Well, it took me 5 months, but I finally got around to checking out all the Krampus movies I could get my hands on, half of which predate the major theatrical film by several years. So here goes.
NIGHT OF THE KRAMPUS (2013)
Running less than 30 minutes, this short film is actually a mini-sequel to the movie The Night Shift, which I blog about here. And I must say, this smaller dose of the main characters—a guy, girl, and talking skeleton that guard a cemetery from monsters—is much more succinct than the movie.
It begins with a little girl summoning Krampus after being teased by her brother. We are quickly introduced to the monster, which comes down her chimney to get her brother. He’s a cool looking demon, and comparable to the better creatures on Buffy. The movie could have stopped right here and been a delicious little 5-minute short.
Instead, the dark fairy tale feel is dropped and the trio from The Night Shift steps in to investigate disappearances of local children, bringing their campy style with them. While the talking skeleton is forced to hide out in the car as the guy and girl question parents, he steals the show with his comic lines—and his anti-Christmas carol.
Short and to the point, this actually feels like an episode of Buffy and other monster-slaying shows, with The Night Shift crew battling and vanquishing Krampus. I could easily see a web series spawning from this film.
KRAMPUS: THE CHRISTMAS DEVIL (2013)
Krampus: The Christmas Devil is clearly a low budget indie. While it has a pretty cohesive storyline, there’s a lot of filler to extend the running time, and there’s little in the way of actual Krampus action—or even any clear shots of him.
A cop who was kidnapped as a child is on the case when children begin to go missing in his town. Meanwhile, Santa is around, plotting with Krampus to get all the baddies in town. Krampus trails some kids (a pretty creepy scene) and runs around the woods like something from those old videos of Bigfoot sightings. When he’s hunted by a bunch of hicks with guns—who actually look like real hicks that got paid as extras to run around with their guns—they shoot at him, but there’s no firing sound! This scene goes on way too long and quickly becomes painfully boring and amateurish. To, um, bring some excitement, Krampus returns to his lair, where he has a woman tied up. He rips off her top and fondles her a bit. Yeah, the low budget really starts to shine through here.
The highlight of the film is consistently creepy indie horror actor Bill Oberst Jr. (Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, Scary or Die, All Hallows’ Eve 2, Gnome Alone) as an escaped convict who has a score to settle with the cop. When he shows up at the house and terrorizes the cop’s wife, you can actually see the actress’s performance improve as she draws her motivation from Oberst’s performance.
Other highlights include: storybook intro credits—set to a hard rock song though, not a Christmas song; a terrible news report scene in which the actress has to look up at the cue cards, but then makes it all better by finishing her report with a mention of the holiday classic A Christmas Story; and a heavy metal “Night Before Christmas” song during the end credits, along with bloopers from the movie.
The finale is massively disappointing, with no epic battle against Krampus, no real good look at him, and an abrupt, inconclusive ending that demands a sequel. And according to imdb, it looks like one is on its way.
KRAMPUS: THE RECKONING (2015)
Krampus: The Reckoning seems universally loathed online. Color me shocked that I actually liked it—enough to want to add it to my DVD collection. This movie would probably be considered a classic if it had hit the video store shelves in the 80s. It often feels very much like an old school rubber monster creature feature, has gore and sex, and is drenched in red lighting and mist.
The intro scene immediately grabbed my horror-loving attention, as a sweet, caring grandmother tells her granddaughter about the horror of the Christmas Krampus. Yes! Soon after, a bitchy babysitter and her boyfriend have sex—and out comes Krampus to slaughter them! Double yes!
After the murders, the little girl is placed under observation in an institution with other children—who she begins to terrorize with her foresight into their lives and her warnings of Krampus coming to get all the bad boys and girls. The psychologist assigned to her begins getting cozy with the detective on the case, played by this daddy James Ray. I’d like to be the guy getting cozy with him on the back of that bike….
While there are some fun Krampus kill scenes sprinkled throughout the film, it does begin to slow down, getting very talkie and focusing on the relationship of the main characters for a while. But the final act exchanges the cheesy 80s creature feature slasher feel for a grittier, horrorsexual style as the therapist is dragged into a dream-like realm, complete with a sizzling hot sex scene with James Ray and trippy terror visuals reminiscent of late 1970s supernatural horror, complete with a somber ending (except for the one on James Ray…that one is quite uplifting).
Look, I’m not perve—okay. Let me rephrase. I’m not as much of a perve as it’s about to seem. While I was freeze-framing the movie to grab the shot of James Ray’s ass, I just happened to notice as he crawled between the woman’s legs that there was something huge dangling there. So…I examined closer, and it appears he’s wearing a white cock sock, but it can’t hide the fact that it’s hiding something huge. Look at these still shots as it progressively moves into the shadows. Whatever James Ray has stuffed into that cock sock is fucking dragging the mattress.
Oh. Since I’ve taken this look at wholesome Christmas movies to a dirty place, I might as well mention that the man behind the Krampus mask is one William “Bill” Connor. Um…Krampus, I’ve been bad. Very bad. Not bad enough to kill, but definitely bad enough for a really good spanking….
Well, it’s time to cover the biggie. The one we were all waiting for, with sleek Hollywood production, magical Christmas spirit and atmosphere, and a great cast. Hell, most of them have done horror: Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense, Hitchcock, Fright Night remake); Adam Scott (Piranha 3D, Hellraiser: Bloodline, The Return), David Koechner (Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Crawlspace remake, A Haunted House, Piranha 3DD, Final Destination 5, Snakes on a Plane); and Conchata Ferrell of Two and Half Men and Hot L Baltimore (no horror on her resume).
Damn, did this movie disappoint the fuck out of me. We meet our dysfunctional family at Christmas, and the young son who just wishes everyone could get along. After a great scene—both in terms of visuals and suspense—of his sister being chased down the block by Krampus during a blizzard, this movie becomes the Griswold’s Christmas Vacation meets Dolls meets The Gingerdead Man.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some cool, campy, fun scenes of the family taking on snarky gingerbread cookies and Christmas toys, but in between, there are long stretches of pretty much nothing happening as they all sit around the house waiting for the next exciting scene….
The movie really needed to be shaved down from an hour and thirty-seven minutes to an hour and twenty minutes at most to fix the pacing problem. It also would have given Krampus a proportionately larger role in the film, considering he has a mere small part in the final act—a final act that is a chaotic, sloppy mess! WTF happened to this movie?
Honestly, despite Krampus being in only one of four stories in the instant holiday horror classic A Christmas Horror Story (blog here), his presence was much more momentous than it is here. You would think that movie, with its awesomely interwoven horror anthology approach, was from the director of Trick ‘r Treat, not this one.