“Why are you so bloody?”
Genre: Government-created Killer Santas
New Holiday Spirit or Ghost of Christmas Past?: Released 2022
Bonus Content?: Blood and gore!
Where I Watched: Shudder
Synopsis: Tori Tooms has just closed up her record shop for Christmas Eve, and now it’s time to party y’all! Her employee Robbie has talked her into getting Blizen-ed at the local pub, after they visit their friends at the local toy shop. But the animatronic Santa the shop rented for the season has a small glitch. I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about…why is robot santa picking up an axe?
Worth the Eggnog?: Christmas feels like Chopping Mall meets Terminator meets Silent Night, Deadly Night. But with lead characters that feel like the leads from Shaun of the Dead, if they were dirty mouthed metalheads. And Christmas is just as bonkers as that sounds. Oh look – this film has RoboSantas that are being recalled because “a few have been reverting to their old Defense Department firmware”. Who could have seen that coming? Well, everybody will settle down on a long winter’s night to watch this. As Robbie says early on in this film, “Mazel Tov – cheers motherfucker!”
The opening credits are flashing me on awesomeness, as is the punk rock opening credits song. Christmas feels like a love letter to a part of the 80s that doesn’t get enough love; the metalheads. (Okay, didn’t get enough love ’til Stranger Things intro’d Eddie. But before that, modern media tended to focus on spandex and neon, rather than chains and Motörhead. Director Joe Begos knows how to do a gritty aesthetic; 2019’s VFW is a smorgasbord of 80s action movie callbacks. And here in Christmas, he grabs the tropes of 80s horror and gives them a big, bloody hug. Everything about this film feels like a love letter to 80s horror. From the plot (ZOMG KILLER ROBOTS) to the pacing (things get repeated quite a lot, mostly because the characters won’t slow down for a second and try to figure out what’s going on). The costuming is 21st Century meets 80s punk scene, and I got flashbacks to a few old haunts. (Phantasmagoria Records, I still miss you…) Even the soundtrack feels like something you’d hear in a mid-80s horror film. And it’s pretty freaking cool.
Riley Dandy delivers a fantastic performance as Tori, wading through the “cooler than thou” aesthetic she dons as a record shop owner, and finding the layers in this character. Most everyone else is backup to her lead singer, but special shout outs to Jeff Daniel Phillips as cool-but-clueless Sheriff Monroe, and the wonderful character actor Abraham Benrubi as Mr. RoboSanta himself. Yeah, the film sometimes pads its under ninety minute run-time with scenes that are either a bit too long or are repetitive (or both), but that too gives me a hit of that ol’ 80s nostalgia. Plus, more repeats really means more gory kills that are almost goofy in their over-the-top level of mayhem. Thank you, Russell FX!
I love the attention to detail from these creators; there’s so much of and 80s horror vibe to this film, it’d be an unobtrusive addition to any movie marathon featuring movies of that decade. Throw this on along with Night of the Comet, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and of course the films I mentioned in my opening salvo. Or keep things modern with a mix of 21st Century films with a retro vibe, like The Cleansing Hour, and/or Revealer. You’re spoiled for choice with this one. Ho Ho Horror, y’all!
Score: 3.5 out of 5 Hos.