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Video Rewind: There'll Be Scary Ghost Stories

Updated on December 4, 2020
Sally Field gets an unwanted welcome home in this 1972 television movie
Sally Field gets an unwanted welcome home in this 1972 television movie

Ahhh, Christmas, But Who Knew it Would Become a Real "Killing Season"?

For some reason I've never known of people to gather around a blazing fire on Christmas Eve/Day to tell ghost stories since I thought they were only popular around Halloween. But for as many years as I've heard the popular Christmas song I've yet to know of this as being a family tradition.

Christmas and horror don't mix (well in a way they do since everyone caves under the pressure of the holidays) but in 1972, a television movie of the week came out called "Home for the Holidays" starring rising actress Sally Field.

Field shared the small screen as younger sister to the legendary Eleanor Parker, Jessica Walter and Jill Haworth when the four are summoned back home by their father, Walter Brennan. They meet his new wife, Julie Harris and soon murder ensues following the mysterious death of Brennan. In true horror fashion no one can get out due to a deluge of rain and one by one the body count begins. The movie is still floating around on VHS so good luck finding it at the prices people want for it.

However, it wasn't until the release of "Silent Night Deadly Night" in 1984 that people were up in arms. Protesting outside of theaters (why do I never see these things?) and a pretty scary trailer added to the hype of this movie. Sure it was one of those '80's horror slash/trash crank'em out movies but would it have been any different if it wasn't set at Christmas?

Actually, this is one good movie. It has a plot and we know who the killer is since he snaps. One of the good aspects of this movie is the seed about being "naughty" around the holidays is planted into the head of young Billy and throughout his growing up he maintains a clean cut wholesome image, with the exception of losing it every year around Christmas.

While I haven't seen it in awhile, I hold this movie as a great horror classic and while you're at it you can skip the sequel (in which Billy's younger brother Ricky takes over) since it's nothing but flashbacks and some new footage in with Ricky. The franchise also spawned three other sequels and aren't the greatest either. Part four is so bizarre I'm not sure if I can watch it again and it's been a long time since I've sat down to watch the series.

A decade before "SNDN" moviegoers were treated to a "Black Christmas" which starred Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder and Andrea Martin as what else? Sorority sisters being terrorized by obscene phone calls and eventually murder. I really never knew if I had seen this one but this whole movie was a waste of an hour and a half and then some. I kept looking for sharp objects while watching it. I'd say avoid this one.

There's also "To All a Goodnight" about girls at a finishing school who are left alone during Christmas break while the headmaster is away. And what do girls do when they're left alone? Have a party with boys! It's been awhile since I saw this so I can't really comment on it but this was 1980 when the slash/trash films were in their infancy.

While a lot of the movies from the '90's are bad, Christmas and murder were reunited in 1996 with "Santa Claws.

"Scream Queen" Raven Quinn (Debbie Rochon) isn't having a great holiday season. She's having marital problems with her "glamour" photographer husband (John Mowod) and unbeknownst to her, her neighbor Wayne (Grant Kramer) is killing everyone around her with the hope of being with her. The first time I saw this I wasn't too impressed with it, but I think it's scarier to find out that you're being stalked by a friend/neighbor than a regular stranger.

In 1997, there was a lot of bloodshed when "Turbulence" and "Jack Frost" were released.

Which airline decorates their cabins for Christmas? None that I know of and I think this would have been just a plain movie about murder and mayhem in the unfriendly skies on Christmas Eve, so the set decorator probably decided to add a little garland and tinsel.

Lauren Holly and Ray Liotta star in this air murder vehicle which makes one wonder why Karen Black shouldn't have been brought in to fly the plane. Holly's too high strung as the flight attendant who is forced to land the plane while dodging Liotta at every turn. I'm just glad I've never had to fly during the holiday's, but there was that time in 1986, but that's another story.

In "Jack Frost" it's a murderous snowman the sheriff of Snomonton must deal with (and quite an original idea at that) since the human serial killer (Scott MacDonald) has vowed revenge on Sheriff Tiler (Christopher Allport) for catching him years earlier in a routine traffic stop. Ironically, Allport was killed in an avalanche in 2008.

Frost is on his way to be executed when the van he's in is involved in an accident and due to the chemicals becomes a snowman with an attitude. This is intended as a comedy and is much better than the sequel.

Finally, in order to get this written, I just watched "Bikini Bloodbath Christmas" and again I found myself looking for sharp objects. Basically the plot and dialogue is the same (only adding Christmas to the title and a few decorations) as "Bikini Bloodbath Carwash" and Rochon is briefly seen in this one as well.

But the ultimate scary stories around the Christmas season are "A Christmas Story" and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." These are two movies which I wish there were serial killers in them.

I'm really surprised no one has gone psychotic after viewing them non stop over a 24 hour period.


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