Holiday Horror Guide #14–The Fright Before Xmas

Not to be confused with the 132 other horror films bearing the same name, CAMPFIRE TALES is an enjoyable tongue-in-cheek anthology film from directors William Cooke and Paul Talbot. The 1991 release features four stories, as well as a wraparound, in the classic EC Comics tradition as a mysterious stranger (Gunnar Hansen) spins yarns for a group of bored teenagers; though they’re predictable tales of karmic comeuppance, each story sets itself apart with a different style and are fun on their own. It’s a movie worth checking out, but for today we’re going to highlight the film’s third segment, “The Fright Before Xmas.”

The story concerns a greedy young man who kills his mother at Christmas, pushing her down the stairs to collect his inheritance. Then he babysits his brother’s kids (because he’s really a stand-up guy like that), who tell him the tale of Satan Claws, who punishes the wicked on Christmas Eve. Where the story goes from there isn’t much of a surprise, but it’s a fun ride with some charmingly crude stop-motion effects and decent performances.

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