This is a no-brainer for not only horror fans, but also those children of the 80s. Coming out in the summer of ’84, the film was a hit thanks in large part to Steven Spielberg’s hand in producing it, but also getting the film’s rating to be PG instead of R (back in those days, PG-13 hadn’t been created). If you’re wondering why the film would be rated R, you obviously haven’t seen the film. The story goes that Randall Peltzer is looking for the perfect Christmas gift for his son Billy. Venturing into Chinatown, he comes across a strange creature called a Mogwai named Gizmo. Owning a Mogwai involves three rules: never expose it to bright light/sunlight, never get it wet, and never feed it after midnight. As you probably guessed, all three of those things eventually happen, and what we’re left with are green reptillian-like gremlins. It’s up to Gizmo (and Billy) to stop the gremlins. Yes, the film is dated in a number of ways, but it’s still a blast to watch it during the holidays. And if you want more, go and grab the film’s underrated sequel, which unfortunately for the franchise came out a few years too late. Oh well, you know that there’ll be a remake down the road. Unfortunately.
I’m not talking about the insipid remake, I’m talking about Bob Clark’s classic 1974 slasher. Coming before John Carpenter’s Halloween, Black Christmas set the bar for holiday horror, combining some great character development, a mysterious killer whose motives are never really explained and some nifty POV shots. The story for this one has the girls sorority of Pi Kapa Sig being harassed by obscene phone calls during the days leading up to Christmas. Soon the obscene phone calls turn into a slasher stalking and offing the girls in brutal ways. John Saxon shows up to investigate, but things are a little more complicated than that. The film sadly isn’t out on Blu-Ray, but there’s a great one from Critical Mass that should be tracked down.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
I know there will be some folks who say that this is a Halloween film. But really, when the story involves two places named Christmas Town and Halloween Town, I think you can split it. Coming from Tim Burton’s weird mind, the film garnered some critical acclaim but was largely kept in the background by Disney, who saw the film as being too dark. Really, stop motion animation creeps me out, too. The film instead has gone on to cult status and has taken over Hot Topic stores everywhere with merchandise. The story has Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King from Halloween Town becoming bored with the same old same routine during Halloween. He decides to try and find inspiration for something new. That something new involves him being accidentally transported to Christmas Town, where Jack finally receives his inspiration. Back in Halloween Town, Jack decides that this year he’ll take over Christmas, starting with Santa. But unfortunately for Jack, his plan backfires and he has to save Santa from the evil Oogie Boogie. While certainly not up there with many other classic Christmas films, Nightmare is still a treat to watch before or during Christmas.