Following the sleeper success of such slashers as Black Christmas, Halloween and Friday the 13th, the 1980s imitators leapt to claim whatever boxes were left on the calendar, resulting in New Year’s Evil, My Bloody Valentine, April Fool’s Day, Happy Birthday to Me, Graduation Day, etc.
This dash to co-op every conceivable festivity was so pervasive, Mad magazine spoofed this subgenre with a 1981 all-in-one parody titled Arbor Day; I’m half-surprised it remained up for grabs. I’m also half-surprised that the horror anthology Holidays wasn’t able to make room for that tree-commemorating celebration among the tales that do comprise this fun film. Nine more or less indie directors participate, and while crazed killers aren’t necessarily their subjects, a year of fear is covered nonetheless.
For the first segment, “Valentine’s Day,” Starry Eyes co-directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer provide an EC Comics twist to its story of a lovestruck high school outcast (newcomer Madeleine Coghlan). Affairs of the heart also go under the microscope in Some Kind of Hate helmer Adam Egypt Mortimer’s closer, “New Year’s Eve,” set in the lonely, cruel world of online dating. Suspend your disbelief that a young woman as cute as Lorenza Izzo (The Green Inferno) would have trouble finding someone with whom to hit the town.
Three tales depend on technology, assuming one still views the Walkman as such. That’s what Jocelin Donahue (The House of the Devil) dons in order to follow a cassette tape of mysterious instructions left to her decades before by her dad (Tremors’ Michael Gross), in the haunting “Father’s Day,” from visual effects artist Anthony Scott Burns (The Last Exorcism Part II). Meanwhile, post-Tusk, Kevin Smith again dips his feet in shits-and-giggles gore as webcam sex workers (one of whom is played by his own daughter, Harley Quinn Smith) plot pimp revenge for “Halloween.” In the darkly comedic “Christmas,” from Dark Skies’ Scott Stewart, a harried suburban dad (Seth Green, TV’s Robot Chicken) goes to extreme lengths to acquire the hottest gadget of the season.
More memorable is a pair of segments on motherhood. In Dracula Untold director Gary Shore’s “St. Patrick’s Day,” a single teacher (Ruth Bradley, Grabbers) is baby-hungry to a disturbing fault. On the flip side, the woman at the heart of “Mother’s Day” (co-directed by The Midnight Swim’s Sarah Adina Smith and first-timer Ellen Reid) gets pregnant every time she has sex. Finally, for sheer fright, look no further than the Jesus Bunny, who/which terrorizes “Easter” in the short shocker from The Pact’s Nicholas McCarthy.
Each segment’s title is rendered via original, illustrated greeting cards — when you care enough to send the very beast. —Rod Lott