NOW ON VOD! Flogging dead reindeer relentlessly may seem like a macabre yet fun way to spend the holiday season. Yet the horror anthology Nightmare on 34th Street, written and directed by James Crow, shows that may not always be the case. After a decent animated credit sequence, a bloody boy with a knife and a white reindeer mask asks us if we want to hear a Christmas story. The name of that story is “Toby and Chloe’s Christmas Nightmare.” It takes place on Christmas Eve, and three escaped lunatics, Mr. Red (Tony Fadil), who is dressed like Santa, Mr. Green (Sonny Denham), who is dressed like an elf, and Mr. White (Jeff Kristian), visit the house of Chloe (Eliose Henwood) and Toby (Adam Thomas Wright). Lots of people are killed, including children.
We then flash to the bedroom of Peter (Jude Forsey), who is terrified over the fact that Santa (Pierre Stevens) is sitting in his room, telling him stories. Next is “The Ventriloquist Who Stole Christmas.” Henry (Mark Beauchamp) is a performer with a cocaine problem and a talking snowman puppet act. He’s following in his father’s footsteps, who used the snowman puppet on Scandinavian TV back in the day. No one will book his obscene act, and as his life goes down the tubes, the snowman starts telling Henry to do awful things. Lots of people are killed, including children.
“Merry Krampus” follows, and in it, lots of people are killed, including children. The penultimate story is called “12 Kills of Christmas,” followed by the framing story bookend “Santa’s Revenge.” In both, lots of people are killed, including children.
“Lots of people are killed, including children.”
In the case of Nightmare on 34th Street, Santa took an enormous s**t in your stocking. Yes, it has some sparkly bits, and the turds are striped red and white from Santa’s special condition, but it’s still crap. For starters, it’s way too long, running over two hours. I appreciate the auteurship of Crow, who also produced, edited, and shot this movie. However, he should have cut at least a half hour. It all comes down to dimension, which we have precisely one of here. The characters have the depth of a pancake with no toppings.
There is also the script’s steadfast mission to avoid any semblance of taste. You never let the pedophile win, no matter the circumstances. It’s poor form. The level of sophistication here is usually featured in films requiring actors to repeatedly take their clothes off. Surprisingly, that doesn’t happen here, allowing you to appreciate the considerable acting talent of Crow’s actresses. All the women do an excellent job with the globs of wet toilet paper that is the screenplay.
During the excruciating runtime, some brief flecks of promise fly into your eye occasionally. There are these cool animated sequences for the origins of the lunatics that make you think maybe good things are ahead. The spooky snowman ventriloquist is genuinely scary. However, his story is beaten into the ground through unneeded repetition, joining the bloody trail of flogged dead reindeer. These brief flashes of brilliance are not useful, as we are trapped in the endless undulating fecal conveyor belt of the rest of the anthology.
Sometimes, it is better to show no promise at all instead of frustrating the viewer with 3% inspiration and 97% defecation. Even the kind-hearted horror fans who will forgive any blight will scorn the overabundance of post-kill bodies instead of actual murder scenes. The Krampus here is the worst cinematic version yet. You have much better Christmas horror to choose from. Hell, you have much better “so bad, they’re good” movies to choose from. If shoving the curved end of a candy cane up your backside and breaking it off at the end sounds like a great time to you, then do that instead of watching Nightmare on 34th Street.
"…allowing you to appreciate the considerable acting talent of Crow's actresses."