Holiday Mix-Up: Horror Movies Set During Holidays That Aren’t Halloween
Most people agree Halloween is the obvious choice for a horror movie backdrop. It’s been done to death (sorry) and we think other holidays should get some recognition. That’s why we want to celebrate October and Halloween by not talking about Halloween at all. Here are some of our favorite horror flicks that take place on other, allegedly less spooky holidays. Reader beware: none of these are safe for work or for young children.
Silent Night, Deadly Night
While there are plenty of great horror movies set on or around Christmas, this film series is responsible for a classic viral video and deserves to be discussed. The Silent Night, Deadly Night films deal primarily with Billy and Ricky Chapman, two brothers who watch their parents get murdered on Christmas Eve. Instead of turning into Batman, Billy goes on a gleefully ludicrous killing spree 18 years later. Yes, that includes a lunatic dressed like Santa choking some poor bozo with Christmas lights. You may not get all you asked for under the tree this year, but Silent Night, Deadly Night is the gift that keeps on giving…images of Santa Claus literally shooting people. Happy holidays!
Bloody New Year
Another low-budget cult classic, this British horror flick traps an obligatory group of '80s teens in a haunted hotel on New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately for them, the world’s worst Airbnb is stuck in a time warp due to a conveniently breezed-over plot device—every night in the hotel is January 1st, 1960. The unlucky teenagers must fend off murderous ghosts and other supernatural phenomena that can be made with the change under your couch cushions. There’s something in the movie about how the phantoms are remnants of a bloody massacre, but we all know you’re only here to watch unknown actors die in inventive ways. Similarities to The Shining aside, Bloody New Year delivers on a few scares and not much else. Best consumed after at least five flutes of champagne.
My Bloody Valentine
No, not the band! Canada threw their hat into the eighties slasher ring with this celebration of love, pickaxes, and economically depressed mining towns. The best part about this movie is undoubtedly the villain. Gas masks will just always be creepy, like clowns or dudes with fanny packs. My Bloody Valentine checks all the horror movie boxes. Pretty teens getting murdered? Check. Creepy old man warning said teens not to go into the place where they end up getting murdered? Check. Heart-shaped valentine, presumably written by the crazy guy in the gas mask, read by the victim right before she gets pickaxed? Check and check. Save this one for when you’re fed up with the treacle in the Hallmark Channel’s Valentine’s Day marathon.
Including this Netflix original anthology film in the list is a no-brainer. Featuring eight short films from various directors including Kevin Smith, each puts a nasty spin on a famous holiday. The standout here is the Easter segment. It features a truly monstrous Jesus-Easter Bunny hybrid brought to life by impressive special effects. Short and sweet like a microwaved peep, this one can be watched during the time it takes to brush your teeth after all that candy. Just be warned—you’ll never look at Easter eggs or cute baby chicks the same way ever again.
The Wicker Man
We’re talking about the 1973 original, not the hilariously awful and meme-worthy Nicolas Cage remake. This horror film from across the pond takes place on and around the pagan-inspired holiday of May Day. Police officer Neil Howie searches for a missing girl on a remote island populated by a cult-like commune, where he soon unravels a dark secret. Sorry for the vague description, but the movie’s infamous twist ending shouldn’t be spoiled for anybody. Unlike other entries in this list, The Wicker Man is generally regarded as a classic that is, you know, actually good. If that isn’t enough to convince you to watch this coming May 1st, the movie also stars a young Christopher Lee with a wild outfit and even wilder hair. That’s right—Saruman was a hippy pagan back in the seventies!
Ever wanted to see an undead turkey that’s obviously a hand puppet fire off food puns while killing awful actors? Then you’re in luck. Thankskilling is a super low-budget comedy-horror about a group of teens getting brutally murdered by the aforementioned necromantic fowl. There are just enough gory kills, groan-inducing “jokes,” and gratuitous one-liners to make you wish you were arguing with your drunk family over Thanksgiving dinner instead. Watch this with your best friends (no kids!) who know how to laugh and don’t get offended easily. And whatever you do, don’t watch it while eating.
Neil Floyd is a Chicago-based writer with bylines at The Hard Times/Hard Drive, Quirk Books, Game Informer, and more. He’s currently working on a supernatural comedy novel and a supremely silly D&D campaign. You can find him on Twitter & Facebook, his personal website, and near the buffet table at parties.