REVIEW: Krampus (2015)

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Krampus has terrible posture. 

 

Krampus: B-

Even with its goofiness and predictability, I still found Krampus weirdly enjoyable and charming. The movie channels a Christmas-Horror Spirit more similar to the black humor in Gremlins than that of Silent Night, Deadly Night or Christmas Evil. It’s a hyper-self-aware PG-13 movie that should be filed under comedy maybe more so than horror. So if you were expecting to see some carnage, this isn’t gonna give you your fix, you sick fuck.

But if you are sentimental like me, the movie might actually bring back fond memories of Christmas and all the fun that came with it! Homemade cookies, a warm fire, being left to die in the snow by my father who didn’t love me anymore, and opening presents with my cousins.

Santa is for good kids and he brings presents. Krampus is for bad kids and he brings torture and death. Fathers are for leaving you stranded in the snow to die a lonely death. This I know.

A kid makes a wish that his family would just fuck off, exactly like Kevin in Home Alone. “Fuck off, family!” (I’m paraphrasing) he scrawls on a little note, which gets carried into the night by a stray gust of wind. Krampus gets the kid’s letter and he shows up to slaughter the kid’s family. Krampus has a crew of killers who are all Christmas themed: There are some asshole elves, some asshole gingerbread men, some asshole toys (who really remind me of the puppets in the Puppet Master movies), and some asshole snowmen.

The real asshole is absolutely the dad character, who gets scared and leaves his daughter to die in the snow. One Christmas, my dad stopped in the woods on a snowy evening, read me a Robert Frost poem, and then pushed me out of his truck and drove away. The cold was biting and ruthless, but I swore my vengeance would be colder.

The “Christmas Spirit” part of the movie happens when the kid realizes that, compared to Krampus and his homicidal throng of death-elves, his conservative uncle isn’t that bad. He begs Krampus to spare his family. But Krampus gives the kid a “fuck off” of his own. I know a thing or two about begging. Try begging, try howling, into a dark Christmas night that howls back with a blizzard. Try begging to a God who abandoned you one night, to a God who turned his back as you trudged through 20 miles of snow. Try cursing your father who left you for dead, who cast you out like so much Christmas trash!

Anyway, the make-up and effects in the movie are great. Yes, there is some cookie-cutter CGI, but Krampus looks sort of like a Guillermo del Toro creature and his elves look like something out of an R-rated Where the Wild Things Are. There isn’t really any gore in the movie. The carnage is all PG-13 and/or off-screen. No dead kids, no blood and guts. No hands and feet made blue and feeble by your long trek in the snow, by your black march to the tool shed where you can barely grasp the machete on that night that left you without a God, without a family, and gave you instead a hunger for the blood of the father who had forsaken you. The movie doesn’t have any of that.

The moral of the story is to be thankful for what you have, even if all you have are assholes, because the asshole you know is better than the asshole you don’t know. Maybe if you feel wronged by someone, even if that someone is a family member — a father perhaps — you should take matters into your own hands. Instead of writing a letter, you should creep through the house with a machete on Christmas night, filled with a darkness more terrible and hollow that the darkness of a thousand blizzards, consumed by your one promise to yourself, your promise for vengeance, for blood. I think that’s the moral.

REVIEW: The Hidden 2 (1993)

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“Woof-woof! I want to die!” – The people involved in the making of this film.

The Hidden 2: F

I thought I wanted more from The Hidden, but I have changed my mind. It was stupid of me to want such a thing. It was fine the way it was and I don’t want any more Hidden. I should have been satisfied with a berserk alien movie that celebrates its own shamelessness as a ripoff of other science fiction horror movies. But I greedily wanted more and look what happened: The (fucking terrible) Hidden 2.

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but the alien from the first film left behind some eggs. The eggs hatch in this one and they do pretty much the same thing their dad did: they possess a bunch of people and go on visceral crime-sprees with all the ambition of a cracked-out Jeff Goldblum-style Death Wish goon.

The cover of the VHS says “They live for lust. They live for power. They live forever.” I assume they are talking about the newly-hatched parasites, but that makes zero fucking sense because a) they are not sexual at all, b) they just want to do stuff like eat cheeseburgers and steal cars, and c) there is no mention of any sort of immortality, and their lives are actually very easily ended with the stupid ray gun that the stupid Good Alien has.

Maybe the tagline is talking about the new Good Alien and his human love interest. They hook up, but they have about as much on-screen sexual chemistry as a pile of wet rags. And I’m not talking about those sexy rags. I mean unsexy rags. It’s Alien Seed all over again, and this is a movie that you do not want to be compared to on any level.

The guy from Carnosaur is in it. So it’s got that going for it… I guess.

I am not even exaggerating when I say that about twenty minutes of this movie are totally unaltered scenes from the first Hidden movie. They seriously edit in a LONG clip from the first movie and pass it off as an “intro” to the sequel. Then they throw in another generous clip as a “flashback.” Then (I’m not joking) they have the audacity add ANOTHER clip in the form of our heroes reviewing VHS security camera footage from the climax of the first movie. It is pretty lame. All in all, The Hidden 2 is maybe 60 minutes of original content.

And the content sucks ass.

The same brainless “homages” to Terminator and The Thing are there and they are somehow worse. There is even a scene where a dog gets possessed and there is a gross dog transformation scene like the gross dog transformation scene from The Thing. There are also some terminator-esque “files” that the Good Aliens accesses. I’m surprised there wasn’t “alien-vision” that ripped off all the first person Terminator shots. The parasites carry out some attacks outside of their hosts (like the face-huggers from Alien! Holy shit, am I just now noticing another case of plagiarism?), but they look like cheap puppets that someone threw at the actors.

The layers of meaninglessness to the movie have basically made me a level-10 nihilist. It is a shamelessly unoriginal sequel to a shamelessly unoriginal movie. The hatchlings have all the same abilities/criminal inclinations as before and there is a Good Alien with a Special Gun hunting them with the help of an “I don’t believe it!” human sidekick.

“F” City, population: The Hidden 2.

 

REVIEW: The Hidden (1987)

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Take me to your leader… of this strip club.

The Hidden: B-

The Hidden is a weirdly charming mash-up of plagiarism and cheap 80’s tricks: It has the “Good Guy vs. Bad Guy from Another Word” thing from The Terminator and the “Who’s the Monster in the Room?” thing from The Thing. These setups are re-packaged with Chuck Norris-movie quality and come together to form 90 entertaining and brainless minutes of cassette deck boom-boxes and rocket-launcher carnage.

What’s interesting is that the movie is (pretty much) unanimously respected as a solid film (everyone from Roger Ebert to Amazon.com reviewers write glowingly about it) despite the fact that it consciously replicates other movies while stripping the thought from them. The movie is based on the plots/tropes from The Terminator and The Thing, but there are no deeper allegorical/philosophical messages about mankind’s fear of technology or Cold War paranoia. Now, you could argue that these things were only superficial backdrops in the films I mentioned, but they were at least there. The Hidden revels in the pointlessness of its own monotonous violence.

A parasitic alien criminal who can possess human hosts goes on a wild crime spree on Earth. The alien behaves with Id-like impulsivity; whatever looks good, he steals it. The host he possesses for a lot of the movie looks like the dad from The Wonder Years if there was an episode called “Kevin’s Dad Tries Meth.” Imagine that guy in a sweat-soaked beige business suit committing grand theft auto, armed robbery, and assault with a deadly weapon while looking like he’s having a stroke / overdosing on ecstasy.

The alien parasite causes all sorts of entertaining/hedonistic destruction – slaying characters who are basically all 1980’s stereotypes, eating steaks, stealing boom-boxes – until some fresh-faced FBI motherfucker (played by the fresh-faced FBI motherfucker from Twin Peaks) comes to town with an uncanny ability to predict the alien’s criminal activity. Surprise! He’s a Kyle Reece-style “good” alien who is trying to stop the “bad” alien. He’s got a ray gun and no sense of humor, which goes great with his wisecracking city cop partner who “can’t freaking believe” everything that happens in every scene.

The Hidden starts off as an action/sci-fi and evolves into an insane buddy-cop movie that celebrates all the things you expect from bargain-bin 1980s VHS flicks: automatic weapons, mullets, cocaine, minorities using weird slang created by white people (This is Danny Trejo’s second movie and although I didn’t watch the credits, I bet his character was named “Mexican Guy who says ‘fuck!’” or something), and strippers with big hair.

Is it original at all, like even for one minute? No. But it’s pretty fun. All of the make-up was detailed enough and the alien itself (a three-foot phallic slug) is super-gross when it forces its way down the throats of its hosts. Before watching, lower your expectations accordingly and I think you’ll have a good time.