31 Days of Hell: Artsploitation Films: Red Christmas

Over the last five years or so, Australia has been churning out some of the best horror films at a steady pace. Typically, their genre flicks take a different path than most domestic releases and present coldhearted, brutal spins on the tired tropes of slashers and baseline jump scares. 

For this Halloween, we get the new movie from down under, Red Christmas starring old school horror maven Dee Wallace as a motherly caretaker that's pitted against a caped killer seeking the blood of her children. While this lower budget film isn't going to win many awards for originality, it's still another chapter in Artsploitation's long line of dastardly and dynamic thrillers. 

Red Christmas uses an extremely simple setup to get things going. The children are home for the holiday when a cloaked figure comes calling. Using a grotesque and brazen practical effects technique, many of the kills call back to a greater time when things looked more realistic and weren't over the top with computer generated blood spatter. Looking like the stepchild of Darkman with an ax, the antagonist is never really scary but is sometimes almost laughably bad as he waddles aimlessly from scene to scene. Lacking tension and never really delivering any type of character arc, Red Christmas is definitely a throwback to the '70s and '80s with its exploitation vibe, but has a hard time following any continuity or depth in the editing department. 

Bro, I've had an alien living in my house,
a rabid dog attack me and my kid and
I've been a werewolf. Don't mess with me. 

Skipping from scenes to scene, character motives are questioned as things never really add up. The use of music is scarce as Dee Wallace tries her damnedest to add some drama to a movie that's mostly devoid of charisma or characters we can associate with. Yet, maybe this is the feel they were going for. The victims are all just empty human shells that are waiting to be killed by the hooded Cletus and his wielding of untimely death. He's not going to be remembered as a classic killer. Instead, he'll be thought of as one of the worst and clumsiest slashers ever brought to the screen. Still, that's okay. Red Christmas feels like it was more about the love than about creating the next Jason or Freddy.

So, if you're a horror hound like myself, there are definitely a few things to enjoy about Craig Anderson's creation. There are some extremely cool shots that recreate that Giallo feel. And the kills are exceedingly nasty. It's just too bad they couldn't find the time to work on the story or flesh out the characters a bit more. Maybe with more patience and some studious practice, Anderson's next film could be a lot better. Watch this to see Wallace make a return to her roots. Don't watch this expecting to be blown away. This is most likely one of the most average releases from one our favorite brands.