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December 23, 2023

Christmas Horror Capsule Reviews

I realize there are more holiday movies to watch than I could fully analyze. So I thought it might be fun to do capsule reviews of holiday horrors that are available on streaming services. Obviously, I don’t have access to all of them so let’s hit up what’s on Tubi.

And if you don’t know what Tubi is, why are you even here? You’re obviously not one of us. Off you must fuck.

DISCLAIMER: I decided to just highlight Tubi because after watching nine films, I wanted to set myself on fire. Ain’t no way I can watch the twenty offerings remaining on Tubi, let alone manage everything else on Prime, Shudder, YouTube, and Netfl…well, maybe not Netflix.

Do. Better. Netflix. (But don’t get rid of your Korean dramas, I beg you.)


Holiday Hell

A woman goes into a curio shop to find a Christmas gift for her sister. The shopkeeper regales her with the terrifying tales of different items.

Jeffrey Combs. That’s it. That’s the only reason you need to go watch this. Do it. NOW. Seriously, this is the best film on the list and has a nice, if not predictable, little twist at the end.


Hell on the Shelf

A movie of found footage from a paranormal investigative crew in a supposedly haunted house.

Nothing new here. The origin story is about a pair of twin boys who fought over an Andy Elf doll, a doll that possesses whoever touches it and brings a bad fate, and one boy ends up dead. Terrible acting. Cheap effects for camera footage. Don’t worry about blinking and missing something because there’s nothing subtle here. It’s like Ghost Adventures up in this bitch, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.


The Killing Tree

Years ago a psycho killed a bunch of people he thought didn’t celebrate Christmas the right way. After his execution, his grieving widow puts his soul into a Christmas tree. Now he can continue his murder spree and finally kill the one that got away.

Just terrible; goofy special f/x; incredibly thin plot. Everything is awful.

It really is

The 12 Slays of Christmas

Three titty women become stranded in a snowstorm and take shelter in a mansion owned by a creepy old dude. He shares a plethora of terrifying tales with them, twelve to be exact.

The creepy old man, Ignacio Harrington (great name), is a fun character and the actor is fantastic. The three women can’t act for shit and the one who plays Christine looks like she has pink eye. It’s very distracting. But this is a most egregious self-service “film.” The twelve tales are basically trailers or snippets from eleven different Full Moon features, and the twelfth slay was the three women turning into monsters and killing the old man. Ooops, spoiler alert. This was a trailer compilation disguised as an anthology. As much as I love Charles Band, I was kinda mad when I finished this up. Luckily, it’s only forty minutes.


Sister Krampus

Two sisters visiting Europe during Christmas time cross paths with Sister Krampus, bride to the horrifying anti-Claus.

The nun gets involved with Krampus after Mother Superior kicks her out of the convent for DARING to be raped by American Soldiers (during WW2). In the present day she binds herself to one of the sisters. Not really sure why but do I care? No. Should anyone? Also no. The only important part is that after destroying the nun, Krampus is so relieved to be rid of the bitch that he restores life to murdered loved ones of the women who helped him out.

I just…ugh.


He Knows

Masked killer Sammy the Elf kills all the naughty folks in a small town during the holidays.

Sammy the Elf is pretty damned creepy and I loved the practical effects for the kills. But the end…whaaaa?

Nutcracker Massacre

A novelist visiting her family at Christmas becomes reacquainted with a mysterious Nutcracker doll with a mind and agenda of its own.

Okay, the “doll” is actually a 6’ figure. Who the fuck has a 6-foot tall Nutcracker in their house? The characters are poorly written; the story is the most convoluted bullshit ever. However, points for practical effects and a literal nutcracker death. But Patrick Bergen…what the fuck happened to you that you’re involved with this pile of shit?


Psycho Santa

The husband half of a bickering couple, traveling to a family gathering, teases his wife with stories about the legend of a backwoods killer Santa.

While I can appreciate the tales about Santa’s murder spree being shown instead of told, the acting is awful, obligatory nudity tiresome, and the back and forth from the stories to the couple driving gets boring after a while. There is SO MUCH FUCKING FILLER in every scene. This could have been thirty minutes shorter. In fact, it should never have existed at all.


Psycho Santa 2

The still alive but burned Psycho Santa from part 1 returns to kill everyone. Or something. I JUST CAN’T. You’re on your own to watch this one.

Cocktails engaged…


Five years after a Christmas Eve massacre destroyed a small community, the murderer returns. But someone is ready for him.

Not really ground breaking stuff going on here but the acting is better than most everything else on this list. I have to admit to really digging the characters of Crandle (who was on scene for the original massacre five years prior) and Jordan (the new security guard with a secret – or not really; it’s kind of obvious actually.)


All righty. That’s all I could handle this time around. Maybe I’ll try to do this every year but spread it out over a few weeks so I don’t need to get blackout drunk in order to survive with my sanity intact. But I’ve linked the trailers for the capsules and for each offering in the list below.


Happy Holidays!



Nights before Christmas

Chrismassacre (no trailer available)

All Through the House

Santa Claws (couldn't find a trailer for this - it's from 1996 if that helps!)

Once Upon a Time at Christmas

Good Tidings

*Jack Frost

Mother Krampus

Christmas Craft Fair Massacre

*A Christmas Horror Story

All the Creatures Were Stirring

The Christmas Tapes

Black Christmas (2006)

*Better Watch Out

Unholy Night

The Santa Suicides


Amityville Christmas Vacation

A Christmas Slay

Silent Night Bloody Night

*Christmas Evil

Slay Belles

*Rare Exports

Bunch of Riff Trax: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians; Magic ChristmasTree; Santa Claus; Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny


*These are actually very well done films, or so bad they’re highly entertaining, so I do recommend you watch them.

December 1, 2023

Static Age #26: Beasts (1976)

Beasts (1976) DVD box art.

This Static Age’s spotlight goes to Beasts (1976), the fascinating 6-episode British horror series from acclaimed writer Nigel Kneale that was made by ATV for the ITV Network. Each standalone episode tackles a bestial themed horror subject. ‘Special Offer’ is about a paranormal revenge. ‘During Barty’s Party’ is about rat infestation. ‘Buddyboy’ is about a haunting from a dolphin. ‘Baby’ is about ancient witchcraft getting in the way of a pregnancy. ‘What Big Eyes’ is about a man who is keenly interested in becoming a wolf and my comment is that it takes all kinds. ‘The Dummy’ is the best and goriest episode, and it is about a horror movie star burned-out from playing monsters.


And now, let’s switch our focus towards some recent series…


Locke & Key - Season 3

The 3rd (and final) season of Netflix’s Locke & Key (2020 – 2022) finds its protagonists with more trouble at the Keyhouse, but who’s holding the key to solve the mystery in the series finale? Fairy-tale like and owning a big portion of its inspirations to Stephen King, this is well-made but ultimately forgettable.


The narcotics trafficking action goes to Mexico in the 1st season of the aptly named Narcos: Mexico (2018 – 2021) – available on Netflix – and is about the rise of the Guadalajara cartel and the war that the newly-formed DEA had to perform in order to sedate the drug distribution and countless killings. Well-made and with thorough research of its subject matter as well as the historical backdrop, this is gangster television at its best.


Black Mirror - Season 6

Upsetting and more relevant than ever, the 6th season of Netflix’s Black Mirror (2011 – present) is set to scare the shit out of technophobes the world over, with its brilliant five episodes that include ‘Joan is Awful’ in which a start up company’s well-paid employee (Annie Murphy) is seeing her life getting hijacked by a streaming platform that uses it as the template for a series starring Salma Hayek; ‘Loch Henry’ which is about a young couple (Samuel Blenkin and Myha’la Herrold) who study filmmaking and abandons its weak-sounding project about an egg man, in favor of a true crime story that seems to have more bread to it; the feature-length ‘Beyond the Sea’ that is a demented love story and the weakest entry in this season, but at least it is perfectly tuned with the entire ‘identity theft’ thematic concept; ‘Mazey Day’ in which the titular movie star is suffering from an undisclosed condition and seeks isolation, but the obstacle of the Hollywood paparazzi appears to be hard to overcome; the feature-length ‘Demon 79’ takes us to late 1970s England but only merely touches the cinematic aesthetics of the era and tells the story of a woman with brief violent visions who gets approached by genie that gives her motive to perform a series of murders.


Carnival Row - Season 2

Set in Victorian-era England, the 2nd season of Amazon Studios’ Carnival Row (2019 – 2023) employs the fantasy world of fairies in order to raise questions about racism and constitutional power abuse. This final season is much more violent and gritty than the first (a welcome twist) and also benefits from great performances (Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne star) and stunning set & costume design. It is not without its faults though, as the main CGI monster is horribly laughable and the final episode’s queer twist came out of nowhere.


The 2nd season of Netflix’s Russian Doll (2019 – present) has the attractive chain-smoking stereotypical New Yorker Nadia Vulvokov (Natasha Lyonne) in another time-travelling adventure that takes her back to 1982, and the show with some of the most adorable dialogues in recent TV history, as well as a lovely rock and new wave soundtrack is an absolute winner.


The 2nd season of Marvel Studios’ I Am Groot (2022 – present) is offering five more short stories of the titular tree kid getting involved in hilarious and cute adventures, all featuring stunning animation work.


The Haunting of Hill House - Season 1

The sole season of Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House (2018), created and directed by Mike Flanagan (who also wrote many of its episodes, based on Shirley Jackson’s classic horror novel) is about the titular residence that spooks a family’s past and present. Well-made, genuinely scary, and engaging throughout its mere 10 episodes, this is modern horror television at its best – a masterful event for the small screen that its eeriness will be cherished for years to come.


The Mandalorian

Set in the Star Wars universe, Disney’s 2nd season of The Mandalorian (2019 – present) is offering further adventures of the titular bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) as he protects an overwhelmingly cute baby Yoda and gets mixed-up in all sorts of action-packed situations, but the real riches of the series lie in its gorgeous and spot-on spaghetti western aesthetics.


And now, please allow me a word on some recent mainstream film releases…


Writer/director James Gunn with his wild cinema influences that combine humor (often of the Meta kind) and PG-13 violence seems ideal at this stage of superhero movie overkill, and he expectedly delivers the goods in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 (2023), an epic 2 and a half hour spectacle that perfectly gels action with emotion, showcasing the importance of heroics in a universe that goes bananas, not very unlike the current state of affairs.


The Flash (2023)

DC’s The Flash (2023), directed by Andy Muschietti, is about the titular superhero (Ezra Miller) who accidentally tampers with time and creates a mix-up with parallel universes, resulting in several versions of friends and enemies (including an aged Michael Keaton return as Batman) to come up forward with different agendas, while he also takes the opportunity to try and correct some wrongs from his past. This is not really a movie but more of a CGI showcase, as there is barely any shots, let alone scenes that are not enhanced by this technology, and had me wondering if the filmmakers shot anything else other than a few known actors against green screen backgrounds. This is a terrible example of cinema (if it even qualifies as that) that says a lot about the awful state of pop culture.


Indiana Jones and...

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) goes back and forth in time in director James Mangold’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) thanks to the powers of the Antikythera mechanism and the newfound de-aging CGI techniques, only to fight Nazis again, this time led by Jurgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen). Expectedly bombastic with its outrageous $300 million budget, this feels like an endless chase sequence, and while it is entertaining enough (if a bit too long at two and a half hours long), it didn’t really gel with blockbuster audiences (most people who grew up with Indy’s adventures are now beyond their forties, me included).


Barely directed by Steven Caple Jr., Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023) seems mostly like the work of a committee – Michael Bay is a producer, and Steven Spielberg is an executive producer – and its barebones scenario takes us back to a long time ago, namely the 1990s when the Maximals join the Autobots on a fight with the usual high stakes: saving the world once again! Featuring human-like robots, animal-looking robots (all of them speaking with a variety of stereotypical accents), that are adequate at transforming into cars and vice versa, and only a handful of human actors, this lifeless CGI charade will have you wondering why $400 was spent for its making, and even more so why enough people went to see it in theaters to gross $439 million.


Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One

Produced by Tom Cruise (the film’s star) and Christopher McQuarrie (the film’s director) on a massive $291 million budget, the bombastic Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023) is about the hunt for a two-part key that can give the ultimate power to whoever gets to own it. All of the franchise’s standard tropes are here including facial recognition-avoiding masks and self-destructed messages, as well as James Bond-like travelogue footage of pretty much every tourist location in the world and beyond, but as per usual where the film really shines is during Cruise’s epic stunts (that he performs sans the aid of a stunt man) that reveal his obsession on becoming the western Jackie Chan. Sure, plenty of CGI is involved, but you’ll be in awe to witness how much of the action was actually shot in real sets. Suspenseful and entertaining throughout its 2 and a half hour running time, this is current action cinema at its best, and well-worthy of the $576.5 million it grossed.


Blue Beetle (2023)

Barely resembling a real movie, let alone anything that you could call remotely ‘good’ or even ‘watchable’, DC’s Blue Beetle (2023) directed by Angel Manuel Soto is a piece of excrement that was seemingly made by an algorithm programmed by market metrics, rather than humans, as it is so predictable you could guess where every plot decision is going from miles away and the CGI are remarkably video game-like. Oh, yes, and the titular superhero is of Latin American background (Xolo Mariduena), because you know, you have to tick those ‘diversity’ boxes. The genre has run its course and considering this grossed a mere $129.3 million on an outrageous $104 million budget, the big studios should soon receive the message sane audiences has been sending them for a couple of years now.


And unlikely for me, this time I enriched my bookshelf with the following fiction book additions: Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger (1978), Thomas Harris’ Hannibal box-set [Red Dragon (1981), The Silence of the Lambs (1988), Hannibal (1999), and Hannibal Rising (2006)], Patrick McGrath’s Spider (1990), William Landay’s Defending Jacob (2012), Don Winslow’s The Cartel (2015), and Burn (2014) by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge.

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