Featuring: William “Star Trek” Shatner , George “The Case for Christmas” Buza , Zoe “Orphan Black” De Grand Maison
Directors: Grant “Ginger Snaps Back: the Beginning” Harvey , Brett “Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed” Sullivan & Steve Hoban
Writers: Doug “Splice” Taylor , Pascal “Hellions” Trottier , James “Roxy Hunter and the Secret of the Shaman” Kee & Sarah Larsen
Also Known As: A Holiday Horror Story (name changed for the DVD sleeve only, so the movie could be sold in some Wal-Mart stores. No diggity.)
‘Twas the night before Cthulhumas and, alone in The Tomb,
Anubis was reviewing, despite having other shit to do.
I hate buying presents for people. Ra is being a real dickhead this year. Every time I ask him what he wants for Cthulhumas, the fuckstick just keeps telling me he wants a life-sized butter sculpture of Lou Ferrigno from the Golan-Globus Hercules movie. Do you know how hard it is to find a sculptor that works in the dairy medium this time of year!? If my situation were the line from a theoretical Weird Al Yankovic parody of a Pearl Jam song, I’d say I “can’t find a butter man”… and yes, I made all of this up just so I could say that. Lick me.
Go ahead! I used peppermint body wash this morning!
I mentioned in the last episode that Krampus is the 2015 holiday season’s monster-of-the-moment. As I may have also mentioned (the last week has been a whiskey nog haze), go see Legendary Pictures’ Krampus, in theaters now! Hurry before it gets bumped for the next “found footage” ghost movie in the “garbage I wouldn’t piss on were it aflame” queue. Speaking of Krampus, guess who’s featured in today’s anthological episode? If you said Krampus, you win! Get yourself a Gingerdead cookie and a shot of Milk Plus from Uncle Anubis’ padlocked mini-fridge (the key is behind the goat skull in the kitchen), then get back here, sit your ass in front of the fireplace (or in the fireplace, if you like), and let’s engage in another round of Yuletide tales.
As a disclaimer, despite what possibilities the title of this movie may invoke, it is neither an “American Horror Story” Christmas special, nor the blood & gore sequel to A Christmas Story directed by John Carl Buechler where Ralphie, dressed in his pink bunny pajamas, hunts down every adult who told him he’d shoot his eye out, then proceeds to gouge out their eyes with an ice cream scoop. I asked Annual Gift Giving Man for it last Non-Denominational Gift Exchange Day, and no dice. Not the first time I’ve been fucked by the big rubber dick of disappointment (also known as “the Festivus Pole” in some circles), and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
What is A Christmas Horror Story aboot? Well, hosers, this gift from our neighbors to the North stars noted starship Captain and Hollywood Hebrew, Billy “Rock-et MAN!” Shatner, as radio disc jockey Dangerous Dan. Not to be confused with ’80s WWF personality Dangerous Danny Davis, whose gimmick was that of a crooked referee who also wrestled. You know he was dangerous because he had the word “Dangerous” printed on the ass of his tights, and you can’t print something across the ass of your pants if it’s not true! Like those “Juicy” pants big ass girls wear. Much like juice, they’re best when freshly squeezed too. *wink*wink*nudge*nudge*
(Squeeze at your own risk.)
Double D does a Pontypool and spends his time on camera in the broadcaster’s booth for the extent of the feature. While he’s dead set on spreading holiday cheer amid the citizens of his town of Bailey Downs (his listeners and coworkers of which don’t seem all that receptive to his efforts), we the viewers are taken on a quartet of intermingling tales in the interim. Not “intermingling” by means of plot, though, but rather in that we fumble in and out of each story at the editor’s tyrannical whim. We are merely puppets and A Christmas Horror Story is the string by which he makes his marionettes dance. “PULL DA STRINK! PULL DA STRINK!”
Our first yarn follows a trio of high school kids: Dylan (Shannon Kook), Molly (Zoé De Grand Maison, whose name literally means “Zoe of the Big House” and who looks like a poor man’s Emma Stone), and Ben (Alex Ozerov). Attempting to catch the receding “found footage” wave before it goes back out to sea for another 5 or 6 year hiatus, the trio sneak into Bailey Downs High to do some hard boiled “Action News for Kids” investigating into a mysterious double homicide that took place in the building’s labyrinthine basement the year before. Having reviewed the leaked footage from the police investigation (because they don’t accidentally erase their evidence, CHICAGO PD!), they know something more than a simple dual murder took place in the darkened halls beneath their teenage prison, and they aim to find out what. As is the way in scare flicks they get locked in (possibly by the killer, returning to the scene?), discover the school’s morbid history, are confronted with the awful truth about the ritualistic murders, yadda yadda yadda. If you want to find out said awful truth yourself, feel free to watch the movie or “Read the Bantam book!”
Do they still novelize/bookify movies anymore? Given there are more platforms to watch stuff on nowadays than there are heads on a Hydra after you put it through an industrial blender, I can’t really see the rationalization behind sustaining such a market. It’s not like the old days when you had to wait two years for Dawn of the Dead to come out on Betamax, so you re-read your St. Martin’s copy cover-to-cover a few dozen times while you waited! By Rudolph’s radioactive nasal beacon, I had a screener copy of The Green Inferno a week before it left the local multiplex, and I ain’t talkin’ Transformers! Besides, that was Metroplex. Though I would enjoy the irony of Michael Bay making a Decepticon character that’s just a huge cinemaplex who crushes all of the moviegoers inside of it whenever it transforms. Then again, subtlety got a restraining order placed on Michael Bay years ago, so never mind. He’d just fuck it up like everything else and forcibly remove the joy from a few thousand more people. He’s Hollywood’s metaphorical on-par for Nazi stormtroopers dragging Jewish children away from their parents’ arms so their tiny hands could be put to use working in Hugo Boss’s sweatshops.
Story numero dos involves another trio: Scott (Adrian Holmes, who’s a dead ringer for Mike Yard and Taye Diggs’ love child), Kim (Oluniké Adeliyi), and Will (Orion John). Unlike our last amitié à trois, this trio keeps it in the family – Scott and Kim are Will’s parents. Despite being a cop, Scott takes his mini-brood Christmas tree hunting on private property,which reminds me fondly of my own illustrious annual “trail of tears” death march to commit our own act of ornamental herbicide. Will wanders off and goes missing, bur he’s found safe and sound one short and panicked search later. The family then heads home with their purloined pine, a little unsettled but none the worse for wear… except for Will, who starts acting really weird and creepy and shit. Scott gets sick of this crap quick, but his old-fashioned approach of parenting with his pants holder-upper doesn’t quite do the trick. “Big Earl” (Allen Peterson), the owner of the property from which the family misappropriated their O Tannenbaum may have an idea of what’s up with the lad, but Will could just be getting a head start on being a rebellious teenage dickhead. But that’s more a case for an episode of “Degrassi Junior High” than a horror movie, eh? As such, I wouldn’t bet my roasting chestnuts on it.
The third chapter in our movie’s table of contents finally gets things Kramp-ing! Upping the ante by a head, this story follows a quartet of characters: Caprice (Amy Forsyth, Kirsten Dunst’s non-union Canadian equivalent), Duncan (Percy Hynes-White), Diane (Michelle Noldan), and Taylor (Jeff Clarke). Diane and Taylor are the parents here, Caprice is their teenage daughter, and Duncan is just as much a junior a-hole as you’d expect a kid named “Duncan” to be. The four visit Taylor’s Aunt Edda (Corrine Conley) for some mandatory holiday tidings of comfort and joy (mostly to suck up to the wealthy old crone), and meet her grinchy German caretaker Gerhardt (perpetual “background weirdo #2”, Julian Richings). Krampus gets name dropped like he’s going out-of-style and Gerhardt warns them to be good, lest the bastard child of Lucifer and a Likitung come get them. Naturally, this is the perfect time for Dunc to intentionally break a decorative figurine of said yuletide disciplinarian because, again, kids named Duncan are ornery little shit bags.
Following the brat’s brazen act of dickery, Edda throws a fit and kicks the clan out. As they’re driving home, Dad swerves to avoid a yeti looking creature (maybe it’s a shaved Wampa) that runs across their path, and spins the car out into some deep snow. Unable to get anywhere (hence why I keep a shovel, extra floor mats, and full grown Saint Bernard in my trunk) the four are left to brave a winter wonderland in the middle of nowhere as they seek help…with a certain holiday hellraiser hot on their haunches. Much like his fellow film incarnations, don’t expect this version of the Saturnalian satyr to stop at some simple season’s beatings with a few well-deserved lashings across these douche bags’ backsides. No, he’s eyeing more permanent forms of punishment that utilize the type of excessive force that would give the ’90s LAPD envy boners. #BlackPeteLivesMatter
Our feature’s fourth fable follows the red man himself. No, not the racist mascot of Red Man chewing tobacco. I of course refer to Satan. Errr, Santa (George Buza). You know what I meant, Church Lady. Anyway, the bowl full of jelly is preparing for his solitary day of employment for the year, before having to spend the next eleven months getting shit from Mrs. Claus (Debra McCabe, playing a much younger Mrs. C than you’d expect, cuz Santa’s apparently an old perv) about how he needs to do something with his life beyond watching Mexican elf soap operas from his La-Z-Boy all day and adding to his collection of bed sores. While his vertically challenged minions go aboot their business, prepping toys for the big night, one of Klaus’s helpers, Shiny (Ken Hall) comes down with an odd and sudden illness that gives the little goober Tourette’s. “I said I don’t want a cookie, you reindeer fucking snow whore!”
Before you can say “28 Days Later at the North Pole”, the frost-bitten Oompa Loompas (who stole their uniforms from the “sandwich artists” at Subway) become infected and revolt against their portly oppressor in a mob of gnashing, gore splashed teeth. If this were traditional Santa Claus, as owned by the Coca-Cola Corporation, he’d be dead and clogging the minute cannibals’ arteries within moments. To help give He of the Merry Dimples and Twinkling Eyes an edge on the zombie mob, we get a bad-ass holiday icon who looks like he’d be more comfortable driving a Harley-Davidson than a sleigh, complete with Mrs. Claus riding the sissy bar wearing nothing but cut-off jean shorts, leather boots, and nipple rings.
When the shit starts to go down in the jolly old elf’s castle (the interior of which looks remarkably like affordable office space…), Kringle theorizes that Krampus must be responsible for whatever bad juju is turning his sweatshoppers into heart stoppers, so for those wondering whether the promised clash of Yule pugilists portrayed on the movie’s poster actually comes to fruition, the answer is – sorta. As has become a common theme in some of the other movies I’ve recently reviewed, A Christmas Horror Story (just like the Six Million Dollar man’s replacement penis, fashioned from an old soft serve ice cream dispenser) comes with a twist. Unlike some of said others, this twist doesn’t inject acidic enzymes into the movie, break it down into a sumptuous primordial ooze, and consume it whole. No, this twist actually works well enough that I didn’t hate it. In fact, there’s very little I could say that I do hate about this movie in general!
The stories all take place on Christmas Eve Day and all connect with each other through shared characters. Mary mentions that she used to babysit Will, and Scott was one of the investigators on the high school murders. He went on leave afterward to deal with the resultant PTSD. Said trauma carries over to his own story as a point of contention for his relationship with his family. Caprice is a major catalyst in getting the first story going, as she brings her trio of friends the keys with which they break into the school. Even Santa’s tale comes back to the Bailey Downs city limits, but I can’t tell you how because it would spoil the surprise! No peeking!
My only major misgiving with the movie is its story structure. Unlike the traditional anthology one-at-a-time format, we instead jump back and forth between them chronologically as the day passes, while popping in on Dan occasionally to remind us that William Shatner stopped by to pick up a paycheck. Given that someone named Bev Feldman gets a credit as “teleprompter operator”, it doesn’t look like The Shat even bothered to learn what few lines he had.
Though I get the reasoning behind this mish-mash approach, the pace gets outright ravaged as a result. Just when you’re getting invested in any of the characters or their predicaments, you get thrown awkwardly back into another ensembles quandary. It’s a complicated dance that calls for precision, like Pulp Fiction. Instead we end up getting our toes stepped on every 10 minutes or so. I feel like I’d need ADHD to fully appreciate the flick as is.
The big gripe out of the way, my only minor misgivings with ACHS are a moment or two of unfortunately poor computer generated effects (thank Savini that almost all of the effects are practical) and the opening and ending credits theme of “Carol of the Bells” (thank you, public domain usage rights) as sung by what I can only presume to be a robot child. Fucking auto tune. Oh well, it’s still better than The Snots’ rendition of “Jingle Bells” that also plays at the end. Yep. The Snots.
Beyond those niggles though, I really liked this movie! The acting is all very solid with a few nice stand out moments of drama, especially from the ladies. The makeup, costumes and viscera are serviceable-to-admirable, and despite there being three different directors on the project, I wouldn’t have known the difference if I hadn’t read it ahead of time. Saying three directors’ styles are so generic that there’s little to distinguish them from each other may not sound like a compliment, but as the viewer it’s a good thing, because it lessens the turbulence of transitioning between plots. Krampus himself looks more like something out of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “make your own mutant” fan contest than his traditional self, but the albino steroid man-goat look works for him. They even made use of his Gene Simmons shaming demonic lick muscle! Definitely better than the computer generated reject from an ’80s heavy metal album cover concept art that The Reckoning gave us, that’s for sure.
All in all, A Christmas Horror Story perverts holiday traditions with a blend of dark fables and personal horrors, mixing the mythological with the relatable. Stories aren’t long enough to outlive their welcome, but are just developed enough that you won’t be forgetting them a day after watching. Maybe I’m high on holly jolly and sugar plum fairy farts, or maybe after choking down the turd brisket that was Krampus: the Reckoning last time, even John Candy’s vintage ’94 back sweat (collected on the set of Wagons East) would taste like a candy cane martini in contrast! Either way, I declare this flick a fitting addition to anyone’s holiday horror rotation. Thanks, Canada! You’ll always be the greatest white North to me. May your days be merry and bright and may all your Cthulhumases be shiny with poutine and back bacon, from sea to shining sea!
Now come back tomorrow for a very special gift from me to you! It’s the bread box sized package under your tree that’s decorated in old newspapers and bio-hazard tape that you’ve been hearing a random *thump*ing sound from every night around midnight… No peeking!
What’s with all the buckles, Santa? You going for that outdated “Steampunk” look? Or is one hernia belt just not cutting it for you these days?
Captain Kirk reacts to the news of yet another green chick filing a paternity suit against him. So much for alien and human DNA not being compatible!
Luke Cage’s new “edgier” catchphrase, as adjusted for his upcoming NetFlix series following the precedent set by “Jessica Jones”.
Kids will do anything to get a few hundred thousand video hits online these days. Who would’ve thought that YouTube would be such a catalyst for “survival of the fittest” forced evolution.
“Thanks for stopping, mister! My friends told me I’d never get anyone out here and, truth be told, you’re my first customer in three weeks! So, you lookin’ for a pumper, a sucker, a humper, or a dumper?”
“Welcome to Bailey High Action News! Today’s top stories – Principal Dickers arrested for alleged inappropriate relationships with several members of the girls’ field hockey team! Also, are the cafeteria’s hash browns just yesterday’s tater tots? Find out here!”
Jack’s wife finally broke the news to him about Santa Claus’s lack of existence. Poor little guy.
“I’m no doctor, Sparkles, but I’d say this is way worse than ‘just a hangnail’…”
“Hahaha! This tree reminds me of my wife after she gave natural birth to our triplets!… god rest her soul.”
A figurine of lesser-known saint, Sister Mary “Only Prays When People Are Looking” Gallagher.
I’ve seen messy eaters before, but that kid’s spaghetti dinner looks like a school of jellyfish exploded on his plate!
“Dangerous Grandpa” being the moniker given to him by the Bailey Downs Tribune following his vehicular manslaughter of 12 people at the weekly farmers’ market.
By far the worst actor in the whole movie. Her performance was just so… wooden. (Please don’t hit me!)
Looks like we walked in on them while they were comparing sizes… awkward.
From here it looks like he’s relieving himself inside one of The Tall Man’s dimensional gateways! Well, any port in a piss storm, right?
Timmy was determined to make sure that Santa didn’t miss him this year. “I know you can see me now, you fat bastard! Get down here and make with the presents!”
Looks like Krampus just caught a whiff of himself. I tell him he needs a full body heat drying after every shower, but he always thinks he can shake off and he’ll be fine. And he wonders why none of the other anthropomorphic creatures of folklore want to date him!
He looks like the type of Santa that would have “If you can read this, the bitch fell off!” stitched onto the back of his leather vest.
Anubis will return next time in
“Toys In Babeland”
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