If all goes well, this will be the first of a “Screen Slashers” column I will do once a month. In each one, I will pick a film that features a serial killer or mass murderer and describe the infamous, historical figures they may or may not have been based on. I’m doing this because I love psychopaths and want more excuses to talk about them. Researching which sickos inspired by favorite fictional sickos happens to be a hobby of mine, so why not also write about it? I thought about doing Michael Myers from Halloween since the holiday itself is just around the corner, but I already did a breakdown of Myers about a year ago when I wrote for Hidden Remote and I didn’t feel like doing it again. You can read it here if you want. That being said, I decided on Trick ‘r Treat instead.
Trick ‘r Treat is an anthology horror film released in 2007 that tells five different stories set on Halloween night. They are connected through the presence of Samhain, the literal embodiment of All Hallows Eve, watching over the night. The film deals with the “rules” of Halloween that must be followed, rules that are largely forgotten as respect for the holiday has been thrown out the window. One of the characters observed throughout the film is Steven Wilkins. He may honor the holiday but he’s got a much different problem, his backyard “stinks like a dead whore.”
Despite the presence of the demonically adorable Samhain, the true villains of Trick ‘r Treat are the people. Specifically Mr. Kreeg and Steven Wilkins. Kreeg is responsible for a school bus massacre that, from what I’ve gathered, is not based on real-life events. It was actually inspired by “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” special. So, Steven Wilkins it is. The school principal with a smelly backyard filled with bones.
Played by Dylan Baker, who also co-wrote the script with director Michael Dougherty, Wilkins is a charming local man who happens to be a serial killer. His targets of choice appear to be anyone of convenience, in this case, a few trick-or-treaters and a frightened young woman at a parade. There is a possibility that Wilkins is based on either John Wayne Gacy or Andrei Chikatilo, two sadistic serial killers that primarily targeted children while presenting themselves as “respectable” members of their communities.
Most people already know the name Gacy thanks to the many films and biographies about him. He worked as “Pogo the Clown” at children’s events and would often lure them over while still in costume, prompting him to be known as the “Killer Clown”. Meaning, don’t blame Stephen King for killing the clown industry, Pennywise didn’t come around until eight years after Gacy’s arrest. He was put to death on May 10, 1994, for torturing, raping, and murdering an estimated 33 boys. Burying their bodies in the crawl space of his house. Despite the high body count, hardly anyone suspected Gacy of anything, even though he was arrested and convicted of sexual assault in 1968, and then two more times in 1971. His final arrest was in 1978. To put it bluntly, it really shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise that he was a serial killing rapist. I can’t speak for the family, but how did they not know there were bodies in the house? According to his sister, the house always smelled a bit musty but apparently, no one thought enough to question it. “When [he and his second wife] moved in, there was always this kind of musty smell,” she [Karen Gacy] says. “In later years, he kept saying that there was water standing under the house and he was treating it with lime [and] that’s what the mold smell was.”
Though greatly diluted, Steven Wilkins of Trick ‘r Treat shares many similarities with Gacy including killing children, having a child of his own, and burying bodies on his property. In particular, the cheerful creepiness emitting from the character feels very Gacy.
Another killer that could have gone into Wilkins’s creation is Andrei Chikatilo, “The Rostov Ripper” or “Red Ripper” who sexually assaulted, murdered, and mutilated at least 52 women and children between 1978 and 1990 in Russia. Chikatilo’s crimes, although sexual in nature, were primarily motivated by rage. He was just a walking flesh suit filled with hate and resentment.
Chikatilo grew up during WWII and was forced to witness the horrors of war at a very young age. He lived through the Nazi occupation of Ukraine that forced his family into underground hideouts. His father was at war, leaving just him and his mother, sometimes completely homeless. It’s been theorized that Chikatilo’s mother had been raped by a German soldier sometime during the war as she suddenly got pregnant and gave birth to a daughter. A rape that many believed Chikatilo had witnessed.
Naturally, Chikatilo grew up to have a great deal of emotional and psychological issues. To the point where murder and violence became therapeutic for him, a way to purge the rage. He didn’t seem to have a preference regarding gender, or even age, which is unusual among pedophiles, and often serial killers in general, suggesting he likely chose children because of his own stunted mentality, and for convenience. Anything alive would do.
This is exactly the case with Steven Wilkins who doesn’t pick and chose an exact target but simply killed anyone he might get ahold of.
Death by candy
Death by candy becomes one of Wilkins’s methods of murder, which fits right into the Halloween theme. As mentioned above, one of the running themes of Trick ‘r Treat is honoring the “rules” of Halloween, including checking for tampered candy. Anyone who has ever trick-or-treated knows this rule and remembers how annoying it was. We all remember our parents demanding we hand over our buckets and pillowcases of goodies that we spent all night collecting so that they could check it for open wrappers, because according to them and the news, there was always some wacko just waiting to put arsenic or razor blades into your Snickers.
This is actually one of my personal issues with the holiday, or with the misconceptions of it. The way so many people continue to associate it with violence, murder, and Devil crap.
Parents worry. It’s part of being a parent, but everyone seems to go a bit overboard about Halloween. It’s a Kentucky Fried Mouse situation, a story no one has experienced firsthand but they know a guy who knows a guy who knew someone that it happened to. Despite all the stories about poisoned candy, there’s only been one recorded case of it actually happening, and it wasn’t random at all.
In 1974, a man named Ronald Clark O’Bryan poisoned several Pixy Stixs with potassium cyanide that he distributed to five children, including his own son and daughter. After the other children went home, O’Bryan’s son Timothy asked to eat some of his candy before bed, unfortunately choosing the Pixy Stix. He died less than an hour later. It turns out that the O’Bryan family was drowning in debt and Ronald had murdered his son in order to collect the life insurance policy. He’d hoped to collect the policy on his daughter as well but after what happened to Timothy, all candy was confiscated by the unknowing mother.
This is primarily where the myth of tampered candy comes from and it was exactly what the pearl-clutching fake Christians crying Devil needed to “prove” their case about the evils of Halloween. A study published in “Threatened Children” by Joel Best in 1993 found no credible accusations of poisoned candy to happen before or after the O’Bryan case. To this day, Best continues looking for cases and has yet to find any.
Early versions of this myth occurred in the form of pranks. Older teens would supposedly insert harmless things in candy or hand out items other than treats to shock children. In Best’s book, he describes how in the early 1950s, some people would heat pennies on skillets then dump them in children’s hands. As for lethal objects such as razor blades being pushed through candy wrappers, roughly 100 cases have been reported since 1958 with over 95% of them turning out to be fake. The ones which turned out to be true were all harmless.
There’s an amazing book by David J. Skal called “Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween” that explores the candy myth in-depth.
This just in, this year’s candy fear is cannabis! Police are warning parents about candy masquerading as edibles in states where marijuana is legal.
Joe Bob Briggs Creepy Christmas spooktacular: The Last Drive-In Special Charity phenomena
Famed horror host, Pulitzer Prize nominated, and Cracker Barrel aficionado Joe Bob Briggs is back in action, ready to bring some macabre merriment to your holiday season with Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas. It also gives us horror fans something to take into the new year, be that something Darcy’s panties (sorry, box, I tried) or just the intangible good feels of hanging with friends and supporting a lot of good causes.
The Return of Joe Bob Briggs’s Christmas Special
The Joe Bob Briggs’s Christmas event is akin to a Jerry Lewis telethon for Gen X, with a twist of ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’. This ‘Briggs’ auction of sorts is a nostalgic nod to the past, especially for those who remember the telethons. The dread, however, has shifted from the … well… whatever Jerry was supposed to do (see Sam Kinison’s bit on this for more info) to that of evil goodies.
Without a doubt, this Joe Bob Briggs special is the event we eagerly anticipate each year. It’s a tradition, and a worthy one at that. We hope to see everyone on the interwebs, joining the ‘creepy links’ and engaging in the conversation (We’ll be on Threads and Twitter….tag us as you wish!) ‘live’ the only way anyone should ever watch a tv show (oh, and I guess on demand, but ya weirdos will never know the sting of the Iron Mutant Award!). ‘Live’ is the only way anyone should ever watch a TV show, especially ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’ (as it’s far too hard to watch tv whilst dead).
Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas The ‘Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy the Mail Girl’ special will hit the airwaves live on Shudder TV and AMC+ TV on Friday, December 15th at 9 p.m. ET. Fans of ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’ can also catch the special on-demand starting Sunday, December 17th.
A Creepy Christmas with a Cause
In its fourth year, the holiday tradition of The Last Drive-In goes beyond mere entertainment. It aims to use the platform to raise funds for four vital causes. The charity auction will feature unique props and exclusive merchandise from The Last Drive-In and memorabilia from Briggs’ illustrious 35-year career…including some of his unspoken work as John Bloom. I say Unspoken, because if anyone remembers the first Christmas Special, the autographed copy of Eccentric Orbits was featured (sincerely, a good book–check it out if you haven’t. Jim gives it 4.5/5)
The supported charities for Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas will include:
- Wildlife Conservation Network
- Paralyzed Veterans of America
- Every Mother Counts
- Solving Kids’ Cancer
The Mystery of the Joe Bob Briggs’s Creepy Christmas Special
The anticipation for Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas is high, with fans wildly speculating what films will be featured. Personally, nothing can beat the #1 top horror Christmas film of all time, the Easter classic: Passion of the Christ (if a snuff film about a guy who doesn’t fit in getting whipped and nailed up doesn’t scream horror story, I don’t know what does. Also: See Sam Kinison’s concept on crosses and resurrection). However, a Christmas movie I really want to see up on this is Hogzilla and Kiss Save Santa Clause! BOOMMM!! Christmas Won!
As we eagerly wait for December 15th, we wonder what surprises our favorite horror host, Joe Bob Briggs, has in store this time. Will there be exclusive ‘merch’ that Jim will buy and then accidentally put in a Toys for Tots box in the mall?
Join the Fun, Join the Cause, Join the Joe Bob Briggs Christmas event!
Are you ready to dive into the world of Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas? Do you dare to watch along and help raise money for a good cause? If so, join us at HauntedMTL on Threads (_HauntedMTL_) and maybe Twitter (@HauntedMTL) as we experience the thrill and chills that only Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy can deliver.
Remember, this is not just about indulging in some good old horror fun with ‘Joe Bob’s’ double feature. It’s about giving back and making a difference. So, let’s gear up to have a creepy Christmas with ‘Joe Bob Briggs’, filled with ‘christmas horror films’, ‘christmas demons’, ‘christmas slasher films’, ‘ho-ho-horror’, ‘yuletide horror’ and insightful ‘horror commentary’.Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas and make this holiday season memorable for all the right reasons! I’m sure Fright Rags will have another stellar set this year, too. They are perfect for the horror fan in your life (even if that fan is you!). I can’t wait to see what they have in store (no pun).
SPECIAL — IF YOU WANT Freeeeeeeee (as supplies last) Fright Rags Joe Bob Briggs merch for this year, just tweet/thread at us during the event and Jim will pick the one that makes him chuckle the most (you will need to give us your address and size in DMs)
No subscription to watch Joe Bob Briggs’s Creepy Christmas yet? No problem! Check the link below:
AMC Networks’ Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving members with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers and the supernatural. Shudder’s expanding library of film, TV series, and originals is available on most streaming devices in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. For a 7-day, risk-free trial, visit Joe Bob at www.shudder.com.
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)