Saturday, December 10, 2016

'Krampus Unleashed' DVD Germanic Christmas Lore Meets 'Tremors'



Fanboy deity Uncork'd Entertainment of the (Unreal TV reviewed) "lost" Roger Corman's "Fantastic Four" doc "Doomed!" marks Christmas in its own wonderfully perverse way via the December 13, 2016 DVD release of  the 2016 so-bad-its-good horror film "Krampus Unleashed." Any similarities to the big-budget 2015 film "Krampus" seems completely intentional, but the fun in the latest one is in the disembowelments and the decapitations.

A better way of stating this is that "Krampus" is a movie that only a tween boy can truly love and that provides the rest of us with an "its complicated" relationship.

European lore identifies Krampus as a demon who fairly literally is the stick to the carrot that is Santa. This is in the form of the parents who tell their children that Santa only rewards good children also informing the offspring that Krampus tortures and/or drags off bad children in ways that include taking a switch to them.

"Unleashed" writer/director Robert Conway combines the above folklore with the American southwest desert-based giant carnivorous worm lore of the "Tremors" franchise by setting his film in a sparsely populated section of central Arizona.

An early scene has 20th century treasure hunters digging in the desert for the fabled loot of aptly named 19th century German outlaw Eric Klaus. This search unearths a box with a summoning stone that calls Krampus on the accidental activation of said device.

The action then moves ahead a few decades to a Christmas family reunion of two adult siblings, their parents, and the offspring of the children. Good humor here relates to Uncle Dave insisting on being called David and his oafish teen son Troy demonstrating every stereotypical characteristic of the cousin from Hell. This results in this portion of the film being "Spike TV's Christmas Vacation."

Everykid Tommy finding the summoning stone and Troy inadvertently activating it in a manner that supports the conclusion that smoking is hazardous to your health escalates this gathering from an unpleasant one to an event that almost literally is the family reunion from Hell. One spoiler is that Grandma wishes that she only got run over by reindeer.

Although the flat acting and cheesy effects make the low-budget aspects of "Krampus" entertaining, most of the encounters with the titular big bad are so short and lacking in cleverness that they disappoint. The demon chow do not even make Krampus work very hard for the blood thirst that he must quench until resuming his hibernation. They simply are standing around when he appears, he offs them through means such as loping off a head or a limb, and then her settles down for a tasty feast of intestines.

The meat suits do come up with a better plan regarding how to defeat their foe, and Conway creates some suspense in the final portion of this movie. He further deserves credit for poetic justice at the end that also leaves the door open for a sequel.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Unleashed" is welcome to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.