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Christmas Horror Fun with the Little Terrors Short Film Festival

Published December 20, 2015 by vfdpixie

 

littleterrors40

Artwork by Daryl Shaw

 

For the 2015 Christmas season, I finally got the chance to see my first Little Terrors Short Film Festival.  Programmed by Justin McConnell, an indie producer/director/writer dynamo and CEO of Unstable Ground based in Toronto, and co-presented with Rue Morgue Magazine, these are monthly screenings of the best international and domestic short horror films you can find.  I’d heard about the festival and was never able to go due to a terrible work schedule, or the fact that I was just tired of going to horror events on my own.  This time around, I had the company of  the best horror boyfriend a gal could ask for and delicious snicker doodles, made by said horror boyfriend.  During this special Santa Claws Xmas Edition, we saw a fun selection of holiday-themed horror shorts ranging from a horrific kidney stone to a Santa kidnapping gone wrong.

 

Mineral:  When a man thinks he passes a painful kidney stone, what he expels turns out to be monstrous.  Director Michael J. Marino threw in all the leg crossing footage of real births you could, or maybe would never, ask for, and a grimy, gritty production value.

http://www.michaeljmarino.com/portfolio/item/mineral/

 

Hungry:  A Christmas shopping creep checks out a thrift shop.  When he finds an expensive jacket for a too-good-to-be-true price, he realizes he’s found a thrift shop from Hell.  Unfortunately, there is no trailer available right now, but go see it if you can find it at local festivals.  Director John Montana gets you in the end with something that’s weirdly cute.

 

Then there was the Astron-6 insanity.  The production company that brought us such greats as The Editor, Father’s Day, and Manborg, also had some Christmas contributions as well.  From Breaking Santa, where, in an insanely funny ride, Santa gets seduced and kidnapped, to Kris Miss, an infomercial for your everyday mail order Christmas bride, their brand of humour, horror and weirdness just can’t be matched.

 

 

The crowning glory of the night was the 2008 award-winning masterpiece, Treevenge.  Directed by Hobo with a Shotgun‘s Jason Eisener, this short is a cautionary tale for all of those real tree purists.  Part environmental message and part horror, it’s a zany, over the top film that will definitely keep you shrieking with laughter and cheering for Christmas trees everywhere.  For all you Trailer Park Boys fans, Jonathan Torrens a.k.a J-Roc and Sarah Dunsworth get trounced by their tree in this clip.

 

Little Terrors has their own YouTube playlist, and check them out for the next night of horror shorts if you live in Toronto or the G.T.A.

http://www.littleterrorsfestival.com/

 

We had a great time, and it complimented the holiday horror movie fun that we look forward to every year.  For those of us who are having a great holiday, or those folks who have a hard time during the Christmas season, I wish you all the best, along with a little, actually, a lot of peace, love and happiness for the new year!  Thanks for reading!

Carolyn

Krampus comes to Suburbia

Published December 8, 2015 by vfdpixie

Krampus

Krampus (2015, 98 mins.)

 

The frenzy and stress of pulling off a perfect Christmas can put a damper on the spirit of good will, charity and the more important things in life.  In Michael Dougherty’s Krampus, we learn there is a price to pay when we ignore these core values of the holiday spirit.

The Engels are stressed out.  Tom (Adam Scott) and Sarah (Toni Colette), have organized an elaborate Christmas spread for their family, including Sarah’s sister Linda (Allison Tolman), her husband Howard (David Koechner), their four rambunctious children, and Omi (Krista Stadler), Tom’s German mother.  In tow is the gate crashing Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell), who just can’t be pleased.  Presents, food and decorations take the spotlight as they gather for some holiday cheer.  Unfortunately, they argue, toss barbs at each other, and Aunt Dorothy adds a certain acidic spice to the train wreck festivities.  Right in the middle is Max (Emjay Anthony), Sarah’s son, who tells his concerned Omi that he hasn’t sent his letter to Santa yet, sad that his family has forgotten what Christmas is about.  After being ridiculed for his letter by his mean cousins, he rips it up and tosses it out the window.  To his Omi’s dismay, Max unwittingly awakens the sinister Krampus and his nightmare minions who terrorize the family amidst a freak storm.

This pixie loves the legend of Krampus.  I’m sure if I was aware of him as a child, I would have been gleefully terrified and perhaps developed a phobia, but luckily I came across this horned hellion in my old age.  It’s scary, it’s pagan, and it keeps all the shiny happy people in their place during the Christmas season.  With the many Krampus contributions to the big screen, Rare Exports:  A Christmas Tale being my Krampus litmus test, I think this one is a decent effort.

Dougherty, the mastermind behind the Halloween modern classic Trick ‘r Treat, conveys the Krampus legend with a slightly schmaltzy, feel-good message.  He emphasizes the importance of remembering love and family during the holidays, and the film is a mixture of references such as Gremlins, Puppet Master and a touch of Home Alone, but that’s surprisingly o.k.  Despite the routine holiday spirit lesson, the need for a shorter second act, and the slightly predictable ending, there’s an ominous vibe that makes the film really work.  The large cast jibed well off each other, with the comedy star power of Koechner and Ferrell keeping the one-liners sharp and smart. My only wish would have been to see the versatile Collette flex her comedy muscles a bit more.

What Dougherty also does right is the Krampus character design which was simply delightful.  I loved his take on the Yuletide demon with gigantic hooves clomping thunderously through suburbia.  And be sure to pay attention to the evil toys Krampus leaves the family.  Another display of great character design created with both practical and digital effects.  Definitely the highlight of the film.

It’s fair to say that despite a few minor issues, Krampus should be added to your horror Christmas roster.  It’s a ton of fun overall, does justice to a great creepy Christmas legend, and perfect for scaring all the little brats in your life.

 

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