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Rare Exports, Christmas Evil, Krampus, and Anna and the Apocalypse
Horror Bulletin Week 148
This week, we’ll be watching our usual line-up of four full-length films and a short film. We’ll watch four more Holiday-themed horror films, including “Anna and the Apocalypse” from 2018, “Krampus” from 2015, “Rare Exports” from 2010, and “Christmas Evil” from 1980.
This week we have a new giveaway to announce!
We have NINE copies of the new horror film, “A House on the Bayou” to give away. On December 26th, we’ll contact nine lucky people chosen from the following:
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Christmas Evil (1980)
Directed by Lewis Jackson
Written by Lewis Jackson
Stars Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull
Run Time: 1 Hour, 40 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This one is kind of a tragic story; with a killer we get to know a bit and see descend into madness. Brandon Maggart really pulls off the lead role, and the supporting cast is pretty strong behind him. A little tame on the horror, but still worth the watch for sure.
It’s Christmas Eve, 1947. The two boys watch Santa come down the chimney. He’s confused and out of breath after the climb, but he heads toward the cookies and milk. He puts the present under the tree and fills the stockings, and then heads back up the chimney. The boys debate whether that was really Santa or their father. A little later, little Harry goes downstairs and sees his mother doing something naughty with Santa Claus. Harry is traumatized, breaks a snow globe, and cuts himself with the glass. Credits roll.
In the present, Harry wakes up in his Santa jammies and dances around the Christmas-themed house. He’s definitely Christmas-obsessed. He watches the neighbors with binoculars, seeing if the kids are bad or good. He’s got a book full of names of kids.
He goes to work at the Jolly Dream toy factory. His coworkers hate Christmas because they all have to work harder. They also bully Harry, even though he’s technically their boss. One of them tricks Harry into taking his shift while he goes to the bar. Afterward, Harry finds out and throws a little tantrum at home. He goes over to his brother Philip’s house and watches his brother and his wife Jackie having sex.
The next day, Jackie tells Philip to quit overprotecting Harry, who has always taken care of his brother. Harry makes his own Santa outfit. He paints a sleigh on the side of his van. The kid across the street is naughty, so Harry goes over and scares him. He then goes home and makes toy soldiers out of lead.
It’s time for the Jolly Dream Christmas party. There’s a video about the company donating toys and money to the state hospital. The new PR guy brags about the video but doesn’t care a bit about the children there; it’s all a ploy to make more money. Harry goes down to the factory floor and steals a bunch of toys.
Christmas Eve arrives. Santa’s dressed up and in someone’s home, leaving toys and gifts. He’s also got a great big knife. He leaves the little boy across the street a bag of dirt. He then heads over to the orphanage, but the security guard thinks he’s crazy. He donates a truckload of toys, and they are all very appreciative.
He goes to church and tracks down the owner of the toy factory and the PR guy. He doesn’t get them, but he does leave an impression on a few of the other people. There’s a reason those toy soldiers have toy swords.
He parks his van and gets pulled into a party where he plays Santa for everyone. It goes very well, and then as he leaves, he remembers Frank, the coworker who tricked him into taking his shift. He tries to climb down the man’s chimney, but he won’t fit. He barely pulls himself out. He manages to get inside, and the kids in there see him. He smothers Frank with his bag of gifts and then cuts his throat with a Christmas tree star.
Christmas Day arrives at Jackie and Phil’s house. They wonder what’s happened to Harry. Something’s wrong. They watch a news bulletin about the murders last night.
Morning comes, and the police are rounding up all the Santas for a line-up. Harry calls Phillip and explains that he’s found his own tune now.
A man recognizes Harry while he’s with their children. They light up their torches and chase him. He runs and makes it to his van and gets away. He goes to Phil’s house, and Phil immediately knows what’s happened. Phil yells at Harry and chokes him out. He drags him outside and puts him in the van. Harry wakes up and drives away. The torch-mob catches him, and Harry drives his van off a bridge and flies away, a real Santa Claus.
I like this one a lot. Harry’s a good guy, abused and cheated by his peers, but he loves what he does. He slowly but surely cracks under the pressure. Jackie and Phillip know Harry has problems, but we never see them together to get a feel of what’s happened in the past. The first act is pretty slow, so they probably didn’t have any way to fit it in, but it would have explained their behavior a little more.
Brandon Maggart knocks himself out here, giving us a great depiction of a man losing his mind. He’s completely relatable, pitiable, and has good motivations. He does a great job for the good people at the party and gives the orphanage a bunch of gifts, so he really does reward the good people and punish the bad; he just sort of gets lost along the way.
It’s slow and really pretty tame for what it is, but I like it anyway. Harry’s not a raging slasher like Billy was in the Silent Night Deadly Night films. He’s just a realistic depiction of a mentally ill man. I think I like it more than I’m supposed to.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
Directed by Jalmari Helander
Written by Jalmari Helander, Joust Helander, Petri Jokiranta
Stars Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, Tommi Korpela
Run Time: 1 Hour, 24 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
This is just so ridiculous that it’s hard to find any faults with it. It’s the perfect Christmas horror film. Where does Santa Claus really come from? If you said “Finland,” you’d only be half right.
It’s an isolated mountain in Finland with a small village nearby.
The core samples from the dig have turned up something strange. It’s sawdust from 1300 meters down. They’ve continued to drill, and the manager gives new safety instructions, including things like “wash behind your ears.” The owner then finds something new in Sample #98. “My dream, since my earliest childhood, is about to come true. I can proudly say that we are standing on the sacred grave of the biggest burial mound in the world..” He instructs his men that they have 24 more hours to rob the grave. Two children overhear this and argue about Santa Claus. Credits Roll.
A child reads a book: “The Truth About Santa Claus.” Apparently, he’s really a monstrous, child-eating, demonic thing.
One day before Christmas, Rauno, the butcher, digs a deep hole and covers it, a trap for wolves. Young Pietari, his son, was the boy we saw reading the book, and he’s terrified of Santa. He’s found footprints under his window, like the ones Santa made in his book.
One of the neighbors is putting up an electric fence to enclose reindeer; there are predators in the area. The researchers up on the mountain have made the wildlife antsy with their explosions. Something has killed all the local reindeer, and wolves are the prime suspects. Rain and Piiparinen shoot open the gate and go inside to question the researchers while Juuso and Pietari tag along.
The base is deserted. The men find a huge hole that goes way down. Finding no one there, they all go home for the night. Pietari staples his advent calendar shut; he doesn’t want to open the big prize. He explains to Juuso, “The real Santa was a bit different; the Coca Cola Santa is a fraud.” He shows him pictures from his book. He shows him a diagram he took from the mine up on the mountain. He thinks they dug up Santa Claus. Santa fell through the ice ages ago, and the people buried the whole block of ice under that mountain.
Pietari and his father talk over cookies. The mother has recently died, and they both miss her. Then we see what happened to the workers on the dig site.
It’s Christmas. Something triggered Rauno’s trap. There’s a body impaled on one of the spikes. Rain and Piiparinen take the body to the butcher’s work area and look more closely at him. It’s a very old man, but he has the mine foreman’s American passport on him. Pietari goes down in the hole and finds a bag of creepy dolls.
Rauno and Piiparinen start to cut up the body but finds that the old man is still alive. Rauno and Pietari go into town and find that weird things have been happening. Thousands and thousands of potatoes are lying on the ground in the barn; someone stole all the sacks! Someone stole all the heaters and hair dryers in town. They think it was the Russians.
Pietari goes upstairs and finds another of those ugly dolls in Joust’s bed. Nobody wants to listen to his nonsense about evil Santa Claus. Pietari then goes home and calls all his friends, but none of them are home. Where’d they all go?
Meanwhile, Piiparinen wakes up the old man on the table with the smell of gingerbread cookies. The old man knocks out Piiparinen and bites his ear off. The others return and try to talk to the old man. Pietari comes in, and the old man finally starts to pay attention. Pietari says the old man was sent to take him like the other children. They tie the man up.
The radio in “Santa’s” pocket says they are landing in 30 minutes, and they want to know if “Is the package ready to fly?” Rauno wants to hold Santa hostage, so they put him in a cage and drive to the airport.
The helicopter from Subzero Inc. lands in front of them. The mine owner from earlier gets out and talks to the men. He wants to know where his men are. They ask for 85 thousand dollars for the cargo. He looks at the cargo and tells the men, “This is not Santa. This is one of Santa’s little helpers. Santa is going to find out who’s naughty or nice.” Then he’s killed by one of Santa’s elves. The men are surrounded by evil elves, of which the old man was one of.
They run inside one of the hangars and see a huge, frozen creature trapped in ice. It’s surrounded by ovens, heaters, and hair dryers. Also, many sacks full of children. As the elves try to break in the door, the ice starts to crack. Pietari notices the building has a skylight; he also notices many boxes of explosives.
Piiparinen makes it to the helicopter by distracting the elves with gingerbread. He takes off and rescues all the children by airlifting them out of the building. Rauno drills holes in Santa’s ice block and stuffs them full of dynamite. They also cut off his horns.
Meanwhile, dozens of naked Santa-Elves run through the snow in pursuit of the helicopter. Pietari suggests they lure them into the electric fence corral and see what happens. Hundreds of naked Santas run into the corral.
Back at the airport, they detonate Santa. All the elves suddenly drop their weapons and look stunned. Their master has been destroyed. There are now one hundred ninety-eight “Santa Clauses.” They decide to sell them for $85,000 apiece. They’re all going to get quite rich on this.
We then get a shot of the men washing, cleaning, and training the Santa Clauses before the holiday for next year. They dress them up in Santa suits and sell them… in boxes marked “Rare Exports.” Now you know where mall Santas come from.
This is just so ridiculous that it’s hard to find any faults with it. It’s the perfect Christmas horror film.
The acting is so-so, but the situations are just so over-the-top goofy that it’s hard to complain. There’s a little shoddy CGI, but again, it’s just so unique. It’s a must-see for horror fans in the holiday season.
Short Film: Humbug (2016)
Directed by Matt Thiesen, Justin Lee
Written by Milly Sanders
Stars Jessee Foudray, Milly Sanders
Run Time: 6:58
A goth-girl makes a drawing of Santa in her notebook and then cuts her hand, dripping sacrificial blood on the image. Then someone knocks at her door. The neighbor comes over and offers her some cookies. She made one just for her, with a cute little skeleton on it. The goth girl hates gingerbread and crushes it.
The neighbor then Tasers her.
She wakes up in a heavily Christmas-decorated living room, tied to a chair with Christmas lights. The neighbor is determined to give her some holiday spirit. The neighbor then explains her past, and the torture begins!
I love the details here. As the neighbor begins to explain herself, she pours from a bottle of “Old Exposition” whiskey.
Still, this went nowhere near where I expected it to go. Wow!
Directed by Michael Dougherty
Written by Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
Stars Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman
Run Time: 1 Hour, 38 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
An awesome parody of other Christmas films that eventually stops being funny and goes down a really dark path. It’s excellent, and its high budget really shows.
We watch Black Friday shenanigans as the credits roll.
Tom and Sarah return home, scolding Max for starting a fight in the middle of the Christmas play. Sister Beth is simply an exasperated teenager. Grandma Omi makes cookies; she’s an old European woman.
Linda and Howard arrive with their kids in tow; it’s a scene right out of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. They even brought eccentric old Aunt Dorothy, who’s gonna be the life of the party. Howard’s a gun nut and wants to talk about guns all through dinner, but Tom and Sarah aren’t fans. Dorothy grouches about a lack of ham. The holiday from Hell has begun.
Max still believes in Santa Claus, and the cousins tease him about that. This leads to him tearing up his letter to Santa and throwing it out the window. The power suddenly goes out all over town, and a blizzard hits hard.
The next morning, the power is still out, the phone is not working, and there’s a strange, giant snowman in the front yard. There are no neighbors around this time of year. It’s all pretty grim until Omi makes hot chocolate in the fireplace.
Beth walks to her boyfriend’s house in the snow. The further she gets from home, the darker and scarier it gets. Then she sees a monster running from rooftop to rooftop. She finds the delivery man frozen to death in his truck. She hides under the truck until something gets her.
Tom and Howard want to take Howard’s Hummer and find Beth and look around town; Omi says not to go, as it’s dangerous out there. They go anyway and soon find an abandoned snowplow. The glass was broken inwards like something took the driver. They get to boyfriend Derek’s house, and it’s abandoned as well. They find hoof prints, like a goat. “What kind of goat walks on its hind legs,” asks Howard.
Back at the house, they hear something on top of the roof. Tom and Howard get attacked, and the Hummer is destroyed. They make it home and speculate on what attacked them. Meanwhile, Omi’s in the kitchen checking out her butcher knives. Tom wants to barricade the doors and stay in the house.
They eventually go to sleep. The batteries in their devices die, the fire goes out, and the sounds upstairs just get more and more agitated.
Howie Jr. gets attacked by a gingerbread man and pulled up the chimney. Omi say’s “It’s come for us all.” She tells them about a time when she was little. When there was no love at Christmas, that was when he came. “A darker, more ancient spirit. It was Krampus.” He dragged her family into the underworld. “He left me behind as a reminder of what happens when hope is lost; when the Christmas spirit dies.”
Howard tries to go outside, but the house is surrounded by snowmen— and other things. Tom wants to go back outside and pick up that snowplow, and we see that some gifts have appeared under the tree with more of Krampus’ helpers inside. Howard’s kids, Stevie and Jordan, go upstairs, and something gets them.
They go upstairs looking for the kids and find a giant clown-faced sandworm thing eating them - it’s actually a jack-in-the-box grown monstrous. Meanwhile, Howard is attacked by evil gingerbread men. Teddy bears, a robot toy, and a snow angel attack next, all made into monsters. Linda kills most of them with an ax, and they get Stevie back.
That’s when the really demonic-looking things storm in and simply overwhelm them. Things are getting really hairy until they hear something howling and all run away. What could scare those off?
“It’s him,” says Max. They all agree to run for the snowplow down the street to make their getaway. They all go out, but Omi chooses to stay behind.
Krampus comes down the chimney with only Omi remaining in the house. The battle rages outside, and soon all that’s left are Stevie and Max— no, wait, it’s just Max.
Just like in Omi’s story, Krampus leaves him behind as a reminder. He drops off Max’s torn-up letter to Santa; yes, he really did cause all this. Max recants his wish and tries to bargain with Krampus.
… And then Max wakes up; it was all just a dream. Everyone is there, alive, and normal. However, when he unwraps a “Krampus ornament,” suddenly everyone remembers— they’re living in a tiny Christmas snowglobe prison. One snowglobe on a shelf among countless snowglobes in Krampus’s lair.
It’s very creepy and tense. In the beginning, I was starting to wonder if this was actually going to turn out to be a horror movie, but it definitely was. It starts off like any typical family holiday, with fights, snark, and obnoxious conflicts. It quickly degenerates into a high-speed, high-action monster fest with a lot of dark humor.
It has really high production values and obviously had a large budget. The animated section was a nice surprise, and it was also very well done. The creatures were both creative and unusual, and also very fun.
It was really good, had a lot of funny bits, and everyone in it was right for the part. Great cast, great music, great effects. Overall, one of the best Christmas Horrors.
Anna and the Apocalypse (2018)
Directed by John McPhail
Written by Alan McDonald, Ryan McHenry
Stars Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire
Run Time: 1 Hour, 33 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
If you didn’t realize this was a musical, well, you’ve been spoiled. But it is. It’s not exactly what you’d call scary, but it has all the usual zombie movie tropes and a lot of songs. We both enjoyed it, which is surprising for a musical.
The CDC announces over the radio that the pathogen that was predicted to be a major plague wreaking havoc across the globe has mutated into— then they switch it to Christmas music instead. Anna and John have to work tonight, so they can’t do anything with her dad. She wants to go to Australia instead of university, and her father does not approve.
Anna, John, and Steph then sing about being a high school student and common troubles of that age group, “sooner or later, we all have to break away.” During the song, we also meet Lisa, Nick, and Chris.
Mr. Savage is planning to become the new principal. He’s also organizing the school musical. Anna hears zombie-noises from behind her, but it’s just another student who has asthma. They all go to lunch, which brings about a song that whines, “there’s no such thing as a Hollywood ending.”
Steph gets locked out of her car and complains that she’s got no one to help. Anna walks past a guy who, this time, is clearly a zombie.
That night, it’s time for the Christmas musical. It’s definitely not like the musicals they had at the school I went to, that’s for sure.
The next morning, Anna walks and sings on the way to school. There’s a zombie calamity going on behind her at every step, but she’s too busy singing with her earbuds in to notice. She meets up with John, who’s coincidentally singing the same song. They finish the song and run into a zombie in a snowman costume. “Anna, that guy’s a zombie,” says John as the man’s decapitated head growls at them. Then they notice the explosions and sirens in the background.
They meet up with Chris and Steph and watch the news on the Internet, which isn’t good; this thing is worldwide. They hide out in the bowling alley. They speculate on whether various celebrities are alive or zombies. Zombies finally break in, and they do battle.
Meanwhile, Anna’s father, Mr. Savage, and Lisa are trapped inside the school. The phones, even the Internet, go out, which is worthy of a song.
The next morning, all the soldiers are zombies now too. Anna and John still want to get to the school to rescue their friends. Nick joins them; he’s been looting supplies and killing the undead. Nick wants to fight back; he sings his hero song. They decide to take a shortcut through the Christmas Tree Emporium. John gets bit and sacrifices himself to save Anna.
They arrive at the school, where Savage locks them in a room with the teachers, who are all zombies now. This betrayal is, of course, worthy of song. They find Lisa, but Chris’s grandmother is dead. Anna goes off to find her father, and the others make an attempt to find Steph’s car keys. That goes badly, and both Lisa and Chris are bitten.
Anna finds Savage again, but this time, he has her father as a prisoner. It’s time for Anna’s big zombie-killing song. This goes badly for Mr. Savage. Unfortunately, Anna’s dad has been bitten.
It’s looking pretty bleak as Anna sings with Nick about losing hope while we see a death montage as we revisit those who have been bitten. They’re both cornered, and it looks like the end. Steph shows up in her car, and Anna and Nick drive away with her.
We never actually see anyone turn into a zombie. The gore is more on the comical side than scary stuff, but there’s a lot of blood here.
OK, there’s also “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” but I don’t see a lot of similarities here. There just aren’t a lot of horror movie musicals out there, so there’s not much to compare it to other than that one episode of “Buffy.” It’s like someone watched that episode back in the day and said, “What if this was a full-length movie in about eighteen years?”
It’s fun; there’s a lot of songs, which are actually pretty good, and there’s a lot of humor, which is absolutely necessary for something like this. There’s plenty of the usual teen angst, but in a musical, it all kinda works.
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Get ready for next week, where we’ll be watching some more classics. We’ll watch four more horror films, including “Santa’s Slay” from 2005, “Jack Frost” from 1997, “Jack Frost 2” from 2000, and “The Gingerdead Man” from 2005.
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