Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Honourable Mention: Holiday Hell

Holiday Hell is a portmanteau movie released in 2019 and containing, as far as I can tell, bespoke segments. In this honourable mention, however, it is the Jeff Ferrell wraparound that I am looking at, and so apologies for spoiling that.

The wraparound sees Amelia (Meagan Karimi-Naser) enter a store, the Nevertold Casket Co. – a creepy looking establishment, from the window display. At first there doesn’t seem to be anyone around but eventually the proprietor (Jeffrey Combs, Frightmare, Necronomicon: Book of Dead & Dark House) makes himself known, but he was about to shut up shop for the night.

Meagan Karimi-Naser as Amelia

Amelia is in a bit of a pickle, however. It is Christmas Eve’s Eve and she hasn’t got her sister a present – her sibling favouring the dark and macabre. The shopkeeper is reluctant, there are too many time wasters but a flash of cash convinces him to stay open. The items in the shop all have stories (our segments) and it is what the shopkeeper relishes, collecting stories to preserve them with the items, as they go through the tales Amelia seems to not be sure about buying the items – they just don’t seem right.

Jeffrey Combs as the shopkeeper

So, it is the final part of the wraparound that interests us. The last story was told by Amelia about a ring she wears – a ring the shopkeeper must have. He retrieves a knife but Amelia is no longer alone, rather she has been joined by her pagan coven (for pagan read Goth). Amelia came to the shop purposefully and has been stalling. One of the skulls the shopkeeper has is her twin sister Ophelia (also Meagan Karimi-Naser); he killed her to get her identical ring.

back from the dead

They grab the shopkeeper and cut his arm to get blood, which they use to draw a circle around the skull. They chant and the sister is reborn… But Amelia’s mother had warned she would not be the same. The blonde sister is reconstituted naked, but her skin shimmers, her eyes are unnaturally coloured, her nails are talons and her teeth sharp. As the film ends she crawls towards the shopkeeper who screams…

sharp teeth

So, it was the restoration with blood, the sharp teeth and the implication that she was about to chow down on the shopkeeper that gave this an honourable mention. She could, of course, be something other than a vampire but the baseline tropes are there and the visitation is so fleeting it is as well to give the benefit of the doubt. The film itself was fun, with a nice range of stories. Sometimes they seemed to stretch credulity – but these are not designed to ring true – as the shopkeeper says it only matters if the teller of the tale believes it true. Speaking of whom, Combs is as dependable as always.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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