Let’s face it. There are no shortage of Christmas-themed horror movies. There are theatrical releases like Krampus, Black Christmas, and Silent Night, Deadly Night. For each of those, there are dozens of straight to video releases. Jack Frost (and its sequel), The Ginger-Dead Man (featuring Gary Bussey), and New Year’s Evil. The holidays are a festive time, and offsetting the happy family time and the warm glow of Christmas lights with some blood and gore only serves to ramp up the shock value.
Red Christmas certainly has plenty of both blood and gore. The brain child of writer/director Craig Anderson (Double the Fist), the film pays tribute to some of the great movies from the slasher genre. Anderson had to go to insane lengths to get the film made. That journey is the subject of Horror Movie: A Low Budget Nightmare, a documentary that follows Anderson through the logistics hell and budget nightmares that come with making a modern horror movie.
The film itself has a very basic plot. An aborted fetus shows up 20 years later to exact revenge on his family. That’s it. No subplots. No McGuffins. It sounds ridiculous, and it is, but that was always Anderson’s goal. It’s not a comedy and it doesn’t poke fun of the horror genre. It’s just a good old fashioned low budget Australian horror movie in the vein of kiwi Peter Jackson’s classics, Bad Taste and Dead Alive.
The cast is relatively small, with most of the action taking place around the family’s home. Dee Wallace (E.T., Cujo) absolutely carries the film as the matriarch whose awful decision now has a fatal impact on her children. Gerard Odwyer (Be My Brother) is exceptional as Jerry, the youngest son who has Down Syndrome. The other children are given some depth, mostly through dialogue and questionable actions. They don’t need much. The dialogue just provides something for everyone to do while the filmmakers set up the next kill.
The kills are where this movie hits its mark. Anderson gets incredibly creative in his murderous ways, and, even if they defy physics, they are shot to provide the right blend of on and off screen gore. For fans of the genre, there are several laugh out loud moments, with rewarding payoff shots. The effects crew led by Doug Bayne do a great job with prosthetics and practical materials.
Of course, the characters are going to do stupid things that put them in danger. They go upstairs. They go downstairs. They go outside. They underestimate the killer. They bring in other people who become more cannon fodder. There’s a long sequence of “wait, which character has the gun now?” that can get confusing. None of that takes away from what the film is – a tribute/new entry in the slasher genre worth a watch.
The film runs 81 minutes and is available on blu-ray. Extras include an interview with Dee Wallace, an interview with Gerard Odwyer, a blooper reel, a deleted scene, and director’s commentary (worth a listen). It’s also available for viewing on Netflix as of December 2017.
It’s part Black Christmas and part Troma, but Red Christmas definitely earns high points for creativity. Fans of low-brow horror flicks will enjoy it for the sick ride that it is. Here’s hoping Anderson has fewer hurdles and a bigger budget for his next project.