Horror Movies For Holidays Other Than Halloween
With only a week left until Halloween, the window for prime horror movie season is closing. Luckily, you don't have to confine your horror movie viewing only to October -- Hollywood has ensured that almost every holiday, no matter how mundane, has gotten a slasher or monster movie tie-in.
Thanksgiving: Home Sweet Home
When Eli Roth released the fake trailer for Thanksgiving (warning: video is NSFW) as part of Grindhouse, he said there wasn’t a good Thanksgiving horror movie. He can be forgiven for not remembering Home Sweet Home, a 1981 slasher film set around Thanksgiving. In it, a homicidal maniac escapes from a mental institution and targets a family celebrating Thanksgiving. Not much of the movie has to do with the holiday -- it’s mostly about a single family being slaughtered by anything from a car hood to an electric guitar. Oh, and there's a mime.
For another Thanksgiving-themed horror movie, check out Blood Freak, about a homicidal man who eats a mutant turkey and grows the head of a turkey. Or you could wait a few years – Roth has said that he’s going to actually produce a full-length Thanksgiving.
Christmas: Jack Frost
For whatever reason, Christmas has acquired a number of horror “classics:” Christmas Evil, Psycho Santa and Black Christmas, to name a few. But the strangest has to be Jack Frost, a low-budget horror-comedy set in Snowmonton. A serial killer (actually) named Jack Frost set to be executed ends up being freed when a van carrying him collides with a truck shipping genetic waste. Frost’s body melts and becomes combined with snow, making him into a living, breathing, murdering snowman. Among his powers is the ability to melt and refreeze, which makes it difficult for the townspeople to kill him, although they try with everything from hairdryers to a furnace.
For a Santa-themed thrill, check out Silent Night, Deadly Night, which features a disturbed child growing up and going on a murderous rampage dressed as a mall Santa. Or try Santa’s Slay, in which the real Santa Claus – played by wrestler Bill Goldberg – goes on a killing spree after being freed from a thousand-year bet that forced him to be good.
Valentine's Day: Valentine
Given the general horror that is a Valentine's Day dance, it’s only natural that someone thought to make a scary movie based on one. Valentine opens with a young boy unsuccessfully asking four girls to dance at the school’s Valentines Day party (a fifth ends up accusing him of sexual assault). Years later, those same girls find themselves targeted by a killer in a Cupid mask who leaves them threatening love letters.
In an interesting twist, Wikipedia notes that the four girls actually foreshadow their fates when they turn the boy down at the beginning. For example, one girl who says she’d “rather be boiled alive” ends up dying by being electrocuted in a hot tub.
April Fool’s Day: April Fool’s Day
In a classic set-up, a group of college students are brought to an island mansion for a weekend (around April 1, hence the title) when secrets about each one start to come out. Soon after their secrets are outed, the kids start dying. However, this film breaks out from convention by riddling the mansion with practical jokes -- host Muffy St. Johns is apparently quite the prankster. For example, as soon as the guests arrive via ferry, a prank on the dock leads to one of them falling in the water, where he is promptly hit by another boat and killed. Another is haunted at night by a recording of a baby crying, although that may have something to do with the abortion she's been trying to cover up.
SPOILER ALERT: In the end, the film lives up to its title when all of the deaths are shown to have been a joke. Muffy is trying to create a lucrative (and inexplicable) “horror weekend” business where the guests pretend to die as the weekend goes on and the events shown were part of a “dress rehearsal.”
Memorial Day: Memorial Day
A holiday better known for grilling and getting the day off work surprisingly does not lend itself to a very creative horror setup. Memorial Day borrows a fair amount from horror conventions, stranding a group of young adults in a cabin by a lake where they are haunted by a masked man. What brought the friends to the lake? The main character's brother died there three years ago of unknown causes and she wanted to return to free herself of guilt. The film's poster seems to acknowledge the lame holiday tie-in with the line "Beers, Burgers, Bloodshed ... Gonna be a long weekend."
Independence Day: Uncle Sam
With the tagline “I Want You…DEAD,” you know that the 1997 horror-comedy Uncle Sam isn’t messing around. The pro-America plot centers around soldier Sam Harper, who was killed during Operation Desert Storm. Harper rises from the dead and starts haunting unpatriotic citizens, including a group of teens that burn an American flag on his grave. In the climax, he even dresses up as Uncle Sam to terrorize the town’s July 4th celebration. Despite a perilously low budget, the film managed to snag appearances by singer Isaac Hayes as a one-legged veteran and Jackie Brown star Robert Forster as a Congressman.
Of course, other horror classics have used July 4th as the backdrop for their events, including Jaws, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Return of the Living Dead.