Director: Craig Anderson
Stars: Dee Wallace, Sarah Bishop, Geoff Morrell
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
New slashers, boy are they a mixed bag. Big time. To be honest I guess they always were, it’s just back in the day (read as: 1980s) there were so many of them that the bad ones were quickly overshadowed by the good. Nowadays they are rather infrequent, so the bad ones really stand out. So here comes this new holiday horror with a staple of 80s cinema at the lead. Is it the gift that keeps on giving, or is it something you wait in line to return the next day? Well ho-ho-ho and let’s find out.
The story is set on Christmas in Australia as America’s favorite mom from the 80s, Dee Wallace, plays an American mom to an Aussie brood who is left alone after her husband dies. She brings together her estranged family for a holiday gathering, when a sin from her past shows up unexpectedly. It seems twenty years ago she had an abortion none of her grown kids ever knew about. Well, against all odds the discarded fetus survived (it was very late term, I guess) and it comes looking for the mother who discarded it so many years ago.
Now before anybody leans too far to the left or to the right, this movie does a commendable job playing things as close to the middle as it can. In this day when so many movies wear their politics on their sleeve and beat you over the head with them, it’s nice to see a film show some restraint on such a hot button topic and just focus on the stuff that matters. You know, try to make a good, scary movie.
Anyway the unwanted child, now a fully grown man named Cletus, wears a long black cloak, has his face and hands all branded up, and speaks a lot like John Merrick (look it up). But surprisingly he’s not angry or vengeful towards his estranged mother. He just wants a family and a mother to love him, two things he has never had. When Dee Wallace understandably freaks out and throws Cletus out of the house, this latest rejection fans the embers of rage and you can bet some people are going to die this night.
Red Christmas is a standard slasher that has a few things going for it to make it stand out in the crowd. Chief among them is the amazing Dee Wallace who not only stars in this, but was one of the producers as well. And when I say star, I mean it. Unlike much of her recent genre work, she’s in this throughout, and not just a glorified cameo. It was a nice present to see her in fine form doing her thing again. I also liked the character of Cletus. If you like a sympathetic killer, it’s hard to do better than an unwanted abortion that survives and comes looking, not for revenge, but love. I also liked the look of this killer. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially in the big face reveal, but I dug him and think Cletus is at least very memorable.
On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer, and Vixen, and let’s get to those extras on this new DVD from Umbrella Entertainment. First there is an audio commentary with writer/director Craig Anderson and actor Gerard O’Dwyer who played Jerry in the film. There are two behind-the-scenes featurettes and an interview with actor Gerard O’Dwyer. There is also a teaser trailer and a theatrical trailer on here as well. All in all a good gathering of goodies for a DVD release.
I enjoyed my holiday with Red Christmas. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel or anything, but what it does. It does very well and it’s well worth the price of admission for Dee Wallace alone. Consider it recommended.