Christmas horror! For us, the true meaning of Christmas horror is the feeling you get while averting your eyes as you walk past the Avalon Mall’s dead-eyed evergreen golem:
“Christmas horror” is also a surprisingly populous horror subgenre. You have Black Christmas (1974) and its 2006 remake; there’s Do Not Open Till Christmas, and you have a depressing number of punny-titled pretenders — Santa Claws, Satan Claus, Santa’s Slay, Slay Bells — and the Silent Night, Deadly Night series, of which we just watched the dismal third installment.
Christmas horror movies all follow the familiar pattern — psycho terrorizes tiny town using a variety of seasonal themed implements of murder. Any given yuletide rampage will consist of a strangulation via a string of lights, a candy cane stabbing, a sledding-related decapitation, a hockey skate to the face, an icicle impalement, and a household pet made ill through exposure to poinsettia.
In Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!, our seasonal affective disordered antagonist is Ricky — the Santa-banged-my-mom killer with a mad-on for jolly individuals in red velour. Ricky’s currently in a vegetative coma with his brain exposed inside a glass dome (because, science). Ricky’s doctor is utilizing the psychic talents of pouty blind teen Laura to coax Ricky out of his coma because, you know, science.
Anyway, the psychic link-up leads to Ricky’s reawakening, after which he begins his pursuit of Laura. With his exposed brain hidden under a jaunty chapeau, Ricky slaughters anybody that accosts him with holiday iconography — a Santa suit, a poinsettia broach, a Christmas sweater, a wrapped present, a red car (obviously, he’s stretching by the 45-minute mark).
Jump ahead to Act III, and there’s a big showdown at Grandma’s house (who, shockingly, does NOT end up folded into the oven, despite an agonizingly long scene of her basting a turkey). As far as horror movie heroes go, Laura’s brother manages to set the bar to sub-zero levels for all future horror movie heroes. Resplendent in his denim-on-denim ensemble and Sammy Hagar hairdo, he makes his requisite 11th hour save with the killer quip: “Is it live or is it Memorex?”. The only line that could’ve zinged Ricky harder would’ve been “Where’s the beef?” or “Calgon, take me away!”.
So, in conclusion, this holiday season, just go watch Gremlins.