Ostensibly a parody of slasher movies, “The Christmas Season Massacre” involves a serial killer named “Tommy One-Shoe”, a partially-foot-clad maniac who dresses like a pirate and roams the countryside during the happiest of holiday seasons searching for victims. One year, his former schoolmates decide to stop his reign of terror once and for all. Many of them fail miserably; most of them die horribly. Some can’t even remember why they’re there in the first place.
I’m a big fan of Eric Stanze’s work, particularly Scrapbook and “Ice From the Sun”, which are ground-breaking examples of Outsider Cinema – small budget independent movies with thought and reason behind them, rather than insincere exploitation. He’s a thoughtful filmmaker, and is supportive of his “Wicked Pixel” family. Frequent collaborator Jeremy Wallace takes the helm here but there are many elements of the film that have Stanze’s fingerprints all over – certain ways the action is staged and, above all, a long and rambling monologue (delivered by Stanze himself) that sets up the back-story and gives the viewer what he needs to know before the action can start. (For all of Stanze’s strengths in visual and offbeat storytelling, he’s never been able to find a way around the seemingly endless teaser monologue to get the story moving.)
It’s not that “The Christmas Season Massacre” is not entertaining. It is a fun gore film and would make a great drinking movie. But it suffers from schizophrenia of tone – it wants to be funny, but the murders are too gory, the sex too graphic, and yet the comedy undercuts the impact of the gore and sex! As usual for a Wicked Pixel family production, the acting is fairly solid, though admittedly all the actors are playing broad 2-D caricatures – they seem to be having fun, anyway.
Even if you only moderately dig the movie, there are plenty of extras on the DVD for your entertainment, including two commentary tracks, two behind-the-scenes featurettes (which confirms the fact that people are having fun – perhaps even more fun than the viewer will), and a bizarre bonus short called “Frank Wang: The Vengeance”. You really have to hand it to Sub Rosa president Ron Bonk for collecting some of the wackiest shorts out there that would otherwise never be seen outside of the filmmakers’ families and giving them equal time on his DVDs as extras.