Friday, December 7, 2018

December to Dismember: MOTHER KRAMPUS 2: SLAY RIDE (2018)

What would Christmas be around the VJ HQ without yet another Krampus movie that would drive Carry A. Nation to drink? Maybe we'd dress up in festive sweaters, make egg nogg from scratch, stoke roaring fires without ever shedding a drop of sweat and serenade our respective locals with off-key renditions of "Holy Night"... Naaaaaah, we'd just watch some other crap that would be just as bad and pay penance to the movie gods with our quota of yuletide cinematic flagellation. Some people tithe, we watch terrible movies.

As my second punishment of the season, one that would have even Job crying foul, we have a sequel to a movie that never really existed. If you live in the UK, last year you were "treated" to a no-budget family drama gussied up as a slasher movie, THE 12 DEATHS OF CHRISTMAS (2017). The digitally shot movie, about a witch (supposedly Frau Perchta) that sort of comes back from the dead on Christmas to kill some kids, had nothing to do with Krampus, so ITN Distribution decided that since Uncork'd Entertainment was cashing in on Krampus, slapped the title MOTHER KRAMPUS on the movie for US distribution. To add insult to injury, they even went the extra mile to hire the artist who painted the covers for Uncork'd's Krampus films to do up their cover. This year ITN brings us the sequel to MOTHER KRAMPUS, or at least, the cover is a sequel. The movie, of course, has nothing to do with what is on the cover, nor Krampus, nor MOTHER KRAMPUS, nor THE 12 DEATHS OF CHRISTMAS, and was originally to be titled NAUGHTY LIST. Confused yet? Good. They've got you right where they want you.

The movie opens with a young couple over at the family house getting ready for Christmas. Hipster douchebag boyfriend doesn't want to help with groceries and would rather stand outside smoking something from a pipe that is shaped like a penis. Yep, not even two minutes in and I'm already dreading the next 94 minutes. Fortunately, a bulky person wearing a hospital gown and a mask that looks like Michael Myers crossbred with Leatherface, chops said douchebag down with an axe (don't get excited, the chopping takes place out of frame and behind a fence). After finishing off the other two annoyances in the house, our killer with young, hairy, masculine legs and feet, turns out to be a heavyset older woman named Dorthea (Kris Smith), but is called Mrs. Smith throughout the movie.

A couple of strippers ("we prefer 'dancers'"), Candice (Robbie Barnes) and Gracie (Tiffani Hilton), are on their last day of probation and their probation officer, Paula (Rachel Anderson) has decided that they, along with nice girl Victoria (KateLynn E. Newberry) and plus-sized Santa drag queen Athena (Roger Conners), should spend their last hours of community service at a homeless shelter serving Christmas dinner. We know these people are homeless because they have black make-up smudged across random parts of their faces.

The girls, naturally, are not too happy about this and attempt to bond with the viewers by having one of them pass around a tray of strawberries, insisting one per person, saying "Yo! I know you're homeless and shit, but don't be getting greedy!" This is going to be a long ride to grandma's house, isn't it?

After a touching moment in which Gracie tells Victoria that she's a good kid, the girls (for the sake of simplicity, I'm including the non-binary along with the cisgenders) decide to skip out to a bar for some yuletide spirits. While Athena physically forces Victoria to drink shots, Candice gets in a heated drama scene when she spots her drug-dealer, occasional BF Donnie 8-Ball sitting in a booth with another girl. After which we get another protracted scene of nothing, while Candice and Donnie do some blow and make the car rock in the parking lot. Meanwhile Gracie, Victoria and Athena head back to the shelter and are told to liven up the place by singing Christmas carols. Haven't these poor homeless people been through enough? Athena suddenly decides to do a (thankfully) non-stripping stripper dance to a song called "Naughty Christmas", at which point all of the homeless people jump up and down with their fist in the air, doing that thing that millennials apparently do when listening to music at a party in movies. I guess this is supposed to be better than watching them do straight up carols, but I think that depends on how much you enjoy seeing dudes in drag do FLASHDANCE routines. Uhhh, if that's your thing, and you would like to own a copy of this movie, please feel free to check out my ebay listing. I'll make you such a deal.

I know, I know, you're thinking "what the hell, I thought this was a Krampus movie?!" Ha! In your dreams sucker! This ain't even a slasher movie in between the first and last 15 minutes.

Now that the singing and dancing is over (or is it?), Gracie, Victoria and Athena are volunteered to go make deliveries on their own recognizance. Seeing how their recognizance has served them so well up to this point, there is nothing that can go wrong here, right? God, please let something go wrong, PLEASE! Anything to break the monotony.

Their first stop is none other than the house in which our matronly murderer butchered the family, who as we learn later is hers. I think. It's not made very clear. Before the girls even make it to the front porch, for no apparent reason they stop in the middle of the street to sing the majority of a Christmas carol to a woman out walking her dog. It almost feels as if they were moving the camera gear (ie the iPhone) across the street and they thought it would be funny to shoot the cast singing at a random stranger. Either that or it was just another example of these schmucks trying to fill as much of the running time with random bullshit as possible, so that they don't have to come up with a real script. Once inside the house with Mrs. Smith, the fun begins! That is if you think listening to these assholes sing carols again is in any way fun. Trust me it isn't. The bloody stumps on either side of my head where my ears used to be before I clawed them off with my fingernails can attest to that.

Finally Mrs. Smith... wait for it... sits them all down to have some hot coco and chat. No, I'm not kidding. I fucking hate this movie. Mrs. Smith quizzes the trio about what lead them to their sorry state and the shrill attempts at comedy from Roger Conners as Athena is once again at the forefront "I got in trouble for trying to suck a COP'S DICK! For... COCAINE!" Honestly, if you are going to have a line that obnoxious, instead of saying it as obnoxiously as possible, a subtle delivery, a counter-point, will make it funny. For a guy that apparently prides himself on his comic talents (see his self-scribed IMDb bio, if you dare), he sure doesn't know shit about comic timing and delivery. This round-table discussion, aside from putting the viewer to sleep, provides the seemingly totally stable and articulate serial killer, Mrs. Smith, an excuse to add people to her naughty list. Victoria tells a compassionate story about how she got arrested after driving a drunk friend home... without a license... and drunk. We know Mrs. Smith is nuttier than an orange clown with a Twitter account when she finds that story pulling at her heart-strings and leaving Victoria in the clear. Or is she? Who fucking cares?

We also have Candice and Donnie arriving acting all coked-up; long walks on staircases; Paula arriving to give out some heart necklace Christmas presents (says Paula "I love Christmas, it's just so festive!"); Victoria and Paula going shopping (set to music) for a gift for Mrs. Smith (seriously); Donnie and Candice having simulated, nudity-free sex (again); people eating soup; Candice taking a shower (again, nudity-free) and so on. After winding things down to the final 15 minutes, fiiiiiinally Mrs. Smith gets back into her hospital gown and white-face mask, which also seems to give her a male physique and visible tattoos, to sloooooowly stalk the idiots in the house and kill them, mostly off screen. The shots of the victims after the attacks have some reasonably well done latex effects, I'll give them that. Then again, we also have a scene where one of the girls stabs Leathermyers in the eye with a plastic icicle ornament. In addition to it being through the mask, so there is no need for a special effect, in the next scene we have a close-up of Michaelface where the eye is clearly visible! Classic "no shits given" videomaking.

Looking over the careers of those responsible for this narcoleptic Noel, this seems to be one of very many for Roger Connors (real name Greg Grattan), who wrote about himself on IMDb that he is "recognized as one of Cleveland Ohio's premier independent film actors." His name pops up in the credits under a variety of different job descriptions and if this is the kind of dreck that you are going to crank out (about 3 or 4 of these per year), a little humility would go a long way. It's also worth noting that the Facebook page for the movie has photos of "fans" with MOTHER KRAMPUS 2 DVDs, which if you've seen the movie, you'll notice are actually pictures of the cast and crew holding up copies the disc.

After watching this one, I'm thinking maybe I was a bit too harsh with KRAMPUS: ORIGINS (2018). At least they put some effort into into the production, if nothing else. This feels like someone who owns bar, looking for a tax dodge, decided to get some friends who think they are hilarious after several shots of Jager, and made a gender-swapped HALLOWEEN knock-off for as little money as possible, with as little effort as possible. I am honestly amazed that Redbox isn't leading the holiday charge with this one. They have an awfully low bar and yet seem to have taken a pass. That should tell you something.

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