Sunday, December 10, 2017

Holiday Horror and Santa's Slay (2005)

The Sunday “Bad” Movies has existed for five full years.  Over the course of the five years, I have covered upwards of 350 movies.  The one genre that towers above the rest in terms of representation is horror.  A bad horror movie is easy to find.  It’s one of the quickest and simplest to make.  Think of a villain.  Have some people die.  There’s the movie.  It’s no wonder I’m always dipping my toes into horror for this blog.

Something I do each year is schedule October with horror films.  That might help to raise the profile of horror in this blog.  October is spooky season, as Halloween approaches.  It’s not the only time for horror, though.  Horror can take place at any time of the year.  A horror movie could come out in February, or take place in July.  As long as it’s scary, when it is released or set doesn’t matter.  A scare is a scare.

Many horror movies even try to make a certain time of year important to the story.  Specifically, holidays have become a fixture in horror tales, whether actual holidays or days that people treat differently than most.  Some of these have even come up in the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  For example, this week’s movie, Santa’s Slay, played on people’s feelings about the Christmas season.  We’ll get to that later on, though.  I want to start at the beginning of the year and go through the movies I’ve watched that fit this kind of horror and why they used that day or season.
New Year’s Eve/Day
I’m putting this at the beginning of the year instead of the end.  We celebrate the beginning of a new year and put the old one behind us.  The New Year starts with this holiday, like the old one ends.  It’s the new beginning that matters more.

Antisocial was the one horror movie featured in the Sunday “Bad” Movies that took place over the transition to the New Year.  At a small pre-party before a big New Year’s bash, a group of friends learned that people around the world were turning into violent savages.  The cause was Social Redroom, a social networking site.  Some sort of update created a virus that affected people’s brains.  The friends set out to find a cure before they were all turned.

The turn of the New Year was important to the movie because it thematically fit with the main character’s storyline.  Sam (Michelle Mylett) had been dumped by her boyfriend through a video chat.  Attending the party was her way of starting fresh.  She was beginning a new stage of her life as everyone was beginning a new year.  The horror made that even more apparent with her old life being completely taken away by the pandemic.  Everyone and everything she knew was gone.  She had to begin a new life.  Three different levels of the story were about putting the past in the past and moving onto something different.
April Fools’ Day
Characters in horror films tend to make mistakes on a regular basis.  That’s what gets them into as much trouble as they experience.  Other characters, more villainous characters, remember these things and haunt the protagonists for it.  One day where a prank could be a mistake is April Fools’ Day.

There has been one movie set on this day that was covered for the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  April Fools had a bunch of teenagers pranking their classmate, only for things to turn deadly.  Exactly a year later, the teenagers were stalked and murdered.  The words “April Fools” were written in blood on the walls of each of the victims.

The only part of April Fools that necessitated the use of the day was the beginning when the teens played a prank on their friend, which ended poorly.  It wasn’t necessary that the story take place on April Fools’ Day.  It was the same kind of story that gets told in movies like Prom Night and I Know What You Did Last Summer.  The only thing about the April Fools’ setting was that the killer was able to mockingly declare “April Fools” after every murder.
Since there haven’t yet been any horror movies in the Sunday “Bad” Movies that I remember being specifically set on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Canada Day, Independence Day, Labour Day, or any other specific day in that whole spring/summer section, I’m going to jump right to Halloween.  There’s one specific franchise, of which one movie has been covered, that owns that holiday.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers was the sixth entry in the Halloween franchise.  It brought Michael Myers back to Haddonfield again as he went after his niece, her baby, and one of the children from the first film.  There was a strange cult storyline that gave Michael Myers some much unwelcomed mythology.  It was an insane movie that has become one of the most interesting entries in any slasher franchise.

Michael Myers murdered his older sister on Halloween night when he was a child.  Almost every time he returned to murder people was on the anniversary of his first murder.  Thus, the Halloween franchise frequently takes place around the day.  Thematically, though, the original film had been placed at Halloween because it was Halloween.  It was a spooky time to set a movie.  Who wouldn’t expect scary things to happen around a scary time of year?
Not as spooky a time of year is Christmas.  In fact, most people look to Christmas as a joyous occasion.  It’s a time for families to come together and spread the holiday cheer.  Since this post is about horror, though, I’m going to touch upon movies that brought the holiday fear.

Jaws: The Revenge was probably the least attached to the holiday of any horror movie to feature it in the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  One of the Brody children was killed by a shark while investigating what was happening to a buoy in Amity.  The interesting thing was the way that his violent death was contrasted with the singing of Christmas music.  It wasn’t particularly well put together, but the contrast was nice.

A little more festive were the two Jack Frost movies.  Each of them was about a serial killer who came back to life in a snowman.  The snowman feels more like a wintery image than a shark.  When you walk around during the snowy wintertime, you’ll see snowmen on front lawns, staring at houses, waiting for Detective Harry Hole to show up.  Or not.  Maybe you don’t live in my neighbourhood.  The snowman serial killer murdered people in the week leading up to Christmas.  The sheriff had to find a way to stop him.  One year later, the snowman returned for a Christmas massacre in the Pacific.  It was taking a harmless Christmas icon and twisting it in a dark way.

Another Christmas icon that was darkened by a Sunday “Bad” Movie was the elf.  Elves saw the elf turned into a Nazi creation bent on mating with a teenage girl to create the master race.  The reason that it was set at Christmas was clearly to give reason for the elf to be around.  The main character worked in a department store that was getting ready for the holiday.  The hero came into the movie working as a security guard at the same store.  It wasn’t a movie that really played off of the Christmas themes.  It was simply set at Christmas.
Finally, let’s get to the big one.  This week’s movie was the ultimate in the Christmas horror that I’ve covered thus far in the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  Santa’s Slay took the jolly gentleman and turned him into a murderous maniac.  Bill Goldberg played Santa Claus, a sadistic killer who had lost a bet to an angel and been forced to bring joy to children for 1000 years.  On the day that the bet was up, he went to the town of Hell and began a killing spree.  Two teens or young adults (I’m not sure how old they were playing) fought to put a stop to the death.

Basically, the idea behind Christmas horror is to take something seemingly friendly and joyful about the season and turn it dark.  Jaws: The Revenge had a horrific death juxtaposed with Christmas music.  Snowmen and elves became killers.  Even Santa was in on the action.  Christmas is always seen as the most wonderful time of the year.  These horror movies set out to prove that it could be as violent and horrific as any other time of year.

Horror revolves around the fears of audiences.  It needs to be relatable in order to have people become more frightened by what happens.  One way that horror movies create relatability is to place the horror on days or times that people know.  Holidays end up being perfect ways to attract an audience.  With Christmas, you have family and happiness being torn apart.  New Year’s has your past haunting you until you can put it behind you and start new.  April Fools’ Day has jokes that go wrong and Halloween is just plain spooky.  Every holiday can be reason for horror.  Every holiday is exploited for horror.
That might not have been the best ending, but let’s exploit some notes:

  • The movies mentioned in the post were Antisocial, April Fools, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Jaws: The Revenge, Jack Frost, Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman, and Elves.
  • Chris Kattan was in the opening scene of Santa’s Slay.  He did some voicework in both Foodfight! and Delgo.
  • If you watched Santa’s Slay, you probably noticed Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister.  He was previously featured in the Sunday “Bad” Movies in The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence).
  • Have you seen Santa’s Slay?  What are your thoughts about it?  What do you think about horror movies that use holidays as a backdrop?  You can discuss any of this stuff in the comments.
  • Do you have a movie that you think I should watch for the Sunday “Bad” Movies?  Tell me about it in the comments or on my Twitter.  I’m always seeking out movies I might not know that would fit in with the blog.
  • If you want to see clips of the bad movies I watch, add me on snapchat (jurassicgriffin).  I frequently make stories based on what bad movies I’m watching.
  • The holiday season continues next week with The Littlest Light on the Christmas Tree.  It’s a fairly short animated film that falls in line with some of the animated Christmas movies I’ve watched over the past couple years.  I’ll see how it is and get back to you next week with my thoughts.  See you then.

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