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It’s almost depressing how many Christmas-themed horror films are floating around in B-movie and straight-to-DVD hell. But where others see sacrilegious crap, The Macabre Brothers see Santa hacking apart Rudolph to feed Blitzen. There’s a big difference.

Lord knows we’d love to sit through each and every one of these unsung features – after all, isn’t doing things in his honor the REAL reason we celebrate this holiday? – but given our less-than-productive track record, we’ll begin December with something a bit different: A Macabre 101 post of holiday horror flicks.

In the spirit of giving, each film on the list comes with a brief plot synopsis and analysis – nothing more, nothing less. This much-abbreviated format should satisfy all the folks who think Chris and I get long-winded in our reviews. You’re welcome, assholes. Look for it on Friday, Dec. 7.

Of course, we plan on tackling full-length reviews the same as usual. Watch for our rousing discussions of the following films throughout the month. And in case you wanted to get us something, we like food. A deep fryer and box of Twinkies would be nice…

P.S. We’re feeling ridiculously generous, so along with a preview of coming reviews, we’ve included a list of our favorite “regular” holiday films. Yes, we watch stuff other than horror. It’s just not as fun. 

Chris’ faves: The Muppet Christmas Carol and Eight Crazy Nights (apparently, Chris also celebrates Hanukkah)

Phil’s faves: Bad Santa, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (the animated version, not that Jim Carrey dreck)

The Blair Witch Project (1999)
It’s been delayed by a month or two, but we’re finally getting around to Chris’s first horror film and the first installment of our “Where it All Began” series. If you’ve scoped our “About Us” page, you know he was duped into believing witches and stick bundles haunted the twisted forests of Maryland, thanks almost wholly to a prepubescent viewing of The Blair Witch Project. On the budget of an Axe commercial, first-time filmmakers pioneered the “found footage” sub-genre – typified by queasy-cam and bare-bones plotting – and influenced an entire generation of horror directors. Neither of us have watched it in quite some time, and we’ll do our best to separate the film from its troubled legacy.

The Shining (1980)
The Shining is made for Christmastime. Few things say winter wonderland like the snowbound hell of The Overlook Hotel, and what better way to celebrate the season of togetherness than watching Jack Nicholson go apeshit and chase his family with an ax? As the second (and final) installment in our “Where it All Began” series, we visit Phil’s first horror film, Stanley Kubrick’s unhinged take on Stephen King’s most psychologically intricate novel. It’s a claustrophobic film that’s teeming with uncertainties – it’s alternately sparse and lush, off-putting and magnetic – and deviates wildly from the source material. We’ll look at how those changes affect the final product, as well as performances from Nicholson and Shelley Duvall that are described as both genius and melodramatic. We’ll also look at Kubrick’s undeniable influence, including a fierce and somewhat troubling penchant for brutalizing his female leads.

Rare Exports (2010)
One great joy of an above-average horror film — or any film, for that matter — is the introduction of an alternate world where reality is tweaked just enough that the strangest occurrences seem eerily plausible. Rare Exports, an intriguing and singularly bizarre offering from the barrens of Finland,  re-imagines Santa Claus as a vengeful and ancient force of evil-ish. After being locked in the snow for millenia (a bit like Robot Santa in that one Futurama episode), St. Nic is awakened by Americans (boo!) and begins terrorizing the locals. First-time director Jalmari Helander guides the film with an eye for legitimate mayhem and a pitch-black sense of humor, all while juggling multiple influences and genres. Think The Evil Dead meets Bad Santa meets Gremlins, and you have an idea of the sheer inventiveness behind this crowd-pleasing flick (it boasts a 90-percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes). But is the gushing praise from critics and viewers earned? We’ll see.

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