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December 30, 2010

Midnight Movie of the Week #52 - The Pit

It's a scientific fact that people are incapable of paying attention to where they are in relation to other items.  Don't believe me? Go to your nearest place of retail, and look at the people in the parking lot and in the aisles.  watch them bump each other, or awkwardly react to each other, or crowd each other away from the items they're trying to buy.  Heck, earlier tonight I almost hit a dude with my car because he wasn't looking and then almost crashed into him 12 seconds later while walking into the store when he decided to just plain stop in the middle of the entrance.  For whatever reason, us humans don't react well to things that get in our path, and we thus put ourselves in danger's way.  It's like that horrible movie Crash, but without an Oscar for Best Picture.

Which brings us to our Midnight Movie of the Week (which is certainly not the celluloid hemorrhoid known as Crash), The Pit.  I offer the previous bit of scientific evidence only because one has to consider this when figuring out how our main character, a 12-year old weirdo named Jamie, manages to trick a slew of mean people into propelling themselves into a blatantly humongous hole that is at least the size of a late '70s Pinto. 
The pit that I speak of contains a few troglodytes (or "tra-la-logs", according to Jamie) which feed upon those whose spatial recognition could use a workout.  Jamie has good intentions, at least as far as he can tell, because he just wants to keep the cute little trogs alive and well fed while he makes the moves on his college-aged babysitter and the leotard-bound librarian down the street.  The bad intentions belong to his friendly teddy bear - appropriately named Teddy - who sounds a lot like young Jamie but has button eyes.
You would guess that that about sums up The Pit, as I'm sure you all followed that jumbled mess of plot points and bad analogies.  But it doesn't.  There's abuse of the handicapped elderly, there's creepy 12 year old stalker watching naked ladies moments, and there's even a bit of "college" dude with a perm/creepy mustache combo.  And at the center of it all is young Sammy Snyders (who previously played Tom Sawyer on TV) as Jamie who is as uneasy a character we've seen in horror.  This kid worries me, because he's basically the Rain Man of kids who trick people they don't like into falling into a really obvious hole.
Offsetting Snyders' Jamie is Jeannie Elias as Sandy, his collegiate babysitter who quickly understands that the boy (and his bear) have eyes for her despite their age difference.  Jeannie would go on to be the voice of Princess Toadstool in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, so it's easy to see why Jamie would be so intrigued by her.  There also has to be significance to the fact that Ms. Elias would later be the reason a plumber jumped over gaps, yet in The Pit is the reason why people are tricked into not jumping over gaps...but I have no idea what that would be.  On topic, Elias's performance is a great counterbalance to the awkward Mr. Snyders, and the strange dynamic between the two provides for some of the film's weirdest moments. 
You can probably tell by now that The Pit is one heck of an odd story.  There's the whole trogpit thing going on, and there's the whole 12 year old lusting after naked women and stalking them thing at the same time.  It's certainly never dull, because director Lew Lehman keeps the goofy thing rolling with something new coming on screen at every turn.  I'd probably never call this a smart film, but it smacks you over the head with its ridiculous ideas and never lets up.  And I dig that, all the way through the weird ghost images and the implausible ending.
So, if you haven't seen The Pit, you should seek it out as soon as possible.  It's got that '80s charm mixed with wacky twists, red-eyed monsters, and enough voyeurism to make Brian De Palma smile.  It's one of the most unique cheesy horror films I've ever seen.  If nothing else, you'll see an old lady in a wheelchair pushed into a pit of monsters.  Sure, that might not make you believe that the rest of these people would be so silly that they would unknowingly slip into a hole the size of a Dairy Queen...but I already told you about that.  It's science!

December 28, 2010

FMWL 2010 - The Year That Was (Part Two) - FMWL's Top 11 Genre Films of 2010

I know what you're thinking - "Well, it's one more...isn't it?"  And you're right.  Top 10s are so cliche, anyway.  (Almost as cliche as referencing This is Spinal Tap, but I digress....)

I saw a lot of horror, sci-fi, and all-around weird films in 2010.  And when it came time to make a list of my favorites, I felt a little lost.  But when I really broke it down, the eleven films listed below - each of which fits under FMWL's loose definition of being a 2010 film - were absolutely the eleven films I knew I had to recognize, because they were the films that I was certain would stick with me for as long as I shall view movies.

Ranking the eleven films was a far bigger challenge than picking the eleven films, because I truly love each of these films in their own way.  So, though I have went ahead and done my best to rank these films in countdown fashion, make sure you recognize that I will stand up for each of them any day.  At FMWL, we're all about being unconditional.

You probably never saw most of these films at your local multiplex, and you might not have even heard of some of them...but rest assured that these are the eleven films that I'm going to remember most fondly from 2010.

First....The Honorable Mentions:
Films that didn't quite get here include:
The Darkness Within (Directed by Dom Portalla.) - A raw, yet enthralling indie psychodrama with great performances.
Frozen (Directed by Adam Green.)- Chilling and effective; Emma Bell gives a fantastic performance.  Plus, it's a great talking piece.
Machete (Directed by Robert Rodriguez & Ethan Maniquis.) - Might grow on me with time.  If nothing else, it was a ton of fun.
Splice (Directed by Vincenzo Natali.) - I love Frankenstein tales, and Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody propel this one despite the awkward random sex parts.

Then....The List.
FMWL's Top 11 Genre Films of 2010 

Number 11: Devil (Directed by John Erick Dowdle.)

I'm a sucker for religion based horror films, and I'm a sucker for The Twilight Zone.  I'm not usually a sucker for the mind of M. Night Shyamlan - at least not since the near perfect Unbreakable - but Devil won me over with its simple tale of elevator-bound horror.  It's not exactly Serling and it's a bit long for its story, but I loved what it did with the clever premise and the message it sent home with me.  I'll be revisiting it often, I think.

(Check out The Mike's review of Devil HERE.)

Number 10: Hunter Prey (Directed by Sandy Collora.)

I haven't had a chance to review this one yet, (I just saw it on Thursday) but this is one heck of an old school sci-fi film.  The premise is simple - A ship crashes on a desert planet, and the survivors search for the dangerous prisoner who escaped during the crash.  A battle of wits ensues.  Director Collora, who made this as his first feature, succeeds in creating a minimalist game of cat and mouse using practical effects and unknown actors (except for the voice talents of Buck Rodgers babe Erin Gray).  This is the kind of low budget sci-fi film that would have been loved in the '70s or '80s, and I'm stoked to have found it in 2010.

(Check out the trailer for Hunter Prey HERE.)

Number 9: Centurion (Directed by Neil Marshall.)

When a film by Neil Marshall, who might be my favorite new filmmaker this side of John Carpenter, comes in at number 9 on the list, you know it's been a great year.  Marshall's fantastic tale of ancient war is the only true action film to make FMWL's list, because the action plays so much like a horror film.  Like Marshall's phenomenal Dog Soldiers, the film blends genres well and features some of the best cinematography I've seen in 2010.

(Check out The Mike's review of Centurion HERE.)

Number 8: Dark and Stormy Night (Directed by Larry Blamire.)

I waited far too long for Larry Blamire's follow-ups to one of my favorite spoofs, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.  But patience paid off, as 2010 saw the DVD release of both that film's sequel (The Lost Skeleton Returns Again!) and the spoof of "old dark house" films, Dark and Stormy Night.  Both were fantastic entertainment, but I'm giving Dark and Stormy Night the edge for being a spot on comedy that inspires plenty of belly laughs.  Blamire and his ensemble have hit another home run with this one, and I've already begun popping in this DVD at times when I need a pick-me-up.

(Check out the trailer for Dark and Stormy Night HERE.)

Number 7: The Commune (Directed by Elisabeth Fies.)

As I stated in Part One, I'll most remember 2010 as the year in which I learned what independent horror can be at its very best.   There are three films that inspired me to feel this way, and the first I'll mention here is The Commune.  Following the journey into fear that a young girl takes while living at a Northern Californian commune with her kooky father, Elisabeth Fies' film is as haunting as anything I've seen this year.  My initial response to the film was not entirely positive, but I haven't been able to shake the film from my memory.  In my mind, that's the mark of a truly effective horror film.

(Check out The Mike's review of The Commune HERE.)

Number 6: Triangle (Directed by Christopher Smith.)

Another mental horror, Christopher Smith's Triangle (technically a 2009 release, but the DVD hit in 2010), is the kind of twisty ride I just can't get enough of.  I haven't really reviewed it yet, because I don't even want to start thinking about it...I just want to let it happen to me, over, and over, and over.  Melissa George gives a surprisingly fantastic performance in the difficult lead role, and there are plenty of images that are both brutal and unforgettable.  

(Check out a quick post on the film from The Mike's other blog HERE.)

Number 5: Let Me In (Directed by Matt Reeves.)

Eat some now, save some for later, eat some now, save some for later.....

Err....Sorry, that jingle is still stuck in my head.  And much to my surprise, so is Let Me In, the Hammer Films produced remake of the sublime Let the Right One In.  A fine example of what a remake can be (even though it doesn't really improve upon the original), Let Me In gives a new perspective on the tale we loved in LtROI, and great performances by Kodi Smit-Mcphee and Chloe Moretz do wonders for the film.  This might be the most grand mainstream horror of the year, and I'm still getting over how much I dug it.

(Check out The Mike's review of Let Me In HERE.)

Number 4: Dead Hooker in a Trunk (Directed by Jen & Sylvia Soska.)

The basis of my initial reaction to Dead Hooker in a Trunk was simple: I never thought I'd have so much fun with a movie called Dead Hooker in a Trunk.  Despite my love of all things bizarre, I've always been a bit of a conservative fella.  Films called Dead Hooker in a Trunk are a little outside of my rural Iowan upbringing.  But there the film was, being ridiculously fun, and charmingly uptempo, and even sadistically sweet...and I was loving it.  It's not just a catchy name, Dead Hooker in a Trunk is modern grindhouse cinema at its best.

(Check out The Mike's review of Dead Hooker in a Trunk HERE.)

Number 3: The Last Exorcism (Directed by Daniel Stamm.)

I mentioned my love for religio-horrors earlier, and The Last Exorcism was so far up my alley that it was a good way.  The performances of Patrick Fabian and Ashley Bell are truly among the best I've seen this year in any film, and there are plenty of wonderful images throughout the film that made my skin crawl.  Some don't feel as passionate about the finale as I do, but I thought it was a cool way to wrap up the story and I don't hold anything against it.  Horror's best rags-to-riches story of 2010 is one I can't wait to revisit often.

(Check out The Mike's review of The Last Exorcism HERE.)

Number 2: Dawning (Directed by Gregg Holtgrewe.)

If there's a film from 2010 that's most made me look over my shoulder in fear, it's the yet-to-be distributed Dawning.  Making the most of a secluded, wooded setting and the discomfort that arises from a dysfunctional family, the unseen terror at work in Gregg Holtgrewe's film kept me thinking while the technical aspects of the film made me forget the film's independent nature quickly.  Aside from being a great horror film, this was the film that inspired me to look deeper into the world of independent horror, and I'm incredibly grateful to have experienced it.

(Check out The Mike's review of Dawning HERE.)

Number 1: Monsters (Directed by Gareth Edwards.)

I just don't know where to begin when talking about Monsters.  It's a one-of-a-kind sci-fi film that offers spectacle and humanity in equal doses.  Though it won't thrill those seeking action or gore, it struck me as one of the most moving and beautiful films I've seen in ages.  Perhaps the characters aren't that unique or the monsters aren't featured as much as we'd like - but the road we travel through the film is well worth taking.  

I know I'm rambling....but that's what Monsters did to me.  And I love that.
(Check out The Mike's review of Monsters HERE.)
I never would have predicted this list as 2010 began, but I'm ecstatic about the 11 films I've been able to list today.  They might not each be your cup of tea - this is certainly a varied bag of genre goodies - but I hope you can find something in one of these films that you dig as much as I do.  

(And if not, just dig something you want to dig.  That's why genre flicks are here in the first place.)

Meanwhile, I've got one simple message for these films......

FMWL 2010 - The Year That Was (Part One)

As the new year is beating down our doors, it is of course time to look back at what 2010 was.  I've got a couple of awesome year end lists I'll be rolling out in the next few days, but I wanted to start off my look back at 2010 by remembering some of the things that have meant the most to me.

The Midnight Movie of the Week

From Midnight, With Love was born as a New Year's resolution at the beginning of 2009, because I knew I spent enough time thinking about movies that I had to do something productive with it.  It didn't go perfectly, and March-September of that year consisted of the site sitting alone, dead and forgotten.  Though I got back on track in October of '09 thanks to finding the horror blogosphere, I ended 2009 feeling like I wasn't having as much fun with FMWL as I wanted to. 

Enter 2010's New Year's Resolution, the Midnight Movie of the Week, which began with a brief post on my favorite Hammer film, The Devil Rides Out.  Its purpose in my mind was twofold: it would help me have fun by writing about movies I already love, and it would keep me on schedule to remember the site exists.  I really didn't expect I would make it through a full year - I've never been the most consistent person I know - but I wanted to BADLY.  And, if I don't screw up at the end of this week, I will have made it through 2010 without missing a beat.  I'm very proud of that.

Other Fun Features

Once I got into a bit of a rhythm in keeping the site afloat, I realized I had to come up with some other features to fill the page if I wanted to stay interesting.  There were plenty of failed features, but three have become favorites of mine.  The Midnight Top Five has become a simple way for me to wing it without much thought, and has allowed me to have fun with a variety of topics that range from dickholes to Hammer Films' alumni.  I've also had a lot of fun with the Random Horror Throwdown, which has brought much debate to the site and got me a couple of spots writing for Flickchart: The Blog!  Last, and used least, has been the Supremely Cheesy Cinema section which I've only used twice, discussing Werewolf of Washington and Maximum Overdrive.  I hope to feature that one more often in the new year.

The Midnight Warriors

I said it on Christmas, but I wouldn't still be here if it weren't for all the great people who have shared their knowledge of genre cinema with me and have inspired me often.  I've opened the doors to all who want to share with FMWL on several occasions, and those who have stepped forward have willingly taken on the label of Midnight Warriors.  I'm most proud of the collaborations with them all on FMWL's '70s Cult Project, but all the Midnight Warrior parties have been worth attending.  


We've only jsut begun, but I've got a feeling that 2010 is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between FMWL and Bleedfest, the monthly L.A. based film festival featuring female genre filmmakers.  I've been honored to promote Bleedfest - from the minds of the fabulous sisters Elisabeth and Brenda Fies - over the past month, and reviewing the short films from December's fest is one of my favorite FMWL moments of 2010.  More on the indie horror scene later in this post, but for now I just must say kudos to the Fies ladies and all the women filmmakers of Bleedfest.

The One That Got Away

I have to bring up my biggest failure of 2010.  My good friend Trav, who is both a real-life friend since we were knee-high and a reviewer of restaurants over at The Epicure Eclipse, challenged me to review a madcap comedy that he loves, The Road to JUNE.  I knew the film didn't exactly fit FMWL's purpose, but it was certainly odd and it was certainly unique and well....I just never found the words for it.  And then for months he would bring it up and I'd be like "Oh yeah....I watched that...." and not have anything to say about it.  And thus, the review never happened, and I'm admitting my failure now.

The One That Should Never Have Happened

I'm not going to name names, because the film in question deserves less than nothing based on both its quality and the methods those behind the film have used when dealing with the online media.  I'm just going to say that there is only one film that I saw this year which I truly, deeply, totally REGRET watching.  I accepted a screener, I watched it, and I regret it entirely.  You might be able to find the review here, it's the one in which I call out the filmmakers for telling me to bash their film.  You've got your wish Mr. Director, but I'm not mentioning the film's name again.

(Note from The Mike: Doesn't that kitten look a little bit like the brain bug from Starship Troopers? I say yes.)

My Favorite Posts of 2010

I've already mentioned a couple of favorites, but here's a quick rundown of some of the things I've written this year that I actually like.  I'm incredibly hard on myself as a writer, but these are the few things I've put up here that I truly love.
FMWL's Post of the Year

After sitting in my head for YEARS, I finally took to the keyboard and wrote about one of the most important genre films to me - John Carpenter's They Live.  As Midnight Movie of the Week #31 (The Mike's lucky number), I shared my experiences with They Live through Monstervision, Film History courses, and my own viewings of the sci-fi/horror epic with the never-ending battle over sunglasses.  I can count the number of times this year that I truly felt something I wrote made sense AND meant something to me on one hand, and this post is that hand's big thumbs up.

FMWL 2010's Favorite Thing: The Indie Horror Experience

I spent a couple of years working in the closest thing central Iowa has to an "Art House" movie theater and have always searched for unknown films, so I've always thought that I knew something about independent film.  But as I've come across some truly talented individuals and their films in 2010, I've been enlightened to the fact that there is so much more in the world of genre cinema than I ever knew existed.

By taking a chance on some independent fare that I would have previously ignored, I've had some incredibly fulfilling viewing experiences that I never would have expected at the beginning of 2010.  And, with the support of some fine writers whose love for indie horror runs deep, I can not wait to see what 2011 has in store for FMWL in the independent department.  Though FMWL's primary focus has been and will always be to share some of my biggest genre loves from Hollywood's past and present, I have a hunch that there are a lot of people out there making the kind of films that I love...and I can't wait to meet them. 

In The End....

As 2010 ends, FMWL has more than nine times as many followers as it did at the beginning of the year, and December has already brought more than six times as many visitors than January did.  Though we're by no means a big deal at this little blog, I'm incredibly proud of the progress made at FMWL in 2010, and am thankful for every visitor who's ever taken a moment to check out this page.  I'll do my best to keep bringing you things you want to read in 2011.

Now that the self-love is out of the way (I try not to do it often, forgive me if I'm a bore), get ready for what comes next.  As FMWL 2010 - The Year That Was moves forward tomorrow, we'll take a look at The Mike's top 11 favorite genre films of 2010.  I swear to you, it WILL be a list of awesomeness.

December 27, 2010

Black Swan

(2010, Dir. by Darren Aronofsky.)

I've just seen the film, but I'm going to react very rapidly to Black Swan.  A horror film dressed up as an Oscar drama, the film seems to apply itself directly to the inquisitive parts of the viewer's brain, and it most definitely has made a strong first impression on this one.

Natalie Portman stars as an aspiring ballerina who strives for accuracy with every movement of her life.  But, as she moves into the dual role of the Swan Queen in a new production of Swan Lake by her commanding director (Vincent Cassel) she is continually told to loosen up, to let go, and to feel the role as she tries to fill the feathers of the seductive and dangerous black swan.  She struggles mightly with these instructions, as her mind seems to be focusing on only the instructed methods of success, but she gains some release from her perfectionist attitude (which is certainly instilled by her former ballerina mother) when she meets a new dancer (Mila Kunis) who seems to be her polar opposite.  The film paints the characters obviously, with Portman's Nina wearing mostly whites and grays, while Kunis' tattooed Lily is constantly in black.  An early scene in which Cassel's character spells out the story of the musical for the untrained audience is very important to the film's plot, as the parallels between the characters and their work run deep.

Those caught up in the film's plot only might find the film a bit lacking, but it's the playful, yet artistic approach Aronofsky brings to the table that kept my mind rolling with the film.  The fun of Black Swan does not lie in figuring out the twists or determining what did or didn't happen, though the viewer will have plenty of questions to consider as they do try to put the pieces together.  Like the best mysteries, Black Swan draws our interest to the path toward an answer; it's how we get to a resolution that really pulls the strings for the viewer.

The performances are fantastic across the board, with Portman a surefire award contender for her performance in the lead.  She seems to be playing the same kind of innocent role we're used to seeing her in, but she turns the switch - like her character's onstage role - against us with ease at times and creates a deeper and more interesting character by doing so.  Cassel is perfectly smarmy as the lone male character who seems to dominate the women of the film, and Kunis is excellent in what seems like a more simple role as the understudy.  Also shining, as always, is FMWL favorite Barbara Hershey as Nina's overprotective mother, and her performance is crucial to the film effectively building tension as Nina's puzzle becomes more convoluted.

There is a surprising amount of horror throughout the film, including physical and psychological attempts at disorienting the viewer.  There's plenty of blood and a bit of slashing that occurs, and the sound effects that accompany these moments are some of the best parts of the film's fantastic sound design (this one uses a surround sound system as well as any film I've seen this year).  But the film really preys on its characters psychology, and some of the best moments of unease occur when we think we see something that we shouldn't be seeing.  Nina's paranoia builds through these sights, which gives more power to some of her more uncomfortable encounters with her director and her mother.  Nina's plight also includes some insight into her sexuality (one scene has already become notorious across the world wide web), and these developments seem to combine with the abusive nature of her competitive job to create even more unease.

Black Swan is destined for a lot of year-end accolades, and this is certainly the most acclaimed film that crosses into the horror genre in some time.  I can't help feeling there's something a bit off about the film - I certainly haven't given myself a lot of time to let all the full film's implications settle before throwing these words out there - but the instant response it's created is one of respect and admiration.  Aronofsky, Portman, and others have put together a film that's technically sound and mentally stimulating, and if nothing else I'm sure I'll keep thinking about it for some time to come.  On that basis alone, I strongly recommend diving into Black Swan for some psycho-sexual chills.

December 25, 2010

FMWL's 12 Midnights of Christmas: 1 Human Santapede

Yep.  This image, borrowed from Twitch, about sums it up.

(And, if you don't get the joke, try reading this. And where have you been all year?)

I thought long and hard about what I could do for this post that would be truly profound, groundbreaking, and flat out awesome amazing.  But truthfully, it's not worth it.  Anything I had written here would have simply taken away from the fantastic folks who have helped make FMWL's 12 Midnights of Christmas a rousing success.  And this is about them.
Joe Monster - From Beyond Depraved..............................................................12 Werewolves Gnashing
Jinx - Totally Jinxed............................................................................................9 Ladies Kicking Ass
Emily C. - The Quest To Watch Every Movie Ever.............................................8 Kids-A-Creeping
 R.D. Penning - Dead End Drive-In......................................................................7 Indie Dames-A-Slaying
Malice - Malice of Horrorland.............................................................................5 Dreaded Remakes
Jason - Evil Monkeys
Petunia Scareum - Deadly Serious........................................................................3 Part 3 Films in 3-D!
Nicki - Hey! Look Behind You.............................................................................2 Christmas Road Trips

?????????........................................................................................................11 Sci-Fi Sirens
                                                                                                                          10 Unmasked Michaels
                                                                                                                          6 Blobs-A-Blobbing
                                                                                                                          1 Human Santapede
With Christmas here, I can not understate how grateful I am for the contributions of these fine folks; they've really made this last week and a half a special time at FMWL.  Of course, I'm also thankful for all the other writers, bloggers, and readers out there who have supported me and FMWL.  It was incredibly difficult to choose less than 12 writers to help me with this project, because there are so many of you that have been inspirations to me this year.  To all the followers and friends of The Mike and FMWL, I offer a special thanks. This year of sharing my love for horror, genre, and cult cinema has been a fantastic gift to me; being able to interact with others who share my love of these cinematic treasures and other awesome things is something I truly cherish.  Your support has changed my life for the better. 

With that said,  I wish nothing but the best to every Midnight Warrior who's ever come across my corner of the internet.  Merry Christmas from The Mike and From Midnight, With Love!

December 24, 2010

Midnight Movie of the Week #51 - Silent Night, Deadly Night

Santa's watching, Santa's waiting, oh my God, he's salivating....

Well, something like that.  Enter Silent Night, Deadly Night, the controversial splatter flick that nowadays boasts that "Hordes of Angry Mothers Couldn't Keep It Away!"  Apparently, the good folks of the real 1984 had a bit of an aversion to having the image of Santa popping up on TV ads killing people in front of their children.  What a bunch of sticks in the mud.
That said, there might be a slight basis to their concern.  Unlike many '80s slashers, this one seems to focus a large bit of energy on establishing trauma in small children.  This begins in the opening scene, set on Christmas Eve of 1971, in which five year-old Billy is first made to fear.  This starts at the hands of his deranged grandpa, played by Chessmaster Will Hare, who warns him about the evil of Santa.  Grandpa may have just been senile, but his timing was a bit off.  On the drive home, Billy's parents are be brutally murdered by a criminal disguised as St. Nicholas.  Grandpa may have seen that move coming.....
The film flashes forward three years, so we can meet eight year old Billy in another traumatizing Christmas situation - a Catholic Orphanage.  Handicapped by his past trauma and his ridiculous mullet, Billy quickly becomes a target of punishment at the hands of the domineering Mother Superior.  He witnesses naughty acts that involve nudity - which remind him of the unnecessary de-shirting of his mother during her murder - and it becomes pretty clear that Billy has some Christmas skeletons in his closet.  After learning all about punishment, he grows up to be a big, strong, kind-of-awkward 18 year old...which takes us to our real story after about 45 minutes of the 80 minute film.  I'm not complaining, because the set up is like a juicy pulp talk show, but by this point the viewer might just be itching for a bit of slaying.  For Christmas' sake movie, you've got genre stereotypes to live up to!
Billy now works in a department store (remember those?) and is trying to be normal.  But then he sees Santa again, and then he sees boobs again and...well, that switch just flips.  Yup, Billy's lost his cool and now he - while conveniently suited up as Santa - is on a killing spree.  If you've been naughty, beware his Claus.
Once Billy's rampage begins, the film takes a more conventional horror tone.  If the people who protested the movie upon its initial release had actually seen the film, I have a feeling they'd be more offended by the traumas placed on children in the set up than the killings that occur in modern day.  There's a lot of brutality from Billy, but any child worth their weight in candy canes could probably recognize that the Santa on screen isn't the one they adore.  Then again, children shouldn't be watching this, as the film offers up plenty of memorable and inventive kills.  The most memorable of these is probably the demise of a young Linnea Quigley, who ends up with a bit of a "deer in the headlights" look on her face, to say the least.  A lot of the scenes of terror are surrounded by children as well, and the film's message of Christmas fear can't be underestimated.  If you're a good parent, you can probably figure out that this isn't for the kiddies.
There's not much to Silent Night, Deadly Night as a piece of cinema - I wouldn't defend it in the court of public opinion, that's for sure - but it's funny to me as I look back at the reactions to this piece of trash entertainment.  (For example, the video below features the great Siskel & Ebert's reactions to the film, which include condemnation of those behind its creation.)  Aside from critics that have an image to uphold, most of the outrage about the film comes from people who didn't see it; reminding us that - when it comes to pop culture - the tree doesn't even have to fall in the woods for someone to hear it. 
Silent Night, Deadly Night is a sleazy film that fits an exploitation label more easily than most slashers.  But there are plenty of exploitation films out there, and I don't think one that capitalizes on a certain fictional character should be worthy of deeper hate than any other film that preaches trauma to women and children.  There are plenty of reasons to dislike the film from a critical standpoint, but I have to give it credit for taking its sleazy idea and running with it.  While it might not spread Christmas cheer, Silent Night, Deadly Night is a wicked bit of counterprogramming that reminds us what horror filmmakers can do when they want to be vicious.

FMWL's 12 Midnights of Christmas: 2 Christmas Road Trips (by Hey! Look Behind You's Nicki!)

One of the first bloggers to support FMWL back when The Mike was just cutting his teeth in the blogosphere was Nicki of Hey! Look Behind You.  A loyal Midnight Warrior from day one, Nicki offers up plenty of quick-witted, fun posts over at her site, not to mention sharing those FilmWise challenges that I stare at for hours a week.  Now, with a drive home through a snow storm staring at me tomorrow, Nicki joins our 12 Midnights of Christmas festivities with a chilling double dose of highway horror!  (Why can't The Mike get stuck in a blizzard with Emily Blunt?)

FMWL's 12 Midnights of Christmas presents: 2 Christmas Road Trips!
By Nicki of Hey! Look Behind You

When the awesome The Mike asked me to join in his 12 Midnights of Christmas festivities, I thought "Totally awesome...but what should I do?" Then being all awesome The Mike made a suggestion that maybe I should do a double feature. And so I did! 

Road trips are a mixed bag of fun and frustrations. There are the moments where everyone is getting along, maybe even singing and then there are those other moments when you just want to open the car door and kick someone out. 

For this haunted Christmas road trip double feature, people brave the open road to be with family for the holidays. With no Google map instructions, GPS or even a compass, they all cross paths with the supernatural. 

Dead End

On the annual family road trip to the in-laws for Christmas, Frank Harrington decides that this year he’s going to do something different… he’s going to take a short cut!

Yes, we all know this is always a great idea in theory but surprise, it doesn’t quite work out for the Harrington family. Frank, his wife, son, daughter and her boyfriend come across a lady on the side of road carrying a baby. She seems to be shook up and traumatized but they soon learn that she’s a ggggghost! 

The family find themselves lost on an endless road, surrounded by the creepiness of the woods. They don’t let being lost, late and scared interfere with the age old road trip tradition of auguring about their family issues.

The fighting pauses after the boyfriend is kidnapped by an eerie hearse. The family tries to chase after the hearse but then they find the boyfriend’s dead, mutilated body tossed by the side of the road. Shit officially gets real when the family realize that they might not get through the night alive. 

Dead End journeys down a road of the family Christmas road trip experience with the added spirit of ghosts and gore.

Wind Chill

College students (only know as “boy” and “girl”) share a ride to Denver to visit their family during Christmas break. The boy has always had a thing for the girl meanwhile she barely knew that he existed. The boy wants to clock in more face time to get to know the girl more so he decides to take the “scenic route.” Again, never a good idea because this specific route is haunted by people who were killed there in the past. 

During the long stretch of unknown road, the couple are run off the road leaving the car damaged and them stuck in the cold with no food or cell service. 

They think they are saved when a cop comes by to check on them but not only is he totally psycho but he’s also a…gggghost! The boy and girl find themselves trapped in a murderous time loop trying to battle the cold and the killer cop. 

The crazed cop isn’t the only problem in this road detour nightmare, the boy doesn’t let on that he was seriously injured from the crash and maybe slowly dying if they don’t get help soon. 

Wind Chill is another fight to survive the night with the dropping temperatures and ghosts with nothing else better to do than to hassle people. 

So folks, when it comes to traveling for Christmas, pack a lot of snacks, video game/reading entertainment and as tempting as those short cuts seem, well, you want to be alive to open your presents don’t you? Yes, me too. The test of endurance is well worth it.

Happy Holidays!
Many thanks to Nicki for joining in on this Christmas Eve, as FMWL's 12 Midnights of Christmas rolls to a close!  Head on over to Hey! Look Behind You for more from her, and come on back tomorrow for the grand finale!