Horror is not just limited to Halloween, so feast on some deliciously horrific horror films to dive into during the year’s other festive occasions.
Even though my favorite holiday is Halloween, I must admit there are other holidays out there. Many of the holidays have horror films about them, too, and it’s only fair that they get their moment of glory. Finding truly watchable ones was my goal — and a bit of a challenging one. So here for your enjoyment are some of my choices of holiday horror flicks that aren’t on Halloween.
NEW YEAR’S EVE
What better place to start the year but on New Year’s Eve? Technically this is the very end of the year, but I always think of New Years as a beginning — Resolutions, fresh starts, plans for the future, etc. There aren’t a lot of horror films centered around this holiday. But the one that does is a pretty great one.
Terror Train (1980)
Terror Train was one of the first slasher films to cash in on Halloween’s huge success. Everything about the slasher sub-genre is present, so let’s check off the list. A group of teens in an isolated location on New Year’s Eve, with a masked killer avenging a past misdeed of said teens. Of course, there is very little adult supervision, so there is tons of sex, drugs and alcohol. The characters split up to investigate strange noises, and the murders are intimate and close-up. To top off the list: Jamie Lee Curtis herself as the final girl! What more could you want? Check, check and check.
The next holiday in line is Valentine’s Day, the most romantic day of the year. It’s just rife for love — and also a damn perfect day for unrequited love to be avenged. Who doesn’t want a heart-shaped box…filled with a real heart?
My Bloody Valentine 3-D (2009)
This is the ‘kind-of’ remake of the original 1981 film, with 3-D thrown in. I must admit I watched it because Jensen Ackles of Supernatural fame stars as Tom. But as a slasher, the film it did not disappoint. Tom returns to his hometown on the tenth anniversary of the Valentine’s night massacre. Instead of a homecoming, Tom finds himself suspected of committing the murders, while he claims that the murderer from 10 years ago, who was allegedly killed, has returned from the dead to kill again. The perfect whodunit! We get lots of great gory kills, and the 3-D was awesome. It’s the perfect Valentines “cuddle-up and put on silly glasses” film!
The commemoration of our founding fathers with President’s Day is quite the patriotic subject. The actual horror film called President’s Day was honestly so terrible that I didn’t feel good about putting it on my list, so I took the liberty of picking a movie about a favorite monster and a favorite president for my choice. I love vampires, history and dark comedy. And this movie fits that description to perfection.
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (2012)
The first time I saw this movie, I thought it sounded incredibly dumb, going by the title, but I loved it. Twisting lore, by making vampires killable with silver was strange, but I liked that the film mixed real history with mythology. Obviously heavily influenced by The Matrix, the fighting and action scenes are right out of a comic book. These Southern vampires enslaving humans tells the evil story of our country’s real slavery in an interesting way. Somehow it wasn’t too cheesy, and I cheered for Abe all the way through. Great cinematography, an abundance of well-done CGI and practical effects made this a must see for vampire fans and perfect for Presidents Day!
ST. PATRICK’S DAY
Now we are into March, and that brings us to one of the official drinking holidays: St. Patrick’s Day. There are not many decent films about this Irish holiday, but the classic story about the creepy little guy in green who loves his gold is the one I pick.
A guy named Dan O’Grady steals a leprechaun’s pot of gold. Totally bad idea. The leprechaun follows him to the U.S. and tries to kill him. Dan locks him in the basement of his house and leaves him there. Well of course more people move in and let him out by accident. This leprechaun will do anything to get his gold back and will kill anyone who gets in his way. Not a great film, but this leprechaun is one of the creepiest creatures in horror. He gives me the chills just looking at him. So, have a few green beers and have fun watching the whole series if you want to go crazy. I’m not suggesting that — but for some reason a lot of films were made in this series.
APRIL FOOL’S DAY
When the first of April rolled around, I got anxious as a kid. For April Fool’s Day tricksters, I was an easy target, so I was constantly waiting for the thing I would get fooled by. The film of the same name as the holiday was a favorite of mine when it came out in 1986. I actually dressed this badly and had big hair, too!
April Fool’s Day (1986)
A group of teens go to a rich girl’s family island for a dinner party that Agatha Christie would be proud of. Muffy the hostess sets up all kinds of rude and dangerous pranks around the place, in the spirit of the holiday. But is it Muffy, or Buffy the evil twin sister? Gross, gory, cheesy, shallow and fun, the traditional 80’s slasher adds a different kind of twist ending — actually more than one. It’s worth the watch just for the laughs and some truly creative deaths.
One of the most confusing holidays for me as a kid, was Easter. My parents would simultaneously push church and chocolate rabbits. You have no idea how much trouble I got into with my mother when I suggested Jesus was a zombie! I had a hard time finding Easter horror films that didn’t get all religious. But the segment about Easter in Holidays is truly disturbing and disgusting, so it works.
This is a pretty great horror anthology, covering 8 different holidays. Some of the segments are better than others, but overall, it’s one of the best horror anthologies out there. Utilizing multiple writers and directors, it is a perfect film if you just want to watch one creepy film to cover ALL the celebrations.
On the first day of May, we celebrate May Day. I usually danced around the May Pole at the local Renaissance Fair every year and thought no more about it. Called many other things over the years, May Day is an ancient festival and a traditional spring holiday in many cultures. Dancing, singing, flowers and cake are usually part of the festivities. This year a film came out that was so perfect for this holiday that it literally triggered my need to do this list!
I have been wanting a Scandinavian vacation, but I need to make sure I don’t end up at this Swedish commune. A summer pagan festival, in the middle of nowhere, where they take lots of drugs and dispose of their elders? Nothing odd about this place! What could go wrong? Midsommer is unique, bizarre and strangely humorous in a creepy sort of way. I loved this film, mostly because it was so incredibly different, but I felt like I had taken something that messed with my head too. Crazy how in the light of day, this film brings on as many chills as any film in the dark of night.
So, then there is Arbor Day. Yup, I even found a horror film or two that were perfect for the holiday that celebrates the planting and caring for trees. One choice was The Ruins, which is a cool film too, but I had to go with the plant from outer space.
Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
One of my favorite low-budget Roger Corman flicks, Little Shop of Horrors was shot in only two days. Audrey Junior is the alien plant that kick-started a phenomenon! “Feed me Seymour!!” This campy, silly, dark comedy stole my heart when I was a kid. If you must have more music and big stars, then watch the musical from 1986. It’s wonderful too, but I love the movie that started it all.
CINCO DE MAYO
On the fifth of May the drinking begins early in the day. Cinco de Mayo is another official drinking holiday. This time from Mexico, there are a few horror movies with the same name. But honestly, none of the films I looked at were ones I would recommend. My choice for this holiday is to sit down with a shot of tequila (or two), any one of the great Guillermo del Toro’s Spanish films to enjoy. The Orphanage is my personal favorite.
The Orphanage (2007)
There is so much to love about this creepy film! When a woman goes back to the orphanage where she grew up to raise her adopted son, he immediately starts seeing invisible friends. She feels he just has an active imagination, but soon he disappears without a trace. It’s better not to tell you too much, because the twist of the story is what makes it so fantastic. This is a mysterious film, and I love the little masked boy so much!
Moms are supposed to be sweet and nurturing right? That’s why we have a special day just for them: Mother’s Day. I wavered between two films for this one. Psycho is a classic and on my top horror film short list. “A boy’s best friend is his mother” as Norman says. But I also love this more recent film starring Rebecca DeMornay.
Mother’s Day (2010)
What starts out as a pretty straight forward home invasion flick turns upside down when Mom comes over to take over the torture. Mother knows best in this crazy, gory story about a mother’s desire to protect her children at any cost.
Memorial Day is a celebration to remember the soldiers who have given their all for our country. The horror flicks with the same name of this holiday just didn’t make the cut for me, so I decided to go with a favorite film of mine that has military involvement. We needed at least one creature film on this list.
A team of commandos go on a mission to Central America. While there they find themselves hunted by an extraterrestrial warrior. This action film is high in tension, gore, and body count! Predator is an amazing film and boasts one of the coolest creatures ever created for film.
Just like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is an excuse to celebrate our dads. But in the spirit of horror, and since the mother I picked was not a sweet mommy, I found an equally evil stepfather for this holiday’s horror film.
The Stepfather (1987)
When a young man returns home from school, he finds out that his mom has fallen in love and there is a stepfather on the horizon. Everyone likes him. And on the outside, he seems like a nice guy. The more he gets to know him though, the more he distrusts this new father figure. What dark secret is he hiding? Or can he really be the perfect man of his mother’s dreams? Yeah, probably not! Based on a true story, I prefer the chilling 1987 version, but the newer 2009 remake wasn’t bad either.
FOURTH OF JULY
Fourth of July had a plethora of horror films to pick from, from IT to Uncle Sam, but this is about my favorites and Jaws is one the all-time greats.
In Jaws, our big bad shark does his best to ruin the Fourth of July celebration on Amity Island. This film has so many great moments and characters, that it is a must see for all horror fans. I will always be looking for a fin when in I’m in any body of water because of this film. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat!”
Labor Day was another hard one. Oddly enough though, this time I had too many good workplace films to pick from, and I’m only recommending one. Severance, Cabin in the Woods, American Psycho, Bloodsucking Bastards and The Belco Experiment were all on my list. But this film is so darkly funny that it’s my Labor Day choice.
Ever wanted to kill your boss or a co-worker and get away with it? Well this is what Mayhem is all about. A virus goes rampant through a workplace, that takes away all inhibitions. These co-workers literally do whatever they want; their darkest desires and impulses fulfilled. In 24 hours, they are back to normal and there are no repercussions. They were sick right? This dark comedy is written and paced perfectly. Hate Mondays? Well you will love Mayhem!
There was no perfect horror movie made just for Veterans Day, so again I took the liberty of finding one that is a wonderful horror film — and about a veteran. This is a great thriller for watching anytime.
Jacob’s ladder (1990)
Jacob’s Ladder is a psychological thriller that will leave you feeling as disoriented as Jacob! The fragmented visions started prior to and continued during his time in the war. Why is this Vietnam vet having these bizarre hallucinations? Jacob misses his dead child and tries to uncover his past. Is it a nightmare? Is what he’s experiencing simply delusions, and will he be able to figure out the truth before he goes crazy?
Finding the perfect film for Thanksgiving was a challenge. I knew I was going to end up with a cheesy and foul (pun intended) film if I picked any of the movies made for this holiday. Thankskilling was a choice, but with an opening shot being a close-up of boobs, I just couldn’t. Blood Gore was funny, campily written, and had some entertaining deaths. I almost picked it, but I decided on one set at a family reunion, much like a Thanksgiving dinner. This one has no actual turkeys, but I chose it mostly because it’s a better film and one I really like.
You’re Next (2011)
When a family comes under attack during a family reunion, they don’t just give in. Just like at any other holiday gathering, family rivalries surface and things that should be wonderful aren’t. Then some killers wearing animal masks (sorry, no turkeys though) start picking them off. This is a brutal, bloody film, and I loved seeing the victims fight back. One of my favorite home invasion films.
There are literally hundreds of Christmas horror flicks and many are fantastic. Black Christmas, Krampus, Gremlins, Better Watch Out, The Nightmare Before Christmas and A Christmas Horror Story are just some on my list of all-time favs. But there is one film from Finland that is a masterpiece, and that is my choice for this year’s list.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
This parody about the origin of Santa is amazing. Beginning with a similar feeling as The Thing, a giant frozen block of ice is being excavated by some sinister looking dudes. Living nearby is the adorable Pietari, who sneaks out to find that a creepy old guy is frozen inside. This is a much more sinister version of Santa and l love the story of how one little boy saves Christmas.