Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Creepmas Movies

Here are my favorite alternative Christmas movies this year.  Not they were necessarily released this year, just that I finally got around to watching them.

My favorite is Boys In Trees. You could argue that this isn't a Christmas movie. That it's not even close to being a Christmas movie. That the fact that it takes place on Halloween should be a clear indication that it's definitely not a Christmas movie.  You would be wrong.

It is in fact "A Christmas Carol" that takes place on Halloween night.  No the main character is not visited by the ghosts of past, present and future, but he is haunted by them nonetheless. It's a story of reflection, regret and redemption as a young man on the cusp of adulthood takes a good hard look at himself with the help of a former childhood friend.

It's a sad yet beautiful tale, the cinematography throughout is breathtaking.  The trailer gives you a sense of that, but it's also misleading and makes it seem very much a horror movie.  It's not.  It is suspenseful and eerie. There is violence, fear and even death.  It's just not a horror movie. Still if you like your Christmas movies on the darker side, I don't think you'll be disappointed with this one.

Erased is a series that comes a step closer to Christmas.  There are lots of wintery scenes and the satisfying crunch of snow underfoot, while a serial killer lurks in the shadows.  According to this review, this is the 3rd adaptation of the original manga.  I am only familiar with this version which I enjoyed immensely and after reading the review it sounds like it's the better of the three.

The main character discovers that he can travel back in time, typically for just short periods, but after some particularly harrowing events he finds himself back in his childhood body and realizes he might be in a position to prevent a string of child murders before they happen.  And this is where the story becomes much deeper than a mere murder mystery thriller.  There is such a rich story of friendship and compassion that follows that it could stand alone without the murder aspect.

source: imdb
Stonehearst Asylum is an entertaining asylum movie, inspired by Poe's The System of Dr.Tarr and Prof. Fether.  The protagonist arrives at an isolated asylum Christmas Eve and quickly learns all is not what it seems.  It's a good movie, not a great one, but certainly worth seeing once.  Ben Kingsley is wonderful, but then he usually is.  There are some other amazing actors, but they are sadly underutilized.

It's like a modern extended version of the 1973 classic "Don't Look in the Basement" which totally creeped me out as a kid.

God Knows Where I Am is another movie about mental disorders, but this one is truly terrifying.  Not because of deranged psychopaths or sadistic killers. It's horrifying because it's a true story, and mental illness is a very real boogeyman. This woman slowly starved to death, imprisoned by her own mind. She kept a journal during her last few months, so her own words weave the movie's narration of those final days. It's really heartbreaking to follow the story of this vivacious woman through her mental decline until her ultimate demise. 

Santa Jaws is a full on Christmas movie.  It is not the greatest movie ever made, but it's a lot of fun.  The plot is a little Home Alone-ish.  The main character wishes his family away while drawing Santa Jaws with a magical pen.  Santa Jaws comes to life and starts picking off his family members one by one.

It's rated TV-PG, so if you are looking for a gore fest, this is not it.  I would say Gremlins level violence, with poorer special effects. I couldn't tell if the acting was bad or if it was the cheesy dialogue and cliché characters that were to blame, but I still found it an enjoyable watch.  Honestly I chuckled every time I saw the Santa hat wearing shark fin glide across the water and the battle scenes are pretty funny.

You can watch Hotel Transylvania The Fright Before Creepmas on DisneyNowGo. Now that my kids are older I'm out of the loop on cool cartoons. Pretty much just having an episode named "The Fright Before Creepmas" must mean it's a cool cartoon series right? There's monsters and Krampus and cartoon shenanigans. It's no Billy & Mandy Save Christmas, but it's still fun and you can safely watch it with younger devil spawn if you have them.

Pottersville has all the familiar nuances of a typical Christmas comedy.  There are quirky characters and situations that start with conflict and end in resolution.  There's even a little romance and if you couldn't tell by the name, there's a bit of "It's A Wonderful Life" feel to it. Still it's not just another warm fuzzy cliché comedy.  It's a bit strange and a little off, kind of like me, which is probably why I like it.

The other thing we have in common, the reason I'm putting this movie on my Creepmas list...ghillie suits.

In the movie, the main character goes on a bender after a rough day, drunkenly dons a gorilla mask and ghillie suit and runs around town. Hungover the next morning he wakes up to find his tranquil little town all a bustle with reports of people having spotted bigfoot the night before.

In real life I dress up in a ghillie suit adorned with lights, garland, ornaments, of the Creepmas variety of course, topped with a Santa hat and I bring treats and Creepmas cheer to my favorite neighbors. So far no one has confused me with bigfoot...or called the cops.  Also as Michael Shannon was running around in a ghillie suit, acting like a lunatic my kids turned to me and said, "That looks like something you'd do, Mom."

This review absolutely rips the movie to shreds and is an entertaining read all on its own.  It's not entirely wrong, this is a corny movie, but it's not entirely right either.  I still stand by my recommendation to watch it.

This video is a bonus for your listening pleasure, because I can't mention Michael Shannon and not think of his epic reading of this sorority email.  Be warned it contains offensive language. Lots of offensive language.  His intense delivery seems to perfectly highlight how utterly ridiculous the author had to be to write something like that.

I will briefly mention Happy! because last year when I wrote about it I only had one episode under my belt.  I can honestly say after watching the whole season everything I said still stands.  The first season of Happy! should be on everyone's Creepmas list.

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