The holiday season is upon us. A time for Christmas lights, decorations, gifts, evergreens in our homes. Colder nights, festive parties, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, or is it? On the outside the holiday season appears to be wonderful, however, behind this façade lurks loneliness, darkness, and evil. People tend to go […]
We horror lovers pretty much celebrate the holidays like any of those “ordinary” people out there — each according to family traditions, personal beliefs, childhood nostalgia, or just a few days’ freedom from the office. But by now, most of you probably know there is a mythical holiday figure practically tailor-made for fans of the macabre. Still, there might be a few of you out there curious about the long and colorful history of this creepy character, who’s been enjoying a pop-culture resurgence in recent years…especially in genre cinema.
The legendary figure of Krampus – a literally devilish fellow often complete with horns, forked tail, and cloven hooves – is apparently best buds with St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, who of course evolved into jolly old Santa Claus. According to tradition, St. Nick rewarded good little boys and girls with presents and sweets. But when it came to the naughty kids, instead of the standard lump of coal, he left the dirty work to his demonic counterpart…who would literally drag the little buggers to Hell.
Popular throughout most of Europe for ages, Krampus in his various forms has now solidified his position in North American holiday festivities – especially among the horror community. Even the name “Krampus” seems ideal for the world of horror since it’s derived from the old German word “Krampen,” meaning “Claw.” Just the idea that kids hoping for a present from St. Nick might also be cowering under their beds in fear of “The Claw” is beyond creepy, and I can’t believe most horror fans weren’t down with this dude a long, long time ago.
The origins of Krampus not only predate the Catholic feast of St. Nicholas but may actually have originated before Christianity even reached Europe. In many cultures he was first portrayed as a primal beast-man – maybe even the European equivalent of the Bigfoot or Yeti legends. Once those regions began converting to Christianity, the character evolved into a fairytale used to scare children into behaving, so they’d get presents from “good cop” St. Nick and avoid a beating – or worse – from his “bad cop” partner.
If that seems like a shitty parenting technique, remember that most of the fairy tales compiled by the Brothers Grimm were extremely gruesome in their original form, and were often meant to keep children out of real-life danger, and I dare you to look up the German children’s fable of “Struwwelpeter” for some legit scream-yourself-awake nightmares.
The best-known depictions of Krampus originated in the Germanic countries, and soon spread throughout most of Eastern Europe and even parts of Italy. Of course, with each different country and culture, the creature would take on different names, looks, and habits…such as the Dutch legend “Belsnickel,” a hideous, troll-like creature who was also known as Kris Kringle – which today, of course, is just another common name for Santa Claus.
I’m kinda skeeved out thinking how I once looked forward to this monstrosity breaking into my house during the wee hours of the night…if I’d known about this tradition when I was six years old, I’d have installed some major Home Alone-style booby traps all over the place. I mean, seriously…this is the guy who “sees you when you’re sleeping?”
But assuming you escaped his wrath with your childhood (and limbs) intact, let’s slide up to the present day: In Europe, December 5th is the traditional Krampusnacht (Krampus Night), which in some communities becomes the December equivalent of a massive Halloween party – but with a very specific theme: lots of devil stuff. Hordes of elaborately-costumed revelers (many of whom look like a cross between Chewbacca and Tim Curry in Legend) take to the streets with torches, pitchforks, scythes and other nasty-looking implements, rattling chains, ringing bells and setting off fireworks, all to commemorate the arrival of a mythical monster who steals children in the night.
By now, Krampus festivities have migrated to many large cities in North America, often coinciding with the night before Christmas instead of St. Nicholas’ Eve…or just the entire month of December, which is cool. Along with horror fans who have taken the opportunity to create some amazing Krampus costumes, masks and artwork, many members of the fetish and S&M culture have also embraced the more adult-oriented aspects of the character – who has often been depicted on German postcards as having a fondness for spanking young ladies (a tradition called “birching”), and comes ready with his own supply of whips and chains. Yes, we’re talking waaay kinkier concepts than the usual “Santa’s Naughty Helper” cosplay.
Now that you’ve indulged my little history lesson, I’m hoping you might join me in planning your own crazy Krampus holiday traditions (imagine the decorating possibilities) and beat those post-Halloween blues. You can get plenty of ideas by visiting the website Krampus.com, a.k.a. “Home of the Xmas Devil.” Even though it’s been a while since it was last updated, you can find tons of images, videos, and e-cards based on early 20th-century designs.
This vintage artwork adorns thousands of DIY decorations and party favors (Etsy is crawling with them now), and social sites are overflowing with fanart in just about every medium possible. Just think, another golden opportunity to scare the living crap out of your neighbors again!
Image Credit: Vincent Guastini
As you know by now, Krampus makes many awesome appearances in Slay Belles, thanks to the brilliant work of FX guru Vincent Guastini and his talented team (check out the full-size monster above!). Many fans are already declaring this version the most impressive cinematic portrayal of Santa’s evil counterpart, and he gets lots of screen-time!
You can bring Krampus home – along with the grumpiest backwoods Santa Claus since Bad Santa and three vloggers-turned-superheroines who kick his hairy ass back to Hell – by picking up a copy of Slay Belles and making it a part of your annual Krampus festivities! Slay Belles is available through all major VOD platforms, as well as DVD and Special Edition Blu-ray. Hit this link to get yours…and beware this Krampusnacht, you naughty boys and girls!
The holidays are a time to spend with loved ones eating, drinking and being merry. Exchanging presents and watching old Christmas classics like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Silent Night, Deadly Night.
If, like me, you are tired of the same old holiday songs, the ones that you despise by the second week of December, keep reading. I have put together a list to give your Christmas time that ghastly edge. Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean the horror has to stop. Below are 8 songs to ghoul up the holiday season.
Alice Cooper’s ‘Santa Claws is Coming to Town’
The godfather and ringmaster of shock rock Alice Cooper, brings us this holiday horror delight. While not straying too far from the original in terms of lyrics, Cooper paints the picture of a sinister figure who knows when you’re awake and he definitely knows when you’re sleeping!
Wednesday 13’s ‘I’ll Be Buried By Christmas’
Wednesday 13 proves that Halloween doesn’t come just once a year. It’s here every single day, including Christmas. This toe tapping original is sure to spice up that boring Christmas party with the in-laws. Make sure to watch their faces when Wednesday 13 sneers lyrics such as Seasons beatings and a jolly farewell. My personal favorite line of this song, is when Wednesday pleads with Santa for a custom casket with black velvet interior.
The Misfits’ ‘You’re A Mean Once Mr. Grinch’
Fiend Club unite! No list of horror themed music can be complete without The Misfits. Since the ’70s they have been belting out fast, aggressive and violent music covering topics such as murder, skulls and monsters. But they also do a fantastic punk cover of the seminal Grinch theme song. In reality I don’t know of too many bands who could pull it off as well as they did.
White Coffin Terror’s ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’
I stumbled upon this song and immediately fell in love with it. It’s fast, violent and catchy. With lyrics like ‘Silent night, deadly night, everyone’s all bloody red tonight! Shut all the doors, better lock ‘em up twice, dash up the stairs before losing your life,’ this one should be on repeat throughout the month of December.
Venom’s ‘Black Xmas’
Satan’s favorite band, no doubt is Venom. Who knew that The Devil’s disciples got into the Christmas spirit? This face melting thrash classic should be on everyone’s Christmas playlist. Give this track a spin and watch Grandma call you a heathen as Venom snarls ‘The whispers in the breeze, Black Christmas, Devil’s eve.’
Nox Arcana’s ‘Carol of the Bells’
Nox Arcana, hailing from Cleveland, Ohio are a pair of composers who specialize in dark and gothic original compositions. The groups name translates from Latin to Mysteries of the Night. This version of the Christmas classic is dark and moody. Haunting bells and ghastly choirs accompany this masterpiece placing listeners outside their comfort zone. For me, I picture the specter of Death aimlessly looking for souls on this holiest of nights.
King Diamond’s ‘No Presents For Christmas’
Kid’s today don’t know decent metal. If you mention the names King Diamond or Mercyful Fate, half will probably have no idea what you’re talking about. Those wayward ones need to be shown the darkness of the King. Opening with guitar riffs of classic Christmas tunes Jingle Bells and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, the portal to hell opens and King Diamond makes his presence known. He closes with the classic line ‘I’m dreaming of a white, Sabbath.’
Alla Xul Elu’s ‘Ruined Xmas’
Horrorcore is the crazy uncle of the Hip Hop genre. Comprising of lyrics that celebrate serial killers, murder and everything wicked, horrorcore has quite a large fanbase and an ever-expanding catalog of artists. Alla Xul Elu is fronted by 3 members who wear Leatherface style masks and spit the most horrible, violent, and maniacal lyrics. And they’re great at it. ‘Ruined Xmas’ takes you on a Christmas journey as a maniac slices and dices his way through the holiday. I certainly would not recommend listening to this with those who are easily offended. Actually, go ahead, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
Now that you’re armed with this list, go out and make Christmas the most horrifying time of the year. More importantly, Never settle for the same old boring and tired songs. This holiday season, while getting drunk and watching The Grinch, slap any of these tracks on and enjoy. I can guarantee nobody will ever choose you to pick the Christmas music again at social gatherings. Seasons beatings everyone.