We watched Rare Exports and Black Christmas (1974) and drank Slaughterhouse American Whiskey. A few words about the booze: it was a birthday gift from my friend David Moles and it’s very tasty. Aged nine years in oak and then finished in Papillon wine barrels. It’s got a nice complexity and warmth about it, and also it has a picture of a cleaver on the label, thus making it the perfect WhiskeyHorror booze. We tried it neat (and that was nice) but a dash of bitters and an ice cube opened it up and turned it into a grand sipping experience.
My wife Heather and I had seen Rare Exports before, but it was new to my devoted WhiskeyHorror companion Katrina. I thought she’d like it (we’re established fans of horror films from Nordic countries, from Trollhunter to Dead Snow), and I was right. The movie is five years old, but in case you missed it: A young boy from a hardy community of reindeer-herding, gun-toting, wolf-trap-baiting, torn-sweater-wearing Finns near the Russian border sees a group of miners from the mysterious Subzero corporation excavating a mountain, and realizes they’ve found the grave of Santa Claus. The malevolent creature was trapped in ice and buried long ago by the Sami people. No one takes the boy’s dire warnings about this ancient, child-devouring origin of the Father Christmas myth seriously, until something slaughters several hundred reindeer, and later a naked feral old man with a long white beard turns up in a wolf pit. Naturally, the Finns assume the seemingly indestructible old man is Santa Claus, and attempt to sell him to Subzero corp… but everything is way more complicated than that. The little boy turns out to be a badass action hero. Feral Santas are herded. Helicopters are hijacked. Kids are stuffed into sacks, set free, and stuffed back into sacks. Things explode. It is ridiculous and fun. The movie was inspired by a pair of short films featuring the same actors (the first is here: https://vimeo.com/16878465 and the second is here: https://vimeo.com/16878465https://vimeo.com/16878465). The short films do not obviously lend themselves to feature treatment, as the premise is absurd surreal humor, but they pulled it off. One of my go-to holiday horrors.
Black Christmas (1974) is notable as the film that originated the “The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House” trope, a much-beloved and parodied horror mainstay. (Though, like “Play it again, Sam” and “Beam me up, Scotty” those exact words don’t appear in the movie; “The calls are coming from the house!” is as close as it gets.) It’s also nice to see Margot Kidder as a drunken misanthropic sorority girl, and John Saxon as an archetypal cop. It’s a foundational film of the slasher genre, and like many movies from the early days of any given subgenre, it doesn’t hold up quite as well to modern sensibilities… but the fact that the killer’s identity and the ultimate fate of the “final girl” are left ambiguous even as the end credits roll seems bold even by current standards. (Part of why the 2006 remake fails so badly is by attempting to develop the deranged gibbering killer more.) Director Bob Clark is far better known for his other Christmas movie: A Christmas Story. (Prompting me to joke “In Black Christmas, the leg lamps are made of ACTUAL LEGS.”)
It was all appropriately festive.