The amalgam of winter holidays commonly called Xmas has been the springboard of many things. Some bad – in 1923 in Pulaski, Tennessee, a group of Confederate veterans convened to form a secret society that they christen the “Ku Klux Klan.” And some good – Sissy Spacek, who would go on to play the title character Carrie one of the most iconic horror films of all time, was born in 1949. And some? Just plain weird, wacky and WTF. We’ve rounded up our Top 10.
10) Scary Christmas! The Exorcist was released in theaters, 1973.
December 26 was “An excellent day for an exorcism.” Because nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a head-spinning, pea soup-spewing, crucifix-clutching, priest-hating demon, amiright? When The Exorcist was unleashed upon an unsuspecting audience—and fans of the William Peter Blatty novel of the same name—it spawned nightmares for decades to come.
9) Plumping the Poop Log: A Catalan Christmas Tradition.
How’s this for a scatological spin on the spirit of the season? Children in Spain’s Catalan region don’t stuff stockings—instead, from December 8 (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception) through Christmas Eve, they stuff their beloved “Caga Tió” (shit log) with candy, nuts and dried fruit. The thing itself is creepy AF: It’s a hollow log with stick legs, a smiley face, and a floppy red hat. Once he’s full of goodies, he’s forced to excrete them through a brutal thrashing. On Christmas Eve, the kiddos gather around the breaming branch and beat him with sticks while singing the traditional Tió de Nadal song:
Hazelnuts and mató cheese,
If you don’t shit well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
8) Manslaughter at the Italian Hall, 1913.
When workers in Michigan’s largest copper mine went on strike in the fall, it didn’t go as planned. At an impasse for months, broke and dejected, the miners decided to hold a Christmas party on December 24 to boost morale. The party was held in The Italian Hall, and around 600 people, including children, gathered there to enjoy themselves. During the gala, an unknown person shouted, “Fire! Fire!” to ruin the party. The ploy worked. In the stampede to the nearest stairwell 73 people, of which 62 were children, were killed. To this day, the identity of the prankster is a mystery, and it remains the biggest unsolved manslaughter in U.S. history.
7) Kentucky Fried Christmas.
While Shinto is the order of the religious day in Japan, the celebration of Christmas in Asia usually involves imported western traditions. But maybe there’s been a bit of a mix-up with two white-bearded jolly icons…It’s not Santa Claus who gets the kudos—it’s Colonel Sanders! On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Japan, you might have to make reservations to get a table at KFC. Forget hearth and home. The fried chicken fast food franchise has become the place to be, to celebrate the birth of Jesus… and extra-crispy drumsticks.
6) Naughty? Enjoy your lump of coal, you little brat.
While the origins behind the notion that Santa gives lumps of coal to the bad little ones have been lost to the mists of time, there’s no doubt the threat carried more weight back in the day. The combustible black sedimentary rock was used to heat homes, and—house the occasional diamond inside. But receiving a lump of coal is the least of kids’ worries in some countries. In parts of France and Belgium St. Nicholas was partnered up with a figure known as Père Fouettard, a name that translates to “The Whipping Father.” As Bustle.com reporter Lara Rutherford-Morrison wrote, “Père Fouettard started out as an innkeeper who drugged and murdered schoolchildren and then made stew out of them, Sweeny Todd-style. (Yes, really.) St. Nicholas brought the kids back to life and then made Père Fouettard his companion; while St. Nick gave out presents to good kids, the Whipping Father would give misbehaving children coal, birch branches, and beatings.” Yikes!
5) Sexy Santa.
Kissing under the mistletoe is one Christmas tradition that brings romance to mind. But did you know that many of our traditional holiday foods are actually aphrodisiacs? Chocolate contains tryptophan, a building block of serotonin, a brain chemical involved in sexual arousal. It also has phenylethylamine, a that’s released in the brain when people fall in love. Surprisingly, serving eggnog, even without the liquid-courage addition of rum or whisky, is a good bet for getting some Yuletide nookie. As Emma McGowan of Bustle.com wrote, “Eggnog is made from eggs, milk, cream, honey, vanilla, and nutmeg — all of which are considered to be aphrodisiacs. Eggs are a sign of fertility and also said to boost the libido; ayurvedic medicine says that milk strengthens reproductive tissue; honey helps metabolize estrogen and may boost testosterone, both of which are important for sex drive; vanilla is considered to have a highly sensual smell; and nutmeg used to be used in India to treat low libido in men. So, basically, eggnog is the ultimate sex drink.”
4) The “Little Tramp” Died, 1977.
Could you imagine waking up on Christmas morning, all really to unwrap gifts, and instead you see Charlie Chaplin wrapped in a body bag? That’s what happened when comedy’s beloved “Little Tramp” left the astral plane at the age of 88 on December 25, 1977. He went peacefully, snug in his bed (with visions of sugarplums dancing in his head?), a few hours before the family’s traditional Christmas celebration was to begin. Chaplin had been in failing health for many years during which he had been confined to a wheelchair. Chaplin’s wife, Oona, and seven of their children, Michael, Josephine, Victoria, Eugene O’Neill, Jane and Annette-Emilie, were by his bedside when the comedian kicked off. As the body was rolled out, some of his 10 grandchildren were in the family room, playing with their new Christmas toys. Charlie’s daughter, Geraldine, was in Madrid making a film at the time (she’s been in the fairly recent horror films The Wolfman and The Orphanage).
3) The Hideous Holiday Sweater.
Remember Bill Cosby as the sweater icon of the 80s? Probably not… he’s too memorable for other things now. But that’s when the heyday of the “Ugly Christmas Sweater” began. Popularity waned and good fashion sense prevailed for a while—but now the terrifying threads are back with a vengeance. According to the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book: The Definitive Guide to Getting Your Ugly On, there was an avalanche of ugly sweater parties in the early 2000s and the trend has, er, snowballed from there. Put a hipster inside an ugly sweater, and you’ve got a sleigh full of irony right there.
2) Holiday Horror with a Dash of Yuletide Homicide, 12/24/1898
December 24, 1898 was the busiest night in the history of the Savannah Police Department. The force made over 150 arrests, and caught two murderers. The first was Charles Low, who knifed Charles Green in the gut over a woman. The second murder was also over amour—a woman named Queen Martin quarreled with her lover and finished it by stabbing him in the heart.
1) All Things Krampus
Krampus has made quite a comeback in recent years. Once almost lost in the ether of olden times, the horned, anthropomorphic figure described as “half-goat, half-demon” has made quite a comeback thanks to the 2015 movie. The devilish dervish has also shown up on “Venture Brothers,” “Grimm,” “Supernatural,” “The Colbert Report,” and “American Dad.” Krampus is German in origin, and he is a counterpart to sweet St. Nicholas, who rewards good children with cookies and candy. Krampus, in contrast, swats wicked children and takes them away to his lair…that is, if he doesn’t drown them in the river first. He’s similar to Père Fouettard, but it’s the horns and hooves that land Krampus in the #1 spot.
We Need to Stop Our Alarming Obsession With Child Actors
On Sunday, January 21, Buzzfeed tweeted an article with the byline “Millie Bobby Brown just Insta-confirmed her relationship with Jacob Sartorius and I have butterflies”. Quite quickly, the tweet was met with a barrage of comments, ranging from mild tuts that it was in poor taste to extreme condemnations of pedophilia and sexualization of a minor (Brown is 13-years-old as of this post). I personally weighed in on the matter.
Earlier that day, CNN ran a video and story where actress/director/producer Natalie Portman opened up about her own experiences being a young girl in Hollywood. Portman’s breakout role was at 12-years-old in The Professional, a movie that celebrated her phenomenal acting abilities. Per CNN, she received her first fan letter a year later, after the film had come out. In it was a rape fantasy. Her local radio show began counting down the time until her 18th birthday, when she would be of legal age. Mind you, she was 13 when all of this was happening, the same age as Millie Bobby Brown.
The parallels between these two stories should immediately be understood and seen. The sexualization and fanatical obsession with children, much less celebrities, is a plague that can only cause damage and harm to those who are on the receiving end. It is time that we recognize that this practice needs to stop. It is time that we all held ourselves accountable.
A cursory search of Browns’ name on Buzzfeed will bring up at least 50 separate articles, on top of the one previously mentioned. These include what was said between “Stranger Things” co-star Finn Wolfhard and herself before their kiss in the second season. There’s a strange obsession with Brown’s instagram account and the conversations between her and other celebrities. There’s even one that states Brown looks like a young Natalie Portman. The irony here is undeniable and it seems very difficult to say that the site doesn’t have an obsession with the young actress.
Hollywood is under a great deal of pressure, rightfully so, from the #MeToo movement as well as Corey Feldman’s pursuit of revealing the truth about widespread pedophilia in that world (watch as he’s shut down by Barbara Walters). His claims have been echoed by Elijah Wood, although he himself states he did not suffer at the hands of any abusers.
Eliza Dushku’s alleged abuser Joel Kramer was recently let go from his agency twenty years after supposed events took place. When those who wonder why the actress didn’t come forward sooner, they overlook the fact that she went to authorities at that time. She details everything in an emotional post on her Facebook page.
The issue, however, does not just lie within those who create in Hollywood. It is exacerbated and pushed on by those who report on Hollywood’s actions and those that read it, lapping up the non-news proclamations with unabashed glee, not recognizing that they are feeding the same system that many are fighting against. Then, even more worrying, is that these “fans” feel entitled to these children, as though they are objects for their pleasure at any time, puppets that need to dance when beckoned.
Sophie Turner weighed in with her thoughts on the matter:
Damn… seeing fully grown adults wait outside the ‘Stranger Things’ kids’ hotels etc , and then abuse them when they don’t stop for them…
— Sophie Turner (@SophieT) November 6, 2017
Wolfhard himself has asked that the infatuation and near assault of him and his co-workers come to an end:
Hey everybody! I don't wanna ex-communicate anyone from this fandom, but if you are for real you will not harass my friends, or co-workers. Ya'll know who you are.
— Finn Wolfhard (@FinnSkata) November 8, 2017
And yet even on that particular tweet, Wolfhard’s fans responded with, “Ma babe trust no body“, “I love the right person bixo ♡“, “Love you finn“, and more. “Fans” are declaring their love for a 14-year-old boy that they’ve never met, a person that they’ve only really seen playing someone other than himself.
A culture has been established and reinforced that celebrities are somehow open for our sycophantic obsessions. This needs to stop. We need only to remember our own experiences as children so that we can apply them to these kids today. As Kevin Brown so wonderfully put it on Twitter:
hey everybody friendly reminder that millie bobby brown and jacob sartorius are children. remember your relationships in middle school, now imagine if that was broadcasted to the world…
— kevin brown. (@ballinbrown_) January 20, 2018
DVD and Blu-ray Releases: January 23, 2018
After a few weeks of smaller lists, this week should be a welcome breath of fresh air, with 12 pretty solid releases. There are mainly recent films this week, but there are a couple of classics thrown in the mix as well.
Probably our top release of the week, Jigsaw will be hitting shelves on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD. I found myself wondering recently if they will still be making films from this franchise when my son (who is a toddler now) is able to get into R-rated movies.
Up next is The Killing Of A Sacred Deer. If you didn’t get your fill of Christmas last year, you can check out this clip for one last holiday hoorah.
In terms of classics, Dario Argento’s Opera will be heading our way as a Blu-ray release from Scorpion Releasing. Additionally, you can check out Robert Englund in 1992’s Dance Macabre, brought to us as part of the Scream Factory collection. Lastly, if you’re a Linda Blair fan, 1987’s Grotesque will be available on DVD this week as well.
I also have to give a nod to Let Sleeping Corpses Lie. I’m not going to say it’s the best zombie movie ever created, but a few years back I happened upon a used DVD copy at a cool book store/café in New Haven, CT. I didn’t go into it expecting anything miraculous, but for a very dated living dead movie it was worth the three dollars it cost me.
Keep checking back each week. We’re going to be seeing an uptick in the quantity of release listings over the next month at least so you won’t want to miss a thing. Pleasant viewing.
Dance Macabre (1992)
A dance instructor brings his dance troupe to Russia for training. What his dancers don’t know, however, is that he has a dual personality–and his hidden personality is a serial killer.
Devil’s Well, The (2017)
Bryan Manley Davis, Chris Viemeister, David Alexander, Kristen Seavey, Anne-Marie Mueschke
Karla Marks mysteriously vanishes while conducting a paranormal investigation with her husband into the Devil’s Well, an underground location reported to be a gateway straight into hell, and the site of ongoing strange phenomenon. A year after her disappearance, a group of investigators go back to uncover the truth about Karla, and are faced with evil forces greater than they ever imagined.
Linda Blair, Tab Hunter, Donna Wilkes
A gang of crazed punks breaks into a typical American family’s vacation home in the mountains and slaughters the entire family, except for one daughter who gets away in nothing but her pajamas. As the gang pursues the girl through the outside elements, they slowly realize that a murderous creature is chasing them all!
Hot Tub Party Massacre (2016)
The sisters of the Delta Omega sorority won a free weekend at a luxurious hotel & spa. They planned on having a fun and steamy weekend. However, things go from steamy to bloody when an escaped serial killer checks in to the hotel and crashes their party. The heat will be on at the Hot Tub Party Massacre!!!
Jigsaw (2017) (Blu-ray + 4K)
Hannah Anderson, Laura Vandervoort, Mandela Van Peebles, Tobin Bell, Brittany Allen
Bodies continue to turn up when the notorious Jigsaw killer returns for the eighth installment of one of the most successful horror franchises in history!
In the latest terrifying installment of the legendary SAW series, law enforcement finds itself chasing the ghost of a man dead for over a decade, embroiled in a diabolical new game that’s only just begun. Has John Kramer, the infamous Jigsaw Killer, returned from the dead to commit a series of murders and remind the world to be grateful for the gift of life? Or is this a trap set by a different killer with designs of their own?
Killing of a Sacred Deer, The (2017)
Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Alicia Silverstone
Steven, a charismatic surgeon, is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behavior of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister.
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974)
Cristina Galbo, Ray Lovelock, Arthur Kennedy
A young couple in love is travelling along the English countryside. While they plan their next stop, a man who has been dead for several days attacks, to be followed shortly thereafter by a full-scale zombie invasion which could very well be a result of the agriculturist’s distribution of ultrasonic radiation. In the end, a cop figures out the countless murders are not the work of the young couple, but the living dead.
Lost Tree, The (2017)
Thomas Ian Nicholas, Michael Madsen, Lacey Chabert, Scott Grimes, Clare Kramer
The Lost Tree is centered around Noah (Nicholas), who is guilt-ridden for the death of his wife. He travels to an isolated cabin in search of peace and isolation. But he soon learns of the dangerous surroundings of the area.
Cristina Marsillach, Ian Charleson, Urbano Barberini, William McNamara, Antonella Vitale
When young opera singer Betty takes over the leading role in an avant-garde presentation of Verdi’s Macbeth, she triggers the madness of a crazed fan who repeatedly forces her to watch the brutal murders of her friends. Will her recurring childhood nightmare hold the key to the identity of this psychopath, or does an even more horrific evil lay waiting in the wings? Legendary horror maestro Dario Argento delivers a savagely stunning thriller featuring some of the most shocking sequences of his entire career.
Planet Dead (2017)
Charles Adames, Joe Debartolo, Raven Oscar Flores, Larry Greene, Emilie Jolie
The world falls into chaos after a rogue scientist unleashes a virus that turns the living and the dead into flesh eating monsters. A Special Forces Team is sent into a growing danger zone to recover the cure from the scientist, but as they enter the hot zone they must seek refuge in a nearby nightclub with a few civilians as they wait for the rescue chopper to arrive. Armed with limited ammo they must battle the ever growing number of once human monsters. Mankind will pay for the nastiness of it’s inhabitance.
Punk Fu Zombie (2017)
Stephane Messier, Xavier Dumontier, Tommy Gaudet, Caroline Danserau-Loiselle, Jonathan Simon
In 2028 a zombie invasion, coupled with a thermonuclear war, plunges the world into a new darkness. Now, in 2048, the so called leader of the original movement has a new nemesis: his son Zack. Trained in kung-fu since his childhood by his robot friend, nothing could prepare the young Zack for the political adventure waiting for him, filled with trials, love, politics and ultra-violence.
Red Krokodil (2012) (Director’s Cut)
Brock Madson, Valerio Cassa, Viktor Karam
Red Krokodil is the story of a man (Brock Madon) addicted to mind numbing drug, Krokodil. He suddenly finds himself alone in a post-nuclear city similar to Chernobyl. His physical decay, caused by the massive intake of drugs, is mirrored in his inner world, as reality mixes with hallucinations. The breakup of the body that this drug causes, is sever in it’s graphic and yet, slow destruction while he is slowly falling into madness as his addictions to the drug, runs out of control. This movie deals with many themes, from the environment to the use of drugs, but the story is just an excuse that director Domiziano Cristopharo uses to focus on a psychological condition that brings a total detachment from oneself and from the surrounding world. A dark trip that shows no way out.
Rapid Eye Movement Trailer Forces You To Stay Awake
I would really love to go on vacation to New York City, so I’m damn jealous of the cast and crew of the upcoming movie Rapid Eye Movement, which was filmed almost exclusively in Times Square. In the film, a radio DJ is forced to stay awake for over eleven days after being threatened by a deranged caller, which begins to have serious effects on both his physical and mental well-being.
Rapid Eye Movement is directed by Peter Bishai and stars Francois Arnaud, Reiko Aylesworth, Chloe Brooks, Godfrey, Jamie Jackson, David Rhodes, Stelio Savante and Danny Ramirez. We don’t yet know of a release date, although we are happy to share the trailer along with two stills below.
Rapid Eye Movement Official Synopsis
In the heart of Times Square, radio DJ Rick Weider is driven to the edge of insanity as he tries to break the 11-day world record for staying awake. The stakes rise considerably when a deranged caller, who wants Rick to raise $5 million for charity, threatens to kill him unless he succeeds. With his life on the line, Rick unravels physically, emotionally and mentally, forced to confront his own demons while trying to outplay his seemingly powerful and unbeatable enemy.
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