Let’s start with the basics here. A Creepshow Holiday Special: Shapeshifters Anonymous is a Christmas story of sorts. I’m not one of those people who are quick to question such things (people who say Gremlins isn’t a Christmas movie sort of make me wince, alright?).
So, what sort of Christmas story is it? IMDb pretty accurately summarizes it: “An anxious man who is trying to figure out his disorder enlists into an organization called Shapeshifters Anonymous without realizing that Santa Clauses are after him.”
Would I say, “It was one of the most bizarre descriptions I had ever heard”? I don’t know. I own the movie Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead and have my own bizarre Santa serial called The Santa Matrix where Jerry Fallwell is a character and where all the elves’ bodies are repatriated spirits of evil or otherwise sinful people (rapists, murderers, god knows what else).
Nevertheless, stories about werewolves and such being hunted by Santa Claus can’t be considered 100% average.
Does it Have Merit?
I found it quite interesting, even if it’s not a magnificent installment of the “Creepshow” franchise. I laughed at a few things, and generally like digs at the Santa Claus myth. Even as a kid, I was always kind of skeptical about Santa Claus’ existence, but seeing so many bizarre fictional perversions of the idea drives the point home. That’s where the fun comes from. No one in their right mind would take “A Creepshow Holiday Special: Shapeshifters Anonymous” very seriously, and why even bother saying “This episode sucks!”?
It’s one of those things you might as well let wash over you. Maybe put this episode on when you’re just lazing around, as something to half-pay attention to. There really isn’t much to lose. Also, I’ve come to respect Santa Claus over the years, as a relatively safe means of teaching children the power of a lie. Of course, the lesson is never learned as people remain gullible as Hell throughout their lives, but at least Santa gives an opportunity to wise up and understand the duplicitous nature of myth-making.
Am I Saying It’s Bad? No, Not Really
This movie won’t drive fear into your heart. It won’t make you seriously question the Santa myth, the safety of Christmas shopping or leaving out cookies and milk for Santa and his reindeer, or a potential body-horror curse involving failure to kiss under the mistletoe (not a bad story idea, actually). It does, however, provide a sinister Santa (Tom Glynn), a Were-tortoise (Pete Burris), and the equally interesting were-cheetah (Anna Camp), among other special gifts.
Frankly, this story could make an interesting video game (I can imagine an 8-bit version for the Nintendo (NES). Also, because of the success of Creepshow and Shudder in general, this episode will probably be preserved on the network for a very long time. So, if you couldn’t afford it right then, you’ll probably be able to check it out when your budget’s less tight and you can afford the $6 a month to subscribe to Shudder (hey, we’re still in COVID season, and some budgets are very tight!).
I wasn’t joking that this could make a decent videogame. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if Santa Claus would bring me one next Christmas (again, I’d prefer something for the good ol’ NES, for which people can still make and sell new cartridge games).
Finally, Final Thoughts
The truth about Santa Claus was probably one of the best presents I ever received, though I had my suspicions all along. After all, isn’t it better to know that Santa Claus is actually your loved ones and that they just told me this story to have a little bit of fun (even if at my expense)? The question is: Would I have been less inclined to believe in Santa Claus had they told me a weird-ass, twisted tale like this one?
I don’t know, but we’re told a lot of different stories that don’t withstand scrutiny, aside from Santa Claus. I think horror can, under the right conditions, remind us that life is brimming with bullshit. Holiday horror tends to take myths and stretch them to their extremes. Aside from horror often being fun, it can challenge our assumptions about the world. A Creepshow Holiday Special: Shapeshifters Anonymous encourages us to ask, “Why would we just be limited to werewolves? Why not were-tortoises?” Why not were-tortoises indeed.
And the Christmas season is an endless well of horror potential. I can imagine a tale of some lost reindeer needing to resort to cannibalism. Title: “Santa’s Lost Reindeer: The Denizens of Venison Death.” Also, feel free to ask about my parody of Rudolph called “Rudolph the Dead-Nosed Reindeer.”
What are your thoughts on A Creepshow Holiday Special: Shapeshifters Anonymous? Did it shake your belly like a bowl full of jelly or put too much coal in your stocking? Is reviewing holiday horror out of season lame? Ho ho ho at us in the comments!
X-Files, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas
Airing in December of 1998, How the Ghosts Stole Christmas is a classic monster of the week episode of the X-Files. Except, of course, it’s ghosts, not monsters. Because it’s Christmas, and there’s no better time for a little ghost story than that.
Our story begins like any good holiday evening should. Mulder is telling Scully a ghost story. They’re sitting together outside a supposedly haunted house on Christmas Eve, waiting for the ghosts of two lovers to appear. The story is that they killed each other eighty-one years ago, that very night. Mulder is very excited to see some ghosts. Scully would rather be at home celebrating the holiday.
One of these people has a family life and a dog. The other only has his partner.
Eventually, the two of them do make it inside, where they find an elderly couple named Maurice and Lydia. They seem like a nice enough couple until things start getting weird. Doors lock and unlock as they please. Lydia and Maurice seem to appear and vanish. And, of course, some dead bodies are found.
As Scully and Mulder try to find each other in this sprawling maze of a house, the ghosts are after them. They tell them terrible, insightful things about themselves and each other. The scary thing is that some of this is good advice.
The scary thing is how much of this Mulder and Scully needed to hear.
Eventually, our heroes escape, though they sure don’t exorcise the ghosts in the house or themselves. Lydia and Maurice are left to enjoy their quiet Christmas Eve in the comfort of their love, no longer a raging fire of passion, but a warm bed of glowing embers.
First off, let me say that I’m a sucker for a bottle episode. Especially in a show like X-Files. (And it is a true bottle episode, being the cheapest episode of the season.) For the most part, our story takes place in one location, with just four actors. It is tense, it is tight, and it is intimate.
Honestly, this episode has everything going for it. Of course, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson bring their A Game. And they’re joined by two of the funniest comedic actors of all time, Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin. These people could read you the phone book and have you in stitches.
But the writing is also exemplary. Mulder and Scully are forced to take a good look at how they treat each other, for better or worse. They have to consider their relationship, the way they live their lives, and the darker voices in their heads.
In the end, I think they come together beautifully.
Finally, I want to praise the location. The haunted house looks so much like Hill House, it can’t be an accident. It’s in turn freezing and warm, falling apart and beautifully maintained. The cobwebs and hanging sheets on the unused furniture are just classic. And with the massive fireplaces, bookshelves to the ceiling, and the well-stocked bar, the whole place has an air of old-fashioned comfort, left to rot.
What didn’t work
I honestly cannot think of one thing that didn’t work in this episode. It’s funny, it’s touching, it’s dark. It’s the perfect Christmas episode of television.
In the end, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas is a dark, spooky little tale. It’s filled with scares and chills but still manages to warm your heart. And if you want to fit a little more blood and gore into your holiday watch list, this is a great way to do it.
(5 / 5)
Released in 1997, it would be understandable if you confused this Jack Frost with the movie of the same title that was released in 1998 and starred Michael Keaton. We are not talking about the Michael Keaton Jack Frost because it’s not horror. It’s also not good.
(Look at that, you’re getting two reviews in one today. Merry Christmas.)
No, today we are talking about Jack Frost, starring Christopher Allport and Scott MacDonald. And it is possibly the most bonkers Christmas movie I have ever seen.
We begin our tale in a very messed up fashion. A little girl asks her uncle for a bedtime story on Christmas Eve. The uncle tells her about a serial killer named Jack Frost who was caught after leaving bits of his victims inside pies. But there’s no need to worry, the uncle explains. Because Jack Frost was caught and is being executed that very night.
And we won’t be hearing from these two characters again for the whole movie.
Instead, we cut to Jack, being transported to his execution. Somehow he manages to escape, only to be doused with some sort of acid and melted into the snow.
Meanwhile, the sheriff who caught Jack Frost, Sam, is trying to come to terms with his death. He’s thankful that he’s gone, but the nightmare just doesn’t feel over yet.
Then, of course, people start turning up dead in his little town. And in spectacular ways.
Slowly, Jack Frost seems to work his way through a family called the Metzners. Even though it appears that this family didn’t have a single thing to do with him. First, he murders their son, then proceeds to stalk the entire family.
Sam is joined by an FBI agent named Agent Manners and a scientist named Stone. Together they fumble around the tiny little town, trying to figure out how to kill Jack. Bullets do nothing. He can melt and slip through cracks. But hairdryers seem to do the trick.
I’m going to be honest here. Nothing in this movie was good. The effects were bad. The writing is bad. The constant snow puns are bad. The acting is bad.
But it is this exact combination of bad aspects that makes Jack Frost funny. It is so intentionally bad that it is hilarious. None of the characters are likable, so we’re not overly upset when they’re murdered in horrific ways. None of the effects look real, but they look fun. The writing is awful, but it’s hilarious.
And here’s the greatest thing about Jack Frost. Everyone working on it is having fun. You can just tell that every single actor is having the time of their lives. Nobody was having a single bad day on stage here. And that alone makes Jack Frost enjoyable to watch.
What didn’t work
One thing I have to say here is that the acting was just bad. It was not, I believe, intentionally bad acting. That is to say, it wasn’t a talented actor acting badly for comedic effect. This was just bad acting from almost everyone in the cast. The two exceptions are Allport and Marsha Clark, who plays Marla. Everybody else is overacting so hard that they’re pulling muscles. They’re chewing the scenery so much that they’re not going to have room for Christmas cookies.
To enjoy Jack Frost, you need to have a deep appreciation for campy effects, bad snow puns, and really inappropriate humor. It’s one of those movies where you turn off your brain, make sure all loose items are secured and your lap bar is completely locked, and enjoy the ride.
If you can do that, then you’re going to have a great time with this movie. If not, don’t worry. There’s lots more holiday horror to come. (4 / 5)
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster (2023), a Film Review
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster (2023) is an award-winning sci-fi horror film directed and written by Bomani J. Story.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster (2023) is a sci-fi horror film directed and written by Bomani J. Story. Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this unrated and award-winning film stars Laya DeLeon Hayes, Denzel Whitaker, Chad L. Coleman, Reilly Brooke Stith, and Amani Summer. As of this review, interested viewers can enjoy this film from Shudder with additional availability through purchase or rent.
After a sequence of tragedies and loss, Vicaria (Laya DeLeon Hayes) seeks to cure death. Despite her genius earning her a private school education, few take this ambition seriously. Those who see it think of her only as an example of a girl separated from reality. But all that changes when she has a breakthrough. Unfortunately for her, the systemic issues that oppress her neighborhood can’t be solved as simply as curing death.
What I Like about The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster and Recognition Earned
This film received nominations from four separate film festivals. It won Best Narrative Feature by the Calgary Underground Film Festival and Best Horror / Sci Fi from Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival. In addition, it received nominations for Best Narrative Feature from the Atlanta Film Festival and a nomination from the SXSW Film Festival.
The beautifully shot scenes earn respect, and the cast remains strong throughout. While Laya DeLeon Hayes executes the most demanding role, Reilly Brooke Stith (Aisha) and Amani Summer (Jada) elevate their material.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster dips its commentary into several hot topics. While I would have liked to see further exploration, it deals with scientific responsibilities, systemic issues facing Black Americans, and more. Needless to say, this film has ambition.
While particular elements vary in execution, this remains a unique approach to the dehumanization of these racist and systemic issues while telling an engaging story in the process. While I wouldn’t consider this an arthouse film, it dips into that category in many ways.
Tired Tropes, Trigger Warnings, and Considerations
For a better viewing experience, don’t take the film with the utmost realism in mind. An example of what I mean is how easily and unnoticed bodies are moved and hidden. As a metaphor or motif, it works better to serve the overall message.
As mentioned, many systemic issues come to light within the story, with varying levels of depth. Some examples include racial profiling, police violence, and microaggressions that stretch the “micro” aspect of the word. I also want to clarify that the film focuses on Vicaria’s personal story, using these experiences when applicable to the plot.
Drug addiction and gang violence play prominent roles in the plot. As mentioned above, The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster addresses many of the systemic issues that make a thriving drug industry as opposed to dehumanizing those participating in it.
The titular Monster evokes levels of realistic body horror. While it’s not particularly extensive, the rot remains present and vivid. Partly related, the film creates a surprisingly gory story.
What I Dislike about The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster
Several plot points remain underdeveloped or underexplored. This choice might indicate sequel material, but I don’t think that’s the case here. For example, viewers hear about a “body snatcher,” but the narrative doesn’t build the mystery until the end. Perhaps this requires a slightly longer run time, but it also could be cut with some edits to the script.
Her Monster didn’t particularly evoke fear. The rot evokes disgust but not terror. The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster remains more focused on the story than the horror.
For those looking for horror rooted in real issues but not afraid to delve into the absurd, The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster remains a strong choice. While it might not evoke the terror and haunting we horror fans hope for, the bittersweet film certainly provides many reasons to give this film a view.
(4 / 5)
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