It was only a matter of time before someone would take Santa Claus and mix him with “Die Hard,” it was only a case of how good it would end up being. Tommy Wirkola’s Christmas action flick is the perfect kind of antidote for the folks that don’t mind a bit of cynicism with their holidays. “Violent Night” is very much a “Die Hard” with an adrenaline shot of Christmas cheer. It’s also deep down a great splatter flick that doesn’t mind giving us a Santa Claus who is about brutally punishing those that tick him off.
Every now and then we need one of these silly, slapstick, self aware action adventures, and “Violent Night” fits the bill. It watches like a sketch on SNL, adapted in full length form. From minute one, it never forgets what kind of movie it is and paints a crude stroke over the Christmas spirit. For its intended audience, it’s a refreshing antidote to typical holiday fare. Tommy Wirkola’s “Violent Night” is “Die Hard,” and Michael Dougherty’s “Krampus,” meets “Bad Santa,” with full shot of Christmas adrenaline.
It also props Santa Claus up as something of a major bad ass.
I would have bet anyone a thousand dollars that 1972’s SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT directed by Theodore Gershuny had been renamed to its current title for a home video release around 1984 in order to cash in on the then new Silent Night, Deadly Night, and I would have lost that bet. “The film was given a limited release in the United States under the title Night of the Full Dark Moon through Cannon Films, beginning November 17, 1972. It was subsequently released as Silent Night, Bloody Night in the spring of 1973 and continued to screen under this title through December 1973.”
Tonight is Krampusnacht, so why not celebrate with a film or two about the classic tale of what happens to bad little boys and girls. On Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night, a being known as Krampus goes to visit bad kids, taking them in his basket and giving them beatings with reeds. The tale has a few variations on the theme depending where you are in the world and who is telling. As such, it was ripe for the taking by horror filmmakers with, well, uneven results. That being said a couple of these come up head and shoulders above the rest. To be fair, an unholy number of Krampus films were watched recently, including everything from Krampus (by Michael Dougherty, Trick R Treat) to Mother Krampus and all the Krampus films that could be sequels to one another or independent that could be found on streaming.
Well, most of them, there is limit to the number of blah films one can watch. So which one should you look for and why?
BOOTLEG FILES 666: “The Norelco Santa Commercials” (long-running television advertising campaign).
LAST SEEN: On YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: No perceived home entertainment market for old TV commercials.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.
Every Christmas season, certain programming is dusted off for an annual television broadcast. But for those of us who admit to being a certain age, there is one holiday favorite that always made the December television line-up worthwhile. No, it wasn’t a movie or a standalone special. Instead, it was a simple but effective 30-second commercial for a company specializing in electric razors.
Less budget, and less stars, this time Casper’s adventures are reduced to a pretty crummy animated feature where Casper teams up with another spunky young girl. She’s a girl facing a crisis about Christmas and she needs the help of… Casper. Makes sense, I guess. “Casper’s Haunted Christmas” is a noticeably bargain basement style production compared to the previous movies, all the while the animation is often weird and the narrative nonsensical.
I swear, there’s nothing more baffling and unusual than “Tales of the Third Dimension,” a horror anthology of cobbled together horror tropes that doesn’t deliver a remotely scary movie. There’s a stiff, robotic skeleton who narrates in a bad Rod Serling impression. He’s accompanied by three puppet buzzards that interact with one another like the Three Stooges, and there’s the inexplicable recurring presence of cats. It was originally supposed to be in 3D, so there are a ton of scenes obviously meant for the gimmick that just looks laugh out loud moronic sans the effect. Finally there are three bland horror tales where, I swear, the moral of one is “Be a good kid, and Santa Claus will defend you against your psychotic, mentally deranged, wheelchair bound grandmother.”
IN SELECT THEATERS OCTOBER 28TH – Although Henry Selick does a damn fine job of directing what is one of the most entertaining stop motion animated films, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” has Tim Burton’s stamp all over it. It’s about an outcast, a love for the Gothic and Halloween, and it’s unabashedly menacing. Though Henry Selick’s animated movie was originally touted to kids, the film is very much a dark and harrowing narrative about monsters from the Halloweentown infiltrating the Christmastown, and using the traditions and rituals to terrorize random victims. One montage even features kids getting very creepy presents like a shrunken head, and a snake. Jack Skellington is the pumpkin king who is the anti-hero that finds himself restless with Halloween and accidentally becomes the villain when he falls in love with Christmas.