This EVIL Santa is Ho, Ho, Horrible. “Slayed” reviewed! (Terror Films / Digital Screener)

Five years after a murderous, Santa Claus-cladded maniac massacred a couple of young women in the dank basement of a water treatment plant in Harris County, AZ, the stigma of the plant being open has caused enough controversy, heartache, and notoriety for the local residents and will soon close the chained-link gate forever to soon transform into a car dealership. On the last day of operation, Christmas Eve night, the lone survivor of that night five years ago walks vigilantly around the perimeter with a tingled sense that something just isn’t right as he stashes weapons around the facility…just in case. With the last administrative staff gone for the night and a novice guard at the helm of watch, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse, until there arose such a clatter and who did the guard and the survivor find? It was the return of Jolly Old Saint Nick with an axe to grind.

Merry Christmas, readers! You can’t spread Christmas fear without watching at least one, count them one, homicidal Holidays flick starring our favorite Yuletide strangler, Santa Claus. This year, the Fatman reins down upon a few unfortunate recipients on his coal gifting list in Jim Klock and Mike Capozzi’s “Slayed” that was released digitally this last month of 2020. The script is penned by Jim Klock following another Klock and Capozzi collaboration, the 2019 released Devil trickery detective-thriller, “Red Letters,” that has the unconventional atmospherics of a Christmas themed slasher set in the fictional location of Harris County, Arizona even though the climate of Arizona is semiarid and “Slayed” appears to be taking place in a lush, semi-tropic climate that’s perhaps more in tune with a Floridian winter. However, production company, Jim Klock and Darrell Martinelli”s Code 3 Films, is based out of New Jersey with offices in Los Angeles, suggesting a summer shoot with the cut off shorts, short sleeves t-shirts, and the wicking sporty running attire being worn amongst the limited primary characters.

Klock not only directs, writes, and produces the serial killer Santa but also co-stars as a new-to-the-area, aspiring actor standing in for a regular security guard. Klock enacts a classic clueless constitution for a baffled and bumbling outsider caught in the middle of historical notoriety having returned from the grave. Standing side-by-side and opposite is co-director, Mike Capozzi, who institutes a doomsday prepper’s fantasy come to fruition as the lone survivor of the 5-year bygone Harris County water plant massacre. The role of a water plant operator turned lone wolf of misanthropy never truly fleshes out of a state of rigid inflexible measures that stagnant the character’s mysterious backstory of surviving Santa’s bloody red-handed carnage and extend his development into an explanation of his long-awaited revenge obsession. Klock and Capozzi only bookend the film being in the same scene together, leaving much of the midsection, essentially the second act, for distressing females as hunting game for Santa’s slay. Coel Mahal and Kyra Kennedy, who have previously worked with Klock and Capozzi on previous projects, adequately fill in those rolls to an extent. Mahal’s masculine bity, water plant administrator acutely shifts into trope slasher-fodder of hapless articles of loosely bound prey. Things worsen with Kyra Kennedy’s rando abductee with an uncontrollably irritating sniveling in unprompted immediate danger as she sits in the passenger seat of a truck and just inconsolably cries, cries, and cries. Luckily, “Slayed” is a indie-reined in production that doesn’t swarm with halfhearted and ill-deserving characters as the film rounds out with minor roles casted to Delton Goodrum, Chuck Roberts, and Jennifer Meakin and Crystal Cameron as half-naked, strung up torture toys for a deranged Kris Kringle.

In a peeve already mentioned, “Slayed” rarely invokes as a Christmas chronicled horror film, striking lukewarm resemblances to that of “Silent Night, Deadly Night” or “Christmas Evil,” to which those films set a very low bar to emulated, unless you’re a trash-loving, so-bad-it’s-good, cult film enthusiastic, like yours truly, than its nothing but top shelf quality. However, the unexplained warm weather upholstery cripples “Slayed’s” genre-blend construct that’s been in august status of next level output over the last few years to dispel the happiest time of year into a certifiable time of fear in an apparent hostile seasonal takeover in a return of spite that Halloween shortens every year with Christmas nipping at the heels as soon as the first brown leaf hits the ground. If the shooting location is truly set in Arizona, winter months typically hover around a light jacket and shorts 60 degrees during the day and nippy 40 degrees at night, but the sweaty, wintery deficient clothing worn suggests a sweltering otherwise. Klock and Capozzi’s good faith effort into “Slayed’s” festive fare is in the garish Holiday decorations and ornamental lighting production design denotes the showy display of Christmas spirit, held in which season is not exactly clear. To speak more on the lighting, Emily Adam, another patron believer of Klock’s work, uses a restrained soft fuchsia lens tint, among other vivid primary colors, to elevate the seasonal veneer and Adam’s lighting is especially a favorable hallmark of the season with the use of the soft, but brilliant glow of Christmas string bulbs utilized to lash and tie up up naughty listers. Yet, up to scratch cinematography can’t fix what’s inherently broken with a story penned as a sequel structure that assumes the audiences’ knowledge of past events when, in fact, leaves viewers in blackout darkness with many questions: Why the Harris County water plant? Where did maniacal Santa go for five years? How did the water plant survivor make it out alive and is now determined to end not only maniacal Santa’s life but also his own? Why did maniacal Santa kidnap this random young lady from her house? What’s the significance of Christmas for maniacal Santa and why this period in time to return? I enjoy Christmas horror as much as the next genre votary but wrapping your head around “Slayed” topples any chance of actually enjoying the disgruntled, menacingly muttering “Ho Ho Ho” catch-phrasing, maniacal Santa terrorizing an unjolly skeleton crew on Christmas Eve night.

Ho Ho Horror! Santa delivers the gift of sufferable tidings and killjoys in the Terror Films distributed “Slayed” digitally only onto Prime Video. If you didn’t catch “Slayed” before Christmas when released on December 18th, then no worries! Quickly nosedive into your laptop or television set and catch Santa axing away on Prime Video today! An interesting tidbit about the crew of “Slayed” comes from the music department with composer Jojo Draven, former guitarists for a number of Las Vegas shows such as performance artists, the Blue Man Group, and Gothic street illusionist, Chris Angel. The Indonesian-American female rocker’s agreeable experimental-industrial sound comes across professionally astute toward the context with unbuckling tension baked right into the scene. There were no bonus material included with the screener nor where there bonus scenes during or after the credits. Instead of racing down the stairs, excited by the prospect of unwrapping that one main horror-inspired Christmas movie on Christmas Day, “Slayed” turns out to be a disappointing hefty lump of coal with a few diamond patches sparkling through the sedimentary rock and catching our eye in a rather humbug holiday horror falling short of that so-bad-its-good set bar.

Watch “Slayed” on Prime Video by clicking the poster!

Evil Makes the Naughty List! “Krampus: The Christmas Devil” review!

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Thirty-years ago, little Jeremy Duffin barely escaped the clutches of the Krampus, the horned companion of Santa Claus who punishes naughty children the coldest weeks before Christmas. Now as a grown man and an officer of the law, Duffin, still haunted by memory of his own abduction, obsesses over the similar current child snatching occurrences and, on the direction of his captain, constructs a three man team to hunt down the child predator. Confronting the Krampus doesn’t go as expected as bullets fly harmlessly through the mystical creature, resulting in Jeremy becoming a brief prisoner and his team facing a more fatal outcome. Jeremy escapes and makes his way back home where Krampus homes in on, seeking to punish Jeremy’s only daughter Heather, but one of Jeremy’s prior arrested offenders was released from jail and also has vengeful plans for Jeremy and his family. A trigger-happy obsessed cop, a vengeance seeking convict, and a child punishing anthropomorphic becomes a superbly wrapped deadly and wild gift on Christmas Eve.
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On the verge of Michael Doughtry’s “Krampus” being released in theaters, the UK’s High Fliers Films distributes to home DVD the older, more experimental black sheep brother “Krampus: The Christmas Devil.” I say older because this Krampus Christmas horror film, written and directed by Jason Hull, was released over two years ago. Now with all the interest in Doughtry’s bigger, star-studded production being released this holiday season, the Snowdog Studio production filmed in Eerie, Pennsylvania is finally receiving a home DVD release in the United Kingdom and was just released here in the States only a month ago as well. Now while “Krampus: The Christmas Devil” will be exposed to the world, I fear that Doughtry’s “Krampus” will completely overshadow this microbudget film and, in all honesty, will rightfully do so due to the feeble and disjointed plot.
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The Jason Hull film’s swiss cheese story is missing many pieces to this Christmas tale puzzle. The begiining voiceover description of the Krampus backstory is great for those who know nothing of the myth, but in the duration, the creature travels to a particular part of the North Western side of Pennsylvania to solely strike the top ten misbehaved children in one year, 25 days before Christmas. Krampus, like his brother Saint Nicholas, travels the world in those hours to various lands to punish all the naughty listed children. The scope of Hull’s Krampus was written too narrowly, missing to portray Krampus as on a grander wickedness. Another plot hole is with Jeremy’s daughter Heather. Santa specifically requests Heather Duffin to Krampus by pointing out that she’s truly a terrible child, even worse than a child who tortures and murders animals. The reason why Heather is a horrible brat isn’t explained and is rather ignored. Heather seems like a sweet and smart girl even when she knifes a man who attempts to rape her. Heather’s wide open story plunges into a pit of wonder.
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Bill Oberst Jr. is one of the big names attached to this project and his part is rather slim, playing the role of Brian Hatt, the released child rapist looking to strike a vengeful blow upon the Duffin family. Oberst, hands down, raises the value of “The Christmas Devil” tenfold by being a wisecracking villain with a submachine gun and showing no mercy. If Oberst was ever awarded a role in a Batman movie, he would be a fascinating, if not terrific, Joker. Just sayin’. Finding more the good in “The Christmas Devil” has yet to be seen. Aside from Bill Oberst Jr.’s superb wayward performance, only an extended topless scene of Model Mayhem model Angelina Leigh as Krampus’s cave-chained Pet slowly discharges any kind of titillating and riveting on screen arousal.
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The production value is unmistakably low level and this reviewer wasn’t expecting much when considering sets and post-production quality, but Hull should have spent film funds on skilled talent to the likes of Oberst or to the opposite likes of novice actor Paul Ferm, who plays the part of a biker-salty Saint Nick with an on/off personality switch. Lead actor A.J. Leslie as Jeremy Duffin frustratingly shows no range and aimlessly makes his way through Duffin’s most conflicting and life-threatening moments. Even Duffin’s bar fight with costar Darin Foltz and his two cronies conveyed no raw emotion needed to sell the action and, speaking of the same bar fight, the staged event looked awfully fake all around.
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The High Fliers Films and ITN distributed Krampus Christmas horror film is 82 minutes of discombobulated mess. The story crawls slowly across to coherency, lightly candy coated with moments of acting talent and gratuitous nudity. Surely to be blown out of the water by the bigger and badder PG-13 “Krampus” film, “The Christmas Devil” can be considered to be a low end starting point for the anti-jolly myth of Santa Claus, helping those to jump start in learning all about the horned devil-like character and his brat-napping ways. I’m unable to review the audio and video quality and bonus material of the film as I’m sent a DVD-R copy and doesn’t truly reflect through a burned copy. “Krampus” The Christmas Devil” comes to DVD and Blu-ray in the UK courtesy of High Fliers Films.

Merry Evil Xmas! Caesar & Otto’s Deadly Xmas review!

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Just in time for the 2013 holiday season comes Caesar & Otto’s Deadly Xmas the sophomore sequel the original film humbly titled Caesar & Otto. Caesar and his half brother Otto embark on a religious cause to become a traveling Santa Claus and his buddy elf. Another Santa has other plans as the bodies of Caesar & Otto’s friends begin to pile up from his deranged thirst for blood. As the blood flows, Caesar & Otto’s oblivious nature doesn’t leave them one clue to the chaos that has been ensuing.
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The indie horror comedy is a large homage to the genre that references mainly back to Silent Night, Deadly Night and just like Silent Night, Deadly Night, Caesar & Otto’s Deadly Xmas comes off just as cheesy as Cheez Whiz to where most scenes are not very funny and where very few scenes give a good chuckle. The main characters are whimsical, but immature to the point where the comedy makes my take teeth grit together painstakingly.

Dave Campbell directs, pens, and stars as Caesar and his love for horror shines through into his work, but Campbell also has his hand in editing and the his editing work leaves the film feeling too fast pace that if you look down for a second or blink your eyes, you’ll end up missing an entire sequence or a key part of the film. Also, I’ve never seen the previous two films, Caesar & Otto nor Caesar & Otto’s Summer Camp Massacre, and there feels to be that some portions of the movie carried over into Deadly Xmas. I was waiting for a flashback sequence or something else that would reference what had happened previously, but nothing came about leaving more confusion.
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Like a good homage, Deadly Xmas involves a lot of great horror icons that also made an appearance in Summer Camp Massacre as well. Slumber Party Massacre’s Brinke Steven’s, Return of the Living Dead’s Linnea Quigley, Sleepaway Camp’s Felissa Rose, Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman, and Soultaker’s Joe Estevez make a b-list guest cameo appearance. Kaufman’s scene was particularly the funniest of them all, but I don’t want to discredit the others as they have bring something special to the Campbell’s film even with Joe Estevez making light and spoofing Doctor Phil with Doctor Pheel!
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Wild Eye releasing and MVDVisual bring Caesar & Otto’s Deadly Xmas to life with some really good appeasing art work that will sure attract attention to the Christmas horror genre. Check out the bonus features that include alternate scenes, behind the scene featurette, a short film entitled Piggyzilla, another short film entitled Otto’s First Job, trailers, and a bonus short film starring Maniac Cop’s Robert Z’dar entitled The Perfect Candidate.