Shudder: Unhappy Holidays collection is a gift for horror lovers


Unhappy Holidays is a new curated collection from Shudder. Yes! My two favorite movie genres all rolled up into one delicious package! Some of these movies I have seen, others will be new to me, I expect that’s the way it will be for most people. Let’s dig in and see what festive films the streaming service has for us.

Unhappy Holidays contains some favorite holiday horror selections and some rare gems. Check out this delectable curated collection.

Black Christmas

Upon its initial release in the US, this slasher flick was retitled Silent Night, Evil Night, but was restored to its original title soon thereafter. At the tender age of ten years old, I saw it as Silent Night, Evil Night when it was in theaters, and I credit it, in part, with kick starting my love of horror.

The story is set at a sorority house during the start of Christmas break. The sorority sisters begin receiving menacing phone calls, which are being made by a killer who is now hiding in the attic of their house. His first victim is Claire, whom he suffocates in her closet with a dry-cleaning bag.

Her body is taken to the attic, and placed in a rocking chair facing the window. The image of her plastic-clad face, mouth open in a silent scream, is one that terrified me for years after seeing it.

What also made a horrifying impression on my young self were the actual phone calls, which are brutal and explicit. The most terrifying call escalates after boozy Barb (played by a young Margot Kidder) grabs the phone and antagonizes the killer. There are several more murders before the movie is over, and there is a nice little twist at the end.

Unhappy Holidays -Black Christmas — Courtesy of Film Funding Ltd. of Canada

Black Christmas was produced and directed by Bob Clark, who also directed A Christmas Story. It stars Olivia Hussey, John Saxon, and Andrea Martin (of SCTV fame). Interestingly, Martin’s role of Phyllis was originally offered to Gilda Radner, who had to bow out due to her Saturday Night Live obligations. It is one of the earliest slashers to be shot through the killer’s POV, and inspired John Carpenter’s Halloween.

The film was set to make its television premier in January of 1978 under the title A Stranger in the House. Two weeks prior to that, serial killer Ted Bundy entered the Chi Omega sorority house on the campus of FSU, and bludgeoned several young women (two died). As a result, NBC-TV gave its affiliates in Florida, Georgia and Alabama the option of showing a different movie instead.

I highly recommend this truly scary film, especially if you have never seen it before. The 2006 remake starts off promisingly enough, but it goes off in a really weird, distracting direction. It’s kind of fun, but just doesn’t deliver the horror of the original.

Better Watch Out

Better Watch Out was released last year, and it’s a fun horror movie with a few twists. I love a movie that keeps me guessing, and every time I thought I knew what was going on with this one, it changed on me!

Unhappy Holidays -Better Watch Out—Courtesy StormVision Entertainment

It’s the Christmas season, and 12-year old Luke has a crush on his 17-year old babysitter Ashley (of course – that’s a given in babysitter/horror flicks). She rebuffs him when he tries to make a move on her while they are watching a scary movie, and then some strange things start to happen, indicating there is someone outside who has sinister motives.

I am never one to give away too much during a movie review, so let’s just say that things get really, really bad. Better Watch Out is funny at times, and brutal at times, but the gore level is relatively low, especially considering the inventive ways people are killed in the film.

The cast is uniformly good. Olivia DeJonge plays Ashley, you may remember her from The Visit. Interestingly, Ed Oxenbould, who played her brother in The Visit also appears in this movie, as Luke’s best friend Garrett. Levi Miller does a bang-up job as Luke, and Virginia Madsen and Patrick Warburton make the most of their limited onscreen appearances as Luke’s parents.

If you like your holiday movies spiked with pitch black humor, I recommend putting Better Watch Out on your Christmas list this year. And, don’t turn off the movie when the final credits roll, there is an outstanding scene that you won’t want to miss!

All the Creatures Were Stirring

All the Creatures Were Stirring is a new movie written and directed by David and Rebekah McKendry. The Christmas-themed anthology revolves around a couple on their first date, attending a very strange theater performance.  The stories acted out onstage involve holiday horror, including last minute gift shopping, an office Christmas party and a strange version of A Christmas Carol.

Unhappy Holidays -All the Creatures Were Stirring—Courtesy FallBack Plan Productions

Christmas Evil

Christmas Evil (also known as You Better Watch Out and Terror in Toyland) is a cult favorite, and counts director John Waters among its fans.

Harry Stadling was traumatized as a child when he discovered that Santa Claus was not real. As an adult, he is made fun of by his co-workers, and has taken to dressing up like Santa. After one too many bouts of teasing, Harry snaps and goes on a killing spree.

Christmas Evil was confiscated due to the Obscene Publications Act during the infamous “video nasty” panic in the United Kingdom.

Unhappy Holidays – Christmas Evil – Courtesy of Edward R. Pressman Film,Edward R. Pressman Productions

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

2010’s Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale was based on a 2003 short film, and it’s a perfect example of how an expansion should be handled. Beautifully shot and well-written, this Finnish film is a totally different kind of Christmas-related horror movie.

Young Pietari (whose father runs a reindeer slaughterhouse) has been reading tales of Krampus, a Santa-like demon who punishes bad children, rather than rewarding those who are good, so he becomes suspicious of Santa Claus. When hundreds of reindeer turn up dead and reduced to bones, Pietari decides to get to the bottom of the mystery.

With Rare Exports, you get demonic Santas and zombie reindeer, what more could you ask for in a Christmas horror movie?

Christmas Presence

Christmas Presence – I wasn’t able to find much information on this one, other than the fact that it is also known under the title Why Hide? It’s a 2018 flick about a group of friends who meet at a lodge to celebrate Christmas. When one of the guests disappears, a deadly truth is revealed.

Unhappy Holidays – Christmas Presence – Courtesy of Invicta Pictures,Kent Independent Film

Silent Night, Deadly Night

Silent Night, Deadly Night is notorious due to the fact that it was pulled from theaters a week after its financially successful release, due to controversy over content. Theaters were picketed by angry parents, and critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert publicly shamed Tri-Star Pictures.

Five-year-old Billy sees his parents horrifically murdered by a man dressed as Santa. He and his brother are re-homed in an orphanage run by an abusive Mother Superior, which causes him further trauma.

Unhappy Holidays -Silent Night, Deadly Night—Courtesy TriStar Pictures

As an 18-year old, events on a fateful Christmas Eve cause Billy to go on a murderous rampage.

light. Related Story. Shudder: December movies to give you the cold chills

In addition to these holiday treats, Shudder is offering a special gift to U.S. members and non-members of its streaming service. On Christmas Day, Black Christmas will be streaming all day long (you know, kind of like A Christmas Story does on TBS and TNT).  Happy Holidays indeed!

Do you see your horror holiday favorites? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.