Rating: 4 out of 5.

Who doesn’t love a good Christmas horror movie? My personal favorites are 2006’s Black Christmas and Krampus, both of which I have on a yearly rotation during the holidays. Now I may finally have a third to add to my list! For what was originally pitched as a remake to Silent Night, Deadly Night, the gory slashterpiece Christmas Bloody Christmas from writer/director/producer Joe Begos takes the cake when it comes to emulating 80s greats. With a killer robot Santa designed by the team behind the cenobites of 2022’s Hellraiser, an unconventionally awesome final girl, propulsive synth score, and epic, nasty kills, Christmas Bloody Christmas gave me bloody mayhem and Christmas spirit in equal measure. 

After starting with several fitting, ridiculous faux-ads that include malt whiskey for the family and Santa creampies, we are introduced to the newest cutting edge robot tech. Forget about those drunken fake-Santas at the shopping malls—military-grade Robo Santa+ is here for all of one’s Christmasesy needs! It appears not to take long for this new tech to be installed in all kinds of stores, as the next time we meet Robo Santa+ will be just before he embarks on a seemingly endless night of death and destruction! It doesn’t take long for us to discover that Robo Santa+ has issued a companywide recall—could this be the first seeds of a potential sequel? Abraham Benrubi plays Santa as an imposing, unstoppable killing machine.

One of my favorite aspects of Christmas Bloody Christmas is that well before the veritable shit hits the fan, we really get to know our core characters. Mainly this comes in the form of spunky pop culture fiend Tori (Riley Dandy) and her wise-cracking oversexed employee, Robbie (Sam Delich), both of whom work together at a throwback vinyl/video store. Their banter back and forth is so much fun to watch, as they debate over everything from the excellence of Pet Sematary Two to the underrated Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, best/worst Christmas songs, and more. I never grew tired of either character, hoping against hope that they would make it through to the film’s blood-soaked climax and ride off together in the sunset. Is Tori merely tempted by Robbie’s “hauntingly erotic conversations,” or could there be actual romance in the air?

Of course, as is frequent with slashers, we wouldn’t have a proper movie without some bodies hitting the floor. The film’s tertiary characters range from toy store sex maniacs to bumbling cops to defenseless children, and everything in between. Seeing where Robo Santa’s bloody rampage will take him next was always a blast! Somehow, Tori and Robbie always manage to get caught in his crosshairs as the target of his unrelenting stalk mode. The kills themselves are joyously brutal and hilariously over-the-top! The majority make use of one’s standard giant axe, and a couple still find creative ways to shock and surprise by way of stunning practical effects work.  

When he introduced Christmas Bloody Christmas, writer/director Joe Begos referred to it as a “sleazy ass Yuletide yarn,” and I have to say this was an absolutely perfect descriptor. Certainly, the movie is neon-soaked and vibrant, beautifully filmed on 16mm, and the final stretch is every bit as gloriously over-the-top as one would hope. Who wouldn’t want to see a Santa go full-Terminator mode? Riley Dandy emerges as a badass heroine, channeling bits of Jena Malone and Scout Taylor Compton. The perverted, dark sense of humor that shines through serves as the film’s still-beating heart, setting it apart from lesser imitation slasher knock-offs. Christmas Bloody Christmas is the real deal. Playing to a crowd of rowdy drunken horror fanatics with major fanfare, this wild, unapologetic slasher ride is one of my favorite theatrical experiences of 2022.

Christmas Bloody Christmas screened at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival. It shoots sparks everywhere when it debuts in theaters and to Shudder on Friday, December 9th.

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