It’s that time of year again. The weather outside is frightful and… well… you get the drill. It’s all chilly out there and since I just moved across the country, I am having my very first white Christmas. What can I say, it makes me all wistful and full of rage! Those horrible drivers only get worse the second the weather even threatens them. Ack! All I want to do is sit inside my semi-warm house with the cats at my feet and a good slasher on the tube. Every year, just like the snow fall, we get lists of the best killer Santa or Christmas themed horror films. I’ve even written a couple myself. Although I love them just as much as the next horror fanatic, I think we can all recite a Top Ten list which will surely have Silent Night, Deadly Night and Christmas Evil somewhere on there. Killer Santas are great, Christmas-y slashers are also, like, totally cool, but I think these lists indicate one very important thing – horror hounds love atmosphere. And what is more atmospheric than a snowbound or chilly slasher? If you said, “Well nothing could be more creepy and awesome,” you would be correct! The outdoors has always been a favorite slasher setting and since we are often saddled with a desolate forest, I find that the snow setting offers something unique, and sometimes undeniably moody. As the holiday approaches, and all of you are getting your Scrooge-on (any visit to a shopping mall will do this), why not heat up your spiked eggnog and enjoy some super creepy winter slashers? Here’s a list I pulled together:
Blood Tracks (1985) – Wow. Just wow. This awesome little piece of WTF gets points because it has no idea what it is and doesn’t seem to care one bit. It’s really a party film, I just cannot watch this on my own. But once you get the drinks flowing, this is a damn good movie. It’s sort of like The Hills Have Eyes But No Brains, and the band Easy Action is something to behold!
Curtains (1983) – Yikes! This little underrated horror film has one of the fah-reek-iest scenes ever… and we all know what it is. Old lady masks are friggin’ terrifying! Piece o trivia: I actually went to Tori Spelling’s estate sale, and this movie, amongst some other great little horror films, was in the stack! Say what you want, but she’s got good taste!
Disconnected (1983) – This is another underrated chiller that does just that… chill. Some of the outdoor scenery really puts you in that winter mood. Frances Raines (The Mutilator) puts in a great performance as the girl getting some really nasty phone calls.
The Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982) – Here’s one that isn’t really snow set, but also chills to the bone. I am a new-ish fan of this movie, but love to watch it on super gray days. I think I might just get the old trusty copy out this week! (and read another review here)
Ghostkeeper (1981) – Another rarity, Ghostkeeper works simply because of the atmosphere (and excellent Paul Zaza score). There’s not much going on except three stranded people dealing with a creepy woman, her son and their Wendigo (which is really just a big guy with a beard). The utter desolation makes this slasher-lite horror film taut and interesting, and almost makes up for the ambiguous ending.
Grotesque (1987) – Snow and punk rock hoodlums! What more could one ask for? I love this movie. It’s less of a slasher and more of a neat little allegory on who the real monsters in this world are. There are some effective moments and the great cast, featuring Linda Blair, Donna Wilkes and Tab Hunter, up the bar of what should be a totally ludicrous flick.
Home for the Holidays (1972) – This early TV movie proto-slasher has a lot going for it. It’s got a solid cast led by Julie Harris and Sally Field, it keeps the action almost exclusively inside one palatial house, it’s got a great twist at the end, and I haven’t even gotten to the oodles of atmosphere filtering through this snow set horror film.
Iced (1989) – This late entry slasher isn’t very scary at all. Nope, not one bit. However, it’s something to behold. From the big hair to coke induced nightmares, this movie just screams late 80s and proudly! I love the setting, some of the acting is pretty damn good (or at least competent) and even though the twist and silly shock ending don’t make a lick of sense, this is one fun flick! And there’s a snowman! (and read another review here)
Moonstalker (1989) - Here’s another gem I discovered kind of late. I’ve had the DVD for forever, but thought it would be as silly as the title… I was right, but it’s totally that good kind of silly! Moonstalker works because you can tell everyone involved did their best. Sometimes it wasn’t good enough, but just trying makes it all seem worth it! Blake Gibbons who has found fame on General Hospital, is the semi-sexy killer and there’s lots of snow. Lots and lots of it. This is such a fun film when you need to brighten up your gray days.
Terror Train (1980) – One of the slickest early 80s slashers going, Terror Train doesn’t deal too much with the outdoors, but the shots of the train shooting through the snow-filled darkness and the scene where everyone has to wait outside until the place is inspected for devious killers, are fantastic. Overall, this is probably the best film on the list. It’s got a great premise, a fantastic setting, a creepy killer and Hart Bochner. (and read another review here)