The Celebrating the Birth of the
Jesus in Style ROSSMAN
It almost pains me to say this, but I think I'm tired of my annual Christmas movies. I've seen Scrooged, Die Hard, Gremlins, Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, Bad Santa, Nightmare Before Christmas, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street (the original, not the shitty remake), Always My Santa, and The Muppet Christmas Carol so many times now that I can probably recite each script in its entirety by heart.
And so, this year, I have been going out of my way to watch holiday flicks that I've either never seen before, or have only watched once before. So far, I've gotten through Rare Exports, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Tokyo Godfathers, Krampus, and now Santa's Slay and A Christmas Horror Story. I am here to tell you that you have not LIVED until you've seen Santa's Slay and A Christmas Horror Story. I think this is the first time where two movies that I'm pitting against each other in the same review have both been mind-blowingly amaaaaaazing, but for two totally different reasons.
I recommend both Santa's Slay and A Christmas Horror Story, and I recommend that you sit your fat ass down and watch them both some time before Christmas, when all Christmas movies then magically turn from joyous occasions to sad remembrances.
Santa's Slay is one of the most wonderful things I've ever seen. I first accidentally caught it on basic cable back in December of 2008, and the first 3 minutes of this movie were the absolute BEST 3 minutes of any Christmas story ever filmed (if you've ever had the misfortune of eating Christmas Eve dinner with a dysfunctional family that you've wanted to murder with a turkey leg).
The movie starts out with James Caan, Rebecca Gayheart, Fran Drescher, Chris Kattan, some slutty teenage girls, and an annoying yap dog, all bickering over the terrible meal that Fran Drescher's character just cooked. Then, everyone quiets down when they hear something stomping around on the roof, which leads to the fireplace suddenly EXPLODING inward, and professional wrestler Bill Goldberg (as Santa) marching into the room. Goldberg Santa then proceeds to beat the assholic family to death using bits of furniture, the dog, and the Christmas turkey itself, in a display of violence that will make you laugh, applaud, and possibly rewind several times before proceeding with the rest of the story.
And it only gets better from there.
Without spoiling the rest of the festive kills, I'll just tell you the basic plot outline, so that you can get a better feel of what you're getting into here.
You see, Santa is Satan's own child of a virgin birth (Merry Christmas!), but unlike Jesus, Santa HATES people, and especially children. Once a year, in the middle of winter, he used to go around killing humans all willy-nilly just for Santa shits and giggles. This led the good Christians of the world to go to a Christ Mass on that night and pray for their unlistening God to save them.
But then one year, back in 1005AD, an angel took it upon himself to descend from heaven, disguise himself as an old man, and challenge Santa to a curling contest (I think this flick was produced by Canadians). If Santa won, the old man would become a servant of Satan forever in Hell, but if the man won, Santa would be forced to be nice to everyone for a full millennium, and actually spread joy to the children of the world at least once a year.
It turns out that the angel was a pretty fucking awesome curler though, and Santa lost. And thus began the 1,000 year-reign of the gift-giving Santa! Saint to all the good gentile boys and girls.
But now it is 2005AD, and Santa's good guy term limit is up, and HE'S PISSED. And now it's up to some poor teenager named Nicolas, his girlfriend Claire-From-Lost (with a great American accent), and Nic's insane granddad Robert Culp (from I Spy and The Greatest American Hero fame) to warn the town (and especially Dave Thomas of "Bob and Doug McKenzie") that Santa's coming, and that he'll kill you GOOD, no matter if you've been naughty or nice.
The story, the Santa murders, the cast... Everything here is a tremendous surprise! The only thing I might say is poor is the cheap budget. But because of it's minuscule cost, the creators were able to get away with a lot of shit that other larger budgeted flicks might not, and it was clear that everybody involved was in it for the sake of having fun. And holy shit does it show.
Nobody in this movie takes anything seriously — from the fact that Santa is real, and that he's Satan's son, to the extremely violent, but goddamn hilarious deaths. Every kill is unique, and somebody actually gets run over by a reindeer. Well, a "hell-deer," but you get the idea.
It's great fun for the whole fucking family! Unless your family is a bunch of squares who hate wrestling.
On to A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY
I was bored one night last week, and I just happened to look up "Christmas" on Netflix, and this movie popped up. I saw that it had William Shatner in it (Denny Crane!), and was drunk enough on eggnog (what I call Yuengling around the holidays) to think that this had to be the most amazing thing ever. And it was close to that.
A Christmas Horror Story is an anthology of 4 main loosely connected stories that either have directly to do with Christmas, or just so happen to take place on Christmas Eve. It is much more of a real horror movie than the satiriffic and hilarious Santa's Slay, but this flick is still a lot of fun, and half of the tales presented are so tongue-in-cheek that it looks like they're pantomiming a blowjob.
There's one story about three teens who sneak into the basement of their school (which used to be a convent for a bunch of Catholic penguins) on December 24th, in order to film a documentary about the gruesome deaths of two students the previous Christmas Eve. They had a fourth friend who was supposed to go with them, but she was forced by her parents to go to her great-aunt's house because her dad's a dick.
Anyway, the kids get locked in the creepy as fuck, dark basement of the school (amid life-sized nativity scene statues that look half-melted/borderline retarded), and find out the truth behind some of the rumors of vengeful ghosts and possibly sadistic nuns, while they try to find a way out of their cold basement prison before they're missed at home. This narrative was alright, but then we meet up with...
The first responding police officer to the Christmas Eve high school murder of the previous year, and his small family, consisting of his wife and son. Mr. Policeguy decides to trespass into somebody's tree-filled property and cut down a Christmas tree for shits and giggles. The police dad thinks it'll be a great memory for his little 5 year-old boy, but the wife is a harpy of a bitch who won't shut up about how much fun she's not having, to the point where they lose their child in the deep woods due to her bickering. After a few minutes of panic though, the kid emerges from the inside of a giant, hollow tree on the edge of a clearing, and they all go home as if stealing trees and losing children in "Big Earl's" woods on Christmas Eve is as normal as hanging a sock on one's mantle for a fat guy to chuck chocolates into.
But once the policeman and his fam arrive home, the boy starts acting... well, like a disturbing fucking nightmare. Honestly, I don't know if that child actor is just that good, or simply that unpleasant in real life, but he terrified both me and his parents who come to believe that they didn't in fact bring their real boy home that day.
Next we hang out with the the 4th teen (who was supposed to break into the high school with her friends), as she and her brother, mother, and father head on up to their rich Aunt Edda's house for Christmas, even though Aunt Edda has no idea they're coming. You see, the father is a total dingus, and he's lost all the money that his shitty business had, and he needs his loaded aunt's help to get a kickstart in funds for the next year. But after the twatty teenage son breaks one of Aunt Edda's Christmas trinkets (a statuette of the Krampus), they are kicked out of her mansion and forced to drive home along a deserted road, hopefully making it home before dark.
They are of course run off the road by a large... something, and then the family finds some sort of deranged bonding as they figure out that the anti-Santa Claus (the real, actual Krampus) appears to be hunting them down because they're all terrible people.
And finally, and best of all, comes the main reason to watch A Christmas Horror Story: Santa Claus versus zombie fucking elves!
You see, it's Christmas Eve at the North Pole, and Santa is getting ready to depart for his global mission of delivering toys to all the good children of the world who believe in him and the Jesus... But as Mrs. Claus brings cookies and milk for all the helpers just before the famous sleigh gets loaded up, one of the elves seems to snap, cursing out everybody, before dying in a bloody heap on the toyshop floor... Only to shorty rise again, biting and turning the other elves into blood-thirsty zombies too. In the end it's all up to Santa (and his sharpened-like-an-axe St. Nicholas staff) to kill them all and save Christmas from whatever dark forces are conspiring to destroy the normally joyous holiday from the inside.
Oh, and then there's Shatner in the role of a local radio DJ (Dangerous Dan) who's in the middle of his annual all-day and all-night Christmas Eve shift. Dangerous Dan really has no real role to play in all these stories I just told you about, but goddammit! If you put Willy Shatner in something, I WILL absolutely love you for it!
Anyway, the first two tales are pretty much straight up horror stories, and they're pretty good, all things considered (and I must reiterate just how creeptastic that child is in the police officer's family story). But the other two main narratives are borderline silly in their Christmassy outrageousness. But it totally works for them, as they were my favorite segments of this fine film. Honestly, just the "Santa versus elf zombies" one would have been enough for me, but a pretty good Krampus tale, and two devious straight up horror shorts all tied up in one pretty bow?... Oh yeah. Almost the perfect Christmas movie.
Ho, ho, ho. Final ho thoughts.
I HATE bad movies (think The Last Airbender), but I love good B-movies. There's a huuuuuge difference. There's also an enormous difference between good and terrible B-movies — most people don't understand this. Any of the shitty SyFy Channel monster movies (any of their Mega Shark, or Sharknado, or insect person flicks) count as shitty, terrible B-movies. But good movies with heart, even though they have a shoestring budget, are still well worth a watch.
Both these Christmas-themed horror films are perfect for the season — not too cheap, not too poorly acted. I was actually surprised at how well everybody played their parts in these pictures. ESPECIALLY Bill Goldberg as Santa, son of Satan. The guy can really do a pissed-off, evil Kris Kringle.
Come for the violence and the terror, stay for the humor and the bazookas. It's going to be hard to top these two next year, but I look forward to trying.
Goddammit... Every year the Rossman gets a bunch of us together, spikes the eggnog, bolts the doors, chains us to chairs, and makes us watch a bunch of Christmas-themed movies.... Hey, it's great eggnogg. It's almost worth falling for it year in and year out.
It's usually Die Hard, mixed with a little animated Grinch, and a bit of Bill Murray's classic Scrooged, and all in all we don't really mind... Well, except for Jimmy Jammer, who swallowed his own tongue to get out of it two years ago, in the middle of A Charlie Brown Christmas. And that may have just been too much 'nog, and not enough insulin, but I digress.
Well, THIS year, the Rossman switched it up. He dug up his old DVD of a movie starring some wrestler (who was unfortunately NOT Hulk Hogan or Andre the Giant) who played an evil Santa, and then a movie on Netflix made up of a bunch of vignettes about people suffering really shitty Christmases.
Meh, they were both okay movies, but definitely not well done in any way, shape, or form. Well, except Fran Drescher in that wrestler-Santa movie. She was "well done" after her head was set on fire.
Now THIS is more like it! Thank you, America, for giving me a couple of birthday presents that I can really dig into! I'm sick of all that gold and Frankenheimer and slurs. All I really wanted this year was some good Christmas movies featuring things OTHER than people learning about the value of love, and children getting left behind while their families go on expensive vacations.
Which brings up a question that I've had for over 20 years now: just what DOES Kevin's dad do for a living that he can afford that monster of an all-brick house in Chicago, and take his entire gigantic family to Paris for a couple of weeks? I'm guessing slimy lawyer or mafioso.
That's neither here nor there though. Just know that your Lord and Savior (me, the Jesus!) recommends Santa's Slay and Christmas Horror Tales! I bless us, everyone!