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‘Krampus’ is available for purchase on all VOD platforms as well as physical Blu-Ray/DVD. For the best viewing experience, be sure to purchase Scream Factory’s latest 4K UHD upgrade, Krampus: The Naughty Cut; the perfect gift for the Krampus fanatics in your lives.

In 2015, writer/director Michael Doughtery (Godzilla: King of the Monsters) released his Yuletide horror film ‘Krampus’ to the masses. Receiving mostly positive reviews upon its release, this tale became an instant modern holiday horror classic amongst fans and myself. Riding the success of his previous holiday horror film Trick R’ Treat, the violence and gore for Krampus is tamer but the fright and silliness from his previous entry is still very present here. Presenting awe-inspiring visuals, impeccable creature designs, an enjoyable cast of characters, and Doughtery’s signature dark humor, it’s surprising we’ve yet to receive a sequel. With the holidays fast approaching and the bitter chill of winter coursing through the air, what better time to revisit this Christmas masterpiece?

Retail Killed the Christmas Star….

an image of Max and his family sitting on a couch. Looks of dread paint theirs faces as they recall the events of Christmas Eve. Max's father Tom is wrapped in a fleeced robe with pine green plaid pajama bottoms covers his legs. Protagonist max sits in a blue and white baseball tee cradling a rusted jingle bell gifted to him by Krampus. Max's mother Sarah is drapped in a grey cardigan and white sweat pants, her hands nervously resting on her legs. Beth is seen in the most colorful wardrobe of the family. A bright pink hoodie covers her torso, as her legs are warmed in festive purple, blue, pink and white printed leggings, tensely gripping her mug of hot liquid. Omi protectively hovers above her family, a look of sorrow washing over her as she stares at the bell in Max's hands. A purple floral scarf loosely rests on her neck and relax-fitted button shirt. The scene is lighted with an eerie  ominous glow.
left to right: Tom (Adam Scott), Umi (Krista Stadler), Max (Emjay Anthony), Sarah (Toni Collette), and Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen)

While most children’s letters to Santa consist of the a-typical toys and the latest tech and fashion trends; our protagonist Max (Emjay Anthony) has a more selfless request to share a nostalgic Christmas with his family reminiscent of years past. Shortly after his Uncle Howard (David Koechner from ‘Anchorman), Aunt Linda (Allison Tolman), their infant Crissy (Sage Hunefeld) and remaining children Howard Jr. (Maverick Flack), sisters Jordan (Queenie Samuel) and Stevie (LoLo Owen) and Great Aunt Dorothy (late Conchata Ferrell remembered famously as Berta in CBS’ ‘Two and a Half Men) arrive after a long day’s travel, tensions soon ensue. Dorothy is constantly complaining on the quality of the food even though Max’s mother Sarah (lovingly portrayed by academy award nominee Toni Collette; ‘Hereditary‘ and ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’) had been slaving away all day in the kitchen prior to their arrival. Howard almost immediately begins showboating his superiority complex and toxic masculinity to Max’s father Tom (played by Adam Scott of ‘Parks and Recreation’ fame) from the moment he walks in the house. Additionally, Jordan and Stevie purposefully embarrass Max at dinner by reciting his private letter to Santa in front of everyone. This sparks an emotional scuffle amongst the kids, and in a fit of rage Max shreds his only wish and tosses the remaining bits of the torn letter out of his bedroom window. Unfortunately for Max and his family, these actions summon not jolly Saint Nicolas but rather, a more sinister shadow and counterpart to the big man dressed in red. In order for Max and his family to survive this unholy night of terror, it’s imperative they set aside their differences and come together, otherwise their souls will be dragged to hell, suffering eternal damnation.  

Visually, ‘Krampus’ is beautifully shot as Doughtery is able to capture the chaotic nature that falls on Christmas, but also, the magic bestowed upon it. The production design is flawless as festive decorations fill the screen with their blinking-colored lights, Christmas music blares from radio speakers, and pristine mounds of glistening snow cover the streets. Doughtery also takes lengths to showcase the insanity of holiday shopping in the films chaotic title sequence. Max and his family are clad in winter clothing, showing their slight enthusiasm for the approaching holiday. In grandiose fashion, Krampus christens his arrival into town with an unnatural blizzard, plaguing them in a dreary winter wonderland. You feel the intensity of the cold as our characters struggle bundling for warmth.   

Santa Claus ISN’T coming to town

Draped in large red and white robes akin to Saint Nicolas, large, pointed horns curling above his head, the clattering of his massive cloven black hooves booming on rooftops, his face adorned with a mockery of the children’s beloved holiday figure; Krampus has arrived. Time has certainly been kind to Krampus, as 7 years later the character design is still remarkable. Standing close to 7 feet tall, his presence is especially imposing due to his hulking size and rough exterior. For as colossal as Krampus is, it still surprises me just how agile his character is able to swiftly move about. His laugh echoes in twisted delight as his grotesque tongue whips about, echoing his unapologetic personality; for he is there to punish. Whenever on screen, he steals the show as his presence is awe-striking.

After just consuming one of the children in a single swallow, Krampus' extra frightening jack-in-the-box sits with his massive maw agape. Rows of pointed teeth sit below a grimy white porcelain face; yellow stains oxidized around his black emotionless eyes. A smooth velvet red jester hat rests atop his head, fading black paint form his lashes and eyebrows, while white gloves smeared in dirt and dry blood cover his hands.
There’s a reason why I never enjoyed jack-in-the-box toys….

Thankfully, Krampus isn’t the only character with a fearsome appearance, as his evil elves and twisted animated toys receive ample care equivalent to their master. Drawing inspiration from pagan/folkloric background, these maniacal elves first appear disguised as snowmen mysteriously appearing in Max’s front yard Christmas Eve morning, inching closer to the house ever so slightly with each passing hour. Once their surprise attack springs into action, we see them fully cloaked in dark soot-stained furs with intricately detailed wooden masks and carrying makeshift tribal spears. Whereas Santa’s elves are merry helpers, Krampus’ are anything but, acting more as slaves. His “cheerful” toys are no exception. Consisting of ravaging teddy bears, ghastly noel angles, and buzzsaw wielding robots, each toy feels craftly designed, providing their own unique flare and deadly purpose. One toy that’s remained a favorite of mine in particular happens to be their unofficial mascot and Krampus’ own twisted transport; his hideously cute jack-in-the box. Masquerading first as an innocent child’s toy only to later reveal its gaping mouth and rows of gnashing teeth capable of swallowing multiple victims whole.    

Krampus’ lasting success can also be attributed to the characters Doughtery brings with his script, as well as the brilliant performances provided by each actor. Krista Stadler is wonderful as Omi, Max’s softhearted grandmother who’s experienced this holiday demon in her past. Scott and Collette’s’ Tom and Sarah exemplify what nurturing parents should be; comforting Max during times of weakness, while acting as the families selflessly fierce protectors. Emjay, however, really shines in this movie with his portrayal of Max. He’s able to convey the emotional stresses we see Max struggles with throughout. At first, Max seems hopeful this will be different than his past few have been. As the night unfolds, that hope quickly fades and shifts to anger. Anger then transcends to fear then guilt for the curse he’s mistakenly brought upon his family up until the final act in which Max finally confronts his demon head-on, accepting responsibility with fearless fervor.    

In one of Krampus more awe-striking shots, Max stands face to face with the Yuletide demon; his crooked branch gripped in hand at the ready. Krampus, draped in his festive robes, looms over his caller, as black and grey clouds painted with hues of red from the faint glow of flames envelop the night sky.
Max confronting Krampus in an emotional stand-off.

Checked Twice: The Naughty List

‘Krampus’ succeeds in many areas; however, it has its mild issues. For as much as I appreciate Doughtery’s dark humor, there are times where I feel it’s overused in this script taking away from the horror. In a scene paying homage to 1984’s ‘Gremlins, rather than fiendish green creatures, we instead see poorly animated CGI gingerbread men that are more of an annoying nuisance than actual threats. This is especially disappointing given the films primary use of practical effects. Koechner’s Uncle Howard and Ferrell’s Aunt Dorothy, though equally hilarious and provide a hand in protecting the family, ultimately feel as the film’s comedic reliefs to me. Max’s sister Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen) feels as though she was only included to fill the role of disinterested snotty sister. Not to say actress Stefania’s performance is bad, it’s not, her character is simply under used which provides lack of development. Those expecting to unwrap a carnage candy cane for the holiday season may be disappointed due to the films more family-friendly PG-13 rating. With his use of meticulous camera placement and expertise with lighting and shadows, Doughtery trades in the gore for jump scares through tension building.   

A Beloved Demon of Christmas Past

Throughout the years since its release, ‘Krampus’ has been in my yearly Christmas film rotation for obvious reasons; relatable characters, time lasting practical effects, enthralling cinematography and an impactful surprise twist. At first glance, it may appear as if Doughtery has a disdain for Christmas but, with each revisit, it’s made clearer the respect he has for the holiday. Though a fun chaotic sleigh ride filled with horrific creatures, Krampus is a story told with love reminding its audience the true spirit of Christmas is not the lavish gifts but showing our loved ones the same care and cherishment. Doughtery further establishes his mastery of comedic horror with ‘Krampus‘, providing plenty of sacks of laughs and scary presents worthy of being a yearly tradition for any family. 

Image of the Krampus standing atop a snow-covered rooftop carrying his sack of killer toys; his sinister silhouette outlined in large glowing full moon. Strings of sparkling white Christmas lights etch the 2 windowpanes to the left and right of Krampus. The same lights can be found along the bottom of the roof accompanied with tapering icicles. Flakes of snow dust mixed shades of blues, bringing eerie gothic undertones.
‘Krampus’ 2015 movie poster (image courtesy of eclecticpop.com)

Be sure to check HauntedMTL all month long for more holiday horror related content, including our ’12 Nightmares of Christmas’. 12 spine-tingling holiday themed short horror stories written by us, including yours truly, dropping every day starting December 12th, leading to Christmas day.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 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

1971’s ‘The Corpse Grinders’ is purrrfect

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Have you ever wanted a movie from the 70’s where a woman gets home from work, strips down to lingerie to lounge on her couch, only to be killed and eaten by her cat?

a cat eating a lady in a bra and holding beer

Of course, you’re a regular human, just like the rest of us. Who doesn’t fantasize about that?

Well, kids, I found us that perfect movie in the salacious and groovy Arch Hall Sr. film, THE CORPSE GRINDERS.

The Plot of The Corpse Grinders:

Corruption! Capitalism! Murder! Fake-ass sign language! Cats! This movie has IT ALL.

To cut costs on production, The Lotus Cat Food Company decides they can find cheaper meat alternatives in the Soylent Green variety. Which, to be fair, is a step up from Taco Bell, amirite?

Partnering with a couple who owns a cemetery, they begin grinding up the mystery meat and sell it to unsuspecting consumers. But the consumers begin to be consumed themselves (that’s my best joke of the year, you’re welcome), a veterinarian begins to investigate the reason why our feline friends have turned feral.

Can this nefarious plot be found out in time by investigators? And by “investigators”, I mean, literally just this veterinarian and some nurse. Or will they too become victims in the feeding frenzy?

a hungry kitty with blood on face

Thoughts on The Corpse Grinders:

This was only written by Arch Hall Sr. and not directed, but honestly, for being a low-budget comedy-horror, it cements him as a cult classic icon. Probably known most for Eegah, of MST3K infamy, he wrote and directed many camp movies during the 60’s and 70’s. Usually to showcase his son’s, er…talents.

But he legitimately had some fun ideas and execution, especially when someone else was in the director’s chair. THE CORPSE GRINDERS is fun and exciting schlock, a feast for the eyes in its limited cinematography, acting, and lighting.

And call this a hot take, but I think THE CORPSE GRINDERS would have made a better edition to MST3K than Eegah did because it works so incredibly well as campy horror. There’s a lot of honest humor in it, but metric tons of things to poke fun of and riff.

Brainroll Juice:

So, I have two brainrolls.

First, give me the rights. Gimme. Because this movie is RIPE for a reboot. Yes, that’s right. Not Pinhead, not Chucky, not gay icon Chucky – no! Corpse Grinders is a perfect example of something with enough cheese, enough spark, and enough of a story that still gels. With the right writers, director and cinematographer, this could really be a great reboot.

brannyk with a reboot sign

And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – reboot movies like THIS. Old, beat-up movies with enough spit and polish to be fun and enjoyable. Something you could add to with more budget, technology and direction. Stop, please, stop making ‘I Spit on Your Grave’ part 24. It’s done, it’s old, lie those types to rest and focus on movies that kind of sucked but would be phenomenal after time has passed.

The second is, um…American Sign Language (?) in the film. Which, okay, I’m a million percent with having those with disabilities shown on screen. I love it. Gimme 2.0. But…But why this, specifically?

We have a side character who is Deaf, but…um…the ASL is, well…

very fake American Sign Language

Remember that séance scene from Wild World of Batwoman? Yeah. It’s on par with that.

In MY new Corpse Grinders, she’s going to have a much wider role and actually be a Deaf actress and not…whatever that was. Because you took a cool idea and made it incredibly offensive. So, six of one and half-dozen of the other.

Bottomline:

If you love campy fun movies about cats eating people and-…

Jellybeans?

Jellybeans the cat looks mad

Jellybeans, what are you doing?

OMG Jellybeans has a knife!

Noooo!!! Jellybeansss!!!

Jellbeans is killing me aaahhhh Oh No!

Whyyy?!?! Ahhhh!!!!

Brannyk is being eaten

helloo itsme branyl i wriet horro movis nd not a jellllllybens cAt. can i haz humnbrger?

absolutely not a picture of jellbeans with a bloody knife
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

February Titles for Arrow Streaming

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Wow, January sure flew by fast! But guess what? It’s time to see what goodies Arrow is bringing to the small screen soon. Let’s find out!

Basically a picture of everything I talk about down below.

Feb 3rd: Robert Altman: Giggle and Give In and Made in the USA

February 3 Joyce documentaries about the American indie film scene: Robert Altman: Giggle and Give In and Made in the USA (both US/UK/CA/IRE). Joyce’s documentary profile of Altman, originally produced in 1996 includes contributions from Altman, Elliott Gould, Shelley Duvall, assistant director Alan Rudolph and screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury. 

Feb 3rd: Charles Band: The Puppetmaster

February 3: Charles Band: The Puppetmaster (UK/IRE/US/CA). Triple-threat writer-producer-director Charles Band has been pulling the strings making horror, sci-fi and fantasy features since the 70s and his films were a massive part of making the 1980s home video boom, well, boom.

Charles Band: The Puppetmaster brings together many of his wildest and most fun work, from murderous pint-sized puppets to re-animated horrors, from time-travelling Trancers to a terrifying Tourist Trap, and even the re-tooled Doctor Strange movie starring Jeffrey Combs as a slightly different sorcerer supreme. And I LOVE Jeffrey Combs!

Titles Include: Puppet Master, Doctor Mordrid, Trancers.

Feb 6: Killer Tech

February 6, while shopping for a gadget for your sweetheart, ARROW uploads Killer Tech (UK/IRE/US/CA) to the service.

We all want the latest gadgets, but in Killer Tech screen time means scream time.

From cursed videotapes and phone calls to the dangers of the dark web and vicious virtual reality, ARROW’s newest, smallest, lightest, fastest, most expensive curated collection doesn’t just have the best screen, largest amount of storage and the coolest camera – it also comes with a guarantee that the newest tech equals instant death.

Titles Include: .com For Murder, Laguna Ave, Edge of the Axe.

I recommend Edge of the Axe!

Feb 10: Cinematic Void Selects

 February 10, ARROW hands the keys to the kingdom to Cinematic Void, a Los Angeles-based cult film screening series into the mouth of cinemadness. Focusing on all oddball gems of all genres, the Void unleashes an onslaught of horror, eurotrash, exploitation and gonzo action on the silver screen at the American Cinematheque. CV film programmer Jim Branscome has selected a few of his favourite films of the genre for your viewing pleasure in Cinematic Void Selects.

Titles Include: Deadly Games, Deep Red.

Feb 14:

February 14 celebrates Valentine’s Day with the perfect pairing: the undead and the living dead.

Two Orphan Vampires (UK/IRE/US): A pair of teenage girls, who are blind by day, but when the sun goes down, they roam the streets to quench their thirst for blood.

Zombie Lake (UK/IRE/US): In a small village, somewhere in France, German soldiers, killed and thrown into the lake by the Resistance during WWII, come back.

Also Valentine’s Day:

Jean Rollin: The Fantastique Collection Part IV (UK/IRE/US).

Led by the brand new and exclusive documentary from filmmakers Kat Ellinger and Dima Ballin, Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World Of Jean Rollin, welcome to ARROW’s final volume of horrifying dream-like sauce from the master of conjuring up erotic nightmare fuel, Jean Rollin, The Fantastique Collection Part IV.

Titles Include: The Living Dead Girl, Lost in New York, Dracula’s Fiancee.

Feb 17: The French Hitchcock: Claude Chabrol

February 17, with The French Hitchcock: Claude Chabrol (UK/IRE/US).

For five decades Claude Chabrol navigated the unpredictable waters of cinema, leaving in his wake more than fifty feature films that remain among the most quietly devastating genre movies ever made. Sardonic, provocative, and unsettling, Chabrol’s films cut to the quick with a clarity and honesty honed to razor sharpness.

Though influenced by Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock and Jean Renoir, Chabrol’s voice was entirely and assuredly his own, influencing in turn filmmakers like Bong Joon-ho, James Gray and Dominik Moll. His amused, unblinkered view of life and refusal to judge his characters makes his films timelessly relevant and accessible to all.

Dark, witty, ruthless, mischievous: if you’ve never seen Chabrol before, you’re in for a treat.

Titles Include: Cop au vin, Madame Bovary (1991), The Swindle.

Feb 24: King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection

February 24 hits it off with King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection (UK/IRE/US/CA).

Put up your dukes and prepare yourselves for brutal and lightning-fast martial arts action starring the King of Karate: Sonny Chiba.

Whether you’ve only heard of Sonny through Clarence and Alabama’s True Romance triple-bill, have seen him sword-making for The Bride in Kill Bill, or know Shinichi Chiba from way back in the 70s martial arts boom where his lethal mastery of karate, judo and kenpo made him an in-demand anti-hero to legions of fans, there’s plenty of bruising bad-assery to be had in King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection.

Titles Include: The Street Fighter, Wolf Guy, Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Hiroshima Death Match.

Feb 28: Millionaires’ Express 

February 28 closes out the shortest month of the year with Millionaires’ Express (US/CA).

All aboard for the all-star action-packed adventure of a lifetime as martial arts maestro Sammo Hung (Heart of Dragon) brings East and West crashing spectacularly together in Millionaires’ Express!

Sammo himself plays Ching Fong-tin, a former outlaw with a wild scheme to make amends with the citizens of his struggling hometown of Hon Sui: explosively derail a brand new luxury express train en route from Shanghai so that its super-rich passengers will have no choice but to spend money in the town. He’s not the only one with eyes on the passengers’ deep pockets, however; a gang of ruthless bank-robbing bandits are on the way, looking for a priceless map being guarded by a trio of Japanese samurai. Bullets and fists will fill the air in equal measure, but will Hon Sui Town be left standing?

Jean Rollin Collection promotional. It's kinda trippy.

Head over to ARROW to start watching now.

Subscriptions are available for $6.99 monthly or $69.99 yearly. 

ARROW is available in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Samsung TVs, Android TV and mobile devices, Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at https://www.arrow-player.com.

ARROWEssentials curates collections based on genre, decades and themes; and ARROWStories takes a fresh look at the world of film and TV with exclusive documentaries, interviews and video essays diving deeper into the many curated seasons and titles on the platform for a richer and deeper viewing experience.

With a slickly designed and user-friendly interface, and an unparalleled roster of quality content from westerns to giallo to Asian cinema, trailers, Midnight Movies, filmmaker picks and much, much more, ARROW is the place to go for the very best in on-demand entertainment.

ARROW is also home to ARROW Stories – an ever-growing collection of interviews, trailers, documentaries and additional extras, both newly created exclusives for the service and from the company’s extensive archives. The service will be updated regularly with fresh content, new curation focuses and never-before-seen content, all selected by the ARROW team as well as the filmmakers themselves. With a slickly designed and user-friendly interface ARROW is the new alternative place to go for the very best in On-Demand entertainment.

Be on the look-out because in the coming months, ARROW will be adding Oscar-winning hits, European classics, Asian cinema masterworks, rediscovered Westerns, offbeat gems and much more as part of ARROW’s international strategy to support and celebrate the medium of film.

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Dahmer, The Good Boy Box

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I think if it were possible to awkward someone to death, Dahmer never would have had to use any other weapon. Because if episode four is any indication, the man was a walking personification of awkwardness. 

Let’s discuss. 

We start this episode with Dahmer talking with the police detectives after his arrest. He doesn’t seem to have any issue laying everything out for them, starting with the murder of the hitchhiker from the last episode. He’s seeing a psychiatrist, which feels overdue. And the psychiatrist is bringing back some memories. Starting with his graduation from high school.

Still from Dahmer with Evan Peters.

A few days after graduation, Lionel Dahmer finally decides to look in on his family. He comes home to find no one but Jeff there, drunk and scribbling out the faces of his classmates from his yearbook. 

After taking some time to blame Joyce, Lionel sets himself to the task of fixing his son. He first sends Jeff to Ohio State. Within a semester, Jeff is expelled with a GPA of .45. So, Lionel sends him to the army. And for about a year, that seems to work out. Jeff goes through basic training and everything is fine. But then, he’s discharged. 

It’s not outright said in the show why Dahmer was discharged. He later tells a woman that it was because of his drinking. But he lies and gives half-truths to everyone without any remorse. So there’s no way of knowing. 

Finally, we pick back up where we left off a few episodes ago, with Jeff’s grandmother finding the stolen mannequin in his bed. She throws it away, and he starts to unravel.

He goes to a state fair and gets arrested for masturbating in public.

Evan Peters in Dahmer.

Honestly, there are a lot of masturbation scenes in this episode and the last. Probably more than we needed.

Every time Jeff seems to get some sort of handle on his life, he manages to mess it up. He loses jobs and starts drugging men at bars. Finally, he finds himself in bed with the body of a beautiful young man he brought home the night before. 

I liked this episode. It was a deeply disturbing portrait of a mentally ill young man trying and failing to get himself together. It’s easy to feel bad for Dahmer. To feel like there should have been a way to save him from himself.

And there should have been, to be clear. Dahmer was throwing up enough red flags early enough that someone should have been able to do something.

And yet, nobody did until seventeen men were dead. It does make you wonder if it would have gone on so long if Dahmer hadn’t preyed on gay men. If he hadn’t been a white man. And maybe it should make us wonder that.

I’m sure this point will be made clear to us as we watch the second half of the season.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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