Horrorland is a column within Cinema Quarantino, the Hassle’s ongoing series of alternative streaming picks for the self-quarantined and the socially distanced, in which Hassle film staff writer Alexis den Boggende delves into the ins, outs, and deeper meanings within the horror genre.
THE SERIES: Krampus (2016) dir. Michael Dougherty / Black Christmas (1974) dir. Bob Clark / Gremlins (1984) dir. Joe Dante / Sint (2010) dir. Dick Maas / P2 (2007) Franck Khalfoun
THE STREAMER: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu
This holiday season, for me, is going by in a blur of colored lights and balsam and fir-scented candles. With COVID-19 cases growing more rampant in Massachusetts, hunkering down and staying inside with your quarantine circle is a necessity to keep our community safe. Even though Christmas will look very different this year, that doesn’t mean we can’t keep the spirit alive with some of the season’s creepiest picks to keep you feeling chilly all winter long.
DIR. MICHAEL DOUGHERTY
Michael Dougherty’s take on Austrian folklore centers on the dysfunctional Engel family who gather together for the holidays with the other side of their family, with whom they do not get along. Max, the youngest son, desperately clings to the family’s past Christmas traditions, but the constant fighting that plagues the house destroys this plan. Enraged, Max rips up a letter to Santa that he had written, thus summoning Krampus, a demonic spirit of Austrian lore that punishes those who have lost their Christmas spirit. As a horrible blizzard whites out the neighborhood and Krampus begins to hunt the family, they will have to band together to fight him off – or be dragged to hell.
BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)
DIR. BOB CLARK
This classic slasher – now regarded as one of the greatest horror films ever made – stars Olivia Hussey as Jess Bradford, a Pi Kappa Sig sorority sister. She’s being harassed by an unknown caller, as her sorority sisters get picked off one by one, and dead bodies begin to pile up.
DIR. JOE DANTE
The classic film responsible for the creation of the “PG-13” rating, Gremlins follows Billy Peltzer, who’s father gifts him a strange creature – a mogwai (Cantonese for “monster” or “devil”) for Christmas. The mogwai is an adorable, kindhearted, long-eared creature named Gizmo. However, Billy is warned that he should never, ever expose Gizmo to sunlight. He should never feed Gizmo after midnight, and shouldn’t ever get him wet. When Billy’s friend accidentally spills water on Gizmo and more mogwai are spawned from him, Billy realizes that if he doesn’t get these new, unfriendly mogwai under control, this may be his – and his town’s – last Christmas alive.
DIR. DICK MAAS
This Dutch flick is in the same realm of cheesy and terribly that Sharknado is, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun as hell to watch. Spoken and acted in Dutch with English subtitles, this dark comedy distorts the popular traditions of Sinterklaas (the Netherland’s Santa Claus, if you will) and portrays him as a ghost who mass murders in the streets of Amsterdam when the moon is full. It’s bloody good fun and is packed with some pretty good laughs, too.
DIR. FRANCK KHALFOUN
I’ve always loved P2. Is it a great horror film? Perhaps not, but it’s entertaining and could probably happen – and that’s what makes it so creepy. Angela Bridges (Rachel Nichols), a young businesswoman in Manhattan, is working late on Christmas Eve before heading to her family’s home to celebrate the holidays. Unbeknownst to her, she’s being stalked by her building’s security guard, Thomas (Wes Bentely). She finds that her car won’t start when she tries to leave the parking garage, and after trying to call a taxi, she realizes she’s locked inside the building with no way out. She’s attacked by Thomas and chained into his dingy, Christmas-decorated office, where he forces her to have dinner with him. Throughout the night, a vicious cat-and-mouse game erupts as Angela fights for her life and to see another Christmas Day.
dir. Michael Dougherty
dir. Bob Clark
dir. Joe Dante
dir. Dick Maas
dir. Franck Khalfoun
Right now Boston’s most beloved theaters need your help to survive. If you have the means, the Hassle strongly recommends making a donation, purchasing a gift card, or becoming a member at the Brattle Theatre, Coolidge Corner Theatre, and/or the Somerville Theatre. Keep film alive, y’all.