Before year's end, 11 new Yuletide fright films will have premiered or otherwise be available for your viewing pleasure leading up to the week of Christmas. This latest rash of releases has a bit of festive fun for everyone, including appearances by Krampus, a killer Christmas tree, Jack Frost, a riff on the Grinch, an anthology film, Psycho Santas, and even a holiday visit to Amityville. I've racked and stacked this year's latest entries below with their respective release dates and other pertinent details. If I've happened to miss YOUR film or a film you know of, please drop a comment below and I'll be sure to update the post!
THE LEECH (06/23/2022)
Eric Pennycoff's Christmas horror-comedy THE LEECH premiered at the Chatanooga Film Festival on 23 June 2022 and has garnered some positive attention from the likes of Dread Central and Bloody Disgusting. The film follows a devout priest named David (Graham Skipper) who practices what he preaches when he discovers a transient sleeping in the pews in the days leading up to Christmas and offers the man some Christian hospitality and invites him into his home. The transient, named Terry (Jeremy Gardner), and his girlfriend Lexi (Taylor Zaudtke) eventually both end up staying at David's home and pollute David's faith through non-stop partying and debauchery. Once David begins hearing a demonic voice that identifies itself as the Leech, he must once again rely upon his faith to get through midnight mass on Christmas, which devolves into a chaotic fight for survival. THE LEECH hits Blu-ray from Arrow Video on 6 December and is available now for pre-order here. Check out the trailer below:
THE CURSE OF JACK FROST (9/12/2022)
THE CURSE OF JACK FROST, or simply JACK FROST, offers up a long overdue treatment of the legend of Jack Frost in a contemporary Christmas horror setting. A British film helmed by Liana Failla, JACK FROST is a rather tedious tale featuring the frosted killer, in this version a descendant of Santa Claus, who terrorizes a family in rural England who must unravel their mysterious family lineage in order to end Jack Frost's reign of terror. JACK FROST is currently available to stream for free on Tubi and is also available to rent or buy on Amazon. Check out the trailer here:
AMITYVILLE CHRISTMAS VACATION (9/19/2022)
Director Steve Rudzinski, known for his Christmas horror torture-porn feature RED CHRISTMAS (2014), is at it again with AMITYVILLE CHRISTMAS VACATION, a parody of the Amityville franchise, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and syrupy Christmas fare found on the Hallmark and Lifetime channels. Rudzinski himself plays Wally Griswold, a lucky winner of a Christmas vacation to Amityville where he falls in love with a Ghost. Sounds hilarious. Look for AMITYVILLE CHRISTMAS VACATION on Tubi or pick up a DVD or Blu-ray copy directly from Silver Spotlight Films. Check out the trailer below:
TWO WITCHES (10/1/2022)
TWO WITCHES marks the directorial debut of Pierre Tsigaridis and enjoyed its World Premiere at the Salem Horror Film Festival in 2021. The film is based around two interwoven stories, the second of which takes place around Christmas. A matriarchal witch passes on her sinister inheritance to her granddaughter, triggering the most horrific curses, is the film's official synopsis. Fan-favorite Rebekah Kennedy (To the Bone), Kristina Klebe (Rob Zombie’s Halloween), Belle Adams (“Perry Mason”) and Tim Fox (“Westworld”) round out the cast. The film also racked up some awards on the festival circuit, including best editing, special makeup effects, and best scare award, while the cast were nominated for best acting awards. Personally, I can't wait to check this film out!
Be on the lookout for TWO WITCHES to rent this month on Apple TV and Arrow Streaming, or pick up its Blu-ray release at Amazon or the mega collector's edition directly from Arrow Video here (shipping date around 18 October). The film also has a pretty bad-ass website that sells all sorts of goodies. Check out the trailer below:
KRAMPUS: THE RETURN (10/8/2022)
Another Christmas horror film lightly based on the Alpine legend of Krampus, David Gregory's KRAMPUS: THE RETURN is available now to rent or buy on Amazon Prime. After Lisa's brother mysteriously dies, she and her college friends go to her family home to for answers. They are shocked to discover that his killer was non-other than the Christmas demon, Krampus. The film has no relation to Michael Dougherty's modern cult classic KRAMPUS, nor is it tied to any of ITN Studios' other Krampus cash in attempts from the past few years (i.e. KRAMPUS: THE DEVIL RETURNS, MOTHER KRAMPUS, MOTHER KRAMPUS 2). While it'll likely be a long while before we ever see a follow up to Doughtery's KRAMPUS, we'll have to settle for more British-produced Krampus cheapies that fail to incorporated anything relevant to the mythos of the Christmas Devil.
Check out the trailer below:
THE KILLING TREE (11/1/2022)
Not to be outdone by ITN Studios, Uncork'd Entertainment (ELVES, THE ELF) is releasing its latest Christmas horror film THE KILLING TREE on 1 November. Directed by Rhys Frake-Waterfield, the producer of the much anticipated WINNIE-THE-POOH: BLOOD AND HONEY, the story revolves around a vengeful widow who uses black magic to conjure up her dead husband following his execution for numerous homicides around the holidays. The spell goes wrong and the killer's spirit is embedded in a nearby Christmas tree. Now out for revenge, the killer Christmas tree hunts down those responsible for sending him to the gallows in a bizarre blitz of crudely executed CGI and stale British one-liners. Unfortunately, there's not many, nor great, Killer Christmas Tree films in the subgenre, but THE KILLING TREE is not the worst among them. I had a chance to see this film last month in preparation for a review I'm writing, which I'll have published the week of the film's formal release. Check out the trailer below:
THE CHRISTMAS TAPES (12/2022)
There's not much to go on with regards to THE CHRISTMAS TAPES yet, but we do know it's marked to be released sometime in December and is a Christmas horror anthology film starring Vernon Wells, no stranger to holiday horror films (RED SNOW, SILENT NIGHT, ZOMBIE NIGHT), as Santa Claus. I'll be sure to update this blurb once we have a release date, trailer, and viewing platform to pass along.
VIOLENT NIGHT (12/2/2022)
Granted, VIOLENT NIGHT does not fall neatly into the horror genre, looks more like a dark comedy/action film starring David Harbour as a surly Santa who must save the day after a group of mercenaries attack a wealthy family's estate on Christmas Eve. Universal will be releasing the film in theaters on 2 December and it certainly looks like it'll be worth your while to hit the cineplex to check this one out.
Check out the trailer below:
CHRISTMAS BLOODY CHRISTMAS (12/9/2022)
Filmmaker Joe Begos (VFW, BLISS) turned his guns to the Christmas horror subgenre with his latest feature CHRISTMAS BLOODY CHRISTMAS and will be heading to Shudder and AMC+ where it can be streamed starting on 9 December. The film will also be released theatrically the same day by RJLE Films. Record store owner Tori Tooms (Riley Dandy) squares up against a robotic Santa Claus that goes haywire at a nearby toy store and begins a rampant killing spree that forces her into a blood-spattered battle for survival. A bloodthirsty robotic Santa Claus on destructive warpath? Yes please. It also appears that the film was shot on Super 16mm, enhancing its already gritty aesthetic. If it's anything like VFW and BLISS we should be in store for a great time. (No trailer available at this time.)
THE MEAN ONE (12/15/2022)
This year, we'll see the cinematic perversion of the childhood classic Winnie-the-Pooh with WINNIE-THE-POOH: BLOOD AND HONEY and now THE MEAN ONE, an equally perverse take on Dr. Seuss' The Grinch. Steven LaMorte directs and XYZ Films will be releasing the film on 15 December on a yet to be announced streaming platform.
Here's what we know from Deadline:
David Howard Thornton (who plays Art The Clown in Terrifier 2) is a hairy, green-skinned grump in a Santa suit, living on a mountain high above the festive small town of Frazier Park, despising the holiday season. Young Cindy You-Know-Who (Krystle Martin), whose parents were butchered by The Mean One twenty Christmases earlier, is returning to town to seek closure.
Parodies tend to be hit or miss, so we'll wait for a trailer to drop before making a better informed guess on how THE MEAN ONE might stack up, but an even darker take on the Grinch is certainly welcome!
THE APOLOGY (12/16/2022)
RJLE Films, Shudder, And AMC+ will be collaborating on the 16 December release of Alison Locke's THE APOLOGY, which will hit theaters and streaming platforms the same day. At the moment, not much press or coverage available, but here's what we know about the plot from Deadline:
The Apology picks up with recovering alcoholic Darlene Hagen (Gunn) 20 years after the disappearance of her daughter, as she’s preparing to host her family’s Christmas celebration with her best friend Gretchen (Garofalo). Late Christmas Eve, Darlene’s estranged ex-brother-in-law Jack (Roache) arrives unannounced, bearing nostalgic gifts and a heavy secret. Soon, Darlene finds herself caught between reason and ruthless instinct. Trapped together by a dangerous storm, a battle of wits escalates to a violent game of revenge.
Hopefully a trailer drops soon, and I'll be sure to drop the link here once available. It's listed as a "thriller" on IMDB, but perhaps its edgy and dark enough to end up on the NAUGHTY list.