Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Phil's Top 25 Favorite Christmas-Themed Horror Films Of All Time - December 19, 2018

With the holidays almost here, what better way to conclude this wonderful time of year than to watch some really awesome Christmas themed horror movies! During this yuletide time, I thought it would be not only fun but informative to share with you some of my favorite Christmas themed horror films. This is something that I've been doing for a couple of years now, due to the amazing plethora of titles that are available to watch. Some of these are classic horror staples, while some are newer releases that truly deserve your time and attention.

This list contains MY favorite movies that I have enjoyed and only titles that I have seen! Therefore, some recent entries such as ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE, MRS. CLAUSE, SLAY BELLES, CHRISTMAS PRESENCE, and ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING didn't make the list yet. However, they are on my to-watch list so maybe they'll appear on next year's compilation. So my faithful readers, here is my Top 25 Favorite Christmas-Themed Horror Films of All Time!


24) SILENT NIGHT (2012): A loose remake of the classic 1984 slasher film SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, the plot centers on the police force of a remote Midwestern town in search for a killer Santa Claus who is picking off citizens on Christmas Eve. Directed by Steven C. Miller and starring Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King, Donal Logue, Courtney-Jane White, Ellen Wong and Rick Skene, the movie is a slick, sick slasher flick that will appeal to horror fanatics. Miller is no stranger to the horror genre, after helming AUTOMATION TRANSFUSION (2006), SCREAM OF THE BANSHEE (2011) and UNDER THE BED (2012). Also, this was King's third remake of a 80's slasher film, having starred in the 2009 MY BLOODY VALENTINE and 2010 MOTHER'S DAY remakes.

23) ELVES (1989)

22) RED CHRISTMAS (2017)



19) ATM (2012)

18) SECRET SANTA (2015)


16) THE CHILDREN (2008)

15) DEAD END (2003)

14) SANTA'S SLAY (2005)

13) SAINT (aka SINT) (2016)

12) CHRISTMAS EVIL (aka YOU BETTER WATCH OUT) (1980): When he was a boy, Harry idolized Santa Claus. But one Christmas Eve, he witnessed something horrifying that forever shattered his innocent understanding of Santa. Now an adult, Harry wants to embody the pure Santa Claus he grew up loving. He works at a toy factory and keeps records of who’s been naughty and nice, but the spirit of Christmas isn’t what it used to be and he can’t take it. So, garbed in his red suit, Harry decides that the only thing he can do is to become Santa himself and make all of the naughty townspeople pay…in blood! Originally released as You Better Watch Out, the film predates SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT by four years! Troma Entertainment originally released the movie on VHS in 2000 in an unrated director's cut. Then in 2006, Synapse Film's gained the rights to release it on DVD before finally getting a Blu-Ray/DVD combo from Vinegar Syndrome in 2014.

11) JACK FROST (1997): On his way to be executed, the vehicle containing notorious serial killer Jack Frost collides with a hazardous chemical truck, turning Jack into a snow covered mutant and unleashing him on the unsuspecting town of Snomonton, ‘The Snowman Capitol of the Midwest’. Jack immediately takes advantage of his newfound freedom and blizzardy abilities to seek revenge on the bungling Sheriff, played by Christopher Allport (TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.), that accidentally ended his cross-country killing spree. On his way to the Sheriff, Jack terrorizes the snow-man themed town and murders its residents in a variety of winterized ways. The movie was recently released as a Blu-Ray/DVD combo by Vinegar Syndrome after being out of print for years.

10) KRAMPUS (2015): When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max (Emjay Anthony) is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family's home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive. Filmmaker Michael Dougherty is well known to horror fans as the writer/director of the beloved anthology TRICK 'r TREAT and his new film GODZILLA: KING OF MONSTERS for Warner Bros. Pictures will be released next summer. At the time of me writing this piece, it was announced that Dougherty will finally be making the long awaited sequel TRICK 'r TREAT 2, which I have been waiting for since the first movie came out!


8) A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY (2015): It’s the season of joy, peace, and goodwill… unless you live in Bailey Downs. Last Christmas Eve, two teens came to a grisly end in a school basement. Now, one year later, a new set of horrors has come to town. As three friends explore the site of the massacre, a malevolent spirit is determined to keep them there forever. One of the first cops to the scene of the bloody murders has new complications as his seven-year-old son exhibits terrifying and violent behavior. And when a local family seeks reconciliation with an estranged aunt for the wrong reasons, they suddenly find themselves running in terror from Krampus, the demonic anti-Santa Claus. Not even St. Nick is immune to the terror as he fights back against a horde of zombie elves. This is destined to be a holiday no one will ever forget.

7) BETTER WATCH OUT (2017): 2016): This holiday season, you may be home, but you’re not alone... In this fresh and gleefully twisted spin on home-invasion horror, babysitter Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) must defend her young charges Luke (Levi Miller) and his best friend Garrett (Ed Oxenbould ) when intruders break into the house one snowy night – or so she thinks. Originally titled as SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD, the film made a big splash when it was screened at the Fantastic Fest in 2016. It went on to garner acclaim at other film festivals before being picked up for distribution by Well Go USA Entertainment. This is one of the most original, entertaining and sick Christmas themed horror films I have seen in a very long time! Fun fact: both DeJonge and Oxenbould played siblings in M. Night Shyamalan's 2015 thriller THE VISIT.

6) A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993): Bored with the same old scare-and-scream routine, Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, longs to spread the joy of Christmas. But his merry mission puts Santa in jeopardy and creates a nightmare for good little boys and girls everywhere! I don't care what people think or say, this is a horror film disguised as a children's film. Created by the legendary Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick, this stop motion musical contains some delightful scares and eerie imagery that horror fans have come accustomed to with Mr. Burton's cinematic world. And the cinematic world has never been the same since. Since its original release, the film has gone on to become a true animation classic, spawning toys, games, clothes and all kinds of merchandise.

5) GREMLINS (1984): A small town is besieged by some furry and not-so-cute little creatures after a young man ignores the warnings of a wise elder regarding their care and feeding. Before anybody says anything, the film takes place during Christmas time, so that is why it's on my list. Written by Chris Columbus, produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Joe Dante, the film stars Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Keye Luke, Corey Feldman, Dick Miller and with Howie Mandel providing the voice of Gizmo. The film was so successful that it became the fourth highest-grossing film of 1984 (GHOSTBUSTERS, BEVERLY HILLS COP and INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM were the other three films), grossing a staggering $148.1 million against its meager $11 million budget! A sequel was eventually made and released in 1990.


3) SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984): The film is the heartwarming story of little Billy Chapman who was traumatized by his parents’ Christmas Eve murder, then brutalized by sadistic orphanage nuns. But when grown-up Billy is to dress as jolly St. Nick, he goes on a yuletide rampage to "punish the naughty! ", Santa Claus is coming to town ... and this time he’s got an axe! Robert Brian Wilson and Scream Queen Linnea Quigley star in this jaw-dropping horror classic that a nation of angry mothers still cannot stop! Community leaders tried to stop the release. The P.T.A. fought to ban it. In 2017, Scream Factory, an imprint of Shout! Factory, released the film on Blu-Ray in a new high-definition and fully restored from the original vaulted film negative. Still considered controversial to this very day, the film spawned four sequels along with the 2012 remake that came in at number ten

2) INSIDE (aka À l'intérieur) (2007): Good lord!! This was one fucked up movie!! Four months before Christmas, Sarah and Matthieu Scarangelo were in a car crash, of which Sarah and her unborn baby were the only survivors. On Christmas Eve, Sarah stays home alone, where she grieves her husband and prepares to go to the hospital the next morning for the delivery. As night falls, a woman knocks on Sarah's door asking to use the phone. When she refuses, the woman reveals that she knows Sarah and tries to force her way in. Sarah calls the police; they inspect the home and determine the woman has left, but promise to keep watch over Sarah through the night. The woman returns and tries to take Sarah's unborn child, but Sarah locks herself in the bathroom. The strange woman torments Sarah through the night and kills all who try help her.

1) BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974): The grandaddy of all Christmas horror films! The college town of Bedford is receiving an unwelcome guest this Christmas. As the residents of sorority house Pi Kappa Sigma prepare for the festive season, a stranger begins to stalk the house. A series of obscene phone calls start to plague the residents of the sorority and it becomes clear that a psychopath is homing in on the sisters with dubious intentions. And though the police try to trace the calls, they discover that nothing is as it seems during this Black Christmas. Over 40 years after its initial theatrical release, the movie still holds up and still inspires screams from audiences today! It predates HALLOWEEN by four years and it's sited as launching the slasher genre. Again, the  remake came out in 2006 and Scream Factory released a two-disc special edition Blu-Ray set in 2017.

And folks, there you have it! My Top 25 Favorite Christmas-Themed Horror Films of All Time! I hope that this list inspires you to watch some of these films, or if you're a die hard horror fanatic, it will make you want to revisit these festive cinematic gems! Since many of these movies are available to watch on Blu-Ray, DVD, VOD or on streaming services like Netflex, Hulu and Shudder, there is a plethroa of ways for you to watch them. So put out those milk and cookies, turn on your Christmas tree lights, pop some popcorn and set back and watch these films with your family today! Just make sure you save a seat for Santa, or he'll leave a lump of coal in your stocking....if your lucky!

Thanks for reading, and Happy Holidays to you all!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Phil sees BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY at the Pruneyard Dine-In Cinemas - Dec. 12, 2018

As a kid growing up in the 1970's and 1980's, there was one band that dominated the world and brought to the masses some of the most original, experiential, and groundbreaking rock anthems in all of music history. And that band was called Queen. Fronted by the charismatic Freddie Mercury, the band went on to sell out stadiums all over the world, and sold a staggering 300 million albums. When Mercury died from AIDS related illness on November 24, 1991, the world mourned and life became a lot less magical. For several years, there have been several attempts to bring the story of Queen, and more specifically Mercury's life, to the silver screen, but it looked like it wasn't meant to be. Fast forward to 2018 and I'm at the Pruneyard Dine-In Cinemas, ordering some delicious food from their Cedar Room restaurant, and relaxing in their reclining chairs to watch the long-awaited Freddie Mercury/Queen biopic entitled BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY.

The film's official synopsis: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY is a foot-stomping celebration of Queen, their music and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury. Freddie defied stereotypes and shattered convention to become one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. The film traces the meteoric rise of the band through their iconic songs and revolutionary sound. They reach unparalleled success, but in an unexpected turn Freddie, surrounded by darker influences, shuns Queen in pursuit of his solo career. Having suffered greatly without the collaboration of Queen, Freddie manages to reunite with his bandmates just in time for Live Aid. While bravely facing a recent AIDS diagnosis, Freddie leads the band in one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music. Queen cements a legacy that continues to inspire outsiders, dreamers and music lovers to this day.

My jaw dropped in my lap when I saw actor Rami Malek come across the screen! He looked, acted, and sounded like Freddie Mercury! It was uncanny!

Phil's Shudder Picks: KING COHEN: THE WILD WORLD OF FILMMAKER LARRY COHEN (2017) - December 16, 2018

Hell again readers and welcome back to another thrilling installment of Phil's Shudder Picks! Today's film was just added to the streaming service a couple of days ago, and it's a film that I've been hearing about for a while now. It's a documentary about one of the most underrated filmmakers of all time. Now I've been a fan of his for years, and when I first heard about the documentary, I was super excited to see it. He was long overdue to have a film about himself, as he has countless stories to tell and a large fanbase, who are very loyal to him and his work. So let's no wait another minute, and let me tell you all about the documentary KING COHEN: THE WILD WORLD OF FILMMAKER LARRY COHEN.

The film's official synopsis: Buckle up for KING COHEN, the true story of writer, producer, director, creator and all-around maverick, Larry Cohen (BLACK CAESAR, GOD TOLD ME TO, Q: THE WINGED SERPENT, THE STUFF). Told through compelling live interviews, stills and film/TV clips, the people who helped fulfill his vision, and industry icons such as Martin Scorsese, John Landis, Michael Moriarty, Fred Williamson, Yaphet Kotto and many more, including Larry himself, bring one-of-a-kind insight into the work, process and legacy of a true American film auteur. Few can boast of a career as remarkable or prolific, spanning more than 50 years of entertaining audiences worldwide!

The first Larry Cohen film I saw was the 1974 fright flick IT'S ALIVE, and I saw it on cable when I was about nine or ten years old. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Phil counts down to the 14th Annual ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILMFEST at the New People Cinema in Japantown, San Francisco October 25th - November 8th, 2017

One of the aspects I love about living here in the Bay Area is all the awesome films festivals that are held here. One of these is the upcoming 15th Annual ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL, which is presented by SF IndieFest and will be held at the New People Cinema, located in Japantown, San Francisco. From November 28th through December 15th, 2018, fans of horror, sci-fi and fantasy genres can witness a total of 29 films and 94 short films during the festival's 15-day run!

The festival kicks off with the its Opening Night's Film THE GOD INSIDE MY EAR. The directorial debut from write/director Joe Badon, the film is, "a challenging yet wholly accessible and satisfying blend of surrealism, horror, psychological thriller, and science fiction. Imagine Repulsion by way of David Lynch and Luis Bunuel, with some Douglas Sirk high melodrama for good measure, and you start to sense what you are in for.  It is also a marvel of independent filmmaking, and its terrific production values belie that it was made in 13 days for a mere $8,000." Last year's Opening Night Film MOHAWK was distributed by Dark Sky Films and has went on to great acclaim, so don't be surprised if THE GOD INSIDE MY EAR will repeat this trend!

There are plenty of independent film screenings and events at the festival this year, including the "based on true events" sci-fi film THE PHOENIX INCIDENT on November 30th at 7pm, the documentary SURVIVAL OF THE FILM FREAKS, which focuses on, "how technology has changed the way we define and consume cult cinema." The documentary will be screened on Saturday, December 1st at 5pm. Another film that you all should definitely see is the modern day, women-in-prison masterpiece AMAZON HOT BOX, playing on Monday, December 3rd at 7pm. This film has a special place in my heart because I donated to its original Kickstarter and I received the limited edition signed Blu-Ray, but still, go watch this movie! Another interesting documentary that will be screened at the festival is INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT: THE STORY OF WAX TRAX! RECORDS, chronicling. "Wax Trax! Records began in a tiny storefront in Denver Co in the mid 70s. At the center of Wax Trax! are two music-obsessed men and their taboo love affair." Due to popular interest, the festival will be having to screenings: Friday, December 7th and Wednesday, December 12th, both start at 7pm.

EVIL DEAD REVISION on Thursday, December 6th.
The festival will also be featuring some very cool and fascinating events, like the incredible EDDIE KING DOUBLE FEATURE event that consists of DEAD FALL and ARSENAL on Thursday, November 29th at7pm and 9pm respectively. There's also the WALT DISNEY'S FANTASIA LIVE MOVIE RE-SCORE featuring the return of Firmament on November 28th at 9pm and again on Sunday, December 9th at 9pm. And for all you deadites, there's EVIL DEAD REVISION on Thursday, December 6th at 9pm. Franchise fan Jorge Torres-Torres took all three films, re-edited them to a scant 72-minute black and white video, filled with all the fun and gore that fans love! There's also the free event entitled AHITH IN CYBERIA VR that, "will gather an audience from around the world to a virtual screening room on the SANSAR platform for one day of short film screenings with live Q&A’s." Then on Saturday, December 8th at 7pm, the supernatural thriller REBORN will be screened and in attendance will be the film's star and legendary genre actress Barbara Crampton!

Original Festival Poster (2018)
The film festival is featuring a plethora of short film programs that will haunt your dreams and make you scream with joy, with 14 different short film blocks no less! There's the animated shorts block STRANGERS WITH EYE CANDY on Sunday, December 9th at 3pm, the LGBTQ+ themed DARK RAINBOW on Sunday, December 2nd at 3pm. There's the STRICTLY LOCAL SHORT FILMS 1 and 2 on Saturday, December 1st and Sunday, December 2nd at 11am for both blocks, spotlighting on local films and filmmakers.

Closing out the festival will be the US Premiere screening RONDO, a dark comedy thriller that's about, "a kinky sex proposition devolves into a chain of murder, sex, revenge. And more murder." Written and directed by Drew Barnhardt and staring G.C. Clark, Ketrick 'Jazz' Copeland, and Reggie De Morton, the film starts at 7pm on November 9th.

There's so much happening at the festival, it'll take another post to list them all!! So what are you waiting for?  Mark the festival's date on your calendar and come out to the city for some amazing works of art! Individual tickets are $20 online and at the door. All-inclusive festival passes will be priced at $150, which includes all the films and special events. For the full festival schedule, visit the Another Hole in the Head's official website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!