Krampus: Movie Review

It’s a bit late in the year for me to be writing this (due to the film in question being a holiday film), but you’ve heard of Christmas in July, have you not? It’s approaching and so, with that, I would like to talk about the film Krampus, while I am listening to the Jailbreak album by Thin Lizzy.
Before I get started, I need to state that I haven’t seen Krampus since it was out in theaters, but I bought it today for $11.99 and decided to write about it despite not having watched it.  I am sure will make for a very interesting, yet fun read. So here we go…

Krampus, the 2015 film directed by Michael Dougherty (Trick r Treat) is a Christmas themed horror/comedy film and not a straight-to-DVD film that you would have found back in November (I’m looking at you Krampus: The Reckoning). Krampus stars some familiar faces, such as the guy from Parks and Rec (Adam Scott), the bald man that shouts “whammy” in anchor man (David Koechner), the grumpy maid from Two And a Half Men (Conchata Ferrell), and the kid from Jumanji (you’ll get it once you watch the film) as they attempt to survive Christmas Eve as Krampus does mean, Krampusy things.

For me this film played out perfectly. It was one of the best films that I have seen in theaters in the past year.  However, if I’m not mistaken, it had gotten mixed reviews from people who were pissed that it wasn’t “scary enough” or that it wasn’t “funny enough.”  It’s a damn Christmas movie, you morons.  There needs to be a balance somewhere between “scary” and “funny,” and Krampus found that middle ground perfectly. It played out like Gremlins in a lot of ways; if you’re a kid, it will probably give you nightmares, but as an adult you can chuckle at it.

I absolutely love the dry humor in it.  I’m not sure if that’s the proper phrase but when something comedic plays out, it isn’t thrown in your face like it is in Adam Sandler movies. This felt more like Ghostbusters humor.

Really, at this point in writing, I’m certain that I’ve covered enough about Krampus. What’s my pitch to go see it? This terrible write up about it? Yeah boooooiiii, you better believe it. Despite it being a bit late in the year, go out and grab a copy and save it for the holiday season. But this review is a Horror-Writers exclusive. CHRISTMAS IN JULY, before any other horror website could start posting about holiday movies to check out, we did it.

Now on another, slightly more important topic: can we discuss how the worlds governments are being run by a race of reptilian humanoids?

24 Hours of Christmas Horror

For Halloween, I made a list of 24 hours of horror movies for Halloween (you can read that post here).  I had a lot of fun doing it, so I thought I’d make one for Christmas.  This list assumes a two-hour running time for each movie.

So, if you don’t feel like spending time with your family – or if you feel like watching a ton of horror movies with your family – here is a way to spend your Christmas.

Gremlins (1984)
12:00-2:00 AM
I thought we’d start off with something light-hearted.  And by “light-hearted” I mean “murdering goblins running loose and talk of a sweet girl’s father dying in a chimney.”  Hurray!
Also, Phoebe Cates.

Dead End (2003)
2:00-4:00 AM
A Christmas shortcut turns into an endless drive filled with death, confusion and a sinister hearse patrolling the road.  The ending is a bit predictable, but the acting is tremendous (with Ray Wise and Lin Shaye on board, how could it not be?) and there are some great visuals.

P2 (2007)
4:00-6:00 AM
Rachel Nichols is stalked in an empty parking garage on Christmas by a psychopathic Wes Bentley.  He dresses as Santa and uses “Blue Christmas” as a means of psychological torture.  I can fully understand why some people wouldn’t like this, but I’m a huge fan (mainly because I love the two leads).

Santa Claus (1959)
6:00-8:00 AM
Santa enters into battle with one of Satan’s minions for the soul of a young girl.  Or something.  It was hard to follow at times.  It’s cheap and stupid, but it killed me.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
8:00-10:00 AM
It’s cheap.  It’s dumb.  The motivations of most of the characters make no sense.  But it’s a lot of fun.  There’s a happy little montage of grown-up Billy (wearing clothes that are entirely too tight) helping people at a store.  An elderly, deaf priest dressed as Santa is shot in the back.  Linnea Quigley makes a brief appearance.  It’s entirely ridiculous, but highly enjoyable.  NAUGHTY!

Santa’s Slay (2005)
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
Where Silent Night, Deadly Night was unintentionally ridiculous, this one is intentionally ridiculous.  A star-studded cast in the opening scene (James Caan, Rebecca Gayheart, Fran Drescher, Chris Kattan) is quickly killed off, which sets the scene for an over-the-top killing spree by Bill Goldberg’s Santa Claus.  It’s completely over-the-top, and I really liked it.

Christmas Evil (1980)
12:00-2:00 PM
A slow-build that never gets overly crazy, but does have some pretty fun kills and a handful of great moments.  There are some great performances here as well.  They really help keep my interest throughout the entire film.

Silent Night, Zombie Night (2009)
2:00-4:00 PM
Low-budget and pretty stupid zombie movie.  It’s not great, but, if you’re in the right mood (and have a good amount of alcohol in your system), it can be fun.

Jack Frost (1997)
4:00-6:00 PM
Murdering, wise-cracking snowman.  Not quite as over-the-top as Santa’s Slay, but still pretty ridiculous.  Fun watch with a group of friends.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)
6:00-8:00 PM
Black Christmas is held up as the crown jewel of Christmas horror (and rightly so), but it seems to borrow heavily from this movie.  Has a similar look and feel, with a good sense of mystery and tension that holds through the entire movie.  This isn’t as good as Black Christmas, and it kind of starts veering off the rails by the end, but I really love this movie.

Rare Exports (2010)
8:00-10:00 PM
A unique view of Santa Claus.  Creepy, weird, and pretty funny.  It’s not for everyone, but I love it.  It has quickly become a must-watch movie this time of year.  (I recently talked about this movie here and here, and Fremont talked about it here.)

Black Christmas (1974)
10:00 PM – 12:00 AM
We close our Christmas with what is widely regarded as the best Christmas horror of all time.  I didn’t see this until recently, so I don’t have quite as high an opinion of it as others, but I still really love it.  A great movie to close out your Christmas.
This is also talked about as the first modern slasher movie.  And, while I don’t agree with that statement, I can certainly see the merits in the argument.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

What Comes Next: Rare Exports

You can read my review of this here, and Fremont’s here.  If you’re not familiar with my What Comes Next series, you can read about it here.

Due to the nature of these posts, there will be spoilers.

Description from Netflix:
In the frozen beauty of Finland, local reindeer herders race against the clock to capture an ancient evil: Santa Claus.  A single dad and his son are caught up in the chaos as scientists dig for artifacts.  What they find endangers the entire village.

When we last left our favorite reindeer herders, they had destroyed the 50-foot horned entity known as Santa Claus, rendering all of his naked old-man minions harmless.  Where they were once fueled by the love of gingerbread and child abduction, they had suddenly become a gaggle of wandering, confused elderly folk.  But, due to the forward-thinking Pietari – with the help of his abducted friends he used as bait – all of these old men were now confined in an electric fence.

Naturally, these former reindeer herders decided the next logical step was human trafficking.  “We’ve got all these naked old men.  Let’s train them to be Santa and sell ‘em.”  Can’t find a flaw in their logic.

They arrived at the price of $85K per Santa, using a sophisticated system of pricing (“If dozens of reindeer are worth $85K, a single old man dressed as Santa is worth that same amount”).  I doubt they’d be able to get that much.  Actually, I doubt they’d be able to get much at all.  Here’s why:

They’re selling old men.  I’m not sure what their business strategy is, but I doubt they’re sending these old men out on loan.  They are being purchased.  But who is buying them?  They’re being purchased to play Santa Claus.  Are stores buying them?  Are individuals buying them, then loaning them out to stores?  For the sake of argument, let’s say stores are buying them and reusing them every year.  What do they do after Christmas?  Outside of sitting quietly and allowing children to tell them what they want (while creepily stroking the children’s hair), these Santas have no discernible skills.  They have no way to make money.  Which means the stores will either allow their Santa – the guy they just spent $85K on – to go homeless, or to house/feed them for the entire year, just for the purpose of playing Santa for a few weeks every year.  Combine the cost of housing and feeding a man for an entire year with the initial investment of $85K, and you’re spending an awful lot on a mall Santa every year.

Let’s say that it costs $900/month for an apartment and $100/week on food (which are both less than the American average).  That’s $16K per year on your Santa.  And that’s without factoring in medical costs (which these old men are sure to have quite a few of).  When you can slap a beard on a local fella and pay him peanuts, why would you pay that kind of money for a Santa?  They could charge $5 per Santa and it still wouldn’t be worth it.

However, it appears as though they were able to unload all of the Santas at $85K a piece, seeing as how the movie ends with them putting labels on boxes and shipping them out.  Someone ordered those Santas.  I don’t know why, but they did.

And then there’s this.  It took these converted reindeer herders a year to turn confused old men into serviceable Santas.  They had talked about how the lack of a reindeer herd that year would bankrupt them.  How did they survive for a year with no income?  Beyond supporting themselves, they had to care for 198 old men.  If they were just barely hanging on as it was, how did they suddenly have the money and resources to take care of an additional 198 people?

The movie assumes that they made it that year (seeing as how we see them the next year and everything seems to be going fine), but it’s worth pointing out the ridiculousness of it.

In a logical world, they would not have been able to sell those Santas.  The figurative wolves at their doors would have taken everything, while the literal wolves at their doors would have picked their frozen bones clean.

In this world, they make a cool $16.8 million by selling confused old men to a world full of suckers.  Seeing as how they don’t have a ton of stuff to spend money on in their current village (pig heads aren’t overly expensive), they all move to Helsinki and spend a ton of money on hookers and blow, until they find themselves broke and wrangling reindeer again a decade or so.

Or perhaps they live happily every after.  Maybe there are no hookers and blow in Helsinki.  As near as I can tell, there are no women at all in Finland.  And, according to Charles De Mar, you can get just as high on pure snow as you can on coke, and snow is everywhere in Finland.

Most likely, they managed their money wisely and lived a life of luxury for a time, before eventually being arrested for human trafficking and spending the rest of their days in prison.

Merry Christmas!

Rare Exports by Dusty

Description from Netflix:
In the frozen beauty of Finland, local reindeer herders race against the clock to capture an ancient evil: Santa Claus.  A single dad and his son are caught up in the chaos as scientists dig for artifacts.  What they find endangers the entire village.

Things I liked:
1. Basing the movie around a version of Santa Claus (Joulupukki) that I haven’t seen depicted in another film.  I love seeing how legends and folklore are portrayed in different cultures.  Though I doubt this portrayal is entirely accurate, it gives a window into how Santa is (or has been) portrayed in that area of the world.  If nothing else, it gives the viewer a new way to look at Santa Claus.  It also puts Santa into a horror movie without making him into a bloodthirsty killer, as he is in Santa’s Slay and Saint Nick.

2.  The setting.  It is set in a small village in Norway in December, which means it’s stark, snowy and beautiful.  (I wanted to listen to Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago the entire time I was watching this.)  It allows the film to take place in a large area, while still giving a feeling of claustrophobic helplessness to the characters involved.  It’s obvious that no one is coming to help them.

3.  The subtle sense of comedy.  It’s a grim movie.  The specter of loss and death hangs over the entire film.  There are quite a few heartbreaking scenes (which are all terrific), but there were a handful of scenes that were hysterical, if a bit dark.  Eating gingerbread cookies in front of a chained-up old man, a terrified old man in terrible make-up imploring armed-men to stop smoking and cursing, etc.  There’s a great sense of humor throughout the entire film, but it’s not always obvious.

4.  Juuso, the best friend of Pietari (our protagonist).  He’s slightly older than Pietari, and he’s a total ass.  I have no idea why Pietari is friends with him.  He’s a bully.  He’s extremely unlikable.  He has a mullet and a feather earring.  He rides around on a snowmobile, hurtling threats left and right.  He’s like a pint-sized villain from an 80s movie.  You could tell me that Juuso is Roy Stalin’s younger brother and I would absolutely believe you.  This character kills me.

5.  The dolls Santa leaves in place of children as he abducts them.  They’re cobbled together from sticks, and they’re really creepy.  It was a nice touch.  That Santa Claus knows what he’s doing.

6.  The ending.  Though I may have issues with the logistics behind it all (something I’ll tackle in more detail in a future post), I thought it was terrific.  Strange, a little off-putting, and extremely funny.

Things I didn’t like:
1. Old man penis.  Entirely too much old man penis.  I can understand why they were naked, but I don’t understand why I had to see it.  It was like that scene in Juno, but older, and without the shorts.

2.  The ending.  I know I put this in my “liked” section as well, but it’s a little of both for me.  I can’t get too deep into it without getting all spoilery, so I’ll save the specifics.  Suffice it say that the ending makes absolutely no sense, and raises more questions than it answers.  I still love it, but it always leaves me scratching my head.

Final verdict:
I love this movie.  It has become a must-watch Christmas movie in my house.  It is not without its problems (the aforementioned questions with the ending and the overwhelming amount of old man dong), but those are minor issues when looking at the movie as a whole.  It’s not a long movie (IMDB has it listed at 84 minutes), and it never seems to drag.  If you’re looking for a movie about a Santa Claus who has horns and abducts children (and who isn’t?) – or looking for a non-slasher Christmas movie – I highly recommend this one.

Rating: 4.5/5