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WRITTEN REVIEW: Yuletide Terror - Christmas Horror on Film & Television

If you are a regular listener to the Slaughter Film Podcast, then you should know how much we love talking about holiday related horror films, especially during the Christmas season. They're a fun way to celebrate the holiday and it's traditions while also subverting them. And no matter how good or bad the films are, they prove to reward horror junkies with the curiosity of killer Santas, demonic folklore, deadly creatures injected with holiday magic.

Sure everyone knows about Silent Night, Deadly Night and that Gremlins takes place during Christmas - even though the studio pushed it's release ahead into the summer to compete with Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom and The Ghostbusters. A tall order for those pint sized hellions to fill.

But this subgenre of horror film rests beneath the surface. Hiding in plain sight, just out of view from the general public's eye. It has historically been the stuff of indie, low budget filmmaking that piggybacks on the holidays to help boost VHS rental sales – offering something for Joe Bob Briggs to riff about on late night cable television. Because of this, it's made my job of tracking down holiday horror films every year that much more difficult. Some are obscure and offbeat. Some have only had a VHS release decades ago and are hard to track down. Some are new indie films that may have flown under the radar. And some are foreign films that haven't made it state side.

All of these problems are now a thing of the past with a fantastic new resource, the book Yuletide Terror: Christmas Horror on Film and Television - published by indie Canadian publisher Spectacular Optical.

Yuletide Terror is an expansive compendium of reviews paired with a comprehensive collection of essays and interviews that run the gamut of dark holiday works. These fascinating essays look deeper at the holiday traditions, specific films and their filmmakers.

It's hard to think of anything that may be over looked. It covers Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and how this supernatural gothic horror tale has become a holiday staple. Then there is Bob Clark's Black Christmas, about a killer calling from inside the home of the sorority he is terrorizing. Black Christmas was one of John Carpenter's early inspirations for Halloween. But of course Clark is known for knocking it out of the park with another Christmas set classic, A Christmas Story. Yep, THAT A Christmas Story.

The book hosts interviews with Lewis Jackson, director of Christmas Evil aka You Better Watch Out, and Jeff Mandel, director of Elves. Christmas Evil being one of the earliest Santa slashers that ran into some trouble during the Video Nasty scare. Elves is an odd one that uncovers Hitler's nearly forgotten plot to create an unstoppable army of aryan/elf hybrids. Yeah, the world of holiday horror can quickly become a weird and wild place, and it's nice to have Yuletide Terror as a guide.

This book just covers SO MUCH ground that it's hard to do it justice with a simple review. And beyond the shier amount of information this book offers, the interviews are an excellent added touch.

This book is something that I will return to for years to come for factoids and inspiration for future holiday horror content for the podcast. If you find yourself watching stuff like Rare Exports, Silent Night, Bloody Night, Krampus or Santa's Slay around the holidays, the I can't recommend Yuletide Terror enough. Check it out!

For more info about Yuletide Terror, visit the Spectacular Optical website.


★ ★ ★ ½