Movie Review: “Terminator” Santa runs amok on “Christmas Bloody Christmas”

There are scenarios where one could see “Christmas Bloody Christmas” appreciated for what it is — a cheesy, gory, dumber-than-dumb C-movie about an animatronic Santa going on a snowy Xmas Eve rampage.

Such situations might be limited to drunken, half-stoned gatherings of C-movie cognoscenti, midnight movies at your multiplex or last-showing-of-the-day horror film fan conventions.

It begins badly and turns progressively worse before rallying, “Terminator” style, in a test of human against machine that will-not-die in a movie that does not want to end.

But hey, I’ve seen worse.

Writer-director Joe Begos did the geezer veterans vs. crazed, killer-druggies thriller “VFW,” so he’s used to this “Shaun of the Dead” formula. Eventually, survivors are going to be holed up against some monstrous menace which has slaughtered or is slaughtering one and all outside the bar, house, office or precinct that this movie uses as its “last stand” fortress.

The biggest problem with “Christmas Bloody Christmas” is the many offhand, almost-improvised, unfunny and tedious scenes that set up this inevitable eventuality.

Riley Dandy plays the randy and bawdy record store owner Tori, whose establishment is a statement in neon and Goth. Sam Delich is her mulleted minimum-wage helpmate Robbie, whose sexualized banter suggests he’d like to be another kind of “mate.”

The film’s first act is their running flirtation, metal music and horror cinema debate, pick-up-lines at closing time the Night Before Christmas.

A Metallica with hair vs. Metallica without, Chris Cornell and “Van Hagar” riffs — none of them funny — are worked into the argument over which “original” “Pet Sematary” as better, “I” or “II.”

Fred Gwynne was in “I,” kids. No debate necessary.

This low-life/low-laughs “High Fidelity” back and forth continues as they bar-hop and make their way towards the evening’s climax.

But “the news” has shown that this “military grade” animatronic Santa Claus gadget that all your lesser malls have installed to save themselves the trouble of hiring bearded and/or boozy locals, has been recalled worldwide. Let’s not give a thought to the fact that a local store had one, that it’s gone missing, and that it’s grabbed a fire ax off the wall as a weapon.

Let the holiday festivities start. Eventually.

The satanic laser-eyed Santa is created with a couple of lights, a dude in a suit and a metallic gears and servos whirring sound effects. We see many of “his” attacks through those piercing green luminescent eyes, a killer-cam eye view.

The slaughter is gruesome and perfunctory, sparing neither the unsavory nor the innocent, law enforcement or stoner, adult or child. The acting is nothing special, though our heroine works up a fine lather of panic and frenzy in fighting back, or trying to get the cops to help.

Got to love commitment from a horror movie heroine.

Begos bathes this picture in a closing-time bar or retail establishment with holiday lights gloom. And once it gets on its feet and starts chasing down victims, it’s marginally better than the dull opening scenes or the amateurish TV channel-surfing (analog era) through “local TV” commercials opening credits.

But again, in a group setting, with the right level of appreciation for C-movie cheese and/or the proper degree of inebriation, “Christmas Bloody Christmas” could go over.

Rating: unrated, graphic violence, explicit sex, profanity, alcohol abuse

Cast: Riley Dandy, Sam Delich, Elliot Gilbert, Joe Begos and Kansas Bowling

Credits: Scripted and directed by Joe Begos. An RLJE/Shudder release.

Running time: 1:26

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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