Santa Claus

All posts tagged Santa Claus

Santa Destroyed!

Published January 4, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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The locker room never quite felt like a safe place as a gay kid. Of course, it definitely wasn’t a haven for my buddy Jim one day, but not for any reason having to do with queerness. We were in fourth grade and our metabolism burning was done for the afternoon, but good old Jim was still hot under the collar.  We were changing back into our heavy winter sweaters and getting ready to head back to class when the subject of Santa came up. Jim insisted that he existed. He had met the elves and Claus’ effervescent wife at a holiday village somewhere and was convinced they all were the real deal. The others in my class thought this was ludicrous and a fiery debate ensued. Jim held his ground. The others held theirs while I, meanwhile, found my consciousness woken just a bit.

I had never given much thought to whether Santa existed or not. Ever the greedy minx, I was happy as long as there were presents under the tree. But this exchange opened a mental portal and when my mother did indeed inform me that Santa was a widely embraced fiction soon after this sweaty debate, I took it with a shrugging nonchalance. Hell, it made more sense that she and my dad would get me the soundtrack to New York, New York that year than some golly floating dude with a beard. ny ny

Others took that revelation with a sense of horror. My buddy Jared recently divulged that unexpected discovery blew his whole world apart. It opened a cavalcade of distress. For if there was no Santa then there was no floating reindeer or Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy or leprechauns…in other words, no magic.

I contemplated this discussion often this holiday season.  As I walked through department stores overwhelmed with displays of traditional character strewn red and white, it did seem like a somewhat unconscionable thing for parents to do…building up the big red one only to pull the rug out at some vaguely determined Logan’s Run style execution date.  Of course, I reasoned there was the obvious theory that the joy found pre-betrayal outweighs the heartache experienced post. I even imagined that investing a child in the falsehood could be a preventative notion. Little Charlie or Diane or Aubrey is not going to be the one to let the entire second grade class know that their wintery dreams are an exorbitantly fluffy falsehood. Calls of outrage will not be made by angered colleagues with crying daughters and sons!  It must be the easier choice, as well. Fighting the common tide is always the roughest way to go and seasonal advertisements rage with a domineering effectiveness the moment that Halloween ends every year. 

As for myself, I can only think of positives. Learning Santa and his ilk were untruths probably opened up my mind to question many of the blanket statements provided by authority figures. It allowed me to doubt and explore issues of religion and politics. It gave me the tools to make up my own mind. I probably wouldn’t be the proud agnostic that I am today without that wintery invention being thrust on me for years. I like to imagine that it brought about a similar inquisitiveness for others like my friend Jared, as well. Coming out of the dark…emerging from the cobwebbed corners of the locker room – whatever that may signify to you – is always a bit traumatic, but is almost always a very, very good thing.

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To All a Goodnight

Published December 25, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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Years before the catty, ultra privileged collegiates of Fox’s Scream Queens faced down a red devil or two, the well-to-do sorority sisters of the 1980 winter slasher epic To All a Goodnight encountered a nearly unbeatable crimson killer of their own.

With shadings of everything from Bob Clark’s Black Christmas, perhaps the highest regarded holiday horror outing, to Friday the 13th, with the character of Leia, played here with arched theatricality by Judith Bridges, resembling Laura Bartram’s Brenda from Sean Cunningham’s much more imitated piece, To All a Goodnight definitely has a horror pedigree of its own. The solo full length directing credit of David Hess, best known to terror scholars from his twisted performances in Last House on the Left and others, this piece was also written by The Incredible Melting Man’s Alex Rebar and features a winsome and sensitive final girl in actress Jennifer Runyon, who would go on to appear in the mega-popular Ghostbusters and the Roger Corman produced cult classic Carnosaur.taagn-1

Here Rebar and Hess begin things in familiar territory. The film opens as a young woman, being chased by a bevy of cackling classmates, takes a fatal tumble off a balcony. The action then flash forwards to a handful of coeds who are staying in their rooms at the Calvin Finishing School for Girls over the Christmas holidays, two years later. Of course, most of the girls are up to no good and they soon drug their caretaker in order to welcome a bevy of boys, who have, unusually, arrived on a nearby field via a private airplane. Over the next two days, amid games of romantic roulette, most of the laughing partiers are done away with by a revenge fueled figure in a Santa costume. The ending, which prefigures Wes Craven’s Scream, reveals the possibility of more than one culprit and a very, very distraught, but still very, very alive heroine.

As much as it embraces the expected tropes, though, the film is done in a bit by its pacing. Many scenes feature the cast sitting around, chatting, or wandering, tentatively, throughout the house or across the property. There are some talented, but less than magnetic performers, many of whom would never work again, on display here, as well. But some of this oddness works in the piece’s favor and one can even grow affectionate over seemingly random incidents like the visit of an antagonistic neighborhood woman, who disappears after her first scene and has no relevance to the plot whatsoever. Those who love the idea of festive figures in compromising positions will find much to enjoy here, as well, as the Santa(s) eradicate with stealth, if not originality. taagn-3

Meanwhile, the pairing of the adorable Runyon and Forrest Swanson, as her nerdy yet protective beau, is sweet, with the duo’s energy being almost identically echoed, a few years later, by Kelli Maroney and Tony O’Dell in Chopping Mall. Still, it is Runyon, as a solo entity, who commands most of the attention and focus here. Even in her first major role, her star power is obvious and, after all these years, she is still the main reason to watch this enjoyable if flawed excursion into tinselly fright.

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Until the next time – Happiest of HorrorDaze and SWEET love and pink GRUE , Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Review: Night Terrors

Published September 15, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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While, perhaps, considered blasphemous by some, this critic maintains that Night Terrors killer Santa segment provides more visceral enjoyment than the classic And All Through the House from 1972’s Tales from the Crypt. Sorry, Joan and friends!

Here, a rampaging Claus obliterates a group of likeable punks in a rundown house. Full of humor and bloody mayhem, this jolly (yet very murderous) stranger makes quick work of these youths in a variety of brutal ways and then, thankfully, makes his way onto the typical (and very annoying) suburban family next door. Interestingly, the fact that writer Alex Lukens and director Jason Link create very enjoyable and relatable victims makes the violence seem all the more random and unnecessary. These are the type of people that populate your favorite local bands or write that anarchistic blog that you adore and are the exact opposite of the obnoxious and privileged denizens of the popular slasher projects from the ‘80s. Thus, their demises, while fun, are littered with a touch of rare poignancy.nt-santa

Baby Killer, the second story in this well executed independent horror anthology from Weird on Top Pictures, benefits from some emotional immediacy, as well. Here, writer-director Lukens goes for broke, creating some of the film’s most disturbing visuals, including the savage murder of a young child, as a mad scientist-type goes on a killing spree trying to save his dying daughter. Although, actor Richard Hackel fills his determined patriarch with such anguished passion that it is hard not to feel for him. Meanwhile, Miranda Howard’s Sandy is equally effective as she, valiantly, fights for her life and that of her unborn child.

nt-baby-killerThe final story, Abstinence, is full of gooey madness as a viral infection, caused by sexual contact, takes its toll on a college campus. Most notably, actors Sean Jones and Joe Bachan add plenty of bro-type humor while Asia Rain is an effectively attractive presence as the woman worth dying for.

Admirably filmed on a budget of $5000 with mostly non-actor types, Night Terrors even succeeds with its wrap-around segment,  featuring an annoyed older sister (the invigorating Alyssa Benner) spinning scary tales to her relentlessly sleepless brother (a cutely exasperating Dominic Crawford).

You can rent this fine indie terror achievement at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QU8OOY4 or purchase it and other goodies at www.weirdontoppictures.com.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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