Sunday, November 6, 2016


Howdy fellow film freaks, Robert here. Let's get this out of the way first: Krampus Unleashed is not a sequel, prequel or -quel of any kind to 2015's Krampus. Krampus Unleashed is just another example of how success breeds knockoffs in the film industry, and a reminder of how these attempts to quickly cash in on another film's recognition are to be avoided at all costs. It is truly, indefensibly execrable.

I say this as a devout fan of the film work of the Asylum, those god-kings of schlock flicks who, in addition to Sharknado, have brought us such odious masterworks as Airplane vs. Volcano, Transmorphers, Atlantic Rim and the Megashark series. I say this as someone who proudly owns a copy of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, and watches it every Christmas. I tolerate bad movies the way a cockroach tolerates radiation. So I think I'm somewhat qualified to state authoritatively that this movie is completely beyond the pale.

Krampus Unleashed throws out the traditional legend of the darkest of Santa's helpers in favor of a generic tale about a demon summoned by a magic rock. Rock and beast are revealed in the prologue, as you do in horror flicks, and the first kills happen in short order during a badly edited montage that would have made more sense as a Monty Python gag. Krampus's victims go from zero to bloody ruin in no time flat - we don't even see them fall down. Dismemberments happen cleanly and effortlessly, recalling King Arthur's battle with the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. All the kills in this movie will happen in the same shoddy, over-the-top manner.

We pause for a musical interlude - "Let it Snow", sung off-key - and the main story begins, with a family gathering for Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa's ranch in Arizona. This being a holiday family gathering, there is some dysfunction involved, mostly in the form of the teenage son of one of the groups who is very inappropriately attracted to his female cousin, an attraction that the rest of the relations only briefly notice (!). The relationships between the characters, such as they are, are filled out with more mangled dialogue and bad dinner-theater acting (especially from Grandpa), as well as some side details that defy all credulity. Eventually Krampus's magic rock is discovered. The demon is accidentally summoned, and the film settles into the pattern of the worst horror fare of thirty years ago. Beastie runs amok, slaughtering bit characters and main ones like cattle. A subplot involving a state highway patrolman and his dispatcher was tacked on to the film after production wrapped. You can tell because the cop never meets any of the other characters, instead only showing up long after the rest of the cast has moved on. Finally, the lone survivor of the film's opening massacre appears, dispenses some clunky exposition, and shortly thereafter, the creature is defeated. And I mean shortly: when that survivor, name of Coop, appears, there's only eleven minutes left in the movie. But Krampus Unleashed is a horror movie of the lowest tradition, so of course the nightmare isn't over. There are a thousand clich├ęd ways this cliffhanger could have been presented, but director Robert Conway opted for the most nonsensical one, followed by a final kill that goes on for far too long.

This is Conway's second Krampus project, following 2015's Krampus: The Reckoning. Based on the trailer for that film, I suppose I should be grateful that the monster this time is played by an actor in costume, as opposed to the previous project's half-finished CGI construct. I just wish Travis Amery, the man behind the monster, had played the creature like something other than a hammy Goosebumps refugee.

Lazily conceived, poorly performed and incompetently constructed, Krampus Unleashed will likely end up being one of the worst holiday offerings of the year, and may be one of the worst ever. It may be good for a laugh, but you'll be too busy cringing.

Krampus Unleashed is not rated, but contains scenes of violence and gore, as well as adult language.

Robert's Score: 0/10

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