Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



 Directed by Joe Begos.
Starring Riley Dandy, Abraham Benrubi, Sam Delich.
Horror, US, 81 minutes.

Streaming on Shudder from 9th December


Christmas movies seem to have their own industry. Summer barely ends and the Christmas movie channel pops up on television, beaming the blandest of the bland low stakes’ family dramas and romances. Two recent examples of this are A HOLLYWOOD CHRISTMAS and A CALIFORNIA CHRISTMAS: CITY LIGHTS, two films involving couples facing rocky romances during the holiday season. I mention these two as they both feature the actress Riley Dandy. Now Dandy has expanded her Christmas film CV by teaming up with writer and director Joe Begos for CHRISTMAS BLOODY CHRISTMAS. It features Begos’ trademark style of neon drenched ultraviolence, sex, drugs, drinking, foul language, and rock ‘n roll but this time it’s snowy and there is a killer Santa Claus robot on the loose. Chances are you’re not going to see it on the Hallmark Channel anytime soon.


RoboSanta+, to give it its proper title is a product of the military branching out into the lucrative holiday market, as seen in a sequence of commercials that paint a no holds barred nightmare of commercialisation run amok that would make Paul Verhoeven proud. Dandy plays Tori Tooms, owner of a music store waiting for the busy Xmas Eve shift to end so she can hook up with a Tinder date and get blind drunk. Passing time before then with co-worker Robbie in a bar they take no notice of a news story on the TV detailing the recall of RoboSanta’s across the nation after they malfunction and start murdering people. Soon Tori and Robbie find their own Christmas plans interrupted as the RoboSanta in their friends’ toy store comes to life and grabs the nearest axe, using it in spectacularly homicidal fashion.


It is a fun premise, but Begos plays it mostly straight. It is a decision that at first throws the tone of the film that it feels slightly misjudged but somehow the ridiculousness of if all is just enough to carry it through that it becomes its own strange sort of fun. Begos has never shied away from his love of 80’s horror and sci-fi in the past and CHRISTMAS BLOODY CHRISTMAS is his TERMINATOR. Whether it is the unstoppable robot pursuing a female heroine at the centre of it all, a police station attack or the impressive fully animatronic figure used towards the end of the film it is all quite plain to see.


Fans of Begos, and of indie horror in general, will be satisfied with the carnage on display here, filmed in anamorphic 16mm film, and the cast of familiar faces who pop up; Jeremy Gardner and Graham Skipper, both repeating festive horror duties after the recent, and excellent, THE LEECH, pop up again here to amusing effect. One drawback though is the pacing. A lot of the first half of the film is dedicated to Tori and Robbie talking and arguing loudly about how much Christmas sucks, films, music and sex. It becomes slightly wearying when all you want to see is a robotic Santa murder people. The promise of satire that the introductory commercial sequence provides is also quickly jettisoned and feels like a missed opportunity.


When RoboSanta eventually does make his move however it is just about worth the wait. While not as impressive as his previous entries, Begos still manages to provide a lot of ridiculous and sometimes outrageous low budget fun giving us a nice alternative to the usual Christmas fare before we dig out that disc of BLACK CHRISTMAS one more time.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans