacky territory of the uncanny. A mask is an expression of our inner selves. It’s us in the most wild, expressionist way. At the same time, masks are used to hide identity and shield the truth that’s beneath. All of this symbolism, is at the heart of this episode. Let’s just say our protagonist gets his revenge, in the best way possible.

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3.  Perchance to Dream

Dreams are one of the most bizarre, confusing parts of life. There’s so much that we don’t know yet about dreams, so it makes sense that The Twilight Zone would want to tackle this topic. In Perchance to Dream, a horrified man is driven to seek therapy, after a series of dreams in which a beautiful woman is trying to kill him. Unfortunately for him, his dreams are bleeding over into his waking life. This is a super surreal episode, complete with a scene at a carnival. Picture Freddy Krueger as a sexy lady, and you’ve got Perchance to Dream.

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2. The After Hours

I like The After Hours so much that I based my short film, Plastic Bodies on it. There’s something undeniably frightening about mannequins. Mannequins are human, yet not human. They are crude representations of us composed of hollow artificial materials, and disguised in the latest fashions. Now imagine these uncanny monsters were after you. Imagine, that the world as you know it, is not the true reality. That’s what our heroine is up against. This is a theme that The Twilight Zone covered many times, but never with as much finesse as in The After Hours.

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1. Mirror Image

I’ve always had a fascination with dopplegangers. There’s something petrifying about the notion that there’s a sinister double of you wandering around. When I was a child, I had a dream about my doppleganger, and it still freaks me out today. In Mirror Image, the protagonist must come to terms with the possibility that she has a look-alike wandering around, or she’s losing her grip on reality. Perhaps the worst enemy you can have, is yourself?

The All Hallows’ Haunts 2016 Awards

With 2016 almost in the books and 2017 right around the corner, the team here at All Hallows’ Haunts thought it would be fun to look back at what we thought was the best of the best in 2016. So, without further ado, here are the All Hallows’ Haunts 2016 Awards.

Movie

Andy’s Pick- Hush

Lola’s Pick- Train to Busan

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TV Show

Andy’s Pick-  The Exorcist

Lola’s Pick- Stranger Things

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Creepy Album

Andy’s Pick- Metallica- Hardwired To Self-Destruct


Lola’s Pick – Birdeatsbaby- Tanta Furia

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Book

Andy’s Pick- Maggie Goes To Hollywood & Maggie Reloaded by Kate Danley

Lola’s Pick- I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

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Convention

Andy’s Pick- Midsummer Scream 

Lola’s Pick – Midsummer Scream

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Unique Event

Andy’s Pick- Serial Killer Speed Dating

Lola’s Pick- Halloween Club’s 4th Annual Spookshow

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Play

Andy’s Pick- Demonic Housewives

Lola’s Pick – Wicked Lit

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Haunt

Andy’s Pick- Knott’s Scary Farm

Lola’s Pick – Knott’s Scary Farm

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Haunt Show/Attraction

Andy’s Pick- Queen Mary’s Freak Show

Lola’s Pick- Micah Cover’s Haunted House Calls

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Maze

Andy’s Pick- Shadowlands (Knott’s Scary Farm)

Lola’s Pick – Shadow Lands (Knott’s Scary Farm)

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Scare Zone

Andy’s Pick- The Hollows (Knott’s Scary Farm) 

Lola’s Pick – Fiesta de los Muertos

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Lola’s Creepy Christmas Countdown- Part 2

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(I do not own any of the images featured.)

Alright guys, it’s round 2 of my Creepy Christmas Countdown! We’ve reached the top five, and there’s no turning back. Please let me know in the comments or on Twitter what your favorite films of the holiday season are.

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5. Dead End

There are so many reasons to love this movie. From the flesh eating lady in white to the severe psychotic breakdowns, Dead End is the gift that keeps on giving. Dead End follows a family on their way to a holiday gathering. They become lost, and all hell breaks loose as they face their deep-rooted resentments and the evils that lurk in the surrounding forest. You thought your family holidays were hell, just wait until you see what these people end up going through.

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4. Dead of Night- Christmas Party

Dead of Night is one of my all time favorite films. Unfortunately it’s a little tricky to find. I used to have it on dvd, but then I got in a car accident and someone stole my movie case from my car. It’s a long story. Car crashes and theft aside, Dead of Night is well worth seeking out. The Christmas portion of the anthology film is the nightmarish tale of a young girl who attends a party at an old mansion. While playing hide and seek, she ends up finding a young boy who wants her to stay and care for him forever. Like the rest of the film, Christmas Party is understated and provides a lurking dread that is like the falling snow, light but constant.

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3. Gremlins

I don’t like to judge the tastes of others, but if you don’t enjoy Gremlins than you’re just a big Scrooge. Gremlins takes the third spot on my list for its originality, its charm, and for the adorable Gizmo. Although it’s a film that can and should be enjoyed by the whole family, in my book it’s still a horror movie. If you have doubts, just watch that scene where Gizmo first starts spawning furry little demons. If that doesn’t constitute as body horror, then I don’t know what does. As a final word of warning, if you’re planning on getting anyone a gremlin this Christmas, I’d recommend you thoroughly go through all the rules.

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2. Black Christmas

It’s weird to think that Bob Clark directed Black Christmas and A Christmas Story. I guess he had a lot of Christmas to get out of his system. Black Christmas is one of the few slashers where the killer is never fully identified. This makes the film terrifying on a whole different level. My favorite part of watching Black Christmas is trying to discern WTF is going on in those weird phone calls. To this day when the phone rings, I still worry that the call is coming from inside the house.

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1. The Nightmare Before Christmas

For my top favorite creepy Christmas film, I’m going full on cliche. It may be the obvious choice, but that doesn’t make The Nightmare Before Christmas any less brilliant. This movie has everything! It’s got glorious stop-motion, a touching love story, life lessons, and best of all both Christmas and Halloween.

 

 

 

 

Lola’s Creepy Christmas Countdown- Part 1

It’s that time of year again, folks. Yes, the time of year where shoppers lose their minds, families are forced to bond against their will, and everyone feels the acute sting of loneliness. All joking aside, Christmas is a blast! One of my favorite ways of celebrating is to pull out my favorite spooky Christmas films and TV episodes. I’ve always felt that these little pearls of holiday gore are rare and hard to come by. However, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that there’s actually quite the selection available. So today, I present part 1 of my top 10 creepy tales of Christmas, wrapped in human flesh and topped with a bow. Enjoy!

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10. The Children

I’m going to be honest, I don’t like kids. I don’t like them at all. I didn’t even like kids when I was one. That’s why The Children has so much appeal for me. The Children follows a family on Christmas vacation that becomes the prey of their own rabid offspring. These little shits are vicious, and the result is a delightful bloodbath.

 

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9. Wind Chill

I love a good stuck on the road film. Car travel lends itself well to horror. In Wind Chill, two young college students are forced to battle the elements, each other, and the supernatural. This film stars Emily Blunt before she exploded into Hollywood stardom. The Christmas aspect of the movie is relegated to the background, but the winter atmosphere is front and center. The supernatural mystery is compelling, but the real star of Wind Chill is the relationship between the two main characters.

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8. Krampus

If I were to crown a king of holiday horror, it’d be Michael Dougherty. With Krampus, Dougherty takes the humor of Christmas Vacation and gives it a macabre makeover. Fans of horror, have been waiting a long time to see the legend of Krampus come to life on the big screen and Dougherty doesn’t disappoint. The creature design is spot on. From the toys, to the elves, to of course Krampus, it’s clear that there was a good deal of consideration put in to creating a world that could stand on its own. The humans that populate this realm manage to hold their own as well. My favorite performances come from David Koechner and Conchata Ferrell. If you’re looking for a horror film that completely embodies the spirit of the season, look no further.

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7. Tales From the Crypt- And All Through the House

Before the HBO TV series, Tales From the Crypt was adapted into one hell of a movie. The 1972 film opens with “And All Through the House“, the tale of a woman who murders her husband and becomes the target of a homicidal Santa. This story was later used on the show, but I prefer the film version. The story itself is way wacky. The show takes the over the top script in the expected humorous direction, and the result is fun and strange. However it can’t compare to the solemn approach of the movie. The serious nature of the the film version, creates a startling surrealistic contrast between the story and the overall vibe. This is what makes and “All Through the House” so downright freaky. My advice, don’t pick Christmas to murder your spouse.

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6. The X-Files – How the Ghosts Stole Christmas

As much as I love The X-Files, it’s easy to become annoyed with Mulder and Scully. They’re two characters that are flawed to the core, and that’s what makes them seem so human, so real. Still, there’s a lot of stuff I always wanted to rip them each a new asshole over. Well that’s exactly what happens in the season 6 episode “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas“. Over the course of the episode, Mulder and Scully become trapped on Christmas Eve inside a haunted house. There they meet two annoying ghosts played by Lily Tomlin and Ed Asner. These ghosts psychoanalyze the partners exposing their shortcomings and doubts. The episode features a fantastic set and some seriously witty dialogue. To this day, I still use the phrase “paramasturbatory”.

 

Sun Choke-An Artsy Exercise in Dread

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Sun Choke is the second feature by writer/director Ben Cresciman. This horror/thriller follows in the footsteps of other abstract films of late such as Darling and Proxy. Like these examples, Sun Choke focuses on the deep-rooted dysfunction of an individual character, rather than the tangible horror of demons or killers.

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The story follows Janie (Sarah Hagan), a young woman who lives under the control of the possessive Irma (Barbara Crampton). Irma gives Janie increasingly bizarre treatments for an unspecified condition. Irma subjects Janie to vile looking smoothies, magnets, and some grueling yoga sessions. Janie goes along with all of this until she is given some freedom. One day, Janie is allowed out and she spots Savannah (Sara Malakul Lane), and initially mistakes her for a doppleganger. Feeling drawn to Savannah, Janie begins to follow her every chance she gets. She attempts to assume her character. As her obsession grows, so do her violent inclinations. This sets all three women on a blood soaked path of madness.

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The film features bold performances from all three women. Barbara Crampton is particularly compelling as the caretaker whose motives are never quite clear. Sarah Hagan’s performance compliments Crampton’s. Hagan rocks between wounded naivete and animalistic insanity. Sara Malakul Lane completes the triangle with her sexy and compassionate demeanor.

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Sun Choke may appeal to a rather select crowd, but those with a taste for psychological arthouse are bound to love it. The film is most reminiscent of Bergman’s Persona. There are many parallels including an exchange of personality and the bitter love/hate relationship between a patient and a caretaker. While Sun Choke may not be Persona, it is a great film in its own right. It is full to the brim of layered characters, poetic images, and unrelenting tension. This is a film that sticks with the viewer and demands to be analyzed and explored.

What did you think of Sun Choke? Have any recommendation similar to this film? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.