Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, September 14, 2015

Getting ready for a creepy Krampus Christmas at the movies

It may feel too soon to talk about Christmas movies but then again, I just spotted some holiday cookies on display at my local retail drugstore(not far from the Halloween candy already out with the back to school supplies by August) and we just had quite the Yuletide themed film trailer put out recently.

Krampus stars Toni Collette and Adam Kay as members of a family gathered together for the holidays,whose less than harmonious celebration of the season has incurred the wrath of the title creature.

A "krampus" is a legendary demon who arrives at the homes of naughty children in lieu of Santa, causing a wake of terror and destruction(not unlike Black Friday shoppers) and while there does seem to be a humorous vibe within this trailer, the fear factor is clearly the sinister selling point here:

Now, I think this movie looks like good twisted fun for the right audience but I can't help waiting for the other shoe to drop here. So far, the trailer has been out online(and might even be in theaters as we speak) but when the commercials for Krampus hit TV, a wave of protest is bound to follow.

Since Krampus has a December 4th release date to boot, plenty of overly concerned folks who will invoke "think of the children!" are sure to say something. Holiday horror movies are nothing new, with the prime example being the 1984 slasher flick Silent Night, Deadly Night, who showed their ads for the film during daylight hours, shocking school kids and parents alike.

If the goal of the filmmakers was to make a tidy sum, they succeeded as the controversy brought them a lot of free PR that helped the movie rake in an opening weekend total that beat out Nightmare On Elm Street(which was a big money maker that year). Silent Night, Deadly Night has a strong cult following to this day, due in part to the pop culture fury that it awakened within concerned audiences and critics alike:

Christmas is one of those holidays that are so sentimental and commercialized that people with a mischievous streak can't resist tweaking a bit in either the humor or horror direction.

The trick is to combine both elements in a smartly satisfying way without out and out alienating a mainstream audience. A good way to do this is by adding a strong dose of fantasy into the proceedings,along with down playing your seasonal setting in your advertising. It also helps if your movie is not scheduled to open around Christmas time.

Gremlins came out the same year as Silent Night, Deadly Night and while it did receive criticism for it's violence(which hurried along the PG-13 rating), the Christmas themes in the film pretty much went under the radar there. The movie was a summer release, which kept it a good way away from being connected to the holiday. In fact, some critics even thought Gremlins should've been a Christmas release!

What Gremlins did show was that you can have your subversive Christmas cake and eat it, too, just as long as you balanced the terror out with some sort of cuteness and promise that the good guys will win out in the end:

By the 1990s, slipping in Christmas to certain adult themed films was more accepted as hits like Die Hard and Batman Returns made that theme a casual yet central element to their story telling.

Even today, one of our most popular holiday films is 1993's The Nightmare Before Christmas, Tim Burton's stop motion salute to both Halloween and Christmas, a pair of holidays that children of all ages delight in.

ANBC has had theatrical re-releases over the years and is even a featured attraction at Disneyland's Haunted Mansion that runs throughout the holiday season. Not to mention all of the movie tie-ins products that still sell strong(I should know, I own a few myself), this twisted take on Christmas is pretty much beloved, right up there with Charlie Brown and Ralphie's leg lamp:

So, how will Krampus fare in this category? Hard to say, as it doesn't appear to be scary sweet like Gremlins or TNBC and we are close to an election year with a lot of loud mouth types looking for any excuse to cause attention getting trouble, so there's that.

Krampus could be a lot of freaky fun for an older audience who needs a break from the relentless holiday cheer that is heavily promoted(and looks to be satirizing, judging from the opening shots in the trailer) these days. Don't get me wrong, I like Christmas yet like sugar or salt, a little goes a long way while a lot kills the palate.

Maybe Krampus will be overlooked by the busybodies and make it's mark with moviegoers without any controversy, that is a possibility. If it does occur some righteous minded protest, maybe we should remind those people that there are much worse things out there to worry about, not to mention watch as your holiday cinematic treat. Much, much worse as Jim Carrey's Grinch proved in coal in your stocking abundance:

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