For many, Christmas is an annual celebration of goodwill and joy, but for others, it’s a time to curl up on the couch in the dead of winter for a good old-fashioned fright. The festive holiday season has always included a more somber side, and scary tales of child-stealing demons to ghost stories told ‘round the fireplace go back to pre-Christian celebrations. These long-standing traditions have found modern expression in the Christmas horror film, a unique and sometimes controversial subgenre that cheerfully drives a stake of holly through the heart of cherished Christmas customs.
Canadian micro-press Spectacular Optical’s new book Yuletide Terror: Christmas Horror on Film and Television delves into the world of festive fright favourites and obscurities, from American Santa Slashers (and the ensuing controversies) to the quintessentially-English A Ghost Story for Christmas series, providing insight on these subversive film and television presentations that allow viewers to engage in different ways with the complicated cultural history of the Christmas season.
To celebrate the release of the book, publisher Spectacular Optical is teaming up with a host of organizations this December to present screenings, lectures and other events related to the book’s subject matter. Each event will also feature the premiere of a new Christmas horror short called WE ALWAYS FIND OURSELVES IN THE SEA, written and directed by Sean Hogan (THE DEVIL’S BUSINESS) in the wintry tradition of the classic M.R. James hearthside tales.
Contributors to YULETIDE TERROR include Stephen Thrower (NIGHTMARE USA), Kim Newman (NIGHTMARE MOVIES), Caelum Vatnsdal (THEY CAME FROM WITHIN: A HISTORY OF CANADIAN HORROR CINEMA), longtime FANGORIA editor Michael Gingold, Shelagh Rowan-Legg (THE SPANISH FANTASTIC), Alexandra West (FILMS OF THE NEW FRENCH EXTREMITY), Michael Helms (FATAL VISIONS), Andrea Subissati (The FACULTY OF HORROR Podcast), Zack Carlson (DESTROY ALL MOVIES!!!), Joanna Wilson (THE CHRISTMAS TV COMPANION), Diane A. Rodgers (CINEMA RETRO), Andrew Nette (PULP CURRY), Amanda Reyes (MADE FOR TV MAYHEM), David Bertrand (SATANIC PANIC), David Canfield (SCREEN ANARCHY), Eric Zaldivar (co-writer/producer, DJANGO LIVES!), Leslie Hatton (POPSHIFTER), Owen Williams (EMPIRE), Ralph Elawani (BLEU NUIT: HISTOIRE D’UN CINÉPHILIE NOCTURNE), Derek Johnston (HAUNTED SEASONS: TELEVISION GHOST STORIES FOR CHRISTMAS AND HORROR FOR HALLOWEEN), Neil Mitchell (Devil’s Advocates: CARRIE), Chris Hallock (DIABOLIQUE), Ariel Fisher (RUE MORGUE), Luke Mullen (Fantastic Fest), Lee Gambin (NOPE, NOTHING WRONG HERE: THE MAKING OF CUJO), Zach Clark (writer/director, WHITE REINDEER), Justin Decloux (LASER BLAST Film Society) as well as Spectacular Optical co-editors Kier-La Janisse (HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN) and Paul Corupe (CANUXPLOITATION).
Dec 9, 2017: BOSTON: Brattle Theatre: Screening of Jack Frost (Michael Cooney, 1997) + We Always Find Ourselves in the Sea, introduced by contributor Kier-La Janisse
Tickets: Yuletide Terror + JACK FROST
Dec 12, 2017: BROOKLYN: Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies-NYC, Film Noir Cinema: Lecture and clip show by contributors Kier-La Janisse and Michael Gingold + We Always Find Ourselves in the Sea
Tickets: YULETIDE TERROR: CHRISTMAS HORROR ON FILM AND TELEVISION W/ Kier-La Janisse & Michael Gingold
Dec 14, 2017: LONDON (UK): Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies-London, Horse Hospital: Lecture and clip show by contributors Stephen Thrower and Derek Johnston + We Always Find Ourselves in the Sea
Tickets: YULETIDE TERROR: CHRISTMAS HORROR ON FILM AND TELEVISION W/ Derek Johnston & Stephen Thrower
Dec 16, 2017: LOS ANGELES: American Cinematheque/Egyptian theatre: Double bill of To All a Good Night (David Hess, 1980) + Elves (Jeff Mandel, 1989) + book signing with contributor Kier-La Janisse, presented by Cinematic Void.
Tickets: Yuletide Terror + Double Bill: TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT + ELVES
Dec 19, 2017: MONTREAL: Bar Le Ritz PDB: Ghost Stories of an Antiquary: An Evening of Yuletide Terror with contributor Kier-La Janisse (Free event)
Website: Bar Le Ritz PDB (Event page TBA)
Dec 20, 2017: WINNIPEG: Winnipeg Cinematheque: Screening of Black Christmas (Bob Clark, 1974) + We Always Find Ourselves in the Sea, introduced by contributor Caelum Vatnsdal.
Website: Winnipeg Film Group (Event page TBA)
Dec 21, 2017: PHILADELPHIA: PhilaMOCA: Screening of Christmas Evil (Lewis Jackson, 1980) + We Always Find Ourselves in the Sea, introduced by contributor Chris HallockWebsite: PhilaMOCA (Event page TBA)
Dec 23, 2017: CHICAGO: Heirloom Books: Screening of We Always Find Ourselves in the Sea + book signing with contributor Dave Canfield