Tag Archives: Holiday Horror

Rare Exports (2010)

DIRECTOR Jalmari Halander
STARRING Tommi Korpela, Per Christian Ellefsen, Jorma Tommila, Jonathan Hutchings, Onni Tommila, Risto Salmi, Peeter Jakobi
DISTRIBUTOR FS Film Oy
RELEASE DATE September 24th, 2010
RUNTIME 82 Minutes
COUNTRY Finland

A young boy named Pietari (Onni Tommila) and his friend Juuso (Ilmari Järvenpää) think a secret mountain drilling project near their home in northern Finland has uncovered the tomb of Santa Claus. However, this a monstrous, evil Santa, much unlike the cheery St. Nick of legend. When Pietari’s father (Jorma Tommila) captures a feral old man (Peeter Jakobi) in his wolf trap, the man may hold the key to why reindeer are being slaughtered and children are disappearing.

I am often asked what my favorite Christmas movie is. The answer—surprisingly—is It’s a Wonderful Life. I know, I know, it’s unfathomable that my favorite is not a horror movie. I can save this though, there are in fact only two films I have watched every Christmas break for the last few years. One is It’s a Wonderful Life, the other is Rare Exports. This little slice of Amblin-esque goodness is an all time great Christmas flick and an just an all time favorite of mine in general.

So there you have it, an intriguing synopsis that offers basically nothing! Here is my take, this is one of the most unique Christmas horror film—maybe ever!—because it doesn’t take you by the hand. It leaves a lot left to the imagination, from filling the backstory of the town where our protagonist, young Pietari, to the true nature of the beast trapped inside that mountain. It tells an emotionally charged story that feels lived in and real. It’s also completely foreign, hailing from Finland. I suppose I could have led with that. Yes, this is a foreign film replete with subtitles and all that jazz. After 10 viewings I can say that it is emotionally complex with beautifully created characters-a film about brave mach men learning how to be softer and children growing up in a hard and unforgiving world learning how to be brave.

The story follows Pietari and his father, a widower who is scrounging out a living wrangling reindeer once a year with his fellow townsfolk. Meanwhile, a crew is excavating a nearby mountain. It becomes clear that they have found something when a series of disasters plague the town, first something kills the reindeer and then a number of children go missing, vanishing without a trace. Whatever took the kids left twisted wooden replicas in their place. Things get truly strange when Pietari and his father find an old naked man impaled on a stake in a deadfall trap built to catch wolves. The man looks like Santa Claus, but as we soon learn there is a lot more going on here than meets the eye.

Still here? Good. So if you’re still here you want to know what makes Rare Exports so damn good it’s worth watching every year alongside a Frank Capra masterpiece? It’s a lot of things, I guess. It’s the originality and imagination of the film. It’s the childlike wonder that it exudes from every frame. It captures my mind in a way that few movies can, and with every viewing I find more to love about the film, a detail here and there or perhaps something I forgot and am delighted to remember. There are very few films that do this for me, and I will always revisit the ones that do. It’s the characters. Tough as nails, but sweet as can be. They band together when the going gets tough and it is a joy to watch them attempt to save their town and their livelihoods by returning Santa to the mountain where they are certain he came from and claim a reward from the men who dug him up. The only problem is that the thing they found in the woods isn’t Santa, but one of its helpers.

It’s that plot twist that might make this movie absolutely sublime. The pure Lovecraftian presentation of Santa Claus in this film is astounding. We never see him, just his towering form trapped in the ice. His servants are frantically trying to wake him from the ice, gathering all the lights and heating units they can find, and are prepping for his arrival by stocking the larder full of children to eat. Here we have an ancient god of sorts, a beast so fierce and terrifying and insatiable it had be lured into a volcano and frozen deep inside of it just to contain it. I love this and I love the film’s assertion of the place of man in the face of the supernatural. The men from the village who help to rescue the children and save the day? They cut the horns off the head of the great beast and blow him up using an excessive amount of blasting materials. The film shows that—in contrast to other films or stories dealing with these large god-type beings returning to life—the men have control over the situation, that they are allowed to be brave in the face of horror and that they can overcome said horror if they work hard enough. I like that a lot. 

In the end, that message—the one that says no matter how bad things get, all is not lost—is a perfect way to end the film. There are eleven other months in which to be bleak and sad and to exist in perpetual state of existential innue, but for this month maybe try something a little more uplifting. To that end, I hope you give Rare Exports a shot or a revisit. It’s worth it. 

Top 10 Tuesday: Christmas Monsters

So here we are, on the wrong side of the cold weather and fast approaching another sweltering, green Christmas. Fear not though! We here at Morbid Movies are committed to bringing you all the thrills and chills we can summon up, guaranteed to give you goosebumps as we close out the Christmas season!

There are creatures out there in the wilderness, in the frozen wilds. They lurk and loom, stalk and strike, snatch and steal, stealing through the trees and slipping into your homes late at night. We know of one of these horrifying creatures—though for some reason we celebrate his comings and goings—and that would be Santa Claus and his army of creepy spies. There are others out there though, in the cold and the dark and it is time that you knew of them. Here the ten fiercest beasties of the Yuletide season:

10. The Nisse

That sound? That low skittering in the walls or the roof? Is it rats? Or something else? While we know them as Santa’s little helpers but these are the feral cousins to those chaps. The Nisse, with the small pointed hats, sharp teeth and wooden shoes resemble lawn gnomes but have a penchant for punishing the lazy and killing thieves. They are highly dangerous if not treated with the proper respect. Leave a bowl of gruel or rice pudding in your home (year round if possible) to placate the little fellows.

9. Perchta

You may, in the forest, come across a beautiful woman in a gleaming white dress. She is kind and caring and loving. You offer her food and shelter from the cold and she rewards you with a smile and a coin made of rare metal. When you wake in the morning she is gone. Your lazy neighbor is missing, there are signs of a struggle and cloven prints in the snow. This is Perchta, the dual natured spirit of the forest. One of her personalities is the lady in white, full of serenity and love, and the other is twisted horned beast—hungering for those properly seasoned with sin and made fat with laziness, a true yuletide feast.

8. The Gloso

Avoid graveyards at night in general, but you must especially avoid them during Christmas-time lest you come across the Gloso, a huge boar that haunts the graveyard, scouring it for food and offerings. If you see this beast, you are likely to already be dead. If the beast’s razor back isn’t enough to cut you to ribbons, it’s likely that you’ll have to make offerings to it for the rest of your life or you may find it under your dining room table one Christmas Eve.

7. Yule Cat

A large black cat, half as big as a house, that stalks the forest looking for the laziest, easiest prey it can find. Make sure to keep your fire stoked and your house sealed up tight, as the cat will spend the evening trying to gain entrance to your domicile.

6. Stallo

A mindless, spirit or golem that delivers presents. If you feed and water the Stallo, you will be rewarded. The Stallo is always thirsty, always. If you fail to slake that thirst with water upon its entrance to your home, it will drink the brain right out your head and when it is done with you,well you get the idea…always thirsty and all that.

5. Saint Lucy

Strange things fly across the sky at night during the Yuletide season. Saint Lucy is a demon, Lussi, who scours the night with an entourage of demons masquerading as old men. They search for misbehaving children out at night. Seeing Lussi and her band of merry men is rumored to have driven even the bravest man mad.

4. The Wild Hunt

The first of two groups to roam the night sky during the Christmas season. Led by Odin himself, the Wild Hunt is a gathering of monsters and gods like no other. They raid homes and farms, looking for food. If they find none, they will take the family instead! The feasts are legendary in their wantonness and debauchery, but those who have attended either never return or come back stark raving

3. Hans Trapp

Hans haunts the fields and farm lands disguised as a scarecrow. He waits for the unwary to wander by and snatches them up, feasting on their flesh. His hunger increases tenfold around Christmas time and it seems like his favorite snack is, well, those irascible and naughty children.

2. Gryla

A gigantic troll witch who lives in a cave in the forest. She and her family, including the Yule Cat, hunt during the Yuletide season. They gather up as many naughty children as possible and store them away to make stew later. Legend has it that Gryla and her clan never ever run out of stew.

1. Krampus

Scouring the countryside for niaghty children, we have all heard of Krampus. Not much needs to be said here, he snatches them and takes them back to his lair to properly punish them, generally through acts of torture befitting the magnitude of naughtiness ascribed to the child in question.

What’s YOUR favorite Christmas Monster?
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Top 10 Tuesday: Post-Halloween Holiday Horror Films

What’s Top 10 Tuesday? It’s a new Top 10 List every Tuesday!

Welcome back, ghouls and gals! So Halloween has come and gone once again, leaving me (and I’m sure some of you) feeling a bit hollow inside. Fear not though, fellow fiends! The next 358 days won’t be so bad. After all, there are other holiday horrors that we can feast upon as we wait for next Hallow’s Eve! Allow me to share some of my favorites once again in this week’s edition of Top 10 Tuesday!

10. Independence Day
Uncle Sam (1996)

Rounding out my list is the July 4th extravaganza known as Uncle Sam. Who needs a solid plot when you’ve got a zombie soldier running around decapitating disrespectful teenagers, shooting lawyers and blowing up a member of congress with fireworks?

9. Father’s Day
Creepshow (1982)

The first segment in the amazing horror anthology is titled ‘Father’s Day’ , and though there are other Father’s Day horror films out there this short film does more for the holiday than the feature-lengths could. Just remember, dad likes his cake.

8. Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day (1980)

The pickings for holiday horror begin to get pretty slim in the summer, but if you look hard and get creative you can find something. You could go with the loose remake from 2010 if you’re in the mood for a more psychological horror, but I tend to stick to senseless decapitations and campy fun, so I went with this version.

7. Cinco De Mayo
Cinco De Mayo (2013)

I didn’t even know a horror film for Cinco De Mayo existed, but I found myself running short on holidays and came across this little gem. This slasher flick is chock full of social commentary but doesn’t get overly-pretentious or preachy. It sticks to the point that racism is an issue best dealt with severely, like with a weed-eater. Also if you’ve ever wanted to see what a human piñata looks like, I suggest you watch this movie.

6. Easter
Critters 2 (1988)

It was a little hard finding an Easter-related horror film, so I went with a movie from my childhood that I remembered seeing a man dressed as the Easter Bunny get his stomach eaten out in. Critters is my favorite creature feature franchise. I can watch all four of the films over and over and still enjoy them.

5. St. Patrick’s Day
Leprechaun (1993)

Was there ever any doubt this wouldn’t be my choice for this holiday? The original is one of my favorite horror films of all time, and who can forget Jennifer Aniston’s film debut? Fun from start to finish, Leprechaun is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow between St Patty’s Day and Halloween.

4. Valentine’s Day
Hospital Massacre (1982)

So this little rarity of a film actually has four titles (Hospital Massacre, X-Ray, Ward 13 and Be My Valentine, or Else…) and zero plot. Seriously, it’s pretty plotless, but it makes my list because the gore is top-notch for its time. If you can find a copy I suggest giving it a go.

3. New Year’s Eve
Terror Train (1980)

Groucho Marx stalks Jamie Lee Curtis aboard a train on New Year’s Eve. Oh, and David Copperfield plays a magician. Seriously though, this might be one of the most underrated slasher films of all time and is definitely a great movie to ring in the New Year with.

2. Christmas
Elves (1989)

There are plenty of Christmas horror films to choose from, but for the sake of saving material for a future Top 10 I’ve decided to stick with ridiculousness and go with Elves. Elves is a story about Neo-Nazis, a master race of elf/human hybrids, and having your father and grandfather as the same guy (I told you I was sticking with ridiculous). All of this takes place in Colorado (way before recreational marijuana was legal, but I somehow think this movie is the fever dream of something way more potent), and the hero is an alcoholic ex-cop turned mall Santa. It just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?

1. Thanksgiving
Thankskilling (2008)

It was only a matter of time before someone decided to make a movie about a foul-mouthed murderous turkey that goes on a killing spree during Thanksgiving break. I’m surprised it took until 2008 but hey, better late than never! Thankskilling is one of those movies that even the staunchest of horror fans might find themselves asking “what did I just watch?” Let me help you out there: you watched (or if you haven’t yet, will watch) a rubber turkey chase a topless pilgrim through the forest, murder college kids, and wear a sheriff’s face. You’re welcome.

I’d like to mention that, if you don’t feel like watching these seasonal horror selections throughout the year, you can always watch 2016’s Holidays and get it all in one shot. It’s a fun anthology film featuring the talents of Kevin Smith and Seth Green, among others. I probably could have saved you all the trouble of reading this article by writing about that but then I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of sharing some of those gems up there with you. You’re welcome.