CHRISTMAS BLOODY CHRISTMAS (2022)
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It’s Christmas Eve and small-town record and video store owner Tori (Riley Dandy) is planning to hang out and get drunk with her friend and employee Robbie (Sam Delich). Meanwhile, at the T.W. Bonkers toys store, where her friends Jay (Jonah Ray) and Lahna (Dora Madison) work, the former military robot turned Santa Claus (Abraham Benrubi) reverts to its original combat programing and begins a bloody Christmas killing spree. Soon Tori and Robbie find themselves in a fight for survival as this yuletide terminator sets its sights on them and goes through anyone who crosses its path to get to them. Will they survive this O Holy Night?
Christmas Bloody Christmas is written and directed by Joe Begos (Bliss, VFW) and is another fun, 80s-esque flick from a director who obviously has a passion for his influences. From the atmospheric neon colored cinematography to the delightfully foul- mouthed and pop culture infused dialogue, this is a very entertaining holiday horror that pays tribute to many flicks of the past yet is its own thing. There is some solid suspense, some very plentiful and over-the-top gore and it has not only a devious sense of fun but a bit of a cynical and satirical look at this commercial time of year, too. What really makes this flick tick, though, is the awesome banter between Tori and Robbie that really endears you to the two characters before Santa comes a knocking. They are two hard-partying and foul-mouthed characters, with a love of movies and music, and the actors play their camaraderie and the sexual tension between them perfectly. It makes them very likable, especially Tori when she turns into a tough and resilient final girl when they are separated, and she goes mistletoe to toe with Santa on her own. Santa himself is an intimidating Christmas terminator and is quite an imposing villain without saying a word. The film obviously evokes The Terminator, but also evokes other robot run amok themed flicks like Class of 1999 and Hardware. It’s a fast paced, holiday action/horror that has some very delightfully gory moments, some impressive action sequences on a low budget and some engaging characters as Robo-Santa prey. It also wisely doesn’t wear out its welcome at just under 90 minutes. Production-wise the film looks great on what must be a very modest budget. The look of the film is a big factor, from Joe Begos’ visual style to the production design from Adam Dietrich and art direction from Elliott Gilbert. Who wouldn’t want to work at Tori’s store? There is also a very atmospheric and very 80s score by Steve Moore, some great songs on the soundtrack, and that holiday themed neon drenched cinematography is by Brian Sowell along with solid gore and special make-up FX from Josh and Sierra Russell. A real holiday horror treat!
The small cast are really good here. As stated, Riley Dandy makes for a really likable heroine with her feisty, smart, resilient and delightfully foul-mouthed Tori. Her record store owner is a strong character to endear to and we are with Tori, jingling all the way for her survival. Sam Delich is also equally endearing as the confident and cocky leather jacket wearing Robbie. The two characters work very well together as do the actors who have strong on-screen chemistry. Begos regular Dora Madison is also likable and sexy as toy store employee Lahna and she also works well with Jonah Ray as her onscreen boyfriend Jay. Rob Zombie regular Jeff Daniel Phillips is also solid as the town sheriff who is faced with a mechanical Christmas nightmare, and Begos flick veterans Jeremy Gardner and Graham Skipper also appear. Rounding out is the spookily silent and intimidating work by Abraham Benrubi as the holly jolly killing machine.
Overall, this is a bloody fun holiday horror that pays homage to the robot killing machine flicks of the 80s, as well as your choice of Christmas themed slashers. Sure, we have seen the former military machine on a rampage before, but Begos knows it and just goes with it, parading his homages out in all their neon drenched holiday glory. There is some solid action, some nice suspense, some very gory kills and some really likable characters that give us the needed emotional investment in their fates. Riley Dandy is definitely a late entry in the best final girls of the year category with her smart-ass record store owner Tori, as is Sam Delich equally effective as her coworker/friend/love interest Robbie. A really fun holiday horror and one of the year’s best fright flicks. Begos has become a Jedi with making these homage filled 80s love letters. Now streaming on Shudder and in limited theatrical release.
Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) Christmas presents!