The Anti-Claus is Coming to Town! A Brief History of Krampus

This story originally published on FEARnet.com back in the day, but I’m reposting it here, along with a few updates, to mark Dread Central Presents’ release of SpookyDan Walker’s Slay Belles, which features one of the meanest on-screen Krampuses in movie history!

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 post The Anti-Claus is Coming to Town! A Brief History of Krampus appeared first on Dread Central.

Watch a Deleted Scene from Halloween (2018) Plus VOD, Blu-ray & DVD Release Details!

Making its digital bow on Movies Anywhere on December 28th of this year, David Gordon Green’s smash feature film Halloween will be hitting Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD on January 15th of 2019, and we’ve got word on the

The post Watch a Deleted Scene from Halloween (2018) Plus VOD, Blu-ray & DVD Release Details! appeared first on HalloweenMovies™ | The Official Halloween Website.

FILM REVIEW: LUCIFERINA

Admittedly, possession films aren’t really my thing. They tend to be VERY similar to one another and unless there’s something new to the story, you’re pretty much not going to top THE EXORCIST in my opinion. Personally, I’m more of a blood & gore connoisseur. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I’m happy to report that LUCIFERINA is something a little different, and they don’t shy away from the viscera once the movie hits full stride. Allow me to elaborate…

LUCIFERINA is the story of a nun-in-training named Natalia, or Nati (Sofia Del Tuffo). Nati spends her days at a home for teens recovering from drug abuse. She seems very quiet and reserved, but she isn’t your average young woman. Nati has the ability to see people’s auras, sometimes they glow like sunlight while other times they’re black and cloudy. You can probably guess that the black and cloudy auras belong to some pretty unsavory characters. Nati is going about her day like any other, when one of the senior nuns tells her that her parents have been in an accident. Aside from the fact that her mother was killed in this accident, there aren’t any other details to be told. Nati doesn’t seem thrilled to be heading home, but it’s clear she has to.

Upon arriving home, Nati is greeted by her goth sister Angela (Malena Sanchez) and Angela’s human-garbage boyfriend Mauro (Francisco Donovan). Nati intrigues Mauro, specifically her virginity. He makes a few crude comments, and Nati proceeds up the stairs to see her bed-ridden father. He’s bandaged and bloodied and he hasn’t spoken a word since the accident. The room he’s confined to is littered with her mother’s artwork. Her mother’s artwork seems to have a central theme…Every painting is of the triangular uterus variety. The paintings are dark and grim. They seem to get more and more vicious as Nati looks around the room. In fact, more than one of the paintings seem to have been etched in actual human blood. LUCIFERINA is very much a feminine horror film, in terms of themes and imagery. This is just one of many times the audience will be confronted with difficult images like these.

After some brief exposition exposing Angela to be an adopted drug addict, and Mauro to be a near-rapist biker scumbag, we then get to the heart of the story. Angela and some friends are seeking out a shaman deep in the jungle to give them a ayahuasca ritual. It’s a powerful hallucinogenic experience said to cleanse the soul…or in this case…maybe release the evil within. Nati is coerced into joining her sister and the group, but it’s clear that she’s a little curious herself. Nothing has seemed quite right since she’s been home. Everyone acts very strange around Nati, and it seems that the others may need her, and her purity to successfully complete the ritual. Or are these people just some dark vessel to get Nati into the jungle?

Once the gang reaches this deserted church-like structure deep in the jungle, Nati begins to have daydreams of an evil presence. I couldn’t help but compare that presence to Samara Morgan from THE RING, as it appears to be a woman in white with long black hair obscuring her face. Nati ignores these premonitions and they get into the ritual. The drug is dispersed, and it’s time to let the madness begin. Every member of the group begins to writhe and sweat in agony as the drugs take hold. Each person goes on his or her own little vision quest, but Nati’s journey seems very specific. Like, being born in the middle of a satanic ritual specific. It’s gory and pretty fucked up, and that’s just the hallucinations talking. When Nati awakens, she’s thrust into a pretty much full blown EVIL DEAD scenario complete with her newfound friends missing limbs and eyeballs. It seems that maybe not everyone in the group is who they say they are.

As I stated in the intro, I’m typically not wild about possession films but this one was different. I’ve also come to appreciate that the distributor, Artsploitation Films, hasn’t really steered me wrong yet. I like my horror edgy, and LUCIFERINA is definitely that. Not just in terms of gore or sexuality, but in exploring some larger themes about the corruption of family and innocence.

The film is Argentinian, so the sexuality and gore are on full display. Such as showing a masturbating nun in full display before the 15-minute mark. The film is very transgressive in its themes and uses female sexuality as both a source of shame as well as a weapon. It’s almost refreshing in a way to see a repressed female character lash out and use her beauty and sexuality as an instrument of liberation, or even destruction. Especially when the majority of the male characters around her are so reprehensible.

LUCIFERINA isn’t without its flaws, but it does a fairly decent job of steering the viewer away from nitpicking, and more towards the larger thematic elements within. It actually felt like two movies to me, with a clear dividing line at the moment of the shamanic ritual. The film is very heavy on the symbolism (literally), which some viewers may find a little too on the nose. I wasn’t particularly bothered by it, but it was noticeable. The film also shows three specific symbols during both the opening and closing credits, which leads me to believe that LUCIFERINA might be a part of a potential trilogy. It seemed to me like there were some bigger ideas that may become clear if that’s the case. If not, I can only judge what I was presented with and LUCIFERINA is a solid entry into the possession genre, even if it is a little misguided at times.

LUCIFERINA  is available on Blu-ray today and on VOD  on December 4th.

LUCIFERINA is a solid entry into the possession genre, even if it is a little misguided at times.

2 ½  Tombstones out of 5 …

Check Out Several “World of Death” Filmmakers’ Movies on VOD This Halloween!

It’s a week until Halloween. That means pumpkin carving, haunted house touring, and horror film watching are on the agenda for most of us. With the many avenues available to stream content these days, it can often be an overwhelming task to pick out the right movie for the evening. Thankfully, the World of Death community has quite a few filmmakers with horror features currently available on VOD platforms that I highly recommend you check out!


SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET – PopcornFlix, Amazon, iTunes – Tony Wash & B.A. Lewandowski
“Skeletons in the Closet” is the titular late-night, horror anthology television series featuring The Widow and her dead husband, Charlie.

THE RAKE – Comcast, Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, AT&T – Tony Wash
Brother and sister, Ben and Ashley, reunite 20 years after the murder of their parents to face the cause of their parents’ death, a supernatural creature known as The Rake.

THE FOREST OF LOST SOULS – Amazon Prime – José Pedro Lopes
The Forest of the Lost Souls is a dense and remote forest, Portugal’s most popular place for suicide. On a summer morning, two strangers meet within the woods.

WOULD YOU RATHER – Netflix, Amazon – Gus Krieger (Produced by)
Desperate to help her ailing brother, a young woman unknowingly agrees to compete in a deadly game of “Would You Rather,” hosted by a sadistic aristocrat.

THE BINDING – Amazon Prime – Gus Krieger
A young woman’s faith is put to the ultimate test when she is forced to uncover the truth behind her husband’s horrific visions.

THE DEVIL’S ROCK – Amazon Prime – Paul Campion
Set in the Channel Islands on the eve of D Day,two Kiwi commandos, sent to destroy German gun emplacements to distract Hitler’s forces away from Normandy, discover a Nazi occult plot to unleash demonic forces to win the war.

CABIN FEVER – Netflix – Travis Zariwny
While visiting their getaway cabin, five friends succumb to a flesh-eating disease. The 2016 remake to the film that put Eli Roth on the map.

THE MIDNIGHT MAN – Amazon – Travis Zariwny
A girl and her friends find a game in the attic that summons a creature known as The Midnight Man, who uses their worst fears against them.

MEXICO BARBARO – Amazon, Netflix – Gigi Saul Guerrero, Lex Ortega
Eight Mexican directors unite to bring tales of the most brutally terrifying Mexican traditions and legends to vividly shocking life.

ARBOR DEMON – Amazon Prime – Patrick Rea
An adventurous woman with a secret from her husband insists the couple go camping to reconnect. Something in the woods wipes out a group of hunters nearby, preventing the couple from leaving their tent. Secrets and supernatural stories come to light, and they must determine if the real threat is inside or outside their enclosure.

NAILBITER – Amazon – Patrick Rea
The Maguire family is forced to take sudden refuge in a seemingly abandoned storm cellar from a deadly tornado.

BATTLEGROUND – Amazon – Neil Mackay
A bank robbery goes awry and the robbers hold up within a forest, but there is another that dwells here, an ex Vietnam vet. Soon, a battle of survival erupts as the thieves’ now have to fight for their very existence.

FILM REVIEW: JOHNNY GRUESOME

We take a break today from festival coverage to review a film that you don’t need to attend a festival to see.  Not only can you currently see JOHNNY GRUESOME on VOD now, but you SHOULD see JOHNNY GRUESOME on VOD now.

The film opens with the song “Dyin Tonight“, a rad little earworm which sets a fun tone for the film. The song was written by Buffalo native Robby Takac of the Goo Goo Dolls (there is a nice nod to the band with Eric, played by Byron Brown II,  wearing a Goo Goo dolls hoodie) specifically for the film. It’s a nice artistic marriage between Takac and the films writer/director and fellow Buffalonian  Gregory Lamberson (SLIME CITY, KILLER RACK).

Johnny Grissom (played by Anthony De La Torre who is also credited as the films associate producer) is a recalcitrant high school misfit.  Along with his girlfriend Karen Slatter (played by actress/musician and the films composer Aprilann), druggie meathead Gary Belter (Chris Modrzynski) and popular high school football player Eric, this crew of “headbangers” are the targets for the schools douchebag football jocks. It puts sweet, naive and kind-hearted Eric in a bit of a precarious position as he is a member of the football team but does not have the same narrow, nasty and judgemental animosity towards Johnny and his friends that his fellow team mates have. It’s the age old high school jocks vs. rockers scenario, with Eric breaking the mould and siding with Johnny’s crew.  After football dickhead Todd (who TOTALLY looks like what you envision a dickhead jock named Todd to look like. Great casting!) antagonizes Johnny Grissom by calling him “Johnny Gruesome” a fight ensues with Johnny throwing all the punches and only stopping after Eric begs him to let Todd go. Naturally the beat down of Todd in the schools parking lot lands Johnny in the principles office where he gets a week long suspension, effective immediately.

Johnny’s day is not going to improve as he goes home to his unemployed father and another dust up ensues. I’m gonna take a little detour here because I have to tell you that I screamed with delight when Johnny’s father Charlie, played by Michael DeLorenzo appeared on the screen. DeLorenzo is one of my favorite actors who I grew up watching in complete awe of on the criminally short lived cop drama NEW YORK UNDERCOVER.  The show was simply incredible and proved DeLorenzo to be a solid performer. He has worked steadily since the end of that show in 1997 (R.I.P) but not to the extent that I assumed he would given his immense talent. So you can only imagine my joy when I saw him grace the screen and I can happily say that his acting chops are still out of control. Now, back to Johnny…

To blow off some steam Johnny rounds up his gang and takes them for a joy ride in his hell on wheels aka screaming skull with flames painted car.  During this drink and drive fest Johnny’s demeanor takes a risky turn and he starts driving as fast as he can, much to the protest of his passengers.  It’s like he was possessed and on a suicide mission, and trying to take his friends down with him. Luckily Karen stops the car just before it drove off a bridge that would have killed them all.  Fueled by anger (and cocaine) Gary hauls Johnny out of the car and puts him in a choke hold that ultimately kills Johnny.  Panicked, Gary pressures Eric to help him throw Johnny’s body over the bridge into the water, making him complicit in a murder they all swear to keep secret.

As news of Johnny’s death spreads, the school mourns (sorta) and Eric struggles morally with his role in the tragedy. Karen drinks to cope and Gary…well Gary uses this as a jump off to try and get with Karen and to keep his stranglehold on Eric steady.  Johnny would be rolling in his grave if he saw how this all went down. Funny thing is that not only does he roll in his grave, but Johnny rises from it and begins his mission to seek revenge on…basically everybody.

Some reviews online have been harsh on the acting.  The characters in the film are young, dumb, rebellious teens and they are portrayed as just that.  You aren’t going to get Shakespearean soliloquies from their dialogue and they aren’t going to emote to Meryl Streep levels. This isn’t Shakespeare and the grand dame was not cast. This is a fun horror comedy and should be approached as such.

In my opinion I felt that the casting choices were excellent matches for the content.  They may not be seasoned actors yet but they all did a good job with their roles. I hope to see them all in more film because they have talent and the camera absolutely loves them.

One thing about Lamberson’s work that I hold dear is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and its goal is to entertain. Sure, there are some moments of social commentary, and they typically come gift wrapped in a gag or comedic quip…but nobodies social, economic or political agenda is going to be force fed to you disguised as a flick.

Full disclosure: I am a HUGE fan of Gregory Lamberson. SLIME CITY is in my opinion, required viewing and has been a horror staple for me throughout my life.  Each of his films are extremely unique of each other but the ties that bind these films together is not just the blood and guts but the very cheeky dark humor that is a signature of Lamberson’s writing.  It’s not for everybody, but it certainly is for me and the masses of fans who have been with Lamberson since the start.

“A headbanging horror coming of age story with its tongue firmly planted in cheek and horns in the air!”

3/5 Tombstones out of 5…

All The New Horror Rentals Available On VOD This Week

Video on demand is a fantastic medium for original horror films to have their voice heard. Here’s the newest choices to stream this week while you’re waiting for Halloween 2018 to finally grace the silver screen!

This week we’ve got the first streaming availability of a wide release Blumhouse property, horror appearances by both David Arquette and Val Kilmer and another entry into the horror punk realm. All from the comfort of your own home!

Malevolence 3: Killer (Available Now, $4.99 Amazon Prime)

The first Malevolence film was a complete surprise. I remember blind buying the DVD thinking I was probably wasting $7.99 and ending up stoked. I must have shown that film to four or five people over the years and I definitely recommend checking it out.

The first film featured a bank robbery gone sour, leading to a surprisingly suspenseful slasher film. While I haven’t had a chance to check out either sequel yet, it’s nice to see the property taking on a life of its own. Malevolence 3: Killer is available both on blu-ray and to rent on Amazon Prime.

Johnny Gruesome (October 16th)

Horror, punk and metal have always mixed in the most fantastic of ways and this one literally sounds like the title to a long lost Ramones track. There’s something about fighting the status quo that mixes so well with gore and revenge. This latest mashup is based on an award-winning novel by Gregory Lamberson who also directs and writes this story about a bullied teenager who returns from the grave. We’ve all been there. High School can be a real bitch. (Would have made a great tagline. Just saying.)

Unfriended: Dark Web (October 16th)

Blumhouse pulled off a huge surprise with this one. A gutsy choice to make a sequel with almost no direct ties to its predecessor; Dark Web is an easy-to-watch and mostly riveting from beginning to end. This makes for an excellent entry into an unfolding genre (Would you call it desktop horror?). Either way, it’s a film you won’t feel bad watching from your laptop. It’ll only add to the realism! Do it at work… damn the man!

High Voltage (October 19th)

It’s always great to see David Arquette dip back into horror. From the Scream series to Stephen King’s Riding The Bullet and most recently a fantastic turn in Bone Tomahawk; Arquette has always fit in well in this genre. High Voltage also features another underrated character actor in Luke Wilson. The story revolves around the lead singer of a band being struck by lighting, only to gain supernatural abilities. Yes, I also thought of Wes Craven’s Shocker.

The Super (October 19th)

Val Kilmer in a horror thriller, ladies and gentlemen! Of all the films listed here, this one looks the most promising for my money. It involves an ex-cop (Patrick John Flueger) taking over as the super of a building with a mysterious past. Meanwhile, Val Kilmer lurks in the basement. It’ll be fun to see Kilmer playing such an intense and creepy character. Plus, we all know he was the bomb in The Saint!

What are you watching this week? Giving any of these a chance or are you sticking to the classics for your Halloween month viewings? Let us know below!

 

The post All The New Horror Rentals Available On VOD This Week appeared first on Dread Central.

Butterfly Kisses Available Everywhere October 23rd

Butterfly KissesGravitas Ventures Presents Butterfly Kisses

The Camera Doesn’t Lie

Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD on October 23, 2018

Gravitas Ventures will release the horror film Butterfly Kisses on DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD on October 23, 2018.  The film sets out to prove that the urban legend of The Peeping Tom is real.  The film is written and directed by Erik Kristopher Myers and stars Gavin York.

Butterfly Kisses Synopsis

Found footage and urban legend come together in chilling fashion in this unsettling film, shot on location in Ellicott City, Maryland. Gavin York, a wedding videographer sorting through used tapes, uncovers hours of footage shot by two student filmmakers obsessed with an apocryphal figure known as “Peeping Tom.” Followed by a documentary film crew, Gavin pursues the truth of the students’ fate, while also seeking  fame and fortune by editing their “found footage” into a film of his own. What he discovers instead is doubt and ridicule from all who view it, and allegations of a hoax designed to launch Gavin’s filmmaking career. As his obsession grows, Gavin leads the documentary film crew down the same dangerous path taken by the student filmmakers eleven years prior, all while a terrifying urban legend lies in wait.

For more information about Butterfly Kisses check out the following links:

ABOUT GRAVITAS VENTURES

Gravitas Ventures is an all rights independent film distributor – bringing you the movies you want in theaters and On Demand. As consumer habits evolve, Gravitas is a cutting edge 21st century independent film distributor with the ability to release a film in over a billion homes worldwide.  Gravitas Ventures is a Red Arrow Studios company.