By Dr. Zaius
Friday, November 3rd, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Red Christmas Blu-ray
Written and Directed by Craig Anderson
Starring Dee Wallace, Sam Campbell, Gerard O’Dwyer, Janis McGavin, Sarah Bishop, David Collins Artsploitation Films
Unrated | 82 Minutes
Release Date: October 17, 2017
If you were scrolling through Amazon Prime’s horror lists and passed off Red Christmas as yet another generic holiday slasher, I implore you to turn back and give it a shot. Written and directed by Australian filmmaker Craig Anderson and starring genre icon Dee Wallace (Cujo, ET), Red Christmas is much more original and unique then its title may imply. Yes, there is a masked killer stalking a family celebrating the holidays, but there is much more than meets the eye here. Anderson’s film dives right into socio-political themes slasher films rarely explore, and uses them as a catalyst for the action within. And while it would be easy to choose a side of the debate, Anderson leaves viewers with a lot to think about. I was so tremendously impressed and surprised by this film, and now, right in time for Halloween, Red Christmas is on Blu-ray and available on Amazon Prime.
The film opens with newsreel footage of a bombing at an abortion clinic, the bomber stealing a fetus on his way out… you see where this is going. 20-years later Diane (Wallace) welcomes her family for one last Christmas dinner in the old house. She’s trying her best, but the tension is thick enough to cut with a knife. She’s a widow, and her family each have their own issues. Suzy (Sarah Bishop) is a devout Christian who shows up with a Priest Peter (David Collins). Ginny (Janis McGavin) is very pregnant and very opinionated, and angry that Wallace is selling the family house. Jerry (Gerard O’Dwyer) is Diane’s special needs son, and her brother Joe (Geoff Morrell) is high on medical marijuana. It’s important to spend time with these people, to understand their real tension and family drama. It would have been really easy for Anderson to make a Friday the 13th-esque set em up and slice em up slasher.
Into this world steps Cletus (Sam Campbell), a heavily bandaged, cloaked figure who arrives on the doorway with a letter to “Mother”. Out of Christmas spirit, Diane invites him in, but soon after reading the letter, tension turns to panic and fear and Cletus is cast out. As secrets starts to unravel and day turns to night, Cletus returns to wreak vengeance on the family. Once the horror part of the film sets in, the body count rises and the blood flows, and there are some great over the top practical effects. The film constantly surprises you, defying long held tropes of the genre. Dee Wallace is in classic form here, reminding me of her role in Cujo and throwing everything she has into her performance. I’m sure the hot-topic political issues stirred up might rub certain viewers the wrong way, but I loved it and felt it added to the originality. And Cletus was a super cool and empathetic villain. The movie ended up feeling like a combination of Black Christmas and Tobe Hooper’s Funhouse.
The Blu-ray contains a deleted scene, a blooper reel, and director commentary as well as these other special features:
Dee Wallace Speaks! – An interview with Wallace and writer/director Craig Anderson from August 2017. She was coming over to teach acting classes and workshops and they were connected through a friend. She admits to falling in love instantly with Anderson and the material. She actually had an issue with one of Anderson’s kills in the script and to his credit they altered it slightly. Wallace noticed the correlations between her character of Diane and her famous role in Cujo, and challenged herself to play that type of physically demanding role in her late 60s. The brush over some her long film career before getting to the film and the politics within. Dee Wallace comes across really well here. She’s a veteran actress who formed a truly collaborative relationship with a young director and you can tell, she’s great for young actors to work around and glean from.
Interview with Gerard O’Dwyer – Gerard O’Dwyer plays Jerry in Red Christmas and has Down Syndrome. The interview is conducted by Craig Anderson and Sam Campbell (Cletus). Odwyer met Anderson years early on a short film, which he “won $3,000 from Nicole Kidman” in an Australian short film festival. He admits to not watching too many horror movies, although he acts out a scene from Saw. He loved acting with Dee Wallace but hasn’t watched ET yet. This was a really heartwarming interview.
Craig Anderson Interview – Conducted by Gerard O’Dwyer who teases Anderson with a few questions as they eat.
Red Christmas was released by Artsploitation on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD on October 17th. You can find it on Amazon Prime for a $3.99 rental fee. Definitely check this one out!
Red Christmas Trailer #1 (2017) | Movieclips Indie