My 5 Distorted Winter Holiday Movie Picks

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I don’t really celebrate Saturnalia or Solstice or any of the lesser-known winter holidays. I hang out with relatives and friends who do, so I don’t boycott seasonal happenings. But the winter holidays simply do not groove with me, the same way winter in general doesn’t. That’s why I live in Southern California. I’m one of the October People. Once October is done, I’d prefer we move rapidly to the new year. Add two months to early summer, cut out November and December, and it’s all good. But I don’t control axial tilt and the orbit of the Earth, so I’ll just have to take it.

I do like winter in one place, however, and that’s in the movies. Groundhog Day, The Great Silence, Runaway Train, and The Thing are winter movie favorites. And there are a few films I associate with the winter holidays, i.e. “Christmas” (you thought I wasn’t going to even use that word in this post, didn’t you?)

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Hammer Country Concludes

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John Carson in The Plague of the Zombies

The end of another October crammed with articles about horror films from Britain’s great beast of the genre, Hammer Film Productions. Like last year, I did a Hammer horror-post-a week for Black Gate. This month’s selections:

As I did last October, I mixed up the periods and the qualities of the movies and saved the best for the last slot: The Plague of the Zombies is underseen for such a great film in this horror subgenre. Thankfully, there’s a North American Blu-ray coming from Shout! Factory in January. Two of the films are from Terence Fisher, Hammer’s great horror practitioner, but The Phantom of the Opera and The Man Who Could Cheat Death are among his weakest. Apologies for that, Terence, but I did two of your best last year. Hands of the Ripper is, hands down, (sorry) my favorite of Hammer’s 1970s output. I think I’ve watched it every October since I bought the Blu-ray.

I’m not sure yet if I’ll do Hammer October again next year. I still haven’t run out of titles, but I may do the Hammer Frankenstein movies as an article series once I finish my John Carpenter retrospective, and that will more than fill up the Hammer bill for the year.

October Is Hammer Horror Country

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I belong to the class of people known as the “October Folk.” Our favorite month of the year is the tenth. It’s more than just a casual favorite—to us, the month feels more alive than others, the creative batteries are the most charged. It’s a social time but not a crowded time; an energetic period but not an exhausting one. It’s crisp, beautiful, and draped with the wonderful touch of the eerie we all need more of in our lives. Or at least the October Folk do.

Horror films are a major part of the celebration of October for us. But not any horror film will do. We each have special favorites that speak more of the season to us. For me, the special October seasoning comes from Hammer Film Productions, the British studio that from 1957 to 1976 crafted a special type of Gothic film. Hammer epitomizes the romanticized and fairy-tale terror that’s so pleasant to my palate this season.

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