The worst thing about Christmas Bloody Christmas, written and directed by Joe Begos (the man behind the vastly overrated VFW), is that it isn’t great. The Christmas set slasher is certainly not bad and ends on a high note. But the bloody sleigh ride through the snow hits several icy patches on the way.
Tori (Riley Dandy) and her employee, Robbie (Sam Delich), are closing the record shop on Christmas Eve. Between hardcore debates over which metal bands are better and ranking horror sequels, the two constantly drinking fools eventually stumble over to Tori’s best friend’s toy store. After getting high and drinking more with Lahna (Dora Madison), said friend, and her randy beau Jay (a slumming cameo by Jonah Ray), the two head over to Tori’s place for a good night.
Unfortunately, a decommissioned military A.I. was put into a robotic toy Santa (Abraham Benrubi). Unsurprisingly, it goes haywire. The “toy” kills Lahna and Jay and leaves a trail of bodies on its way to Tori. Sheriff Monroe (Jeff Daniel Phillips) tries to intervene, but Santa is an unstoppable killing machine. It’ll take a Christmas miracle for Tori to survive the night.
The first frustrating thing about Christmas Bloody Christmas is the dialogue. Well, more specifically, all the cussing. Tori and Robbie cuss like characters on South Park merged with those chuckleheads from Jersey Shore. It is off-putting, as almost every other word is “f**k.” This causes the two leads to come off as simpletons. Combined with their constant need to drink and get high and quite frankly, the protagonists are one-note and not pleasant to be around.
“…a decommissioned military A.I. was put into a robotic toy Santa…it goes haywire.”
Mind you, this is strictly a screenwriting issue, as the actors are great. Dandy wears the final girl/scream queen crown winningly. When Tori is berating the police officers for doing jack all to help her, despite the clunky dialogue, the desperation is felt. Delich just needs to act stoned and react to the killings. In that regard, he does well. Of course, it helps that he and Dandy share believable chemistry. Most important to the film finding any success is Benrubi. He is impressive as the robotic Santa killer and comes off as a formidable menace.
But, the sequence of events is sometimes hazy throughout Christmas Bloody Christmas. Santa’s first victims are Lahna and Jay, which makes sense. He spies Tori after the murders. The next people to die are neighbors across the street from the lead’s house. Did the robot not find anyone else wandering the streets for X number of blocks? This is a real missed opportunity to heighten the carnage and get Benrubi more screen time. For a slasher, the body count remains small, excising a portion of the primal fun of the genre.
On the flip side of that, the mayhem that is present is excellent. The blood and viscera on display are top-shelf and worth every dime spent on them. Special effects supervisor Josh Russell really outdoes himself during the massacre of the neighbors and the assault on the police precinct. The viscera and arterial spray elevate the picture to heights the screenplay fails to reach. The propulsive score and kinetic editing also help keep things afloat during the patchier sections (say, any scene where the dialogue isn’t about the killer Santa).
Christmas Bloody Christmas does not reinvent the Christmas horror genre. There are plenty of better options out there, such as Santa’s Slay, Better Watch Out, and Once Upon A Time At Christmas. But, if one needs a slightly diverting movie to have on in the background, Begos’ slasher will prove serviceable. Just be sure to pay attention whenever the kills happen, as the artistry put into the makeup is extraordinary.
"…the viscera and arterial spray elevate the picture..."
Amid all of the marks,hacks,and Harry Knowles inspired fanboys that have hijacked the modern fandom,the modern film journalism,and the modern filmmaking communities for the last 20+ years(especially in the last two years of the heavy overusage of both “underrated” and “I never heard of…”),I’ll have to say that I’ll easily take VFW over the extremely terrible likes of BETTER WATCH OUT,ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHRISTMAS,ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE,Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN II,and both BLACK CHRISTMAS remakes(amid many other overhyped but underwhelming films). The verdict is open on SANTA’S SLAY,which I still need to see(as I also haven’t seen CHRISTMAS BLOODY CHRISTMAS and THE MEAN ONE[with TERRIFIER 2’s David Howard Thornton as an evil Grinch]).