Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Uncle Nick (A 25 Days of Shitmas Post from Icon vs. Icon's Jason Price)

As Thanksgiving took it’s last gasp, I knew that the biggest holiday of all was right around the corner! No, not the one where a jolly old fat man gives gifts to the good little boys and girls around the world - I'm talking about the one where Thomas Bryce of Shit Movie Fest gathers the best of the best for his SHITMAS extravaganza!

Last year, I fired up the Wayback Machine and took a journey to 1999 for a review of 'go’, which in all honesty, was a decent way to usher in the holidays. With so many films already reviewed by very talented folks from around the nation, it gets a little more difficult each year to find the right pick to pique my interest. In fact, my quest to find a flick for this year’s event began as early as July, but it wasn’t until October when I came up with a plan on how to approach this beast. Along the way, as I am sure many writers for Shitmas have experienced, I would come up with idea for a flick to review, only to find it had been done in the past. My frustration lead me to proclaim 2016 as the year of something new! It was mid-October when got tipped off to one of DarkSkyFilms’ upcoming releases — 'Uncle Nick’. Starring standup comic Brian Posehn (Mr. Show, The Sarah Silverman Program), the cover art featured Posehn horizontal with the floor (while still in the seated position), decked out in a ugly Christmas sweater and a wild grin, spanning from ear to ear.  Most importantly, it featured a drop quote from some blogger, declaring the flick as “The most enjoyable anti-Christmas movie since Bad Santa.” At this point, I’m thinking, “Bingo, baby! We have a winner here!” 

Just days before Thanksgiving, I found myself in desperate need of a jump start for my holiday cheer, so without further delay, I poured a tall glass of expertly spiked egg nog and prepared to let the holiday spirit flow through me in one way or another. As many of you know, Dark Sky typically tackles horror releases, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the film. I mean, with a tagline like “Nothing ruins Christmas like family,” I could easily see this thing playing out a few different ways. Adding to my confusion about the film was the fact that it's presented by noted documentary filmmaker, Errol Morris, but what is the holiday season without a few surprises? Am I right?

The film takes place the night before Christmas in Cleveland, Ohio. We are quickly brought up to speed on The Mistake On The Lake’s history in the opening scene, which certainly casts a long shadow on the journey we are about to take with the characters. Brian Posehn plays the titular character, Nick, who we first meet on his couch in nothing but his boxers, beer bottles strewn about, and porn playing on his laptop. A bottle of lube sits within arms reach. That’s quite an introduction. Nick is an overweight, balding, drunken, not-so-loveable loser, who doesn’t have much going on for him accept for the fact he manages to keep his late father's landscaping business afloat. At first it seems his plans for the evening are limited to begrudgingly celebrate the holiday at the home shared by his younger airheaded brother, Cody (Beau Ballinger), Cody's cougar trophy wife, Sophie (Paget Brewster), and her two children from a previous marriage. However, we soon discover Nick's real motivation for the evening out is to properly liquor up and have sex with Sophie's "barely legal daughter" (his words not mine), Valerie (Melia Renee). Clearly, it doesn’t take long for you to realize we are headed for dark territory, pardon the Steven Seagal pun. 

Polar opposites in appearance and attitude, Nick and Cody are seemingly cut from totally different cloths. Their never-ending sibling rivalry is what ultimately leads to the family’s unraveling over the course of the evening. The growing tension of the evening in “Uncle Nick” unfolds chapter by chapter, or inning by inning in this case as Nick recounts the famed events of June 4, 1974, when the Cleveland Indians’ decision to host a promotional 10-cent beer night resulted in a legendary night of drunken fans rioting in the stands and on the field. The black and white vignettes recapping the game only add to doom-laden atmosphere. Through a series of racy interludes we are quickly led to believe that Nick might actually have a shot with his niece, who quickly draws him in with a few seductive lines (and a text that reads, “I love to suck cock,” of course). Sophie easily convinces Nick to send her a sext, which leads us to an uncomfortable encounter with Posehn’s war-torn penis. As the night draws on, the liquor flows and the tension mounts. We’re also introduced to Nick’s sister, Michelle (Missy Pyle) and brother-in-law Kevin (Scott Adsit), who is the host of a seemingly lame Indians-related podcast called “Band The Drum.” As family gathers around the dinner table we learn of the death of Nick's girlfriend, years earlier, and clearly see the toll it has taken on him. At this point, you are really wondering where the comedy element of the dark comedy has decided to spend the holidays. Without revealing too much about the film’s ending, we realize that Cody might be just as big a degenerate as Uncle Nick, as the family is ripped apart at every level. It was at this point in the screening that I realized that ‘Uncle Nick' is the type of holiday outing that might push a lesser man, who may be experiencing a black cloud reigning over his holiday season, to put a shotgun in his mouth and pull the trigger for a truly memorable hall decking.  

The saving grace of this holiday tale was certainly the family’s dysfunctional take on the White Elephant Christmas gift exchange. If you have been to any holiday party in the past decade, you know there is always at least one broad hellbent on trying to ruin what is meant to be one of the highlights of the event by adding in a twist or an element of holiday highway robbery. In 'Uncle Nick’, we learn the rules of The Wilkins Family variation of the game. For this version you are going to need a timer, a set of dice, and an air horn. The game is played in two cutthroat rounds. To quote the film, “You start with a pile of gifts. Cheap stuff, nothing expensive. If you role a 7 or 11, you get to take one of the presents from the pile — shaking is permitted. You go around the room until every present is off the table. Round 2 is where things get ugly. You set a timer for 10 minutes. If you roll a 7 or 11, you get to take a present from someone else’s pile. Airhorns add tension to sudden death. Participants can gang up on others to take everything they have during this round. When the timer rings, the game is over. That’s how you play White Elephant. White Elephant is a horrible game! It’s all about jealousy and greed. Do feelings get hurt? Yeah. It kind of makes it perfect for Christmas.” So this Christmas, keep that in mind and feel free to turn the tables on the person who is keen on spoiling your Christmas cheer by beating them at their own game. It’s what Uncle Nick would have wanted. 

Watch the Red Band Trailer for "Uncle Nick"!

- Jason Price

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

viceVersa (A 25 Days of Shitmas Post from Me!)

If you were to ask me if there is one movie that I feel that I’ve seen more times that any other person on this planet, well that choice may very well be the 1988 Film “Vice Versa”!

Once this Judge Reinhold/Fred Savage Body-switch comedy hit Premium Cable, it seemly played on an endless loop each and every day (along with “Just One of the Guys” and Teen Witch”!) for the rest of the 80s!
I mean seriously I could come home from School and always depend on one of those 3 movies movies playing on TV, and to tell you the truth I couldn’t be Happier! (especially if I caught the big “Where do you get off having tits?!” revel in GUYS!)

“Vice Versa” tells the tale of Marshall Seymour (Judge Reinhold) a divorced and uptight workaholic who’s recently became a Vice President at “Vigar & Avery”, a Ritzy Department Store in Chicago. Marshall along with his Co-worker/Girlfriend “Sam” (the ever so hot Corinne Bohrer aka the Mom in almost every TV AD!) are on a Business Trip in Thailand to find possible merchandise for an upcoming in-store campaign!

 Mixed into some of the wares they plan to bring back home is ancient skull that was stolen from a Buddhist monastery by James Hong and sold to two Art Thieves Turk (David Proval) and Lillian Brookmeyer (Swoosie Kurtz) who’s plan to retrieved the item before Marshall becomes aware of it, and of course that plan doesn’t go so well!

Back home in Chicago, Marshall meets up with his Ex Wife Robyn (Jane Kaczmarek of “Malcolm in the Middle” fame) to pick up his son Charlie (Fred Savage) for the week during Christmas while her and her new Husband Cliff go on a Vacation. The two often clash over everything, from the noisiness of Charlie’s Drum-set to his pet frog “Moe” getting lose at a fancy restaurant that they are eating at.

At work Marshall makes a complete Ass out of himself when he revels the stolen mystical skull in front of the board of Directors as one of the items he brought back from Thailand with the intent to sell 1000s of them at the Store!
Soon after he is contacted by Lillian Brookmeyer about the mistake, and the two plan to meet face to face to do an exchange with one of the cheap Jars she ended up with instead of the skull.
In the mean time Marshall brings the Skull back to his apartment, but after another argument ensues between the Father/Son Duo, the two Switch Places when they both believe the other one has it “EASY”!

Now the Father and Son have to figure out how to switch back to their former bodies and also avoid the Art thieves from taking the skull back before they accomplish that goal!

It’s here where the movie really picks up steam! With Reinhold now Playing the “Charlie” role as an 11 Year Old trapped in a Adult’s Body and Savage now playing an Intelligent Man bored with having to repeat the 5th Grade all over again while now having to deal with the pressure School Bullies and a Teacher who thinks that he has a crush on her due to a misplaced love note! The two actors make this otherwise done to death premise work really well here!

"No Way!!!!"

Without a doubt my favorite scene in the movie is when Charlie (as Marshall) plays the Drums at the Music Section in the Department store and almost gets fired! I especially love watching his "Dad" along with with the sneaky “Yes Men” of the Department Store watching what appears to be Marshall's career go up in flames! (And yes that's Richard Kind and Jane Lynch as "Gentlepersons"!)
- Don't stop now, we're really wailing!

I don’t want to give to much more away (cause seriously I want to watch this movie if you haven't seen it yet) but eventually the two figure out how to get back to their normal selfs, but along the way they come to appreciate and love each other like never before! So with that please watch "Vice Vesra" some time over the Holidays! You'll love the Winterly Chicago setting, “The Jingle Bell Moose” debacle, and of course Charlie taking Sam to that “Crazy In The Night" Malice concert!


 A couple years ago when I had the pleasure of meeting Judge Reinhold at one of the Monster Mania Conventions in New Jersey. As I stood in line with people holding on to Gremlins and Fast Times posters, I myself had my well worn copy of “Vice Versa” on VHS! Mr. Reinhold was happy to meet a fan of it and said it was movie he had a lot of fun making!  

Vice Versa 2: Like Father, Like Son!
(Man I'm cheesin' so hard here!)

To Tom, Many Thanks!

Merry Shitmas Everyone and Remember to “Set The Night To Music!

- Tom

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas Evil (A 25 Days of Shitmas Post from Christopher Beaumont aka The Critical Outcast)

As the Christmas season rolls around each year, there are a few certain films that always get watched. I always visit seasonal classics such as Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, Elf, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Then there are the action regulars, most notably Die Hard, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, and Lethal Weapon. Those are all well and good, but being a horror movie fan, there are the darker holiday films that need to have some time spent with them, this includes the likes of Black Christmas and SIlent Night, Deadly Night. In recent years a new film has come to my attention and has quickly risen through the ranks, Christmas Evil.

Christmas Evil was originally released in 1980 under the title You Better Watch Out (which is the title card on this print, despite Christmas Evil being on the cover art). It also had at least one video release with the title Terror in Toyland, which is easily the worst of the three names. It was also one of the first Christmas themed horror films, following Silent Night, Bloody Night and Black Christmas, and predating Silent Night, Deadly Night by a few years. It is also one of the few on the list that takes more of a psychological angle than anything else. It is a long time before any killing happens and a lot of the focus is spent on our unstable Santa.

The movie was written and directed by Lewis Jackson and was the last film that he directed, which is a shame, because this really is a fine film. On the other side of the camera, making us believe in the insanity we are witnessing is Brandon Maggart, who is also Fiona Apple’s father. Joining him on screen are early roles for Patricia Richardson (Home Improvement, The Middle) and Jeffrey Demunn (The Walking Dead).

What is the movie about? It is about one man who becomes so obsessed with Santa Claus that he wants to become him and uphold the lofty ideals of the man himself. Of course, his views become warped early on when his image of the holiday gift giver becomes cracked when he witnesses his father dressed as Santa enjoying a little adult time with his mother. Following the credits we catch up with him as an adult. He is a lonely man without a family, pacing his apartment obsessing over Santa.

Things take a turn as he realizes that his boss and co-workers at the toy factory that he works at. He dresses up as Santa Claus and exacts some bloody justice for their mean and greedy self-involved thoughts. At the same time, he has been keeping a list of the neighborhood kids and whether they have been good or bad. The thing is, the deeper into the movie we get, the loosed his hold on reality becomes and the more dangerous he comes to be before he just flies off the rails into a completely demented fantasy. That fantasy comes complete with villagers armed with torches and an ending that will leave you scratching your head.

It is a movie of surprising quality that is sure to enter the annual rotation for anyone who tends towards the darker side. It is more than a slasher film, it is a psychological study of a person whose mind is slowly crumbling away. In a way, our antagonist is a protagonist, and a sympathetic one at that.

Christmas Evil is not a movie about some teenagers or co-eds trying to survive a crazed killer. It is more about one person who never got the help or guidance he needed when he was young. He was left to fester with his warped view of Christmas and his idealized image of what Santa should be and what he should mean. All of this has grown to take over his mind and all those around him choose to ignore or belittle him for his Christmas love. We even see his own brother scream at him and call him sick, not offering help, mind you.

It is a sad story and I actually feel bad for him. Granted, he does end up going around killing people, but it is not that he wants to be a killer. Since he does not get the attention and guidance that he needs he grows up a little twisted and warped. He is a person who has essentially been pushed to the fringe, disenfranchised, and he reaches his breaking point where he demands some satisfaction and takes out his anger and frustrations upon those who do not accept his basic kindness or lack the simple human empathy.

Christmas Evil is a movie that has a lot more going on than you would think at first glance. There are multiple ways to interpret the events. You can take them literally, you can see them as events occurring in a damaged mind, or some combination of the two. To me, the actuality is a combination of actual and imagined. I believe that he is making strange interpretations in his crumbling psyche that lead to the actual manifestation of his frustrations coming out as the murders before slipping back into more pure fantasy towards the end.

In the end, all I can say is take a watch, see what you think. It is a holiday gem. It is a twist in the usual happy holiday film. Also, it should be noted that it is available in a very nice restored edition from Vinegar Syndrome, featuring three commentary tracks (one featuring John Waters), as well as vintage interviews, original trailer, and comment cards from an early screening. 

Christopher Beaumont

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Long Kiss Goodnight (A 25 Days of Shitmas Post from Hunter Bush)

Y'know how it is post-Halloween: maybe you only sort of feel like watching a Christmas movie, but don't wanna get all "TBS 24-Hour A Christmas Story Marathon" with it quite yet; you only wanna dip your toe into all the tinsel and twinkle lights. A lot of people would go Die Hard, some would go Gremlins, everybody's got a favorite. Mine? The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), an overlooked gem of the the alt-Christmas movie season.

This movie comes from writer Shane Black who 1) always sets things around Christmastime, 2) always has snappy dialogue and 3) I thought for a LONG time had written Die Hard because of reasons 1 & 2. What he actually wrote was Lethal Weapon which is totally set around Christmas and has snappy dialogue. The director, Renny Harlin had directed the second Die Hard and was at the time married to Long Kiss Goodnight star / my celebrity crush Geena Davis. Black's and Harlin's names show up at the end of the opening credits over shots of Christmas ornaments and a grenade respectively. There's such a perfect, if very specific, duality to those two images that I'm honestly surprised Shane Black has never had anyone armed with weaponized Christmas ornaments before (he may have). SPOILERS: there is a group* of carolers that are not quite weaponized exactly, but used as a Trojan Horse.

* If there isn't already a collective noun for carolers, might I suggest a scarf? It just sounds right, y'know? "Oh, honey look. There's a scarf of carolers outside!" Merry Christmas, English.

SPOILERS from here on out, if you care.

Long Kiss Goodnight follows Geena (Miss Davis if you're nasty) as school teacher Samantha Caine, living a Norman Rockwell life in upstate Pennsylvania with a fiancé, a daughter and no memories from before 8 years ago. Her opening voiceover tells us that she has, over time, stopped hiring the expensive private investigators and has moved down to the cheap ones, and has all but completely given up on finding the woman she used to be. She has "kissed her goodnight". Except what kind of movie would that be?

Three things happen to Caine all at once: she's Mrs. Claus in the town's Christmas parade (the first spoken line of dialogue is a teenage boy bystander yelling "Mrs. Claus is hot!"), she gets into a car accident which shakes loose some of her old personality and a pre-amnesia credit card turns up, leading one of Caine's aforementioned cheaper detectives to show up at her home. This detective is Samuel L. Jackson as Mitch Henessey, scene stealer.

Caine's Mrs. Claus ends up on the local news where she's seen by One Eyed Jack (Joseph McKenna) a hitman doing time in New Jersey who shows up at Caine's home, using that Trojan scarf to launch us into the film's first big action scene (unless you count chopping vegetables with intense skill as an action scene. I watch a lot of Food Network, so I do not). The action in this movie is great. Renny Harlin really does action well: focused, bombastic and stylish. At the scene's end Jack is dead, Henessey has arrived and Caine can't continue to pretend nothing's up.

Now, I'm not going to go beat-by-beat with you for this movie. I totally COULD, but if you haven't seen it, I'd really be doing it a disservice. You should see this for yourself. Again, Renny Harlin knows his way around action sequences and this movie has the type of action you don't see as much anymore: memorable.

With computer generated effects becoming more and more common, the tendency is to make everything huge; a spectacle, because there aren't the limitations that there are with practical effects-driven action. There is definitely an appeal there, but something as simple as Geena Davis ice-skating across a frozen pond, shooting at a car full of bad guys has stuck with me since I was a kid. A big part of that is the way these scenes and set pieces are executed, but obviously Shane Black can write. Besides the action, the dialogue in Long Kiss is incredibly great. Very quotable, especially Henessey, but early in the film Caine has a few quips that feel like extra Riggs dialogue left over from the first Lethal Weapon.

One thing I want to cover briefly is Brian Cox, always a welcome addition to any movie! Earlier, when I referred to Mitch Henessey as a scene stealer? That's still true, but Cox's Dr. Waldman steals the show. Back when Samantha Caine was a covert government agent named Charly Baltimore, Dr. Waldman was her handler. There is a moment when Waldman is describing a notably phallic doodle of Henessey's, and he holds it up so the audience can see it. It definitely does kind of look like genitalia. Henessey quips "That's a duck, not a dick." and your eyes go back to look again, and Waldman does too! Brian Cox always makes these little acting choices and that's one that really clicked with me and has made me laugh since I was a kid.

On the topic of kids, parenthood is a definite through-line in this movie. Charly Baltimore's rejection of Caitlin as being Samantha Caine's daughter and not hers is an emotional thematic reminder of the changes this character is going through. She doesn't just cut & dye her hair and start smoking (not to mention shooting people), she is denying a piece of who she is. "Sam Caine had to come from somewhere" Henessey tells her, "I think you just forgot to hate yourself for a while". Henessey too has issues with a son he's barely allowed to interact with, but clearly wishes things were different; "I've never done one thing right in my life. That takes skill".

Speaking of parenthood, I might as well mention that my mom loves this movie (she has very good taste). When I told her I was gonna be writing about it for Shitmas 2016, she was very excited. "I remember the soundtrack as being right on!" she told me. Her favorite bit comes near the finale: Geena Davis' Caine/Baltimore (it's hard to say which personality is running the show by this point) has been beaten up, blown up, shot, stabbed, I dunno... maybe poked in the eye? She's been through the ringer physically and emotionally and when she pulls daughter Caitlin out of the spot she's been hiding in, Caitlin whines "Mommy, I hit my head..."

This makes my mother laugh. Every time. Just does.

I could go on about Long Kiss Goodnight being ahead of its time with regards to female action stars (straight action, non-genre), how Sam Caine / Charly Baltimore is Jason Bourne before Jason Bourne (or before the films brought him to a wider public awareness anyway), or even about how David Morse is in it (David Morse is in it!) but I'll just urge you to watch it this holiday season and see what you think.

- Hunter Bush

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Night Of The Comet (A 25 Days of Shitmas Post from Stacy Still)

If you are anything like me you must truly love underrated Christmas movies. Let them be films like Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Gremlins, and even Trading Places. These are films that you wouldn't typically think as a holiday themed movie, when it actuality they not only take place around the holiday season but are always great to throw as a wild card during a Christmas movie marathon. One of my favorites to toss in every year is the 1984 cult classic Night Of The Comet. 

This fun splashy colorful comic book like film is the perfect mixture of comedy, action, sci-fi, and horror. With a killer soundtrack, 80's fashion, scary comet turned zombies, orange dust, memorable one-liners, and two of the most adorable female leads this is a must to watch every December. Think Valley Girl meets Return Of The Living Dead, meets I Am Legend. Thanks to Scream Factory a few years back we've been lucky enough to have this movie properly released on blu-ray in crystal clear HD. The movie tells the tale of a comet that's passing by Earth just a few weeks before Christmas and how the last time this sort of comet passed by our home planet was millions of years ago right around the time the dinosaurs were alive. Coincidence? I think not. 

While the whole world is out celebrating two sisters who live in LA with their bitchy step-mother spend the night indoors while the comet passes. The following morning they awake to find the entire city abandoned with thousands of pieces of clothing and orange dust where everyone once stood just hours before. It seems that the comet has cleared out nearly the entire planet's population and whoever wasn't completely sheltered when it passed are infected and slowly turning into flesh eating zombies. The two sisters meet up with a truck driver and begin to see the lighter side of being the only survivors (shopping montage!) Sadly the fun doesn't last due to zombies, nightmares, and a very shady group of scientist looking for a cure. Here the girls prove they are much tougher and clever than they look. 

To celebrate this fun 80's holiday themed film I decided to share some killer Night Of The Comet themed cocktails you can knock back while watching this movie during this up coming holiday season!


1 oz Vodka
1 oz Blue Curacao
4 oz Lemonade
2 cups crushed ice.

Comet Dust

1/2 oz amaretto almond liquor 
1/2 oz Southern Comfort peach liquor 
1/2 gin
A splash of orange juice
1 splash sweet and soul mix.
Crushed Ice.

Teenage Comet Zombie

2 oz Sour Apple schnapps
1/2 triple Sec
1 oz vanilla voka
2 oz Champagne

Remember never drink and fire a machine gun!

- Stacy from Staystillreviews -

Friday, December 2, 2016

Alien Raiders (A 25 Days of Shitmas Post from Horror and Sons' Dustin Fallon)

Another year, another Florida Christmas. Unlike last year, when I spent most of the holiday season trying to drain the swamp forming in my pants due to the summer-like temperatures, Florida has been considerably cooler since just after this past Halloween. Even then, this is still Florida that we're talking about. It's NEVER beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.
As I stated in the piece that I wrote last Shitmas, due to this deficiency of what is considered by most to be a true "winter" (as well as some lingering holiday indifference), I have a hard time getting excited by what usually passes for Christmas viewing. The snowy landscapes. The families gathered in front of crackling fireplaces. The scarves and mittens and woolly hats. Carolers and sleds and snow angels. Yeah, I still don't know anything about any of that shit.
So, that's why for this year's Shitmas entry, I'll be taking a yet look at another film that's probably a little lesser known....... Alien Raiders (2008).

Set a few days before Christmas, the staff of Hastings Supermarket are preparing to close for the evening. Mr. Tarkey, the store's manager, is tending to the evening's take while the last remaining customers are finishing their purchases. As they prepare to close the doors, a group of armed assailants enter. A couple of the shoppers and at least one employee are gunned down, while the others are taken to the checkout area.
One member of this group is a thin man with drooping eyelids. He is going from hostage to hostage and feeling their faces. It's immediately clear that these people are looking for someone.... or something. He eventually gets to a middle-aged woman. As he touches her face, she reacts violently. He tells the others that "she's one" as the woman attempts to run away. Another of the gunmen blocks her path and the woman is shot in the throat in front of the other customers.
One of the remaining customers is an off-duty detective. He manages to take out one of the gunmen, as well as the "feeler", before he is blasted at close range with a shotgun. However, this is not before he has called in the situation to 911. Despite their losses and the impending police threat, the leader of this outfit, a man named Ritter, is not ready to leave. He tells the others that they have not found what they came here for and he refuses to leave until they do.
The police arrive and surround the building. The hostages that the "feeler" (actually a "spotter") had "cleared" before dying are freed, but the others are kept. This includes the manager and a few customers, as well as the teenager cashier and bagboy.
Sterling, the group's medic, is seen vivisecting the body of one of the killed hostages. While the viewer doesn't get a very clear look at whatever it is that she has found, she states that whatever it is has been gestating inside this body for the last 8 years. Seeing as the film has the word "alien" in its title, there is no "spoiler" in telling you that this what she has found. The "infected" bodies are shot a few more time for good measure and tossed into the store's meat locker.
The police negotiator arrives on the scene. Little do the gunmen know that he is also the step-father of "Whitney", the store's cashier. He calls the store phone and speaks with Ritter. For his only demand, Ritter asks that a woman named Charlotte be brought to the scene. Ritter intends to use her as a replacement for their now dead spotter. The only problem with this back-up plan is that Charlotte is a junkie currently in jail for drug charges. Until she arrives, the unit are forced to identify any other alien invaders through another form of "test".

The hostages are taken to the store's produce cooler. There, they are seated and handcuffed. They are each given a half-gallon of milk and told that they must drink the entire thing. As anyone who has seen or taken the "milk challenge" before knows, this inevitably leads to at least one person puking. In this case, that person is another middle-aged female shopper, one who was admittedly only there to pick up some booze. Momentarily left alone to chug their milk, the cashier informs the other hostages of the cop that was killed in to store. She also lets them know that the corpse still has a gun on it.
The gunmen return to the cooler. They inform the hostages that one of them is an "infected carrier", although he doesn't tell them what of. He tells them that the milk has altered the infected's pH levels, thus make them easier to find during the upcoming "tests".

The first to be forced to take the "test" is Tarkey. He quickly discovers that the "test" involves having his pinky finger cut off. Naturally, he freaks out when he discovers what is about to happen to him. In an attempt to save his finger, he pulls a stack of cash out of his pants. Seems that he has been stealing from his own store, and now he plans on using the stolen cash to buy his way out. His offer is rejected and his finger is still chopped off. After waiting a couple of minutes, nothing has happened. Well, nothing besides a whole lot of bleeding. Tarkey is deemed to be "clear" and is taken back to the cooler with the other hostages.
The gunmen are soon revealed to be a group of former scientists. They continue their attempts to expose the hidden aliens, which leads to a few casualties among their ranks, as well as among the hostages. As should be expected in a movie like this, things aren't as clear cut as they seem and some people aren't exactly who or what they claim to be. The film attempts to end with a twist, but it's not anything that couldn't be seen coming from far off.

While entertaining, there's no way that I would call Alien Raiders a great film. Acting is solid for the most, and although light in the special effects department, what make-up effects are present are handled capably. So, why did I choose this film to write a Shitmas piece about? Answer: Because it is my favorite kind of Christmas movie. It's a film that casually mentions that it's taking place at Christmas and then never mentions it again.

And really, after what I'll be spending on presents for my kids, I'd like to forget as quickly as possible.

- Dustin Fallon
 Horror and Sons

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Baby-Sitters Club's Special Christmas! (A 25 Days of Shitmas Post from The Horror Movie BBQ's Chad Young!)

ShitMas time is truly the most wonderful time of the year. I'm always challenged with the mission of finding something that I've never seen or heard of to cover and every year, I tend to top myself. I actually started planning in July when I took a fateful trip my local record store and found a true gem that I would've never even known existed.

 I shouldn't be surprised.  In the late 80s/early 90s, you couldn't walk 10 feet without hitting about 15 Christmas Specials.  I mean, you could literally plan your entire week just by looking in the TV Guide and planning on watching them. It's not shocking that so much of our generation grew up with such an affinity for these half hours of holiday joy. We were spoiled.  And at that time, I'd dare to say Babysitters Club was reaching it's peak of popularity. 

So, the gaggle of babysitting teens got their own series of straight to video adventures. I'm assuming they all involved babysitting and making a cake or asking out a boy or being grounded because mom didn't like one of the babysitters goofy Jersey-girl mall hair. They were all as generic and effortless as humanly possible. I mean, I'm only basing it off my fiance's word and watching this terrible Christmas special but I sincerely can't imagine anyone putting out so little effort into this Christmas special, a proverbial money maker just based off name value and Christmas alone, and making the rest of the movies dyanmic and leaving this in the dust. And trust me, much like every other special I've picked for ShitMas, except Garfield, it gets dusty.

It starts off dubious enough, the girls are at a shopping mall looking at cool 90s gifts to give one another for their "Secret Santa". This is supposedly the first of The Club's Christmases, so my guess is they hardly know each other at this point. I'm sure they are just buying random crap for each other and feigning interest and appreciation. 

I swear thats not TK Carter or Nancy McKeon

One girl wanders by the sporting goods area and finds herself a sweet baseball glove that she can't afford just yet. Now, if there's one thing I've learned, it's that when kids can't afford what they want, they're given the old "yeah, it's a real beauty, but it's our last one!" by the nearby employee. Like it's suddenly gonna make money appear in their pockets. Look, I work in retail, and even I don't use that line. But this guy knows his priorities so he puts it on hold for her. Not a bad guy, but my thought is he'll prolly buy it for himself, swap tags with a dolalr store glove and laugh all the way to the bank.

Not enough money in the world could cover the pain of babysitting Little Pete and The Unknown Ginger.

They get their first call for a babysitting gig.  Ahhh that sweet cash for doing little to nothing but sitting on the couch and eating the Cheetos Paws in the pantry while they lock the child in their room. Pretty sweet deal. Anyway, two of the girls get called to babysit a trio of gingers, including Little Pete himself, Danny Tamberelli, because back in the day, there were only like 4 ginger kids in Hollywood and they all got thrown together in the same projects as siblings and were the "wild kids"! Because ya know, can't control those gingers! But, it seems like one of the girls was able to keep things stable by playing the piano and singing an ear aching rendition of Jingle Bells.

Sure, yeah, why not. Not like you wanted to enjoy the holidays or anything...

All's going well and good until it's snack time.  One of the girls (look, I did not go to any length to remember any of these names) apparently has diabetes and decides to start munching down on sweets. Her friend, asks why she's eating a cookie. Look, I'm not saying she's a bad friend, but she seems *kinda* concerned but not really enough to really be alarmed. It's more of "Oh don't....don't do that!". I think she's just daring her to eat it so she can claim all the cash.

Ned, shown actual size.

So, across town at the local hospital, the girls decide to decorate a tree for kids. A noble use of their time, I can respect that. This definitely scores them some extra points with Santa. Unless these girls are just a-holes and decided to trick all the kids in the hospital that Christmas is coming up, when it's really two weeks into January or something. I don't know. I don't trust these damn babysitters at this point. Until Glove Girl meets a kid in a wheelchair named Ned. Ned may be the biggest whiner and downer I've ever seen since WWE's Seth Rollins. He's moping around because he was playing baseball and got injured.  Which serves him right. Playing baseball in the snow. tisk tisk, Ned. You get what you deserve. So Ned tells Glove Girl all about how he wants the same glove she wants and...

Look, you know what's gonna happen. Even if you watch this thing out of KNOW what's gonna go down. Glove Girl gives Ned The Nerd the glove she wanted in an unselfish act. Everyone "Awwwwws" and Glove Girl takes a leap off a bridge because she gave up the one item she wanted. Let this be a lesson. Never do anything nice.
It's like someone just shat on a plate and sprinkled Jimmies all over them.

"Allright, girls, pretend like we actually want to be around each other..."

So, celebrating their good deeds by hosting their Secret Santa at the local diner, the girls are scarfing down brownies. I think. They all look like giant turds. So maybe it was turds they were eating. Which seems fair, because after this crap, I felt like I ate a turd. So while the other girls are eating fattening turd-brownies (totally trademarking that), Diabetes Debbie eats some too and then complains she's dehydrated. The girls don't *really* try to stop her from eating as much as they just kinda question her. Which, ya know, is kinda weird. All these girls seem like they only want to be friends with each other in order to make money. And you know...that's not a real friend. Or maybe it is. Maybe they're all just smart. Somewhere, these girls are multi billionares and totally forgot their "friends" names while wiping their asses with hundred dollar bills.

Note the sadness of the one on the left. She has no chance of being on the cover of the books.


So we've reached our climax. Finally. After 20 of the most laborious minutes of my life, the hospital Christmas celebration has commenced. BUT WAIT! Wilford Brimley Girl isn't present and the thought is she's on her way.  The egg on their face when they realize, she's not just coming to the hospital to celebrate Christmas but now, since her "friends" never stopped her from eating crappy sugar food, so now she's a patient. Way to go girls. Your job is not just babysit annoying children but to look after each other. SO YOU FAILED. GOOD DAY SIR. 'Betes Bettie reveals it was her doing and she's learned a valuable lesson. An the girls plot her doom. Valentines Day is less than two months away and there sure is a lot of candy available. Enjoy that Snickers Heart...MWAHAHAHA!

All's well ends well...I mean, it's officially over...

Much like Mrs Garret and her girls from The Facts of Life, the BSC all come together in the end, sing a song, play a piano and go to credits. Which is great because I was ready to put a bullet through my tv if I had to hear any more singing or corny one liners written by some  45 year old man in Burbank.

I assume this group of babysitters are never heard from again. Or at least that's my hope. The fact is, the girls' further adventures were chronicled in more books and videos and even a movie in 1995. In all seriousness, I am surprised this hasn't been brought back in a tv series or a new movie. I feel like, as much as I haven't heard it being brought up other in nostalgic discussions, it could be a fun property or concept to be brought back. But then again, maybe someone saw this 30 minute car wreck and decided it's best to leave it alone. 

Happy Shitmas, everyone, let the games BEGIN!

- Chad

PS-I already got 2017 planned. And you can thank/blame/curse Mr. ShitMovieFest himself for suggesting it...see you in 365!