A Christmas Horror Story PORTABLE
A Christmas Horror Story is a 2015 Canadian anthology horror film directed by Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, and Brett Sullivan. It premiered on July 20, 2015, at the Fantasia International Film Festival and had a limited theatrical release on October 2, 2015, along with a VOD release. The film is a series of interwoven stories tied together by a framework story featuring William Shatner as a radio DJ.
A Christmas Horror Story
Althoughthe very idea of combining Christmas cheer and grisly gore is probably stillenough to send certain people into pearl-clutching apoplexy, Yuletide-relatedbloodbaths have proven to be a popular trope for horror filmmakers over theyears. On the grand scale of big-screen Noel nastiness, ranging from suchclassics as that segment of "Tales from the Crypt" where nasty JoanCollins was stalked by a psycho Santa, the original slasher classic "BlackChristmas," the demented cult film "Christmas Evil" (whichshould be seen by every man, woman and child simply for the ending alone) the immortal "Gremlins," to such garbage as the once-controversial"Silent Night, Deadly Night" and the crummy remake of "BlackChristmas," the new anthology film "A Christmas Horror Story"lands squarely in the middle.
Unlikemost horror anthologies, which offer up one complete story after another (a la"Creepshow"), "A Christmas Horror Story" tells its tales byinter-cutting its various narratives along the lines of what Robert Altman didin bringing the stories of Raymond Carver to the screen in "ShortCuts." Considering that the film is the product of three separatedirectors and four screenwriters, this is a fairly ambitious approach to takeand the end result is surprisingly coherent in the way that it brings thevarious stories together. The problem is that by doing it this way, the film isconstantly undercutting its own ability to generate any real suspense becausewhenever one of the stories begins to generate any real head of steam, viewersare jerked into another one and the whole process starts over again. After awhile, the whole thing just becomes an exercise in frustration and by the end,the only real suspense comes from the question of how the film is going toultimately reconcile the seemingly out-of-place tale of Santa fighting offhordes of zombie elves with the others. (It does, amazingly, but while thesolution might have seemed like a nifty bit of outrageous dark humor on thepage, it just doesn't quite play that way on its feet.)
Would"A Christmas Horror Story" have played better if it had a typicalanthology structure? Probably not, though, as is the case with most films ofthis, the mileage will vary from viewer to viewer. The story in the schoolbasement is pretty much a hodgepodge of familiar spook story cliches but doesbenefit from a nice performance from Zoe De Grand Maison (seriously, that nameis so great that if someone marries her and doesn't take her name, they are afool) and a couple of sudden "BOO!" moments that actually work. Thestory involving Krampus (who is getting his own mainstream feature this Christmas)has a couple of nicely nasty bits but takes too long to build to a finale thatjust isn't that much in the end. The one with the kid and the tree is nicelycreepy at times but is a little too gleeful in its depiction of a little kiddoing violent things and getting whacked several times with a baseball bat inreturn. As for the Santa stuff, it is fun in a dumb way and George Buza isoddly effective as the jolly one. But as a wise man once didn't quite say, ifyou've seen one homicidal elf, you've seen them all. "A Christmas HorrorStory" doesn't quite make it in the end, but if the filmmakers were to tryit again next year (if the anthology horror indie "V/H/S" can spin off a couple of sequels,anything is possible), I would be curious to check it out.
A Christmas Horror Story is an anthology horror movie done right. It takes stories that could almost, but not quite be stretched into full length movies, and bundles them together in a thematic group of short films. The concepts, or gimmicks if you like, take front stage, and some minorly fleshed out characters are inserted into the action to act as fodder for our delight. The tales range from slightly disturbing, to truly unsettling, to goofy gory fun.
I'm a big fan of horror movies because it's rare that they aren't interesting. Whether it is a straight to VOD or the latest theatrical release, there is always something to talk about. I also like to sing, wax philosophical about mythology and religion, contemplate the void, and spend time with my family. I am usually up in my head about something, so apologies if I'm looking off into the middle distance. Along with David, I am a co-founder of Horror Movie Talk.
Thanks for taking the time to converse with Daily Dead today. I really enjoyed A Christmas Horror Story and believe it will become a holiday cult classic that horror fans can happily unwrap each year. How did you get involved with this project and what appealed to you the most after reading the script for the first time?
Steve Hoban: Thank you for saying that. As true fans of the genre, we made the movie with the hope that it would be the kind of film that we would want to see every year. So you saying that is music to my ears. How the movie got going had a lot to do with another Christmas-themed horror movie, the remake of Bob Clark's seminal Black Christmas, on which I was a producer. Despite having a great writing and directing team in Glen Morgan and Jim Wong, that film was troubled during development and then ended up being released at the wrong time, right at the end of the Christmas movie season. It didn't do as well as it could have and every Christmas since, like a seasonal allergy, I was reminded of the lost opportunity. So, in October 2013 after seeing advertising for the upcoming heart-warming holiday movies and getting in a very humbug mood, I decided it was time to try once again to bring Christmas fear to movie fans.
I wanted to shoot that winter and since there was very little time to come up with and write a conventional 100-page story, I decided to make the movie using several stories. That way we could have a number of writers working on it at one time.
Steve Hoban: We each directed our own segments. Grant Harvey directed the "Changeling" and the "Krampus in the Woods" stories, Brett Sullivan directed the "Teens in the Haunted School," and I directed the "Santa vs. the Zombie Elves" and "William Shatner DJ stories." We had one cinematographer, Gavin Smith, for the whole thing to help us maintain some consistency while also allowing each story to have its own style. Mark Smith (no relation to Gavin) and I produced together so were overseeing the whole production and, to borrow a term from television, I acted as the "showrunner" for the whole movie, working with all of the writers and the other two directors.
A Christmas Horror Story takes place in the small town of Bailey Downs, the same place werewolves roamed in two of the Ginger Snaps films. How did the idea originate to revisit the fictional horror setting and did you insert any Ginger Snaps Easter eggs (or Christmas presents) for fans to enjoy?
Steve Hoban: Weaving those stories together was the hardest part of making the movie. Part of the challenge was that the tones vary from one story to another, so when you leave one to check in with another the moods do not necessarily line up. Sometimes this is a good thing, because it can be good to juxtapose a moody scene with a scary scene, but at other times it could frustrate or push the audience out of the movie. The biggest challenge, however, was the pacing. As you point out, some are slow burn and some are action and these often did not line up at all.
For instance, the "Changeling" and "Teens in the Haunted School" stories are both deliberately paced with slow, long builds, while Krampus hunting the family in the woods and Santa's battle at the north pole were fast-paced. At the script stage we wove the stories together, giving each of them about the same weight by checking in with them at more or less regular intervals. From there we created crossover moments for characters and also created "throws" from one story to another. Meaning one of us would direct an outgoing scene in such a way that the next director could start on a shot that would follow artfully.
Unfortunately, once we cut the movie together per the script, we realized that it was a very badly paced movie. So we went back to the drawing board and in the edit room rebalanced the whole thing, not worrying so much about whether we had been away from a story too long and focused on which scenes from which stories made for the best build in the overall movie. This proved to be much more successful. Again, Alex's score helped to keep things moving smoothly along.
Then, of course, there is the incomparable William Shatner. For the role of DJ Dangerous Dan, we put together a list of our favorite actors. The list was wide-ranging, including young and old as well as male and female actors because the DJ could be any of those. However, once we looked at that long list there was no one there with a better voice or who embodied more charm and humor than Mr. Shatner. And I think there is no doubt that his performance elevates the whole movie. He was also really great to work with and supportive or our little horror flick.
The other supernatural story takes the religious origins of Christmas and runs with them into horror territory. While religion is meant to be a source of guidance and comfort, it sadly can also be used to persecute and oppress.
Krampus Before it was CoolEver since the 2015 Krampus film directed by Mike Dougherty, the titular Christmas demon has enjoyed mainstream status. However, A Christmas Horror Story first debuted about a month earlier. So when it does its Krampus story, he was still a somewhat obscure figure of German folklore. 041b061a72