Nothing warms your heart or gets you in the Christmas spirit quite like listening to Bing Crosby singing Santa Claus is coming to Town. I mean, you can almost smell the cinnamon and coco and feel the warmth coming from the roaring fireplace. Children laughing, bells ringing, the sounds of murder, mayhem and bloodshed filling the air. No? Just me? Christmas has had a long history of unusual traditions over the centuries and one of the darkest and most unsettling was brought to life beautifully in the themed horror-comedy Krampus. The titular creature is a horned, almost demonic or satiric looking creature with cloven hooves, horns, and a penchant for snatching up wicked children and punishing them on Christmas Eve. The movie opens with a musical montage set to the aforementioned Bing Crosby holiday standard as shoppers trample over each other in a rage of last minute Christmas shopping that makes Black Friday rioting look like a romp in the park. It’s here that we meet a very special little boy named Max dressed as a reindeer for a pageant while beating the shit out of another boy dressed as Joseph in the nativity scene. Max Engel is an 11-year-old boy who still holds out hope for the magic of the season that can bring families closer together and, for a little while, make the world seem okay. Of course his parents and older sister are a bit more jaded. Still, he doesn’t lose hope as his German speaking grandmother Omi reminds him to write his letter to Santa as they bake cookies. As the more… colorful wing of the family arrives in their giant Humvee for the holiday festivities the film continues along the lines of a classic Christmas comedy. As yuppie suburbanites Tom and Sarah are coping with the redneck stereotype in-laws Howard and Linda as well as Aunt Dorothy( the wonderfully cantankerous Conchata Ferrel) Max’s cousin Stevie sees the note to Santa in the boy’s pocket and promptly steals it, reading it aloud at the dinner table in an attempt to embarrass him. What she doesn’t realize is that her young cousin, full of hope and wishful thinking has asked for things to be better for everyone. He writes as for his mom and dad to love each other again, for his sister to spend time with him, and best of all for his uncle Howard to accept his daughters as they are instead of being disappointed that they weren’t born boys. The resulting fist fight, shouts of “I hate all of you” and tears as he rips up his letter to Santa, tacitly turning away from his faith in the jolly old elf, are everything we need to either set the stage for a Christmas miracle or a holiday horror show. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out, does it? The power goes out as an unexpected blizzard envelopes the neighborhood and begins a three day march for the family into the snowy depths of hell. The next morning, a single, unnerving looking snowman has appeared in the Engel family’s yard while everyone is chattering on about no power, no heat, and no wifi. A seemingly innocuous package is delivered by a lone delivery driver while grandma Omi stokes the flames in the fireplace, trying to hide the sort of anxious fear on her face that foreshadows her knowledge of things to come. Meanwhile, teenage daughter Beth has gone for a stroll around the block to her boyfriend’s house. As she walks through the winter wonderland she notices that every single house in the neighborhood is powerless, vacant, and giving off all the charm and merriment of a recently vacated ghost town. This is where we get our first glimpse of Krampus. Beth, hearing a noise turns to look at a home along her walk and sees the towering, bulky figure of the Anti-Claus himself standing on a rooftop. He’s wearing the same sort of deep maroon cloak with fur trim you’d expect from old Saint Nick but his horns are sticking out several feet from the hood and he’s wrapped in jangling chains. Beth runs and takes refuge under the delivery truck we’ve just seen back at her place. The driver is still inside, literally frozen with a look of panic stricken horror forever carved onto his face. She slips under the truck and watches as two large, cloven hooves walk around before Krampus drops a gift and disappears. For a moment, everything seems fine until the ominous music box begins to play Pop Goes the Weasel. A small jack-in-the-box springs out and it’s all over but the screaming. That’s always how a good horror movie starts. That sharp turn around as you think a character is safe only to have them suddenly taken. Often there’s that mystery too as to how the first one dies. From here on in, though, it’s the standard one-by-one as character after character is picked off by a growing army of holiday themed nightmares. Murderous ginger bread men, demonic teddy bears, some sort of snaking terror lurking under the snow, Krampus’ elves and a much larger, much hungrier man eating jack-in-the-box referred to as der klown all attack the family in wave upon wave of Christmas carnage. Omi finally explains how Krampus is summoned when the innocence and hope are lost and the spirit of giving is sacrificed for selfishness. She explains how she was the lone survivor of Krampus one dark Christmas after World War II. He left her with a bell, the German inscription along the lines of “A gift from Krampus” as a reminder of what happens when we give up hope. In the end, Max finds himself alone, surrounded by elves, toys, and monsters as he confronts Krampus head on. There’s a very touching moment where, in a traditional Christmas movie you might have seen a change in the old monster’s heart and a sudden, happy ending. But if that’s what you’re looking for, I’d suggest How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Krampus reminded me so much of Gremlins in its overall tone and cinematography that it was impossible not to enjoy. The monsters are largely practical effects creations of make-up and animatronics. While I absolutely loved der klown and the gingerbread men the real star was the title player here. Krampus was a suit and animatronic piece that moved in a combination of fluid motions and jerking, puppeteer pulls. His face is a gruesome caricature of Santa Claus that looks like wet leather and carved mahogany all at the same time. The jaw opens the way a marionettes would while a long, diseased looking pink tongue snakes out seemingly like an independent being. No, this movie was not remotely frightening. What it was, however, was another great addition to the ongoing tradition of Yuletide creature features. It also served to introduce some old world folklore into the stagnant pool of Christmas tales and traditions. Like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Nightmare before Christmas, or Scrooged, Krampus will be one of those winter staples added to my required watching come Christmas Eve. So, just like Bing Crosby sang, you better watch out and you better not cry ‘cause Krampus is coming to town. See larger image Krampus [Blu-ray] Legendary Pictures’ Krampus, a darkly festive tale of a yuletide ghoul, reveals an irreverently twisted side to the holiday. When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max (Emjay Anthony) is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family’s home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive. New From: $9.88 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.