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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

RED CHRISTMAS -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle



We reviewed a barebones advance screener for RED CHRISTMAS back in August (see below) but today (October 17) it comes out on Blu-ray from Artsploitation Films and we've gotten the opportunity to take a gander at it. 

This seasonal slash-em-up is about a highly dysfunctional family (with America's sweetheart, Dee Wallace, as the harried matriarch) getting together like oil and water for an unconventional Christmas celebration with a surprise guest--Cletus, Mom's aborted fetus that survived, grew up, got real crazy, and is now out for either familial love or ruthless revenge, whichever comes first.

Needless to say, it's a raucous affair that serves to bring the disparate family members together at last, even as they're getting picked off one by one.


As for the Blu-ray--not only does it look and sound good enough to put you right in the Christmas spirit, but there are some lovely extras as well.  First up is director Craig Anderson's informal interview with a charming Dee Wallace, who manages to melt our hearts all over again as she speaks of working not only on this film but her previous classics (E.T., THE HOWLING, 10, etc.) as well. 

Next, Anderson and actor Sam Campbell ("Cletus") pop over to Gerald Odwyer's house to chat with him about his experiences playing "Gerry."  Again, it's all pleasantly casual and amusing, as well as informative.

Lastly comes a blooper reel, deleted scene, and brief clip of Odwyer and Anderson goofing around.  The latter two also handle the film's commentary, which is very scene-specific and enlightening.


The Blu-ray is in 2.25:1 widescreen with 5.1 surround sound.  English subtitles and closed-captions are available.

And now, here's our original review of the film itself:

A movie that might also have been called "When Abortions Attack!", RED CHRISTMAS (Artsploitation Films, 2016) is a pretty effective cautionary tale about what can happen if your viable aborted fetus is rescued by the guy who's about to blow up the abortion clinic, grows up into a twisted, deformed freak, and then returns as an adult on Christmas Day to wreak bloody revenge on his erstwhile mother and her comically dysfunctional family. 

Of course, any such film must star beloved genre queen Dee Wallace as the mom, who so desperately wants a traditional, happy family get-together despite having a woefully untraditional, unhappy family with absolutely no intention of getting together.  Her only solace is son Jerry (Gerard Odwyer), whose Downs Syndrome only makes him more special in Mommy's heart.

The rest of the clan includes the rebellious teen girl, her witheringly cynical and very, very pregnant older sister, the ultra-religious sister whose husband is a pious man of the cloth, and Mom's old-hippie brother who is forever puffing away on his medicinal marijuana. 


The prickly interactions amongst this motley bunch, spurred by various family issues and clashing personalities, would be sufficient for a twisted "Big Chill" sort of ensemble dramedy were it not for the fact that their ritual of exchanging gifts around the Christmas tree is interrupted by the entrance of one Cletus, an extremely creepy figure robed in black and wrapped from head to toe like a leper. 

Anyone who watches the abortion clinic prologue and then gets a load of Cletus should have very little trouble putting two and two together as well as mentally mapping out pretty much what territory the rest of RED CHRISTMAS is going to cover. 

All that's left to discover is who's gonna die in what order, how (and how bad) it's going to be, and whether or not first-time writer-director Craig Anderson will be able to make it entertaining for us jaded old slasher-flick junkies. 

Of course, the movie has already proven itself absorbing and fun thanks to good dialogue and performances and a pleasing overall look which includes nicely creative use of color and camera movement. 


Once the axe hits the skull and Cletus starts racking up his body count, the story goes into high gear and keeps us on our toes even though most of the plot's twists and turns cover pretty familiar ground. 
Granted, things start to lag a bit in the second half, but remain generally engaging enough to keep us wanting to see what happens next.  The kills range from teasing glimpses to graphic gore (although this isn't really a gorehound's dream) while our fleeting glimpse of Cletus sans facial bandages drives home the pleasingly retro nature of the film's practical effects. 

The tone is mock serious, with any humor that's inherent in the script kept utterly deadpan and never overt, which I like.  I also like the fact that the premise is so refreshingly different from the usual teens-in-a-cabin or campers-in-the-woods slasher fare while retaining the better elements of such films.

Mainly, though, RED CHRISTMAS lets us enjoy watching the wonderful Dee Wallace giving her all in a great role while fun and entertaining murder, mayhem, and carnage ensue all around her.  It's enough to give horror fans a little taste of Christmas right here in the middle of August.
 

Buy it at Amazon.com:
Blu-ray
DVD


Red Christmas (Official Trailer)





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