it's that time of the year again, when your bank account is emptied,
you risk life and limb every time you leave home thanks to the
snow and ice, godawful records by Wham, Band Aid and other pop
chancers assault your ears wherever you go and suicide rates rocket
- Merry Christmas everyone!
it's not all bad, and as we enter December, your chums
at Strange Things are bringing you a special
treat - a daily advent calendar of movies, music and pop culture
that show the other side of the festive season! Every day from
now until Christmas Eve we'll uncover a new treasure to help your
holidays go with a bang!
here we are, at the the final entry in our festive feast. I know
you probably expected Santa Claus Conquers the Martians...
and rightly so... but as we started with 1970's horror, it seems
fair to end with it.
a generation of horror fans, I first saw Black Christmas
on TV, unannounced and unheraldred, yet incredible and influential.
Bob Clark's film, while undoubtedly influenced by Giallio films
from Italy, set the template for the psycho slashers of later
years - a holiday themed shocker that mixed dark suspense with
thoroughly modern horror. Forget the (not awful) revamp - this
grim shocker is an essential film for anyone interested in the
development of the horror genre since 1970. It's not exactly festive
- but it is a Christmas classic.
this and enjoy your holidays! And watch out for another month
of alternative Chistmas goodies next year!
1959 Mexican film (also known as Santa Claus vs Satan)
was re-released on video in the 1980's, fooling inattentive parents
who thought they were buying the Dudley Moore film of the same
title. Their kids won out in this instance, as this is a wild
and warped romp in which Santa - who lives in a Cloud Castle where
he keeps the entire world under the sort of intense surveillance
normally only found in the UK - has to team up with Merlin the
Magician (again! - see entry 4) and a mechanical, cackling reindeer
to save the world's children from Satan (or at least his minion,
it's as demented as you'd hope - not always fun (in fact, very
rarely fun) but always insane. Imported into America by K Gordon
Murray, who made a mint (a Murray mint?) from audiences who thought
they were going to see a 'real' film; directed by the man who
brought you Night of the Bloody Apes and a fistful
of El Santo films.
nothing sacred? Seemingly not, as those filthy smut merchants
have defiled this family holiday with their depraved degeneracy.
You can meet Dirty Santa or enjoy a Barely
Legal Xmas, 'ho 'ho 'ho-ing as you go. You may prefer
A Big Tit Christmas (not to be confused with
Big Titty Christmas), or you might instead choose
one of several films titled Merry Fucking Christmas.
festive content of these films is probably not too high, but This
Isn't Christmas Vacation - a XXX Parody at least tries
to match the original (dreadful) film, while Michael Ninn's Silent
Night brings a touch of class to proceedings. The less
said about Tranny Christmas the better I suspect...
Visits the Magic Land of Mother Goose
you think of Herschell Gordon Lewis, you generally don’t
think of children’s films. But there’s more to the
Godfather of Gore than just… erm… gore. Alongside
winners like Blood Feast and Two
Thousand Maniacs, he also made nudie films, sex
comedies, action movies and, most bizarrely, a couple of kids
This companion piece to Jimmy the Boy Wonder
is as crude a film as you could imagine – essentially a
kid’s stage show, filmed with little aplomb, it features
Old King Cole, Merlin the Magician and various characters from
Mother Goose in a messy, virtually unwatchable shambles.
To squeeze a bit more life out of the film, it later had some
unrelated Christmas scenes crowbarred into the ‘story’
and was reissued with ‘Santa Visits’ slapped on to
the original title. Even in 1967, this must’ve led to some
very upset children and irate parents.
Lewis shot The Gruesome Twosome the same year
and that is much more entertaining.
Rogers - Rated X-Mas
you are amused by juvenile crudeness – and let’s face
it, we all are – then Matt Rogers’ Rated X-Mas
might make you chuckle briefly. It’s not exactly witty,
and some more po-faced readers might object to the homophobic
nature of one or two songs, but the look of absolute horror that
greets songs like Suck on My Cock (to
the tune of Jingle Bell Rock) is enough
to bring festive cheer to even the biggest Scrooge.
Yes, it’s piss-poor parody time here, with such delights
as I Saw Mommy Fucking Santa Claus,
Rudolph the Deep Throat Reindeer, Frosty
the Pervert and Have Yourself a 1-900
Christmas. Released in 1997, the album was pulled
from the shelves in 2000 after legal action from the original
songs’ less-than-amused owners, which makes it something
of a collectors item for particularly sad collectors. Or you can
just download the versions that are all over the internet.
1980 psycho film languished in obscurity for a couple of decades
before finally getting some recognition in recent years. It’s
still not exactly a household name, but at least with a special
edition DVD available, it has a higher profile than it ever had
when ‘new’, when it sat unwatched on video shelves
across the UK.
Also known as You Better Watch Out, the film
follows the escapades of a disturbed toy factory worker who decides
to become a vengeful Santa, rewarding the nice and punishing the
Like a lot of low rent indie horror films that emerged with barely
any connection to the mainstream film world, Christmas
Evil is a mix of tedium and weirdness, the latter just
about outshining the former. If you are a fan of homicidal Santas
– and who isn’t – this might just be your thing.
Sexy Christmas Treat
something brand new - a 'sexy Christmas treat' - from the makers
of The Last Exorcism. Settle down, relax and
says Christmas quite like the sound of cats singing,
so we can all thank the Gods for Jingle Cats.
In the grand tradition of The Singing Dogs (who, as i'm sure you
know, recorded assorted Beatles songs in the way that they should
be heard) comes this heartwarming version of that Boyd Rice classic,
the thing as you relax in front of a warm fire with a festive
ale, mince pie and dead turkey. Enthusiasts can find more here.
comes a time in every man's life where he has to put away childish
things - and by 'childish things', I mean pissy, fizzy lager that
all tastes the same. Once you venture past the world of Stella
and Carling, there's an entire world of flavour to explore - not
all good, but all more interesting that the tasteles crap you
find being swilled in pubs around the world every night by the
never a better time to try the world of ale than Christmas, when
a selection of festive themed beers will be available. These are,
at best, packed with taste and have a warming effect - just what
you need after tramping through the snow to get to the pub. At
worst, they are thoroughly average drinks with stupid names, but
that's the exception, not the rule.
you're still of the opinion that beer needs to be as cold as possible,
to kill the tastebuds - or God forbid you think wine is the superior
drink - then whey not try something different on your Christmas
pub crawls? It might just change your life!
The Bishop's Wife
argue that the best Christmas films are those shot in black and
white - possibly because both Christmas and monochrome movies
conjure up feelings of nostalgia for a simpler world. While the
king of these films is It's a Wonderful Life,
here's an alternative slice of vintage festive sentimentality
(and that's not a put-down - both films do sentimentality very
well). Here, Cary Grant is an angel sent down to teach an ambitious
Bishop (David Niven) about what really matters - and, seemingly,
to try and bone his wife (Loretta Young) too.
smooth charm, Niven's flustered style, Young's barely-suppressed
yearnings and a supporting cast including Elsa Lanchester help
make this slight tale work, and Henryt Koster's direction is tight
and effective. Even hardened cynics might find the odd lump in
the throat as this story - culminating on Christmas Eve - skillfully
manipulates the viewer.
1947 production seems to have slipped through the Christmas Classics
crack, but is well worth seeking out. It goes without saying that
the horrible Whitney Houston remake from 1996 is to be avoided
at all costs.
The Big Bang Theory - The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis
a recent TV favourite for you - The Big Bang Theory's
Saturnalia Miracle from Season Two's festive episode The
Bath Item Gift Hypothesis. Penny gets Sheldon the
greatest gift ever in a moment that never fails to warm the cockles
of the heart found at Strange Things Towers.
is forbidden for this so you'll have to go to Youtube - sorry
kids!. Click on the picture to go to the 'minisode' (ie the second
half of the full episode).
12. Scary Shopping Mall Santas
of the weird things about Christmas is the Shopping Mall Santa,
entire battalions of whom have been traumatising small children
for decades. Parents who the rest of the year live in a permanent
state of pedophobia are suddenly happy to drop Junior onto the
lap of some grizzled old bloke who - let's face it - had eagerly
applied for a job where the main activity is groping small children
while wearing a disguise! Sure, they have to pass all sorts of
background checks these days, which should weed out the more disfunctional,
alcoholic, piss-stained applicants - but surely that simply means
that the successful Santas are the more cunning ones.
parents seem to think that kids love these encounters
- seemingly because once you have kids, your entire memory of
what it was like to be a kid is erased. For many small
children though, these encounters are worse than the dentist and
the monster under the bed combined. Failblog
offers extensive photographic evidence of young snappers in a
state of absolute terror while being held hostage by the often
terrifying looking bearded fat man, which the more misanthropic
among you might find entertaining.
a sense, Gremlins could take place at any time
of the year; but from the opening credits with Darlene Love belting
out Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) on, this
is unquestionably a festive movie, albeit a rather twisted one.
Dante manages to mostly avoid the Spielberg curse of gloopy sentimentality
- not easy with a Christmas film - and instead delivers a sharp,
satirical, and often rather cutting romp that has the best movie
monsters to emerge since Fiend Without a Face.
From Phoebe Cates’ story of why she hates Christmas, Santa
attacked by Gremlins to an army of the little bastards marching
through the snow – this is a Christmas film to bring a smile
to even the most hardened cynic’s face.
2 is better though.
Michelle Cody - Merry Christmas Elvis
wished Happy Birthday to Jesus, and now it’s time for another
annoying brat to sing a song to someone worshipped by idiots across
the world. Elvis knocked out some decent tunes, but the tribute
records that cashed in – I mean, paid homage – after
his death were all shocking and if he wasn’t so fat –
or indeed, if he wasn’t STILL ALIVE! – he’s
be spinning in his grave to hear them. Here Michelle Cody dreams
of singing in Heaven with the Big Man (we all dream of her doing
that, the sooner the better!). A real thrill for Elvis that –
after years of superstardom to have to face eternity dueting with
catawauling kids? Sounds more like Hell to me.
You have to love the ending, where she asks Elvis to say Happy
Birthday to Jesus. Seriously, you think Elvis has nothing better
to do in the afterlife than to be your messenger? Take a tip from
Little Cindy and tell him yourself!
Gary Glitter - Rock 'n' Roll Christmas
he became History’s Greatest Monster, Gary Glitter was a 1970’s
glam rock hasbeen until he revived his career with his annual
Christmas tour playing venues packed to the rafters with irony-loving
hipsters and this depressingly catchy 1984 comeback hit, which
you can still hear in shops over Christmas, albeit a cover version
(a worthy attempt to cut Glitter out of the picture; unfortunately,
as credited co-writer, he probably still makes money each time
'You’ll never guess what you’ve got from me” shrieks
ghastly Gary, though if the person being addressed is under twelve,
it’s probably a venereal disease and a lifetime of therapy.
out the video and wonder why it took so long for people to discover
his unsavoury nature.
Beavis and Butt-head do Christmas
first Beavis and Butt-head Christmas special - A Very
Special Christmas with Beavis and Butt-head - consisted
entirely of the pair commenting on Christmas music videos by the
likes of Hall & Oates, Band Aid, Max Headroom(!) and The Ramones,
which was fine and dandy, but this is the one you really want
to see, as it features the two role-models in a pair of 'charming'
boys are split up to experience a couple of familiar Christmas
stories. In Huh-Huh-Humbug, Beavis finds
his porn movie ession (he's watching Ebenezer Screw) interrupted
by three ghosts (characters from the series)who try - and fail
- to show him the error of his slacker ways. Meanwhile, Butt-head
is visited by an angel who tries to show him how much better the
world would be if only he hadn't been born in It's
a Miserable Life. Between these heartwarming tales
we have Letters to Santa Butt-head,
where he reads viewers letters while Beavis is dressed in some
sort of reindeer / festive SM outfit.
so much ho ho ho as huh huh huh...
is a time of stress and frustration, and the forced jollity that
often accompanies it can be equally annoying – workplaces
strewn with tacky decorations, colleagues in Santa hats pissed
after a glass of sherry, awkward family get-togethers, awful Christmas
music pumped into every shop and the streets lined with carol
singers and people who clearly only shop once a year and so stand
around like deer caught in the headlights while you struggle to
get past them as they stock up for the end of the world.
Then, just when you think you can’t take anymore, someone
sends you a photo of a sexy girl looking saucy in a Santa outfit.
And suddenly, it doesn’t seem so bad after all.
The Wombles were huge in the mid-Seventies – bigger
than Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Bay City Rollers combined.
They had a string of hit singles, written and performed by Mike
Batt and assorted session men – some of whom then donned
the costumes to mime on Top of the Pops, seemingly
unaware that their roles could’ve been filled by a few stagehands
or homeless locals.
This is their fantastic Christmas hit – as usual, the Womble
references crowbarred in (has anyone outside of hip-hop referenced
themselves so often in song?) – from 1974, and it’s
the 20th biggest selling festive single ever – take THAT,
More recently, Roy Wood mashed up the tune with his iconic
I Wish It Could be Christmas Every Day in a hellishly
hamfisted megamix that has to be heard to be disbelieved. The
video is astonishing.
Don't Open Till Christmas
movies have taught us anything, it's that psycho killers are quite
often pretty picky about who they kill, targeting specific groups
that they have a beef with. In this British shocker (made in 1984,
but feeling very much like a Seventies movie), it's Santa who
is the chosen victim - or, more precisely, anyone dressed as Santa.
These victims are a generally seedy bunch and are offed in spectacularly
sordid ways - castration in a public toilet, speared through the
head, stabbed during sex, killed while attending a live porno
show. If you want your kids to stop believing in Santa, show them
and star Edmund Purdom - allegedly not a fan of this movie - is
the pretty useless Chief Inspector who fails miserably to stop
the slaughter, Caroline Munro appears briefly doing a musical
number (she was attempting to launch a pop career at the time)
and Pat Astley provides the gratuitous nudity. It was written
by Derek Ford, a legend of British sleaze who's career has encompassed
everything from gothic horror The Black Torment
to hardcore porn in Diversions. British prints
of Don't Open Till Christmas were heavily cut
and many of the versions available in the US (under dubious claims
of public domain) are practically unwatchable. But as a last gasp
of the British exploitation film industry, this is worth the effort.
Little Cindy - Happy Birthday Jesus
with the frivolity. Let’s get back to what Christmas is
really about – the birth of our Lord and Saviour.
Here, Little Cindy takes time out from inbreeding and KKK rallies
to say a ‘birthday’ prayer to Jesus (no-one tell her
he wasn’t actually born at Christmas!) and to lament his
treatment at the hands of "those awful naughty men".
Little Cindy ends her heartfelt prayer by wishing for death (“Momma
sez if I was good you’d let me live with you”),
and you might feel the same way after listening to this.
Carry On Christmas
years ago, the Carry On films were more popular
than God, and so it seemed natural that they should transfer some
of their comedy gold to TV. As well as the lamentable Carry
on Laughing series, the team - or parts thereof - made
four festival specials between 1969 and 1973. The first is based
loosely around A Christmas Carol, with Sid James
playing Scrooge, while the second - Carry On Again Christmas
- takes that festive favourite Treasure Island
as its inspiration. The series took a break in 1971 but was back
in '72 with Carry On Stuffing, a series of historical
skits and finished in 1973 with Carry On Christmas
(again!), the only modern day story in the series.
their best, these are like passable cheap knock-offs of proper
Carry On films, shot with the horrible video
sheen of 1970's UK TV; at worst, they are unwatchably bad
cheap knock-offs. Still, if you want to see Sid, Babs, Hattie
Jacques, Charlie Hawtry and others (notably not Kenneth Williams)
running through a series of skits held together by a weak plot,
then these might be worth a look. If nothing else, they'll make
you appreciate the proper Carry On films more!
Silent Night, Deadly Night
1984 slasher would be wholly unremarkable if it wasn't for the
fact that the killer wears a Santa outfit and judges people who
are 'naughty'. There had been Christmas-themed horror movies before
of course, but none that pushed the 'evil Santa' aspect so blatantly.
Because of that, it became a huge hit and cause celebré,
helped by an advertising campaign that allegedly had little kids
looking forward to Christmas about as enthusiastically as turkeys
do.There were protests, attempts to have the film banned and a
general lack of goodwill surrounding the film when it played cinemas.
In the UK, the film didn't even see release until 2009.
crap, of course, but has just enough going on to avoid being
too dull - and features an early appearance by Scream Queen
Linnea Quigley if that sort of thing excites you. The first sequel
was a travesty that used huge chunks of the original as 'flashbacks'
while subsequent sequels (directed by people like Monte Hellman
and Brian Yuzna!) have no connection with the original film (and
in some cases, no connection with Christmas either).
Billy Idol's Happy Holidays
things are just wrong, and this is certainly one of them.
Billy Idol singing God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen,
Frosty the Snowman, Silent Night
and Here Comes Santa Claus? Holy crap!
delivers these songs in straight-faced style, if not exactly with
a straight face, on his 2006 recording Happy Holidays.
Admirably, Idol makes these songs seem sleazy just by singing
them! Don't believe us? Check out his version of White
Now there is a man who is certainly having a happy holiday,
though his whole demeanor suggests that it's at someone else's
expense. Seriously, if you told me that there was a dead hooker
just off camera in that video, I'd believe you.
still time for you to buy
for that festive family get-together - assuming you really hate
your family and never want them to speak to you again of course.
Tales from the Crypt
story And All Through the House first
appeared in Vault of Horror issue 35, and would
later be filmed as part of the Tales from the Crypt
TV series in 1989, but it's the version seen in the 1972 Amicus
film that everyone loves.
Collins plays an unpleasant bitch (go figure) who offs her husband
on Christmas Eve with a poker, only to hear on the radio that
an escaped lunatic is on the loose in the area. Sure enough, he
turns up outside her house, and the pesky fact that her husband's
body is in the house means she can't call the police. Did I mention
that the looney is dressed in a santa outfit? And that Collins
has a small daughter who is very eager for Father Christmas to
arrive? You can tell this is going to end badly, and indeed it
EC Comics movies have been criticised for not capturing the nastiness
and black humour of the original stories, but this is a fantastic
little story that will put you right in the festive spirit!