December in the Harlan household means holiday horror time! This year, I’ve been seeking out as many Christmas themed horror and genre films that I haven’t seen as I possibly can. thankfully, there have been a ton of new ones. Here are two that I recently checked out and some of my thoughts. Check out my brief thoughts and then check them out for yourself. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, too!
Slay Belles (2018)
It’s Christmas Eve, and three cosplaying women come across the malevolent Christmas demon Krampus. The girls must team up with Santa Claus himself to battle the creature and save the world.
Sexy ladies, Santa, and a dude named Sean have to capture Krampus, but not before a couple selfies and some footage for the YouTube channel! This is a fun and goofy horror comedy romp, light on the horror. The comedy doesn’t always land, but since the film never takes itself seriously, it also never loses its enjoyable and entertaining tone.
The cast does a solid job overall. Barry Bostwick could have leaned more into the Santa role and truly been something special, he falls a bit short here. I’d love to have a bit more Richard Moll than such a small cameo, too. The moment Mrs. Claus shows up is the true highlight here… as she explains how much of a disappoint Santa has been to her and how she stood by him even when they had to eat the reindeer to stay afloat.
While it’s surely not going to be one of my top 10 holiday horror films, this one is something I’ll revisit every few years and enjoy. I could see many horror fans that have a penchant for lower budget fare really enjoying this insanity, though. So if you find yourself looking for a fun, mindless horror comedy with a holiday theme, you could do far worse.
Ugly Sweater Party (2018)
An ugly sweater party turns into a bloodbath when an evil Christmas sweater possesses one of the partygoers.
Make no mistake, Slay Belles is the better film of these two, but there’s something about Aaron Mento’s sophomore feature than shows a ton of promise. I think what really excites me as a genre fan is that the concept and the the script shows such originality and promise that the films becomes more tolerable than many lower budget features of this ilk tend to be. This isn’t to say the script is “good” or that the ideas are all properly fleshed out, but it’s to say that the ideas presented here are very interesting and make me want to see more.
Bonus points for Sean Whalen, Felissa Rose, a bunch of gore, and a fun campy vibe. Like Slay Belles, I can’t see this vaulting to the top of my holiday charts, but I think I’ll be be back again to enjoy the low budget holiday horror aesthetics. I can say – for certain – that I’ll be back to see what Mento does next. With a bit more experience under his belt and maybe a few more bucks to work with, I’d love to see what he’s able to do.