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Another Christmas has come and gone and with it we approach the final days of 2022. Presents have been vigorously unwrapped from under our trees as we spent time with our families nestled snug by a warm fire ingesting copious amounts of holiday treats and hot cocoa. However, for genre fans like myself, new horror films centralized around Christmas are easily one of the most exciting parts of the holidays. Thankfully this year, Shudder has graciously gifted us with a yuletide horror story that puts a clever new spin on the “killer Santa” trope with writer/director Joe Begos (VFW) ‘Christmas Bloody Christmas’.  

Twas the bloody night before Christmas..

When it comes to holiday horror films, especially killer Santas, there are numerous different approaches, some more strong than others. Many have tackled this subgenre with massive success such as the classic 1984 ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ and 1980’s ‘Christmas Evil‘. Others have chosen more unconventional routes like the 2005 horror comedy ‘Santa’s Slay‘ starring former professional wrestler Bill Goldberg as Kris Kringle. Or the equally bonkers 2010 Finnish horror film ‘Rare Exports‘ in which Saint Nicolas is portrayed as a massive holiday demon entombed within ice. With ‘Christmas Bloody Christmas‘, Begos takes this familiar holiday stereotype and flips it on its head by presenting us with a Terminator-like robot Santa appropriately named RoboSanta+ (Abraham Benrubi). Designed by the US department of Defense to replace the lackluster drunken mall Santas across the country, RoboSanta+ comes equipped with state-of-the-art technology with full range motion, a vocabulary of over 90,000 words, and military grade construction perfect for security defense; what could go wrong?  

image of RoboSanta+ outside covered in blood. Crimson smears white curls in his bear and hair. His eyes emotionless. His iconic festive hat sits atop his head smeared in the same red liquid. Behind rests a festive light house blurred by fog.
You better watch out…

Set during Christmas Eve, ‘Christmas Bloody Christmas’ opens with a brief sequence of infomercials, one of which explaining the high-tech features of our RoboSanta+ capturing that sense of early 80’s-90’s channel surfing nostalgia. We are then introduced to the films lead, slacker girl and record shop owner Tori Tooms (Riley Dandy) and her friend/employee Robbie Reynolds (Sam Delich). Following a cheeky conversation in which he convinces her to bail on a date she had previously scheduled a few days prior, a news announcement from the films local television station broadcasts the total recall of RoboSanta+ due to unspecified malfunctioning reasons. As the night of drinking and debauchery ensues with their friends Lahna (Dora Madison) and Jay (Jonah Ray), the films killer robot Santa sparks to life and begins his night of blood-drenched slaying leaving Tori and Robbie with a less than merry Christmas.  

RoboSanta+’s Nice List

Image Jonah Ray on the set of Christmas Bloody Christmas. Graffiti art is spray painted on the walls behind him, covering every inch, most of it difficult to read with the exception of 2 skulls on the far upper left of the wall. Bright orange, purple, blue and pink neon lights bath he screen in hypnotic translucent colors.  Jonah is leaning with his back against the wall dressed in a black beanie, glasses, an army camo zip-up jacket, and black jeans and shoes. His right leg crossing casually over his right foot as he leans against the wall.
Jonah Ray bathed in Neon

Clocking in at under 90 min, ‘Christmas Bloody Christmas‘ feels perfectly paced, starting off at first as non-stop grindhouse slasher only to quickly evolve into a tense siege film. Though the set designs are minimal, they’re beautifully lit and well enclosed; from the bar and sheriff’s department, to the local toy store, each location feels creatively unique and wholly utilized. As with Begos’ previous film ‘Bliss‘, visually, ‘Christmas Bloody Christmas‘ is a festive treat. His signature use of neon colors splashes the screen with vivid delight. Due to Christmas Bloody Christmas being shot on 16mm, the grainy film only accentuates the bright shades of red and green mixed with cool purples and hot pinks. The film’s high-octane energy and carnal slaughter is only amplified by the impeccable score provided by Steve Moore, emphasizing every chaotic moment happening on screen. 

 RoboSanta+ is especially vicious as he wields his crimson axe butchering bodies in grisly fashion. The first kill we witness after he powers on is cleverly shot through his perspective as we watch him slice through his victim in one fluid swipe. What makes his character even more terrifying isn’t his nearly indestructible frame nor the way in which he chops through multiple victims’ heads with brute strength, but rather the way in which he relentlessly hunts Tori and Robbie, like an unstoppable force. As he sustains more damage throughout the film, we see the masterful practical effects of his metallic skeleton and illuminating green laser eyes. The carnage candy is gruesome as heads are chopped in-two, bodies are flung like ragdolls, and blood-splatter paints our characters and killer Terminator Santa bright red. 

Riley Dandy as Tori Toom wielding a pump action shot gun. Her blonde hair drapes down the side of her blood-smeared face as orange, red, white, and green christmas lights twinkle around her. Each hand has 3 rings on her fingers (1 on her index, the other on her middle, and the last on her ring finger). She is draped in a loose buttoned up long-sleeve black, grey and white plaid shirt.
Riley Dandy as Tori Tooms in ‘Christmas Bloody Christmas’

Adding to the non-stop chaos are the strong performances Riley Dandy and Sam Delich bring to Tori and Robbie. The dialogue exchanges between their characters, though often vulgar, feel natural. This is in part because of the well-crafted script and on-screen chemistry between the two actors. Mixed with casual conversations of which horror movie sequel outranks whose and best metal albums, a sexual tension increasingly grows between the two until its resolve in sensual flare. Tori is especially captivating as she is filled with spit-fire charisma and an alluring personality. She is outspoken, wild, and the epitome of a sexually liberated independent woman who’s immediately likeable. As the film progresses, we see her evolution into a strong final girl as she fights back against her robotic pursuant, becoming her own Sarah Connor in the process.  

Where Robo-Santa’s Gears need Tinkering

For as fun as the conversations are between Tori and Robbie, their salacious nature at times can be off-putting. Begos isn’t shy when it comes to crude dialogue, as every character for the most part has the mouth of a sailor. There are few sentences throughout the film that do not incorporate at least one or two f-bombs peppered with some other curse word reminiscent of a Rob Zombie film. Though I’m not typically bothered by coarse language in a film, there are times where ‘Christmas Bloody Christmas‘ relies on it so much, it almost feels forced in some ways. This detracts from the natural flow of some of the conversations and can make their characters feel a bit childish. Throughout the first half of the movie Tori and Robbie are so wrapped up in their conversations while continuously drinking and getting high, completely oblivious to the havoc around them. The only character who receives ample development in the story is Tori, which is a bit disappointing as Robbie’s character has missed potential for growth. Other characters that are introduced such as Jeff Daniel Phillips’ (‘The Lords of Salem’ and31‘) Sheriff Monroe and Officer Smith (Jeremy Gardner; ‘The Battery’ and ‘After Midnight’) play no significant role in the film’s plot apart from providing a standout scene involving the town’s local police station and extra body count. 

RoboSanta+ looking through a freshly chopped hole through a door. His suit and white curls still stained with the blood of his victims. His eyes still showing no signs of human empathy. Red and green Christmas lights shine through splintering wood of the chopped door.
Here’s Santa!

Speaking of the body count, when it comes to the deaths displayed on screen, though as merciless and creative as they are, some are recycled while a couple of others happen off screen. This is a bit disappointing as the ones we are shown are quite brutal. However, this comes with the exception of one for me personally. During the second act of the film before realizing RoboSanta+ is on the hunt for her and Robbie, Tori witnesses the killer robot brutally murder a small boy in his living room while she stares out of her kitchen window. What makes this death even more disturbing is the use of his body after the fact, as the prosthetic doll is used as a means of physical entry and a lifeless shield of defense. I am usually not bothered by most deaths in horror films but, when it pertains to certain deaths such as animals and especially children, I do find myself becoming withdrawn from the film. Though I understand these are moments meant to reflect the monstrous nature of the film’s villain detaching him from any real human empathy, for me there is a point where certain deaths feel either unnecessary or added for shock value, rather than true story progression. This scene would have been more impactful to me had his death been heavily implied or altered in a way that utilizes an adult character or, simply leave the boy alive to find his butchered family.

Merry Christmas Bloody Christmas!

Christmas Bloody Christmas‘ is a gruesome film with off-the-wall visuals and hypnotic colors creating a wildly unabashed yuletide slasher. Though Begos never answers the questions as to why RoboSanta+ malfunctions or why he is mercilessly stalking his victims, this does not diminish my enjoyment from the visual experience. ‘Christmas Bloody Christmas‘ knows what type of film it is and accomplishes its goal with excellence. The story is not bogged down with complex technicalities, the on-screen deaths soak the screen in blood, jaw dropping practical effects with enriched set designs, and dialogue that feels aesthetically natural. While the script can be extreme at times, Riley Dandy steals the light with her powerful performance echoing final girl icons before her. Filled with 80’s grindhouse nostalgia soaked in a neon color palette, Begos delivers ‘Christmas Bloody Christmas‘ wrapped in a gory bow that is sure to become a new holiday horror favorite amongst genre fans.  

Christmas Bloody Christmas‘ is now streaming exclusively on Shudder. Be sure to check out all of our other holiday horror reviews, as well as our festive yuletide tales of terror: The Twelve Nightmares of the Holidays; 12 short holiday horror stories written by fellow HauntedMTL reviewers and authors, including ‘Coming to Town’ by yours truly. 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Utah transplant TT Hallows now resides in Portland OR haunting the streets of PNW for the past 5 years with his spunky feline companion Gizmo. Horror and writing are his passions, taking special interests in sloshy grindhouse slashers, thought-provoking slow burns, and fright-filled creature flicks; Carnage Candy reigns supreme! When not binging excessive amounts of gratuitous gore, you can find TT Hallows shopping the local thrift and witchcraft shops (oh yes, he's a witch), expertly dancing (or so believes) to New Wave/Dark synth melodies or escaping the monotony of "walking amongst the living" with serene oceanic views and forested hikes. TT Hallows is an up-and-coming horror reviewer/writer for HauntedMTL. Step with me into the void...if you dare.

Movies n TV

The Boys, Beware the Jabberwock, My Son



We’ve reached episode five of The Boys. And after the last episode’s emotional bombshells, this one had some much-needed levity.

And then a whole bunch more emotional trauma.

The story

We begin this episode with Homelander and Ryan in a meeting regarding a new teenage show. But Ryan doesn’t want to be on a show. He wants to be an actual hero. He wants to do real good and help people. And Homelander, fresh from his therapeutic killing spree, is in a mood to support his son.

Antony Starr and Cameron Crovetti in The Boys.

For now.

Meanwhile, The Boys are searching for a virus that can kill sups. The last time we saw this virus, it was in the hands of Neuman. They borrow Stan Edgar from jail and go to the lovely family farm upstate.

There, they discover that Neuman’s been testing temp V on farm animals. And it works as well on them as it does on hamsters. Soon the boys find themselves batting killer sheep, chickens and bulls. Hilarity and blood ensues.

What worked

The first thing we have to talk about is the superpowered animals. This was such a fantastic, hilarious situation. I especially loved the flying homicidal sheep. They were hilarious, unexpected, and incredibly gory. One just doesn’t expect to see a sheep covered in blood and guts. But it was delightful.

Karl Urban in The Boys.

The main pull of this episode, though, is the evolving relationship between Homelander and Ryan.

Homelander realizes that he doesn’t want Ryan to be brought up the same way he was. He wants his son to be happy.


He isn’t trying to be a better person though, and I think that’s important to remember. He loves his son, and he wants his son to be happy. And if being an actual hero and actually helping people will make Ryan happy right now, then that’s what Homelander is going to do.

Except that, since he doesn’t care about people, he is really bad at being a good person. Which is what led to a director getting beaten to death by his assistant.

I’m not saying this beatdown wasn’t cathartic. I’m just saying that it was maybe not something a good person would endorse.

I honestly think this new desire to be an actual hero is going to make Homelander more dangerous. If such a thing is possible.

What didn’t work


Of course, this episode wasn’t perfect. It brought to light a weakness that’s been irritating me this whole season. And that is the storyline with Hugh Senior.

What are we doing here?

While Hughie’s dad’s health issues are sad, and the sudden reintroduction of his mother is interesting, it has nothing to do with the rest of the season. Every other storyline blends and ties together. You can’t pull one string without all of them coming unraveled.

But not this story. So far, this storyline could be removed entirely and the whole rest of the season would remain pristine. All this storyline seems to have done is to have popped our main character out of the main storyline altogether.

Hughie’s absence is a deficit. I would have loved to see him freak out over the killer chickens. But I also would have liked to see him work with Neuman. I would have liked him to be there to defend Butcher. I would have liked to see him interacting with any other characters at all.


At this point, no character is purely good or purely bad. And I think that’s important. I’m invested in the story of every single character. And with three episodes left in the season, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

By the way, if you like my writing you can get my short story, Man In The Woods, on Smashwords and Amazon.

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Movies n TV

The Boys, Wisdom of the Ages



Episode four of The Boys was possibly the darkest episode of the series so far. And I am aware that this alone is an intimidating prospect.

It should be.

The story

Our story in this episode mainly consists of the single most dickish action I have ever seen anyone perform. Sage and Firecracker set up a four-hour show outside Starlight House, to talk about how horrible of a person Annie is.


Four hours.

Valorie Curry and Susan Heyward in The Boys.

Annie gets everyone out of the building safely but then decides to watch the entire Anti-Annie show. And it is horrific.

The real horror show of this episode, though, is Homelander’s little adventure. After a fight with Ryan, he’s decided to visit his childhood home. Or, at least the place in which he grew up. Because he was raised more like a science experiment than a child.

I don’t think we’ve seen so far exactly what Homelander went through. The horrors he faced as a small child. Things no one should ever have to experience.

Things that the rest of his world will now have to pay for.

What worked


If you’re paying attention to politics, this episode got way too real. The absolute hypocrisy of our current political situation was on display with superpowers. I especially liked (and by that I mean was enraged by) Firecracker saying that accidentally blinding someone at age thirteen was worse than being an adult and assaulting a minor. Those two things are not the same, and one of them is obviously worse.

Another thing that I appreciated in this episode was the new, and horrific, information we got about Homelander’s childhood.

Do I maybe feel bad for Homelander now? After seeing the dismal and dark little world he was raised in, yeah, I do. That is a monstrous way to treat a child. It’s no wonder he ended up how he is. Even the milk fetish makes more sense. And I am not any more cajoled by the fact that these people were just doing their jobs than Homelander was. That has never been an honest or adequate justification.

This, of course, doesn’t justify the horrors he’s inflicted. It just makes it easier to see how he got to where he is.

Antony Starr in The Boys.

The best fiction inspires strong emotions. It makes us feel things for people who are not real and feel passionate about events that did not happen. It does this by showing us glimmers of real people and real events within these bags of bones and false narratives. And it is because of this that The Boys is succeeding. It’s taking very real moments we are all living through, and embedding them into a fictional narrative. And that’s always going to be more impactful than just burning someone alive.

What didn’t work


I only had one complaint about this episode. But it did bother me.

When Firecracker’s show starts, Annie makes a point of getting all the kids out of Starlight House to safety. That’s good. But then she sits down with her friends to watch the show.

Why would you watch a four-hour-long live show about why you are a terrible person?

I get asking someone else to watch it and take notes, because in a position like that you need to know what the opposition is saying about you. But for Annie to just watch that unfiltered was asking for trouble. And it’s exactly the sort of trouble that Annie ended up in.

In conclusion, this episode was almost too real. It had my blood boiling. It had me yelling at the TV. And that’s exactly what I want a good story to do.


We’re halfway through the season now, and I think we’d all better buckle up for what’s coming.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

By the way, if you like my writing you can get my short story, Man In The Woods, on Smashwords and Amazon.

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Movies n TV

House of Dragon: S2E3 – Family Feud for Dummies



In this great episode, we see something we have yet to see in any of the GoT/HoD shows–a dysfunctional family. Wait. I meant, SSDD.

We start out with two people fighting. Why? Why not. I guess they have a blood feud for ages. I mean AGGGGGESSSSSSS. So, of course, we don’t know anything about them what-so-fuck-ever.

Basically, the scene is two girls slapping each other and then one gets an arrow to the knee. The end.

Dead hookers, Kings Hand, and a War Plan

Next up, we have two dead twins, but enough about my sex life. In the show, there are two dead uhhh twins (note to self: deeper holes for twins). Alas poor ermrmm….let’s call them the Ging Twins. We hardly knew. ye.


Ohhhhh I love this part where a knight that’s fucking the queen and got Poor Sir Ging killed is being late to his first day of class. Naughty Naughty. The rest of the scene is like ‘oh new peeps in white, something something, King is Big Warrior!’. So, this is what it would be like if Joffrey got laid? Hmmmmm….

Daemon arrives at Harrenhal–buyers remorse incoming

Daemon apparently wanted to take over something so he took over a shit hole. It’s almost suspenseful. Almost. I think it would be better to have drug the scene out more to give a sense of how Daemon was thinking about taking this big stronghold but slowly finding out it’s just a ghetto of shit.

For all the grief I give HoD for rehashing old tropes/plots from GoT, this is the one connection that makes sense so far. I like the exploration of a place we hear about in GoT but never got to see much into it. The connection is a way of doing exposition for a series we cared about. This is the first time it really feels like a prequel and not just a stand alone ‘shit pile’ they put the skin of GoT on.

We also get to see something of a character development for Daemon. This is something I really. hope others get a chance to get–characters. Maybe this is just the actor putting everything on his timey-wimey shoulders. Maybe that’s what the real turn for the character is–Matt Smith just going ‘fuck it’ and hitting for the fences.

Rhaenyra’s Diplomatic Mission, Some Politics, and Ser Cole Gets Jiggy Wit It

So like even though you fucked my dad and like made sure I wasn’t queen and then like started a war and like your bastards killed my son and like, you know, maybe we can be friends and end this war?

I heard this part of the scene was ad-lib. The writers had just this for direction: Think of the stupidest thing you can think of for your character to say and just go with it! Oh, and if you can tie in a previous episode of a better show into it–even better!


While that happens, political people are like ‘lets use a dragon. The show is called house of dragon, not house of weird random call backs to the future happenings of GoT’. Speaking of GoT, remember when the small council meetings were interesting? Like you wanted to know the twists and turns of it? You know why those were better? Because you gave a shit about the characters who made up the council. Even when the Queen remakes her council after her dad’s death, we still cared. We didn’t know them as well, but we cared because we knew the people they replaced were better for the job. So we had an interest in ‘how doth they fucketh this up’.

Here is more like…well, put it this way. Take pictures of the people on both councils. Then cut them into single head shots. Now, shuffle. Can you name the person? Hell, can you even name which side that person is on? That’s my point.

Oh and Cole goes off with the queen’s brother to attack something. A dragon happens. They go awwwhwhwhwhwhwhw!! Then run away like little girls.

Change your whores more than you change your undies

So pirate eye blondie is caught by king blondie using the same whore as he did before. Guess this is what rich kids count as shame.

Oh and surprise to nobody–the Queen admits that maybe Rhaenyra should have been ruler, but shit happens so it’s like too far gone stop now. Let’s have everyone kill each other and that way the gods will decide who the king really meant to give the throne to when he said, ‘I want my daughter Rhaenyra to be ruler’.

Final Comments and rating

It’s starting to pick up, but it seems that every time that it does pick up the writers go ‘fuck it’ and swerve directly into the ditch.


I don’t think the lack of action is a problem in this series. I think taking things slower in places and cutting down the cast to a manageable number (or at least give them a different look/name type so we can tell them apart) might be the thing needed to bring this show into a better footing. Will it ever be GoT? No. Sadly, I think it’s trying so hard to connect to GoT plots that it waters itself down. Instead of giving us a fascinating look at an older time, we get a constant reminder of just how much we miss GoT. 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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