The season of scares may be over in the public’s popular opinion, but horror films are hardly regulated to one month of the year. Some of the most effective genre fare takes place in snowbound cabins and quaintly decorated suburban homes during the season of joy. Santa suits become costumes for deranged murderers, and carolers drown out the screams that echo upstairs.
The combination of Christmas cheer and icy terror may seem culturally nonsensical, but what better time to explore horror than the darkest nights of the year? For those who celebrate their winter holidays with a dash of arsenic in the eggnog, Spectacular Optical presents a perfect Christmas gift: their new book, Yuletide Terror: Christmas in Horror Films.
The Canadian publisher has graced us with a number of brilliant academic tomes, exploring macabre topics such as Jean Rollin’s Gothic cinema and paranoid occult horror in the ’80s. Edited by genre academia hero Kier-La Janisse, their latest volume arrives just in time for the season. Its focus lies on the oft-maligned trend of Christmas horror films, everything from 1970s classics to recent additions to the traditional.
Essay topics range from cultural analyses to interviews with some of the most beloved Christmas nightmare-makers. Michael Gingold writes about the Silent Night, Deadly Night controversy; cult director Fred Dekker speaks about his infamous “And All Through the House” episode, one of the highlights of Tales from the Crypt. There’s even a peek at Z-movie legend Santa Claus Conquers the Martians from Zack Carlson. In addition to these pieces, the book also contains hundreds of yule-themed reviews to expand readers’ knowledge of the rich subgenre.
Spectacular Optical is an essential voice in horror criticism, a realm of academic thought that is often as ignored as its subjects. There’s no better way to give back to the horror community this Christmas than by gifting this delectable treat to your favorite fan, or, a bit of indulgence for yourself. The season doesn’t have to consist only of joy and good tidings; let a little darkness into your solstice nights.
The book is available for pre-order at this link, with shipments beginning in December: