The Six Slays of Christmas - Day Three
Hello, kiddies! It's time for another installment of Dread Central's Six Slays of Christmas feature! We're now just four little days away from the year's biggest holiday season, and to celebrate the coming of Saint Nick (or whomever you believe in), we'll be taking a look at a different yuletide horror flick each day until the 25th! Think of it as a cinema crazed Advent calendar!
When the idea of doing a series of Christmas articles came up, the first image that popped into my head was of a haggard, dirty Larry Drake dressed as the most disturbing Santa Claus I've ever seen, complete with gnarly teeth, dirt and blood. And he uttered just one line…"Naughty or nice." For me this was the defining moment for the entire "Tales From the Crypt" HBO series.
Penned by respected writer Fred Dekker and helmed by legendary director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future series, What Lies Beneath, Forrest Gump), "And All Through the House" is a classic "Tales from the Crypt" style story in which the bad guy eventually gets what's coming to him/her due to an unusual turn of events. That describes this story perfectly.
If you haven't seen this one, trust me; it's worth going out and tracking down "Tales from the Crypt-Season 1" on DVD. They're practically giving them away these days, and in addition to the Christmas tale, there are some other really entertaining segments on there including "Dig That Cat... He's Real Gone" starring Joe Pantoliano and Robert Wuhl and the introductory episode, "The Man Who Was Death", starring Bill Sadler. Great stuff! Anyway, back to Santa. Introduced by the rougher looking, old school Crypt Keeper (before he began his full-on comedy routine and still had a sense of creepiness about him), "And All Through the House" welcomes us upon a Christmas Eve scene with a cheating wife in the act of murdering her husband with a fireplace poker to the forehead.
Mary Ellen Trainor plays the wife (and she has one of the greatest screams I can ever remember hearing; some set of lungs on that girl!) who tries to hatch a plan to pin the murder of her husband on an escaped axe-wielding, criminally insane mental patient who is currently terrorizing her neighborhood dressed as Santa Claus. Sounds like a great plan, in theory...a little bit more difficult than expected when put into practice.
And although I mentioned it above, I think it bears repeating: Larry Drake (Dark Night of the Scarecrow, Darkman and one episode of "Hardcastle and McCormick" if anyone cares!) has got to be the most sinister looking thing I've ever seen when he's decked out in that Santa suit. In perhaps the most memorable scene, the wife goes to get a gun from the closet to defend herself. Unfortunately she accidentally locks herself in. As she looks out the window (yeah, this closet has a window), she sees a ladder placed up against the side of the house as the Santa begins to climb up toward her daughter's window. However, when he notices her stuck in the closet, he takes time to give her the most blood-curdling grin I've ever seen. Check please!
"And All Through the House" has everything packed into a short, compact time frame. It delivers some genuine scares, and great laughs, as the best "Tales From the Crypt" episodes always did. So well done. And it must also be mentioned that the story was pulled from The Vault of Horror #35 comic and actually remade from a segment of the 1972 Tales From the Crypt film. In this movie five individuals meet the Crypt Keeper, who is just Ralph Richardson in a monk's getup, and he describes to each of them how they died. These stories make up the anthology film. In the "And All Through the House" segment, the very foxy looking Joan Collins stars in the role of the murderous wife and Oliver MacGreevy as the Santa. He was no Larry Drake but still a pretty scurvy looking Santa nonetheless.
If you want to get in the horrific holiday spirit but don't have time for a feature-length film, "Tales From the Crypt - And All Through the House" is exactly what you're looking for. Deception, adultery, murder and mayhem, all packed into about 25 minutes of runtime. And you get a couple good one-liners from the Crypt Keeper himself...can't beat that, boils and ghouls!
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