Christmas is a time to celebrate everything that makes modern life worth living: mass consumerism, unchecked gluttony and of course, FAMILY FUN. Once the presents are opened and the dinner table is cleared, you might find yourself in the unenviable position of figuring out what to do with a room full of adults and screaming children. Aunt Janet will insist on a rousing game of Pictionary where frustration rules the day as your kin repeatedly mistakes abstract art speed drawing with effective visual communication. Your uncle will take refuge in the garage, chain-smoking Marlboros and grumbling about how no one wants to watch Die Hard this year, AGAIN. Finally, Grandma will dust off the well-worn copy of Miracle on 34th Street she taped off TV during the first Reagan administration as you nod, defeated, and scroll through a list of local convalescent home options on your phone.
But this year will be different. This year you’ll be ready. It’s time to start a new holiday tradition that will alienate your loved ones and potentially cause a deep, irreparable rift in your family the likes of which you’ll never recover from. These are the only three movies you should be watching on Christmas this year.
Silent Night, Deadly Night 2
In order to keep a relative from violating the Geneva Convention by putting on A Christmas Story, you’ll need to begin with a bold power move: A sequel.
“BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FIRST MOVIE!? I CAN’T JUST WATCH A SEQUEL TO A FILM I’VE NEVER SEEN!”
Hear me out on this one, hypothetical internet strawman. Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 is a sequel that requires zero prior knowledge to enjoy. In fact, the filmmakers were kind enough to include the entire first film as part of the second. This isn’t a pseudo-remake ala Evil Dead/Evil Dead 2 though. No, it’s infinitely dumber than that. The movie initially picks up a few years after the original leaves off, with the younger brother of the prior film’s axe murderer and Santa cosplayer, Ricky, being lead off to an interview in a mental institution. We’re then treated to Ricky narrating a condensed version of the first film’s plot while clips from the aforementioned first film play. The sheer audacity of Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 is mind-boggling. It’s akin to a game of movie watching chicken where you sit waiting for the extended exposition to finally end, only to be treated to the realization that it comprises 95% percent of the movie. To be fair, Silent Night, Deadly Night 2’s tagline is “The Nightmare is about to begin…AGAIN.” You should have known what you were getting into.
Rest assured, if you have the willpower to soldier through the film, you’ll be treated to one of the best final sequences in cinematic history. Maybe it’s a reminder that you need to be on your best behavior for 364 days to reap the rewards of Christmas Day. Or maybe it’s just the most brazenly lazy and cynical sequel cash-in of all time. Regardless, every Christmas in your household should be spent laughing uncontrollably at a goofy white guy escaping from a mental hospital and shooting up suburbia while shouting “garbage day.”
For years, one of the most glaring omissions from the Holiday Cinema Canon™ was the lack of a film where someone lights Fran Drescher’s hair on fire. In 2005, Santa’s Slay finally filled this void.
If there’s one thing your holiday season has been lacking, it’s probably 80 minutes of Bill Goldberg gleefully killing semi-notable Hollywood stars while dressed in a Santa Suit as a rousing selection from The Nutcracker plays. I’d like to think the incredible elevator pitch of “What if Santa was bad and also a former WWE Champion” is what got the cast and crew on board, but it’s still baffling that a movie made by Brett Ratner’s coffee boy has notable actors in it. Was the post-Corky Romano career crash that bad for Chris Kattan? How much coke do you have to scrape together for five minutes of James Caan?
Santa’s Slay doesn’t skirt by on a few recognizable actors and better-than-it-has-any-right-to-be production value. The gloriously stupid one liners and warped take on a standard children’s Christmas film, combined with relentless pacing are what really makes this one special. There’s no better way to bring your family together during the holidays than to embrace the true spirit of the season: ultraviolence, brief nudity and of course, a bit of stop motion animation.
Now that your entire family hates you and has asked you to please leave and apologize to grandma, it’s time to really show that you understand the reason for the season with a festive film about samurai ghosts and the perils of masturbation. Like all great films, it’s difficult to pin down why and how Blood Beat actually exists. It’s not every day that a French production company chooses to make a shot-on-video Christmas slasher in rural Wisconsin, but here we are. You may want to put the kids to bed or slip some brandy into their eggnog for this one.
Blood Beat begins with the plausible scenario of some Midwestern yokels with bad haircuts coming together for a weekend of deer hunting, merry-making and playing a game of Monopoly to fill gaps in the barely-there script. As is tradition with remote northern Wisconsin retreats, the family’s vacation home is haunted by a malevolent, alt-right, psychedelic, samurai spirit who has serious unresolved issues relating to the expression of female sexuality. Thankfully, the family matriarch has magical glow powers which allow her to shoot beams of light from her hands to combat any evil deities. This allows her to go toe-to-toe with the spirit when another woman in the house summons it from the depths of Wisconsin samurai hell by flailing around naked in her bed to relieve some holiday stress. To call Blood Beat simply bizarre would be downplaying just how incoherent and discordant it actually is. The special effects fall somewhere between “extra low budget Altered States” and “hastily scribbling directly on the film negative with a highlighter.” There’s also something inexplicably charming in the way the filmmakers use public domain classical music and Gregorian monk chanting in direct conflict with the inane lunacy playing out on screen. If the first two films in this holiday marathon were the main course of your Christmas feast, Blood Beat is the hastily cobbled together dessert. Oddly satisfying but sure to leave a bad taste in the mouth of nearly everyone who watches it.