“The only people who have ever seen the Grither are the people the Grither has eaten up.”
From Silent Night, Deadly Night‘s Billy to the demon Krampus, the holiday season has its fair share of villains who have dedicated themselves to spreading Christmas fear, but there’s one Christmas creature whose name you rarely hear. While The Grinch may be the standard-bearer for all Christmas villains, his evil deeds cannot compare to those of The Grither.
Back in 1989, HBO’s “Tales from the Crypt” struck holiday horror gold with its own adaptation of EC Comics tale “And All Through the House” (previously adapted by the 1972 anthology film of the same name), but it was a few years prior that similar anthology series “Tales from the Darkside” played around in the holiday horror arena with “Seasons of Belief.“
Oddly enough, “Seasons of Belief” actually premiered a few days *after* Christmas, on December 29th, 1986. The eleventh episode of the third season, it was directed by Michael McDowell, who penned many episodes of “Tales from the Darkside” and also went on to collaboratively write Beetlejuice and another Christmas gem, The Nightmare Before Christmas!
McDowell’s sole directorial effort, “Seasons of Belief” stars the late E.G. Marshall (Creepshow) as the father of two young kids who beg him to tell them a scary story on Christmas Eve. So he spins a yarn about “the most fearsome, dangerous and appalling creature in the world,” a creature so fearsome that even saying his name aloud can bring his wrath upon you.
A creature known as the Grither.
Essentially, the story of the Grither is quite like the story of the Grinch, making “Seasons of Belief” something of a much-less-kid-friendly take on the classic animated tale. The Grither, Marshall’s character explains, lives inside of a wrecked ship in a deep, dark cave on the opposite side of the North Pole from Santa. Every time a bell rings, an angel may get its wings, but every time the Grither hears his name spoken aloud, the father explains, the Grither’s ears grow a little bit bigger. Like Candyman, if you repeat his name, he’ll come to kill you.
“He’s tall as a poplar, but he can bend all the way over and touch the ground,” the father explains. “He looks like a road map. His skin is very, very white. And all the blue and red veins show through. The blue is for fear. And the red is for rage.” The mother adds to the story, “By now his ears are so big that he can use them as wings.”
The episode spends much of its runtime hyping up the arrival of the Grither, and indeed he does make his presence known in the final moments. First, the kids’ uncle shows up to prank them by pretending he’s the Grither, and then the real Grither shows up to prove the stories true. Massive, veiny arms pop through the windows, snapping mom and dad’s necks.
“Seasons of Belief” never does show its monster in its entirety (in my head, he’s always been something of a Christmas Pumpkinhead), but the size of his massive arms suggests that he’s as big as a house. Mashing together the legend of Krampus and Dr. Seuss’s classic story of The Grinch, the holiday episode of “Tales from the Darkside” managed to create a Christmas horror villain before the genre ever really had one of its own, and for that we think it’s required viewing for every horror fan not just this December, but every single holiday season.
You can watch “Seasons of Belief” in full below! Just don’t say his name…