Rating: 3 out of 5.

Don’t forget to leave out the milk and cookies for Santastein this Christmas season! The latest in a long line of Christmastime slashers, this movie should give exactly what that zany title promises. Most recently, director Joe Bezos delivered a crowd-pleasing Santa gorefest in the form of Christmas Bloody Christmas. While Santastein doesn’t quite bring the same sense of holiday cheer, there is plenty here to recommend, be it over-the-top kills, zany resurrections, or just cheesy fun. In a bolt of lightning, prepare for the arrival of a seriously killer Santa!

Max (Jared Korotkin) and his sister, Paige (Ophelia Rivera), are obsessed with their little science experiments. Their latest—bringing a dead rat to life in front of their entire class—goes so well that the teacher literally exclaims “what the fuck.” This shocking success finally fulfills a prophecy that Max has been working towards for the last twelve years. When he was just six, Max accidentally killed Santa in a booby trap gone wrong. Now, Christmas as we know it no longer exists.

Max, who has made a habit of stealing corpses to further his work, resurrects a man dressed in a Santa costume; unbeknown to Max, this bloodthirsty monster is definitely not the holiday savior he so desperately seeks. The actual resurrection scene is a blast, complete with opening sky, lightning storm, goggles, and dramatic music. A throwback score from composer Austin Hammonds adds unexpected layers to the 80s-style atmosphere. 

Of course, most people will only be watching Santastein awaiting the crazed carnage that will occur. After awhile, that is exactly what we get. Bold practical effects revel in the sort of outrageous nastiness one always hopes for from the slasher genre. Torn off tongues, severed heads, and bludgeoned bodies are the name of the game. I do wish that it had actually been Santa that was brought back to life rather than a random man’s corpse, but I suppose it wouldn’t have made any sense at all given the movie’s timeline.

Ultimately, Santastein is far more entertaining and engaging than I had been anticipating. As Santa paves a path of bodies in his wake on his way to a roaring retro Christmas party, Santastein is content to bring genre fans a shiny wrapped present of dark comedy delights. Whether you have been naughty or nice, Santastein may be the perfect comfort-watch stocking stuffer, and a future regular for the Christmas horror rotation.

Santastein screened at 2023’s Popcorn Frights Film Festival.

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