Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Horriday Season is upon us, and here's all the events I've found through 2016!

Sure, it's going to be a soggy Christmas here in the Northwest, but that doesn't mean you can't find some spooky fun happening in your neighborhood.  I've got some creepy screenings, a few haunting burlesque offerings and a couple haunted attractions to put the Horror into the Horrordays.  So here's what I've found through the end of 2015, and it looks like the year is going out with quite a shiver!

Friday, December 18

Christopher Walken intends to end the war between Heaven and Hell, and only more cowbells, ur, a young girl and a former priest can stop him.  Projekt Records and Movies in the Dark, in conjunction with The Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd) in Portland, OR, present a 35mm screening of The Prophecy tonight at 9:30 pm.  Advance tickets are available for $8 at The Hollywood Theatre website.


Or, perhaps, you want something a bit more in tune with the frosty month.  In that case, head up to The Blue Mouse Theater (2611 N. Proctor St) in Tacoma, WA, for the Friday Night Frights screening of John Carpenter's The Thing.  Yes, the chilling classic will be shown on the big screen at 10 pm tonight, and, as always, there will be vendors and PRIZES!  The doors open at 9:30 pm and admission is only $5!!  Check out the Facebook Event Page for more details.


The Wes Craven classic, A Nightmare on Elm Street, screens tonight at 9 pm at The Capitol Theater (206 5th Ave SE) in Olympia, WA.  Presented as part of the Olympic Film Society Fright Club series, this is one film I shouldn't have to explain why you need to see it on the big screen.  Tickets are $9, $6 for OFS members.  Doors open at 8:30 pm, with the show starting at 9 pm.  Tickets (if available) can be purchased a half hour before the show, and the Mezzanine Lounge will be open to those 21 or older (and yes, ID is required).  For more details, visit the link.


Of course, we all wonder what would happen should a porn director with five bucks be inspired by Star Wars and Blade Runner (thanks to Bleeding Skull for that summery).  The result is Droid, presented by VHS Uber Alles (with special thanks to Scarecrow Video) at the Grand Illusion Cinema (1403 NE 50th St) in Seattle, WA.  And seriously, with such a summery, you can't afford to miss this screening.  Tickets are just $2, and you can find more details at the Facebook Event Page.


The Fear PDX Haunted House (5413 N Columbia Blvd) in Portland, OR, presents The Fear PDX-Mas, five haunted attractions with one admission price, from 7 to 11 pm tonight and tomorrow (December 19).  Visit Elf Block Nine, The House of Krampus, A Zombie Christmas Story, Rudolph's Revenge and MORE!  Tickets to the five attractions are only $20 (VIP Fast Passes are $35).  For more details and advance ticket sales, visit the Fear PDX website.


The Mental Trap Escape Room (3855 SW Murray Blvd) in Beaverton, OR, has opened a Krampus House with new puzzles and storyline.  The room is open through December 29, and you can visit the Facebook Event page, or the official website, for more details. 

Saturday, December 19

"Hooray for Santie Claus!" and the EMP Museum (325 5th Ave N) in Seattle, WA, for screening Santa Claus Verse The Martians again this holiday season.  The film screens at 11 am, 12:30 and 2 pm at the JBL Theater.  That's right, BACK TO BACK SCREENINGS, and you don't have Joel and the 'bots to help you through it (I pity the projectionist).  Admission is free, and you'll find more details at the event webpage or the EMP website.


Oh yes, Portland Horror Fans, you knew it was coming.  It wouldn't be the Horror-day season without The Grindhouse Film Festival screening that feel-good classic, Silent Night, Deadly Night, in GLORIOUS 35mm!  Presented tonight only at The Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd) in Portland, OR, this is the night a pseudo Santa went crazy and extracted horrible punishment on those deemed NAUGHTY.  Which includes most of the cast of this film.  It's a sleazy holiday classic NOT TO BE MISSED on the big screen.  The show starts at 7:30 pm and you'll find more details, as well as link for advance ticket sales (for $8 and a modest processing fee), at The Hollywood Theatre website.


Up in Vancouver, BC, you can attend the Madhaus Tim Burton Theme Ball at the Hindenburg (23 W Cordova).  Featuring world class burlesque, a freak show and fire performance, and MORE, this event is expected to sell out fast.  Visit the Facebook Event Page for more details and a link to advance ticket sales.

Sunday, December 20

Okay, Horror Fans, let me know if you've heard this one before.  A group teens is being stalked and murdered by a guy in a mask.  This time, it's a welder's mask.  Well, it might sound familiar, but you might want to check out The Welder today at 2 pm at The Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd) in Portland, OR, as this slasher flick is written and directed by 14 year old Benjamin Deeth!  Oh, and he's in the movie as well.  Not much to go on, but it could be the start of a horror filmmaker's career, so head to The Hollywood Theatre website for more details and advance ticket sales.


And, if you're not ready to call it a day after that, head to Dante's (350 W. Burnside) in Portland, OR, as Miss Kennedy's Theater of Burlesque presents A Very Kubrick Christmas.  I expect at least one performance will be based on The Shining (it would fit into the Horror-Day season), but as for the rest of Kubrick's films, well, you have to go see for yourself.  You can find more details, a list of performers, and a link to advance ticket sales, at the Facebook Event Page.  You must be 21 or older to attend.

Or, should you want something a bit less heady, head to The Analog Cafe (720 NE Hawthorne) in Portland, OR, for A Burlesque Nightmare Before Christmas.  A tribute to all things Tim Burton, expect some performances based on A Nightmare Before ChristmasEdward Scissorhands and more.  Additional details, and a link to advance ticket sales, can be found at the Facebook Event Page.  You must be 21 or older to attend.


YIPPEE-Ki-Yay, Mother....  Yes, another theater is screening the perfect Christmas movie, Die Hard, in Portland.  The McMenamins Mission Theater (1624 NW Glisan) will show this holiday classic, as nothing is more heart warming than a man reuniting with his family by SHOOTING FAUX TERRORISTS IN THE FACE!  The film screens tonight at 8 pm, and 5:30 and 8:30 pm on Monday, December 21.  For more information, visit the Mission Theater website.


Should you need something more heartwarming, but with a bit of a nasty edge to it, head to the St Johns Booksellers (8622 N. Lombard St) in Portland, OR, for Storytime with the Grinch.  Dr. Seuss's classic tale with be read by guest A. C. Adair, then you're invited to sing to the Christmas Ships at Cathedral Park.  The reading starts at 5 pm, and you can find more information at the Facebook Event Page.

Wednesday, December 23

"Hooray for Santie Claus!" and the The Joy Cinema (11959 SW Pacific Highway) in Tigard, OR, for screening Santa Claus Verse The Martians as part of this week's Weird Wednesday offering.  Admission is free (you must be 21 or older to attend), and you won't have Joel and the 'bots to help you through this one.  But you'll be surrounded by like minded fans, and you can spend some extra cash as the snack bar before the event.  Oh, and The Joy serves BEER, which will make this camp classic much more fun.  The show starts at 9:20 pm and you'll find more details at The Joy Cinema and Pub website later in the week.

Thursday, December 24

Nope, no poster for this one.  
As if you hadn't guessed it by the time you've read my entry!

Okay, I know it's a Secret Screening tonight at The Clinton Street Theater (2522 SE Clinton St) in Portland, OR.  But I'm including this one as the Facebook Post (which I can't find right now) says the film has a much higher budget than the usual Secret Screening movies.  And you want to avoid water, even in the event of thirst.  Um, I wonder what the movie is?  I'm not giving the title away, and you won't find any mention of that cryptic clue at The Clinton Street Theater website.  The film starts at midnight, so Santa will know you're awake.  Just not at home, so that's good.  But, as the screening is a fundraiser for the Portland Fire and Rescue Toy and Joy Makers (donations are suggested at $5 or a new toy for admission), he'll probably be extra nice to you.  Unless you just walk in for the show, then expect a post movie visit from Krampus.

Saturday, December 26

Oh, Renton Horror Fans, Santa is dropping a great Christmas gift into your toxic filled stocking.  Tonight at The Renton Civic Theater (507 S 3rd St) in Renton, WA, you can catch Toxic Avenger The Musical at 6 pm.  Okay, you have to buy tickets, which you might think negates the whole idea of a Christmas present.  But come on, the musical version of Toxie on stage should be enough make you spend some of your holiday budget on this one. And it might erase the pain of a family holiday visit.  You never know.  Visit the Toxic Avenger The Musical website for more details.
Sunday, December 27

If you're in the mood to end the month with a bit of spicy fun, head to The Analog Cafe (720 NE Hawthorne) in Portland, OR, for A Burlesque Nightmare Before Christmas.  A tribute to all things Tim Burton, expect some performances based on A Nightmare Before ChristmasEdward Scissorhands and more.  Additional details, and a link to advance ticket sales, can be found at the Facebook Event Page.  You must be 21 or older to attend.


Well, that's what I have for now.  Check back next week for any New Years Eve updates.  Or, if you want to plan out things into 2016, check out the Horror Calendar, updated with guests at Northwest Cons, as well as screenings of great movies into October.  Yes, The Shadow Over Portland does it's best to keep Northwest Horror Fans informed of the spooky offerings in the area!

If you have an event you'd like listed, email me at and I'll include it, if I think Northwest Horror Fans would want to hear about it.  And I do post information about sci-fi and fantasy offerings, so please, let me know about your event and I'll be willing to include it if my readers would be interested.

And, as always, should you attend any of the events I've listed, let the organizers know you read about it at The Shadow Over Portland.  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sint (2010)

Released as Saint Nick in the United States, Sint is a Dutch horror film based on the legend of Sinterklass (Santa Claus to us), but with a dark, sinister twist.  Considered by some to be a horror comedy, the film isn’t as funny as one might expect, but more a straight up horror without the redeeming ending some might expect from a Christmas Horror Film. 

 The film opens on December fifth, 1492, the night of a full moon.  A band of pirates, lead by a religious figure upon horseback, terrorize a coastal town in Holland.  You should get the hint early on that this “holy” man is evil, as he sports an upside down cross on his mitre (headband).
 Though the locals leave offerings in wooden shoes outside their homes, the pirates infiltrate some homes through the chimneys, slaughtering the adults and bundling up the children in sacks to be taken to their ship anchored in the harbor. 

Well, the townspeople have had enough and burn the ship, along with everyone onboard.  But, as expected, no evil person leaves the mortal coil without cursing those who caused his death, which brings us to December fifth, 1968, and another full moon.

Sure, the ship is on fire, I'm burning to death....
But I'm still going to curse you!  If I could breath without my lungs igniting...

Goert, a farmboy, is sent by his father to check the livestock by his father.  While in the barn, his parents are murdered, and he witnesses his siblings bundled in sacks and taken away by shadowy figures.  And he sees a man riding a horse, dressed in a bishop’s robe, atop the roof. 

Yeah, that's never a good sign.

Now we move to modern day Amsterdam, with another December fifth falling upon a full moon.  Goert is now a police detective, who continues to be haunted by his family’s death and has submitted a report on what to expect, and how to deal with, the return of Sinterklass .  His superior, however, tell Goert to take time off and not return until January.

The film then shifts to a local high school, where Sinterklass  gifts are being exchanged.  And it’s obviously not a high school here in the States, as most of the gifts are sexual aids.  In fact, the teacher wearily admits that this class has surpassed last year’s dildo gift giving, to a round of applause by the students.  Yep, not your typical US sex ed class.   

And Sinterklass isn't happy with that bit of information.  

Frank, one of the students, receives something less festive as his Sinterklass gift, a breakup notice from his girlfriend, Sophie.  It appears Sophie found out Frank was cheating on her and, while walking home with two other students, Sophie asks her friend Lisa if she was the one Frank was seeing.

Lisa denies it, but that turns out to be a lie.  Frank meets her in her backyard, a rather gutsy move as Sophie lives next door, and revels that he knew Sophie was cheating on him before he and Lisa were intimate.  But he kept seeing Sophie as she’s a hottie.   Frank then attempts to get a bit of holiday cheer from Lisa, suggesting they meet up later in the evening.  But Lisa balks at his suggestion, as she is not sure were their relationship will lead, and Frank leave in a huff. 

Okay, you can call Frank an asshole at this point, as I did, but remember, he’s in high school and most guys are assholes at that time in their lives.  Frank does call Lisa later to apologize, while he’s getting ready to play Sinterklass at an event.

Lisa calls Sophie later, only to hear Sophie murdered by Sinterklass’ henchmen.  Lisa finds the body, and Sophie’s younger brother missing, and calls the cops.  Frank, in the meantime, is lost with his friends (both dressed as Black Pete) and runs afoul of Sinterklass and his undead henchmen.  Frank manages to escape, only to be stopped by the police and accused of his friend’s murders, as well as Sophie’s murder and the disappearance of her brother. 

While being driven to prison, the officers transporting Frank see Sinterklass riding his horse across the rooftops of Amsterdam.  While attempting to shoot the new suspect, the officers are killed and Frank is left to fend for himself against the evil spirit of Christmas.

Yeah, shooting at this guy from a moving car.
What is this, an 80's action film?

And that doesn’t go too well.  But before Sinterklass kills Frank, Goert intervenes and soon, the two team up to end the curse of Sinterklass forever.  

This is a fun little Horriday film, with some great moments of practical and CGI effects (seriously, some of the deaths are very well done), but it helps to have a bit of history behind the legend of Sinterklass.  And here at The Shadow Over Portland, I did the research so you can read the rest of the review and just enjoy the film, without spending time on the Internet learning about the legend of Sinterklass and how it ties into this film.

Sinterklass is based on St. Nicholas (the Bishop of Myra, who Frank mentions later in the film), a Greek bishop who was also the basis for the US Santa Claus, as well as other versions of the gift-giving saint.  He arrives on December fifth by boat from Spain, along with his helper, Black Pete (Zwarte Piet).  Traditionally considered a Moor, Black Pete aids Sinterklass in rewarding good children with gifts, while spanking bad children with a switch.  If a child is especially naughty, they would be stuffed into a sack and taken back to Spain. 

The reason Sinterklass is assumed to come from Spain is his gifting of Mandarin oranges, mentioned in a Dutch poem.  As for taking naughty children to Spain, and the origin of Black Pete, the Moors controlled modern Spain in 711, and often pirates from the region would raid coastal towns in Europe, abducting people to be sold as slaves.  This caused people to abandon many coastal towns, and continued into the 19th Century. 

Writer/director Dick Maas (The Lift, Amsterdamned) takes this history and wraps it into a nice, dark Christmas tale.  His Sinterklass is based on a fictitious rogue bishop, Niklas, his Black Petes have dark skin due to the burns suffered on the ship in 1492 (unlike the current, more PC idea that the blackened faces are due to the soot for chimneys).  And the Bishop of Myra is a distraction created by the Church, attempting to hide the true origins of Sinterklass.  Maas takes a few liberties with the story, but manages to weave historical fact into his fictional tale, to a point where knowing the legend makes watching the movie even more fun.

But, if you're only interested in the gore, this scene, in the opening minutes,
should be enough to whet your appetite.

And Maas knows his horror films.  The scene where Sophie, Lisa and a third friend are walking home from school gave me a serious Halloween vibe.  The film contains other homages, but I’ll leave those for you to discover.  These moments don’t feel cheap or tacked on (well, one does, but it's still effective), but more a director giving a wink and nod to the films that inspired him. 

That’s not to say Sint doesn’t have a few faults, all of which occur in the final act.  Maas gives us the old ticking bomb, where the countdown doesn’t match up to the action in the film cliché, which could have worked had Maas injected a sly sense of humor into the moment.  And though it seems he tried, the scene just doesn’t work. 

And how the ghost ship is dispatched would seem out of place in even a Roger Moore Bond flick.  Yep, it’s that impractical and, to add on insult, it’s hinted earlier that children are alive in the hull of the ship, yet no one attempts to rescue them.  Sure, destroying Sinterklass's ship might be for the greater good, but still comes off as rather cold hearted.

But, thankfully, the film avoids the clichés of modern horror films.  Frank doesn't have a last minute, I must rescue my girlfriend scene, and the government conspiracy concerning Sinterklass is left unexposed.  Sure, the ending suggests a sequel, as expected, but the film takes its time developing the characters rather than delivering a set of cut out, standard Horror clichés.  Spending more time with on the people involved in the tale, rather than the killer and his bloody spree, makes the film more interesting and the gruesome moments a bit more intense. 

Really, I'm sure she'll be just fine.

Also, it’s interesting that Maas ran afoul of parents, much like Silent Night, Deadly Night did, regarding its poster.  Showing a mutilated and malevolent looking Sinterklass. Nicam (the Dutch film and TV classification board) received dozens of complaints that the film’s poster could frighten to younger children, leading to a request that the poster be removed from theaters and other public places.  Maas successfully defended the poster, claiming that parents who allowed their children to believe in Sinterklass could also explain the poster was not the “real” person.  Had that happening in the US, one has to wonder if Silent Night, Deadly Night might have faded into obscurity, rather than become the Horriday classic it is now, as well as spawn four sequels.     
Sint is a rarity in modern Horrorday cinema.  A Christmas horror tale with no redeeming message at the end, plenty of blood and guts and, well, a high school class gifting dildos to each other is a combination you won't find in an American horror film anytime soon, let alone one with an evil Santa.