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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

CAESAR AND OTTO'S DEADLY XMAS -- movie review by porfle

(Originally posted on 8/28/12)

When we last checked in with those wacky half-brothers Caesar and Otto, they were frantically eluding the bloody clutches of a serial killer in CAESAR & OTTO'S SUMMER CAMP MASSACRE and trying not to get sued by the Prince of Darkness himself in CAESAR & OTTO MEET DRACULA'S LAWYER.  Now, with CAESAR AND OTTO'S DEADLY XMAS (2012), even "the most wonderful time of the year" becomes a nightmare of horror and hilarity for our dauntless dim-bulbs.

Directing his own screenplay (from a story co-written with Joe Randazzo) in his usual frenetic and wildly inventive style, indy auteur Dave Campfield once again stars as "effete tough guy" Caesar Denovio, a whirling dervish of cowardly aggression who fancies himself a great actor even though he bungles even the tiniest bit parts (such as "Waiter" or "Background Pedestrian").

Caesar constantly bullies and beats up on his much larger but mild-mannered half-brother Otto (Paul Chomicki), an unemployed "sponge" living in Caesar's apartment.  Together, Campfield and Chomicki form a comedy team that harkens back to such classic duos as Abbott & Costello and Ren & Stimpy, but with their own amusingly unique style.

Several elements from SUMMER CAMP MASSACRE are carried over here, including Caesar and Otto's quest for employment leading them into the manipulative clutches of the deceptively pleasant Jerry (Ken MacFarlane), who now heads an evil organization called XMas Enterprises.  Caesar gets to display his bad-acting chops again, this time failing his audition to play Santa due to a childhood trauma caused by crazy Grandpa Denovio (a hilarious cameo by Troma's Lloyd Kaufman).

There's a road trip complete with endearingly bad (if not impossible) process shots, along with another of Caesar's BABY JANE-style attacks on Otto as they compete for the same acting role.  The suspenseful climax recalls that of the previous film, with Caesar, Otto, and their dad Fred in grave peril at the hands of Jerry and his minions.

One of the most delightfully funny new wrinkles in DEADLY XMAS is when Caesar gets the chance to write, direct, and star in his very own low-budget horror film (financed by XMas Enterprises) which, of course, is a disaster.  "Hand-hold it, the shakier the better!" he says gleefully during one scene.  "That's, like, never done in independent films!"

Other returning castmembers include Robin Ritter as Nurse Helen, Avi K. Garg as the plucky Drew (who remains upbeat even though he keeps losing his arms and having them reattached), Scott Aguilar as Caesar and Otto's no-good but lovable dad Fred, Summer Ferguson as Otto's boyhood love interest Allison, Keith Bush as the Caesar-hating chief of police, Dawn Burdue, Jen Nikolaus, and Derek Crabbe. 

Felissa Rose (SLEEPAWAY CAMP), Martin Sheen's brother Joe Estevez, and scream queens Brinke Stevens and Debbie Rochon make their customary cameo appearances, while Linnea Quigley plays Caesar's crabby agent Donna and recreates her celebrated death scene from 1984's SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT.

Felissa's husband Deron Miller, who had a much smaller role in SUMMER CAMP MASSACRE, plays Santa-clad serial killer Demian, a crazed lackey of XMas Enterprises who becomes fixated on our heroes and starts killing off everyone on the "called to cancel" list for Caesar's annual Thanksgiving feast (which features pretzel sticks, popcorn, and toast on picnic plates).  Demian's axe-wielding exploits supply the film with most of its over-the-top comedic gore, aside from a dream sequence in which a mortified Caesar gets drenched from head to toe in the red stuff while Santa dismembers Otto with a chainsaw.

Once again, Dave Campfield is able to overcome a rock-bottom budget simply by means of creative directing, camerawork, and editing (the latter is especially good), along with sound design and a hyperkinetic pace which recall classic theatrical cartoons.  In addition to this, the cast is brimming with talented performers rather than, as in so many low-budget features, a bunch of nitwits thrown together on the cheap.  There's a lot of good comic acting going on here, with each castmember seemingly inspired by the project.

This is especially true in regard to Campfield himself, who, given the right resources, has (in my opinion) the potential to develop into one of the sharpest and most visually creative comedy filmmakers working today.  While still suffering from a lack of polish that a decent budget would solve, his "Caesar and Otto" series has its own distinctly warped slapstick style and sensibility in the same way that, say, the Zucker Brothers' comedies do.  I'm not saying Dave Campfield is the next Buster Keaton, but I think ol' Stone Face might've gotten a few good laughs out of CAESAR AND OTTO'S DEADLY XMAS.

Caesar & Otto’s Deadly Xmas--Fun Facts and Trivia

Story: With the holiday season approaching, Caesar and Otto find themselves employed at X-Mas Enterprises Inc., where a disgruntled employee wearing a Santa suit has begun a killing spree, and has appeared to have found himself the perfect patsies.

Cast: Dave Campfield, Paul Chomicki, Deron Miller, Ken Macfarlane, Summer Ferguson, Brinke Stevens, Scott Aguilar with special appearances from Lloyd Kaufman, Felissa Rose, Debbie Rochon, Joe Estevez and Linnea Quigley.


The film is part spoof of 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night, and features many direct homages. Most notably, Linnea Quigley being impaled upon antlers.

Lloyd Kaufman’s appearance is a direct spoof of an opening scene from Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984).

Deadly Xmas is a sequel to Caesar & Otto’s Summer Camp Massacre, which lampooned “Sleep away Camp” (1983). Summer Camp featured Felissa Rose in a role that parodied her Angela character from the original.

Deron Miller, who portrays Demian in this feature, was lead singer of the hit rock group, CKY.

Deron Miller and Felissa Rose play husband and wife in the film. In real life they in fact are.

Neil Leeds is in fact a local Los Angeles celebrity known for his around the clock television ads as Leeds Mattress owner and spokesperson.

Preproduction has begun on the next installment, which will satirize both Halloween and the Paranormal Activity movies.

Intended to be a modern day throw back to the Abbott and Costello horror/comedy crossovers of yesteryear.



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