Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Looks like the Horror-days are in full swing in the Pacific Northwest!

Well, the nip in the air, the snow and freezing rain on the ground, and the crowded mall all mean the holiday season is in full swing.  But if you're looking for something do to during the Horror-days, you've come to the right site.  I'm keeping myself busy like an elf in the North Pole, making a list of all the creepy events happening in the Northwest, checking it twice and posting it so you can have a very SCARY season.

Hey, I never said I was a nice looking elf.

But the chills and thrills don't stop at the end of 2016.  Be sure to check out the Horror Calendar, as The Hollywood Theatre has announced an Ultraman Double Feature in January, and a couple of gory goodies coming in February. 

Remember, it's not too late to have your event (or one you know of) added to the site.  Just email me at shadowoverportland@live.com with all the details and I'll be happy to add it to the Calendar, and feature it in future Weekly Updates.  And please include artwork for your event, if you have it.

And please, if you attend any of the events listed here, let the organizers know you read about it at The Shadow Over Portland!  Now, on with this edition of the Weekly Update!!


The House of Shadows (1776 NW Fairview Dr in Gresham, OR) presents The Nightmare After Halloween Christmas Haunted House starting tonight.  The attraction is open Fridays and Saturdays through December 17 from 7 to 10 pm.  This interactive production is suitable for those 6 or older.  Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and are available at this link.  For additional details, visit The House of Shadows Facebook Page.


This is Sugar Plum Gary, the only survivor when his orphanage was visited by Santa.  Now a Santanist (no, that is not a typo), he's telling the truth about the jolly old elf, and it's NOT the saccharine tale you see in a Rankin/Bass animated special.  Sugar Plum Gary is Emmett Montgomery's one man comedy show, part of the the Cracked Christmas shows, playing at 18th and Union (1406 18th Ave in Seattle, WA) on Fridays and Saturdays at 9:30 pm through December 24.  Montgomery is a veteran of Seattle's alternative comedy scene, has appeared on Last Comic Standing and is the creator of the Pacific Northwest Horror Enthusiast and Friendship Society group on Facebook, so expect some funny, creepy tales in this show.  For more details and a link to advance ticket sales, visit the 18th and Union website.

Open Auditions

Mark your calendars, as auditions for the The Night Attacks take place today and tomorrow (January 21).  Details are scant at this time, but the auditions will be for principal actors and extras (some roles are paid) for a feature-length horror film.  Dylan Hillerman and Julia Arrgh, the people responsible for GuignolFest, have already started filming in Transylvania!  Most of the film will be set in Portland, so if you want to be part of a local independent horror film, keep checking back here, or visit the Facebook Event Page, for more details as they become available.
December, 2016

Wednesday, December 13

Weird Wednesday at The Joy Cinema and Pub (11959 SW Pacific Highway in Tigard, OR) presents one of the WORST monster movie ever made, The Creeping Terror, tonight at 9:15 pm.  Now, while I think the design of the monster is pretty cool and rather unique for the time, the execution is miserable.  It looks like it was made from a shag carpet and moves SO SLOW that it's a wonder that people were actually eaten by it.  But that wasn't the only problem with the production.  The reason for the shabby-looking creature is the result of the original being stolen by the unpaid artist.  Also, the soundtrack was deemed unusable, so most of the movie was narrated, like Beast of Yucca Flats.  And when the monster menaces the patrons of a local dance, the actors are forced to try and act terrified by a beast they all could easily escape.  Yep, this one is WEIRD!  As always, admission is free, though you must be 21 or older to attend.  And be sure to stop by the concession stand to help support The Joy's efforts to keep Wednesdays WEIRD!!  Please, do not bring outside food or drinks into the theater, or the Creeping Terror might come after you!  For more details, visit The Joy Cinema website.

Friday, December 16

VHS Uber Alles presents a screening of The Brain in GLORIOUS VHS tonight at 9 pm.  Yep, a giant, fanged space brain threatens the world!  You know it's going to be a lot of fun, especially with a crowd!!  The screening takes place at the Grand Illusion Cinema (1403 NE 50th St in Seattle, WA) and admission is only $2!  For more details, visit the Facebook Event Page.  


Wow!  One weekend, one location, one ticket, FIVE FRIGHT-FILLED ATTRACTIONS!  The Fear PDXmas (5413 NE Columbia Blvd in Portland, OR) is open tonight and tomorrow (Saturday, December 17) to fill your evening with holiday fear!  The attractions include Elf Block 9, The Clowncracker, A Zombie Christmas Story, Rudolph's Revenge and House of Krampus.  Tickets for all five attractions are just $25 ($40 if you want to skip the lines).  For more details, and a link to advance ticket sales, visit The Fear PDX website or the Facebook Event Page.


Yippie Ki Yay!  The Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd in Portland, OR) is screening Die Hard tonight at 9:30 pm and Monday, December 19 at 7 pm.  It's nice to see it playing before the 25th, as this is The Greatest Christmas Movie EVER MADE!  For more details and a link to advance ticket sales, visit The Hollywood Theatre website.


Friday Night Frights helps Northwest Horror Fans celebrate the holiday season with a screening of Joe Dante's Christmas classic, Gremlins, tonight at the Blue Mouse Theatre (2611 N Proctor St in Tacoma, WA).  Of course, you might walk out with a prize from FNF's sponsors, as well as posters, buttons and more.  Admission is $6 (at the door only) and doors open at 9:30 pm.  For more details, visit the Facebook Event Page.

Saturday, December 17

PDX Browncoats host Geek the Halls 2016 today and tomorrow (Sunday, December 18) from 10 am to 5 pm at the DoubleTree Hotel Portland (1000 NE Multnomah St in Portland, OR).  In it's seventh year, this annual craft faire is the perfect place to find the special gift for your geeky family and friends (or yourself!).  Admission is free to the public.  You can find more details, and a link for an exhibitor application, at the Facebook Event Page.


Strange, cold blooded children hidden in a cave and a pack of bikers lead by Oliver Reed (YES!) makes catching the latest Rocket Sci-Fi Matinee film a MUST!  These are the Damned plays at noon today at Pickford Film Center (1318 Bay St in Bellingham, WA).  Presented by Rocket Donuts, this Hammer production sounds like a must see on the big screen.  For more details, visit the Pickford Film Center website.


Tacoma, don't miss your last chance this year to have your picture taken with Krampus at Revisioned - an urban boutique (741 St Helens Ave in Tacoma, WA).  The Christmas Demon will be on site from noon to 6 pm for photos and scary fun.  The cost is $5 a person, and the photos are available for download in 48 hours.  For more details, visit the Facebook Event Page.

Tuesday, December 20

Another holiday tradition here in Portland returns to The Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd in Portland, OR).  Yes, The Grindhouse Film Festival is once again screening Silent Night, Deadly Night in GLORIOUS 35mm tonight at 7:30 pm!  I know I don't need to say anymore about this one, except that you should buy your tickets early, as this film always sells out!!  For more details and a link to advance ticket sales, visit The Hollywood Theatre website.

Thursday, December 22

The Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd in Portland, OR) presents Queer Horror for the Holidays tonight at 7:30 pm.  The bimonthly program Queer Horror is stuffing your cinematic stocking with short horror films (holiday themed or secular) from established filmmakers and amateurs.  Yes, you can submit your short film to TheCarlaRossi@gmail.com (submission deadline is December 12) and you might see it up on the big screen!  For more details and a link for advance ticket sales, visit The Hollywood Theatre website.

Friday, December 23

I think it's safe to say that many Northwest Horror Fans love How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Tonight at the Crush Bar (1400 SE Morrison St in Portland, OR), de Lioncourt Productions present a slightly, um, burlesque take on the classic holiday tale, entitled How the Grinch Stole My Pasties.  Doors open at 8:30 pm, with the performance starting at 9 pm.  Tickets are $16 in advance, $20 at the door.  As you might guess, this is a 21 and older venue.  For more details and a link to advance ticket sales, visit the Facebook Event Page.


Up in Seattle, things get a bit more metal as SpikyDyke Productions present Brutalesque Holiday Onslaught: A Seasonal Travesty of Epic Proportions.  Shows are at 7 and 10 pm (doors open 30 minutes prior) at The Rendezvous Seattle (2322 2nd Ave in Seattle, WA). Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door.  For more details and a link to advance ticket sales, visit the Facebook Event Page.


If you're looking for something more family-friendly, but still a bit spooky, the Academy Theater (7818 SE Stark St in Portland, OR) is screening Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory through December 29.  Showtimes have not been listed, so check back, or visit the Academy Theater website, later in the month.  
Monday, December 26

Yippie Ki Yay!  The Mission Theater (1624 NW Glisan in Portland, OR) is keeping the holiday spirit alive with a screenings of The Greatest Christmas movie EVER MADE, the original Die Hard through Thursday, December 29.  Showtimes vary, so visit the Mission Theater website for details.

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

Well, it's the holiday season, and nothing says Merry Christmas better than a film featuring Santa fighting Krampus!  Well, at least for me, and I'm sure a few of you out there might agree.  And while I can't say A Christmas Horror Story is the best Horror Holiday Movie ever made, it is a lot of fun and a great break from all the saccharine-sweet merriment and joyous tidings spread by most other Christmas movie offerings.

The film takes place in Bailey Downs, a small, snowy town rocked by a double murder on Christmas Eve one year ago.  Dangerous Dan (William Shatner) is a local DJ working to make the season merry for himself and his listeners, with the aid of some spiked eggnog.  Also at the station is the weatherman, who has a distinctly more sour outlook concerning the most wonderful time of the year.  That's too bad, as he's off to play Santa at the local food drive at the mall.  

Of course I'm merry!
I sit here, read a few lines and collect a paycheck!!
As Dan spins the Christmas tunes, four different stories take place.  In one, a group of young filmmakers break into their school to film a documentary about the Christmas Eve murders.  Given the keys by a friend (who gets into a car for a family trip; more on that later), the three head into the basement, guided by a police video of the officers investigating the crime scene.  The murders weren't the only creepy event to take place at the school. The building was first a convent, where a young girl died during a botched attempt to deliver the child by the nuns.  Of course, the trio end up being locked in the basement and the ghost of the young girl starts making her presence known.

The second story involves the police officer seen in the crime video, as he takes his wife and young boy into the woods to find a Christmas tree.  It seems he's been on leave since investigating the murders, and isn't above trespassing on private property to find the perfect tree.  But the uneventful search ends as the couple's son goes missing for a few moments, only to emerge from the trunk of a hollow tree.  The three head home to trim their tree, but the boy starts acting strange right away.  As the evening wears on, the father's behavior indicated that maybe he's not on leave because of the murders alone.  Also, a phone call from the owner of the property revels the couple didn't take their son out of the woods.

The next story involves the girl who delivered the keys to the filmmaker, as her dysfunctional family head out to spread some holiday cheer to their rich aunt.  The family aren't on their best behavior, even after auntie warns them about Krampus, the Christmas demon.  Once the family heads home, a shadowy figure causes their car to run off the road.  Alone in the woods, they soon discover Krampus isn't a legend and is looking to punish them for their wicked behavior.

Let this be a lesson, kids.
Always listen to your stern looking relatives. 

The final story takes place in the North Pole (a location shown in the opening of the film), as Santa and his elves are busy preparing for the big night.  But one of the elves becomes sick and dies, which Santa points out is impossible as elves can't die.  Well, he does come back and soon, Santa is up to his knees in murderous zombie elves.  And, of course, mayhem ensues as Santa fights his way to a confrontation with the cause of it all, good old Krampus.

So, you might be wondering how the final story ties into Bailey Downs.  Well, it does, but you'll have to find out for yourself, as I'm not telling!

The film was directed by Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban and Brett Sullivan, with writing credits shared by Jason Filiatrault, James Kee, Sarah Larson, Doug Taylor and Pascal Trottier.  With so many different filmmakers involved, the results might have ended up as messy as the floor surrounding a Christmas tree after the presents are opened.  But the film is quite fun, aided a solid cast, some good effects and gore scenes, and a few nice twists in the script.  And the Krampus suit is beautiful, well worth seeing in two of the tales.

You know, a lump of coal is starting 
to look pretty good right now...

But the film has a couple of problems.  To start, the first two stories don't really fit into the movie.  Though well written, both would have worked just as well during any other time of the year, and the holiday setting feels added only to work them into the film.  That's not a bad thing upon a first viewing, but re-watching this as a holiday tradition might make you want to fast forward to the juicy holiday stuff featuring Santa and Krampus.

But that will not be easy, as the film is sabotaged by not letting each tale progress for long before cutting to another story.  Like 2006's Trick 'r Treat, the film starts with characters from one tale interact briefly in another.  But instead of letting each story progress to its conclusion, the film jumps from one to another every five to ten minutes.  

Unfortunately, this lessens any sense of suspense, as a revelation or shocking moment is undercut once the focus moves to another story, a pattern repeated until the end of the film.  It would have been better had each story play out to its conclusion.  The next story could start with the character interaction from the previous tale, but allow it to lead into the next segment.  Instead, the film forces the audience to bounce from one story to another, diminishing any sustained sense of tension and fear.

What do you mean, you're cutting away from us?
We're just getting to the good stuff!!

The film's setting of Bailey Downs might seem to be a reference to It's a Wonderful Life.which could have worked had the script focused on the terror lurking under a peaceful winter setting.  But instead, it's a nice little nod to a town where strange events occur, as it was the setting for the film Ginger Snaps (which Hoban produced),as well as a location in Orphan Black (created by Fawcett).  I wish the film and TV series had been referenced in some way in this film, but I guess Santa can't fit everything we want under the Christmas tree.  

The DVD release did spark up a bit of a controversy in the Horror Community, as several Walmart stores sold the film with a slipcover that changed the title to A Holiday Horror Story.  This has happened with other horror films (such as Deathgasm and Big Ass Spider!) being displayed in slipcases changing the title and/or cover art (the movies were unaltered) to something more "family friendly" for display at Walmart locations.  But, if the retailer was attempting not to upset holiday shoppers, it seems a bit strange that the cover art for this film was unaltered.  Perhaps it was assumed such easily offended patrons might not recognize Santa without his "traditional" mall outfit.  I looked online for a statement from Walmart concerning the change, but was unable to find one.

All right, all right!
I'll share the milk and cookies!!

A Christmas Horror Story is a nice little diversion for horror fans settling in for a cold winter night.  It it might not knock any of the classic horror-day films off your list, but you'll have to be a true Grinch not to smile as Santa battles a workshop full of zombie elves, or when Krampus paints a winter wonderland red with blood.