Run And Hid When Yuletide EVIL Comes A Calling! “Pagan Warrior” reviewed! (ITN Distribution / DVD)


In Medieval times of Sussex, England, a powerful English king, who has kept the seething Viking savages at bay for decades, has died, vacating the throne to his son, Rollo. The Vikings seize the opportunity during this time of transition and storm the Saxon Castle, nearly killing the monarchy and all of throne’s subjects left to oppose them. With their daughter Avery kidnapped and themselves on the brink of death, King Rollo and Queen Silvia are revived by two women of the woods, a pair of witch sisters known as Constance and Millicent, who use their mystical healing powers and offer the king retribution by summoning the Yuletide monster, Krampus. In return for slaughtering the Viking usurpers, the Krampus will collect his debt in exactly 10 years, taking whatever is precious and dear as payment from the vengeful King Rollo.

Krampus has become a major media trend over the last decade, popping up in all forms of popular culture that compounded lore inside the leafy pages of books and magazines to the beast’s frighteningly half-goat, half-man exterior making for great big screen monster entertainment. The inverse icon of jolly Saint Nicholas offers punitive measures for bad little girls and boys and is sometimes referred as a companion to Saint Nicholas who probably turned a decisive blind eye to little brat Johnny’s enjoyably thievery and torture of chickens from a neighboring farm. “Pagan Warrior” is yet another narrative of the Christmas creature spun with different fabric and woven into a bitter feud of two contending enemies told modestly by director Louisa Warren (“Tooth Fairy”), produced by Warren’s London, UK based production company, ChampDog Films, a creative outlet for independent film ventures that are mostly in the horror genre and are sometimes inferior versions of bigger budget films, in the same vein as Asylum Entertainment. The script comes from Shannon Holiday (“Bride of Scarecrow”) that conveys an ageless theme of beware of what you wish for and the price of blind vengeance.

“Pagan Warrior” hones in on numerous character stories, never clearly defining a single perspective. King Rollo, played by “Escape from Cannibal Farm’s Peter Cosgrove, becomes the royal fate sealer as what he deems necessary and right is, in fact, the worst possible scenario a mad king could bestow upon himself by calling upon the supernatural death dealers for revenge. Cosgrove cleans up nicely as an English blue blood whose bequest incorporates a lineage of fighting kings with Cosgrove taking his role with due importance despite a humbling filmmaking production. King Rollo’s counterpart, the merciless Viking Ubbe fitted for Carey Thring (“Scarecrow’s Revenge”), combats a war on two fronts – the contentious bout with King Rollo and an internal family squabble that beleaguer the bond between him and his wife (Kate Milner Evans, “Pet Graveyard”) and child (Adam Sugawara, “Virtual Death Match”) as he tries to court princess Avery with a crude sexual advances. Thring’s vision of Ubbe is a classically depicted villain whose stronger with allies and a whimpering coward when alone in a fight, especially when the Krampus comes calling for his head. Darrell Griggs dons the makeup, prosthetics, and wardrobe of the horned beast, becoming the folklore of a cursed death who not only pursues the 12 month progression of horrible children, but also the appointed damned when conjured for a hit. Krampus’ outward appearance is pleasing and Griggs provides the lumbering and slight preternatural motions that give Krampus that dreaded paranormal mysticism. “Pagan Warrior” rounds out with Sarah T. Cohen (“ClownDoll”), Jessica O’Toole (“Pet Graveyard”), Mike Kelson (“Scarecrow’s Revenge”), Hattie Willow (“The Mermaid’s Curse”), Will Todd (“Mummy Reborn”), and Tara MacGowran (“Mother Krampus”) and director Louisa Warren as the women of the woods.

ChampDog Films uses a tightknit group of actors and filmmakers to sell archaic swordplay action fastened against demonic folklore and despite the underwhelming band of Vikings versus an equally small English contingent squaring off in front of a historic English castle with virtually no ample practical or CGI era enhanced presentations, the production just barely eeks by with Feudal times. Wisely, Warren shoots a number of character closeup shots, avoiding much of the surrounding modern elements and forcing audiences to focus just on the characters who are dolled up for Medieval times roleplay. Where the battle scenes and smart camera work flourish, the Shannon Holiday script becomes the ultimate weak link in the chain with a predictable plot storied with terribly cliched and uninteresting characters that couldn’t grip a sword let alone one’s attention. The story begins with its most shocking ending scene, thwarting any possibility of surprise for even the most dense and cinematically uneducated individual for the ruse play out. There is also this millennium goof in the opening backstory credits indicating events take place in 812 AD and in the same breath, mentioned also is the three days of December 1812 that this episode occurs. Since 1812 England was all about redcoats, guns, and war with America colonies, I would assume 812 AD would be the correct time period against a Viking invasion.

In what is not exactly a Christmas holiday horror movie, the malediction of the “Pagan Warrior” spread little holiday cheer and more yesterday fear onto an ITN Distribution and Mill Creek Entertainment DVD. Presented in a widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ration, on a single layer DVD, sheathed inside a DVD cover that looks cooler than the actual movie itself, the lower end production avoids stylizing a historical based feature with tinted mattes, computer imagery, or any other miscellaneous camera effects seeking more toward a naturalistic cinematography that utilizes the hues at hand. Pastel blacks jump with noise and posterization from the electronic interference whereas the existing hues exhibit a less than rich approach of a more vapid green, brown, and stonewall beige. The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio mix maintains a level of consistency. Sometimes, Krampus’ dialogue is murky because of the extra gnarling effect parroting an LFE emitting voice; however, dialogue is mainly clear and prominent. English SDH is an available option. For a time period action-horror, the lack of rudimentary range and depth troubles with little sense into the effort of adding skirmishing swords and Krampus’ reverberating growls always seem to be right next to the camera. The only bonus feature available is the trailer. With conventional means of dispatching people, “Pagan Warrior” shadows more of the slasher concept conjured by the breath of the desperate who misfires judgment rather than being an omnipotent being summoned like a djinn for total annihilation in exchange for a debt in this good faith effort by Louisa Warren of Krampus diabolism.

Purchase “Pagan Warrior on DVD!

“Pagan Warrior” is also included with Amazon Prime!

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.