Red Christmas is the first slasher film in a long while that had relatable characters and a inventive killer. Going into this film I thought that we would just get the standard slasher cliches with some pretty cinematography, but I was happily wrong. While some of the characters do drive us a bit nuts, it is more realistic than some dumb character running right into the killer after being warned many times. We also know who the killer is within about fifteen minutes, but that doesn't take away from what happens in the film.
Dee Wallace Speaks! (19m 43s, HD)
There is a warning before the interview starts that warns us that the film's director, Craig Anderson, was the one who interviewed Dee Wallace, and that he never checked to see if the focus was right. Almost all of the footage is out of focus.
This warning was a good one because I think that I would have been turned off by the footage being out of focus. It is really weird because Wallace is the only thing out of focus. Everything is fine. Anyways, Wallace talks about many things during this interview, including a character that was written out of the film because Wallace didn't want to do the film with the scene in the film. The scene involved an eight year old girl who is killed. There is no context given or what the girl had to do with the film. She also has some stories about working on Cujo and 10. The interview finishes with Wallace talking about Red Christmas some more and how much she liked working with Anderson.
Interview with Gerard O'Dwyer (9m 57s, HD)
Craig Anderson and Sam Campbell, who plays Cletus in the film sit down with O'Dwyer, at his house, to have a very loose and fun interview that covers the basic questions like What was it like working on the film?" and "What was it like to work with Dee Wallace?" and ends with O'Dwyer acting out his favorite scenes from a horror film.
Blooper Reel (3m 26s, HD)
Very basic blooper reel of people messing up their lines, bits from scenes that were cut, and effects not working right. Not bad, but not great.
Deleted Scene (45s, HD)
The scene is straight from the outtakes and I have no idea why it is separated from, but also included in the Blooper Reel.
Craig Anderson Mini-Interview (1m 40s, HD)
O'Dwyer turns the interviewing tables on Craig Anderson and asks him a few questions.
There is no theatrical trailer (why not?), but there are a few trailers that play when you start the disc up: The Anatomy of Monsters, The Devil Lives Here, and Vampyres
The front cover is nice as it is the film's theatrical poster with nothing else added to it like "Special Edition" or "Blu-ray Version" like so many blu-rays do.
The back cover has all of the plot summaries, special features, and tech specs that we could ever want.
The disc is the front cover art cut off to fit the disc. Also, thankfully we don't get a dreaded "eco-case".
The disc is REGION A (locked)
The transfer for Red Christmas looks really great. The film's cinematography shines here with all of the colors popping out at us. I didn't detect any black crush, which I thought might pop it's ugly head up due to the numerous outdoor night scenes and detail is high. Of course, this is a recent release, so one would think that the film would look great and it does. I did not have any problems with this transfer.
The film comes with two soundtracks: a 5.1 and a 2.0 and both are lossy. I don't know why there is no lossless option, but that is the way it goes sometimes. Good news is: both tracks rock! The film has a very synth heavy score and both tracks replicate it nicely. The 5.1 track spreads out the track to the other speakers, but the 2.0 leaves it front and center, just like the films of old that inspired the score in the first place. Effects are nicely handled and the dialogue is crisp and clear.
It's Christmas in Australia as Diane, played by the Dee Wallace, brings together her estranged family for a chaotic holiday gathering. A 20 year old decision literally comes back to haunt her when the ghost of Christmas past comes knocking at her door and is invited inside the family estate. Festivities quickly turn blood red, when the stranger is revealed to be Cletus, Diane's aborted fetus, all grown up, very much alive and ready to terrorize his long lost mother. Diane must face her past and explain the hideous truth that is trying to kill them all, especially to Jerry, her Down Syndrome son, before it's too late.
Christmas has always been a happy time for me. The lights on the houses, the decorated Christmas trees in the front windows for all to see, and the Christmas songs that are played on the radio on your drive to work. Christmas is a time that families get together to celebrate togetherness and that bond that keeps families together.
I also love Christmas horror films. In particular, slasher films are my favorite. There is something about killing people during the happiest of times that makes me love them. I know that sounds weird, but when I watch a film like Black Christmas (the original, not the remake) a smile comes across my face. How could I love a film, or films, that take what is sacred to us and murder it along with the people in the film? I don't know. I have been trying to figure that out for years now.
Now, onto the film I am supposed to be talking about, Red Christmas. Red Christmas is a film that takes place in Australia (which is why there is no snow, but it doesn't snow in L.A. either, so do they not celebrate Christmas? Reason I ask is because any time there is a horror film that takes place during Christmas, people will say "How can this be a Christmas film if there is no snow. Fail. On to something else.) and concerns a family that are going through the same problems that every family faces. The mother (Dee Wallace) is selling the house and going on a vacation that she always deserved. Her children think that this is the wrong thing to do. They think that she should keep the house to preserve where they grew up.
Enter a mysterious, cloaked fellow who calls himself Cletus (the filmmakers couldn't pick a more stereotypical name) who has come to the house with an ulterior motive, one that we can figure out from the opening scene of the film, but one that will not be spoiled here. Cletus is kicked out of the house and told never to come back.
Cletus hides in the woods until nightfall and then begins to murder the family, one by one, in a very gruesome fashion. He chops someone in half with an axe, he puts running blender blades through the back of someone's head and pushes down so that the blades come out of the victim's eyes, and he uses a giant bear trap on someone's head. All of these kills are done practically with very little CGI used. The kills are pretty inventive and a welcome change from all the CGI death scenes we, as horror fans, fight against.
Dee Wallace, known as the mother from E.T. and the mother from Cujo, (she plays a lot of mothers. Check out her imdb page for more proof.) and she is fantastic in the role. She has always had that motherly instinct and feel to her, so when we see her we know that we are in good hands. She is the mother that we all want and that shines through here as well. She just wants to have a nice Christmas, but when it goes tits up, she fights back to protect her family.
The other standout role is that of Jerry played by Gerard O'Dwyer, as the family's more rambunctious member. He's always getting his hand caught in the cookie jar, but he is so likeable that we root for him to get the cookie rather than get caught. O'Dwyer has Down's Syndrome and when I first saw him, I figured that he would be killed early in the film to spur some emotional impact on the family and have them band together. I am happy to report that I was wrong and O'Dwyer has a fairly substantial role in the film and plays a big part in the film's climax.
The film's director, Craig Anderson, and the film's cinematographer, Douglas James Birgdorff, bathe their film in colors that are very reminiscent of Mario Bava. For a big portion of the film, the Christmas lights that are hanging around the house are the only thing lighting the house and they add a lot of production value to the film. It doesn't hurt that these lights help the film stand out in a crowd of Christmas films that have very little color to them at all. I just love the way this film looks and wanted to watch the film based on the film's trailer.
Red Christmas is a good slasher film, with gorgeous cinematography and great practical effects. The film feels a bit longer than it actually is at eighty-one minutes. I think that it has to do with Cletus not being in the film for a bit during his own attack. He kills one person and then disappears for a while before popping up again to finish what he started. I have no idea where he went, but it is really weird.
I liked Red Christmas a lot. I don't know if it is a "new holiday classic" like some of the quotes say, but I do know that it is a fun film with the least annoying slasher film characters in some time. Red Christmas is a film worthy of being added to your Christmas watchlist.
SummaryRed Christmas is a really fun slasher film that gives us characters that we like and some nice gore shots. The film could have used a bit of tightening up in the edit, but that is a minor complaint. The film is fun as hell and should be added to every slasher fan's Christmas watchlist.
The blu-ray from Artsploitation is good. The picture is great and the audio is good, but it isn't lossless. The special features are a bit lacking, with no making of and many short interviews.
While this release isn't perfect, it is pretty close though, I would still recommend picking this up for the holiday season.