Krampus (3)

Here’s an insider tip for any aspiring entertainment journalists who might be reading this beastly feature: when pitching an idea to your editor, always know the workload before presenting your case. Like, for example, if you agree to rank every Christmas horror movie (possible), don’t cockily scoff a “I’ve seen a bunch already, how many can there actually be?” Because there’s probably eighty-flippin-eight, at most thirty of which you’ve digested fully. That’s not even counting on-the-cusp arguables like Babes In Toyland (1934) and Santa Claus (1959).

Good thing you’re reading the words of a fighter. When adversity throws a peppermint punch, we’ve no choice but to strike right back – and that’s what I did.

Out of my definitive list of 88 Christmas Horror movies, only six are without description from me for a simple reason: money. I’m sorry /Film readers. The bulleted list below were only available on Amazon for DVD order with prices starting at $15 and ranging as high as $54.56. For Deadly Little Christmas, a low-budget horror flick with a 3.0 IMDB rating. I might be a completionist, but I’m also on a budget. Either ship me a copy for being such a good boy this year or watch these at your own risk:

  • Santa Claws (1996)
  • The Christmas Season Massacre (2001)
  • Deadly Little Christmas (2009)
  • Christmas With The Dead (2012)
  • Christmas Cruelty! (2013)
  • Cannibal Claus (2016)

The rest? Here we go. 82 Christmas Horror films ranked from “A fleck of coal” (worst) to “Turbo Man Action Figure” (best). Now where’s that celebratory bottle of whiskey Krampus left for me…

82. The Elf (2017)

Dir. Justin Price

Starring: Natassia Halabi, Gabriel Miller

Got a particular person on your “Naughty” list who deserves unspeakable punishment? Show them The Elf, 2017’s low-fi “Elf on the Shelf” curse with a horribly explained background. An elf doll whose physical form changes depending on how it’s being filmed – blurred CGI when moving, plushy creepiness when sitting, ceramic in close-ups. Characters speak like they’ve never been part of a human conversation before, and effects are so bad that a “seal” burned into the main character’s arm is straight CGI – moving and shifting like the mark is floating above skin. Mr. Elf’s gibberish chanting, scamper POV, corpses that breathe, fake snow that becomes soapy foam when heavily layered – pass the everloving ‘nog.

The Elf is an insufferable dolly revenge flick that boasts the cinematic charm of paint drying. All the alcohol in the world couldn’t get me through a midnight watch of this flick – it’s so bad it’s just…bad.

81. Silent Night Dead Night: A New Christmas Carol (2016)

Dir. Richard Chandler

Starring: George Raynor

So the boys over at Film School Rejects – led by /Film local Rob Hunter – apparently made a bet that if they included Silent Night Dead Night on their own list of Christmas horror movies, I’d watch it. They were right. Rest assured, vengeance will be swift and Christmas themed, because Richard Chandler’s “Scrooge is a hood pimp” revamp is in no way a horror movie despite the very bloody-axe-front-and-center poster. Consider this a warning for you, the reader, and a declaration of war against you, Rob Hunter (and your Tinsel Boy lackies).

80. Bikini Bloodbath Christmas (2009)

Dir. Thomas Edward Seymour, Jonathan Gorman

Starring: Debbie Rochon, Lloyd Kaufman, Rachel Robbins, Phil Hall

Bikini Bloodbath Christmas is a vile, Z-grade cesspool of midnighter waste, but that won’t be new knowledge to anyone involved. The cheap, bloody product is presented as intended. Babes distracting from zero production value by flashing their breasts, multiple fake poo gags, fat-shaming “satire” (mean spirited), zero charisma – skeevy hack ‘n slash nonsense without direction. Even by blasphemous 3:00 A.M. Cinemax standards, this is one offensively unfortunate carol from hell. (“BUT ONE OF THE CHARACTERS IS NAMED WILLIAM DEFOE, LIKE THE ACTOR! ISN’T THAT FUNNY?!” No. No it’s not.)

79. Darkest Night (2012)

Dir. Noel Tan

Starring: DJ Perry, Anne Gauthier, Issa Litton

Ever fantasize about Christmas in the Philippines? Well here’s a worst-case scenario of how it might play out. A found-footage Xmas celebration without an ounce of snow or any real decoration spliced with East-meets-West mythology. Blandifying in its lack of subgenre enthusiasm that blurs framing and depletes tension like many forgettable “discovered evidence” videos before.

78. Psycho Santa (2003)

Dir. Peter Keir

Starring: Krystal Akin, Jason Barnes, Jeff Samford

Nothing but a voyeuristic perv-out masquerading as a holiday slasher movie. Flashbacks cut to Psycho Santa’s multiple victims as a driving man fills his significant other in on the killer’s “sick” backstory. You know, like how a curvy redhead gets naked and showers, then how her brunette friend dances seductively for her (routine “sleepover” stuff). Next is a burglary story – featuring a blind, female house owner in her underwear pre-bath. Dude bro goes on to tell of a piano player, pot-smoker and wilderness couple, etc. All very dead, all without payoff. Pull the car over and let me out.

77. Nixon And Hogan Smoke Christmas (2010)

Dir. Kevin Strange

Starring: Kevin Strange, Joshitsuo Montoya

Cheech and Chong Lite with a do-it-yourself vibe. Drink every time Nixon says “titties” within the first two minutes. Take a shot whenever Santa Claus talks about self-gratification in front of the reindeer. I really enjoyed the part where zombie Santa calls two college girls “fuckmeat,” and by enjoyed, I mean I’d rather smoke myself into a paranoid haze than sit through another offensive-for-laughs second of this wack-ass street trash.

76. Silent Night, Bloody Night 2: Revival (2015)

Dir. Dustin Ferguson

Starring: Julia Farrell, Jennifer Runyon, Luc Bernier

There’s nothing worse than a forced sequel, and that, unfortunately, is what this Silent Night, Bloody Night follow-up turns out to be. Heartless, unambitious and visually unappealing. It’s very Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 – characters “recall” the original film’s plot at length until you realize what feels like over half the film is just replayed “flashback” footage. And I know, Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 did it, so why can’t someone else? Well, in this case, because Silent Night, Bloody Night 2: Revival is the kind of indie slasher that gives “low-budget” a bad name.

75. Krampus: The Devil Returns (2016)

Dir. Jason Hull

Starring: A.J. Leslie, Shawn C. Phillips, Melantha Blackthorne, R.A. Mihailoff

A sequel to Krampus: The Christmas Devil – except with more child beating and purposely-distorted synth keyboards butchering Christmas carols. Dialogue as rigid as an icicle, overused fade-to-black editing, a lunatic cop’s return (translation: more focus on procedural drama than action), chesty female thugs – huh? Just a lot of Krampus peeping in suburban windows and someone uttering the phrase “farting turtles.” Oh, and Krampus is forgotten for, like, an entire middle act. Just…shrugs.

74. Trees 2: The Root Of All Evil (2004)

Dir. Michael Pleckaitis

Starring: Ron Palillo, Philip M. Gardiner

When Treevenge goes wrong – Trees 2: The Root Of All Evil. Yes, a SEQUEL to another feature-length film about killer Great White Pines. This time during Christmas, as genetically-enhanced spider trees start slaughtering townsfolk. Hope you dig PTSD flashbacks every time a disturbed park ranger recalls the savage botanist’s nightmare that caused him to wet the bed (actual plot point). Acorn science bombs? Jaws references? You still probably won’t like this overacted, dead-around-the-edges D-Movie.

73. Caesar & Otto’s Deadly Xmas (2012)

Dir. Dave Campfield

Starring: Dave Campfield, Paul Chomicki, Deron Miller, Linnea Quigley, Lloyd Kaufman, Debbie Rochon

Caesar and Otto may have found underground comedic success back in 2007, but their childishly meta Christmas slasher haplessly fails to prove how. References span Silent Night, Deadly Night to the Silent Night remake, barely with the satirical gusto of Aaron Seltzer’s severed pinky toe. Writer/Director/Actor Dave Campfield jests (on screen) about how his screenwriting professor would hate every scene that’s scribbled down, and such desperate attempts to laugh away no-budget restraints becomes as blatantly annoying as they sound. Paste-in audio design, camera lensing that changes frame to frame, genre cameos like a gun to the head – this inexplicable Laurel and Hardy knockoff is a Christmas gift from Satan (and not in a fun Christmas Horror way).

72. Feeders 2: Slay Bells (1998)

Dir. Mark Polonia, John Polonia

Starring: Eh, I mean…

Back home in Jersey, a commercial used to play late at night for some local strip joint. Traveling aliens would hear an advertisement for the club, make an Earth pit stop, then end up with scantily-clad ladies dancin’ on their green bodies. Why do I tell you this? Because said advert had better production value than Feeders 2: Slay Bells – yet, as per my decree, everyone must see this movie. Please. Gather round like a yule log and experience the warm glow of Santa’s phaser effects and styrofoam aliens with pipe cleaner arms slamming their bulbous heads against Christmas tree ornaments. Here is your Trolls 2 of Xmas Horror.

71. Krampus: The Christmas Devil (2013)

Dir. Jason Hull

Starring: Jay Dobyns, Darin Foltz, Richard Goteri, A.J. Leslie

In this one, “Santa” and “Krampus” are working together – naughty vs. nice duties, I guess. Also, it’s a police procedural based on one law enforcer’s kidnapping experience as a child. There are lines like “that won’t bring all those dead babies back” and favored gunplay, but no real Krampus goodies. This is a criminally boring Krampy take more focused on cop-on-cop melodrama and cold, dull facts.

70. Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming (2013)

Dir. James Plumb

Starring: Adrienne King, Sabrina Dickens, Rorie Stockton

Without argument one of the worst slasher films – seasonal or not – I’ve ever witnessed. Some “creative liberties” are taken – random sex scenes inserted and an ending that’ll have fans scratching their heads – but there’s absolutely zero imagination. Editing is flat, sound design rancid, blood is mostly CGI, production design inexcusably drab, and twenty billion other complaints. A pointless remake that eschews the original’s dreadful atmosphere, repurposed for no-budget sleaze schlock indiscernible from the most forgettable entries into the midnight genre. You probably didn’t even know this movie existed – go back to living that better life.

69. Lucky Stiff (1988)

Dir. Anthony Perkins

Starring: Donna Dixon, Joe Alaskey, Jeff Kober, Lin Shaye

From Psycho III director Anthony Perkins – his only other directorial credit – comes a movie cobbled from rejected Naked Gun gags and Donner tie-ins baked twelve shades too raw. The story, about a rotund schmuck whose potential wives keep leaving him, ends with the yuck-failing loser being chosen as Christmas dinner. Lead actor Joe Alaskey stammers and Dangerfields his way through jokes hammier than Christmas dinner, Perkins never retains any “dark comedy” and the whole affair falls embarrassingly limp. So tongue-in-cheek the tongue penetrates said cheek – a visual that’s still be better than any of the material in Lucky Stiff. Imagine bombing at the Apollo in the ’80s. This is somehow worse.

68. One Hell Of A Christmas (2002)

Dir. Shaky González

Starring: Tolo Montana, Thure Lindhardt

A movie so conceptually bonkers has no right being this boring. Through one way or another – explanations not González’s strong suit – an amulet or artifact or whatever pits one man against undead strippers, a blood-hungry stuffed animal and more possessed demons. Christmas touches spruce up trailer-trash aesthetics, but González spends too much time emphasizing influences from Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi (intended or not) with none of Rodriguez’s early success or energy.

67. Krampus: The Reckoning (2015)

Dir. Robert Conway

Starring: Monica Engesser, Amelia Haberman, James Ray

In this Krampus movie, our patron saint of Christmas evil is bound to some twig-figure found in the woods by an immortal(?) girl. Whenever little miss darkness gets mad, Krampus comes and lights whoever “wronged” her on fire (Krampus, in PlayStation One pixelated form). Pure lameness sans one or two quick glimpses that appear to be competent effects (before CGI blurs all) and one hilarious line delivery in the form of “Mom, there’s a drunk cop at the door.” All in all, extremely missable and in the least fun way (SO. MUCH. YAMMERING.).

66. Mother Krampus (2017)

Dir. James Klass

Starring: Claire-Maria Fox, Tony Manders

Mother Krampus, the Beetlejuice/Candyman of Xmas Horror, appears if you say her name three times to make gingerskin cookies from your back blubber. She’s also got, like, a Freddy-Krueger-esque establishing story, where the old townsfolk are to blame for her curse? What matters is a female “Krampus” loves eating her victims – that, and the entire movie is generic to a fault. Like 20 legends crammed into one cloaked, pale-faced ghoul, plus a weird divorced mom/dad reunion for added “WTF-ery.” Not today, Christmas Satan!

65. The Blackout (2009)

Dir. Robert David Sanders

Starring: Barbara Streifel Sanders, Joseph Dunn, Ian Malcolm

It’s the Christmas season, electricity goes dark and an alien race starts decapitating an apartment complex full of targets. Sounds like genre fun, but Robert David Sanders presses hard on expectancies that become tiresome after mere minutes – not to mention all the goofs. Why aren’t glasses of water rippling during “tremor” sequences? Why is a small child who’s “stuck in the basement” found at the highest point of an elevator shaft? How can a character punch away his scaly attacker’s piercing tail when before it sliced through flesh like butter? It’s not worth the headache, I assure you.

64. Christmas Slay (2015)

Dir. Steve Davis

Starring: Dani Thompson, Frank Jakeman, Laura Ellen Wilson, Lydia Kay

Psychotic asylum patient escapes in a Santa suit, starts killing hot ladies on vacation with their flings, the whole ordeal ends terribly for everyone. Stop me if you’ve heard this setup before. The slasher ideals are all there, but most of the film is just cleavage-leaning ladies in short-pajama-shorts and tank tops chatting – then some slashing at the end for good measure. Egregious sound design (common theme so far), fine enough action, but the horror aspects that matter are all fairly hackish. Another lump of coal.

63. Krampus Unleashed (2016)

Dir. Robert Conway

Starring: Amelia Brantley, Emily Lynne Aiken, Dujhan Brown

Krampus: Unleashed is the second Robert Conway Krampus movie on this list – neither of which are connected. This one a slight upgrade, if only for the numerous intestine rips and actual Krampus costume. Conway rips guts out like that’s the only practical effect his team perfected – sorry, a few decapitations do sneak in – and it’s one soulless affair.

62. A Cadaver Christmas (2011)

Dir. Joe Zerull

Starring: Daniel Rairdin-Hale, Hanlon Smith-Dorsey, Yosh Hayashi

You can tell A Cadaver Christmas was made with the best of intentions, but the end result is a meta-midnight grindhouse homage that does little to jingle one’s bells. All the characters are intended stereotypes (The Janitor, The Cop, The Drunk, etc), jokes purposely draped with gaudy tinsel, gore of the fakest nature – but it’s all so very underwhelming. Like, why does it take forever for a main character to zombify when a side-character transitions in under a minute? What’s so funny about a cop’s goat-bonin’ perp boinking a charred cadaver? Why does it take so long for the action to start? The great mysteries of life…

61. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part V: The Toy Maker (1991)

Dir. Martin Kitrosser

Starring: Mickey Rooney, Brian Bremer, Clint Howard, Jane Higginson,

I’ll admit, there’s something sexually traumatizing about a life-sized Ken doll humping a female character with his smoothed-off crotch bump while screaming “I love you mommy!” This is way after Mickey Rooney is introduced as Joe Petto, a toy store owner who…well, let’s just say he has a teenage son named Pino. Joe Petto. Pino. Whatever you’re thinking right now, yes. Part 5 is a tremendous departure from the first three – on insanity par with Part 4 – and has nothing to do with Ricky Caldwell from earlier entries (except Clint Howard maybe reprises his role as “Ricky” from Part 4 because how many Ricky’s can there be in the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise?).

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