I Slay on Christmas (2023)

Rating: B-

Dir: Derek Braasch, Marcelo Fabani, Phil Herman, James Panetta, Joel D. Wynkoop 
Star: Joel D. Wynkoop, Walter Alonso, Debbie D, Justin Bower

I’ve reviewed a few of Herman’s horror anthologies before, most recently Doomsday Stories. It’s probably safe to say they’re an acquired taste, being very low-budget and typically including some elements that, shall we say, are never going to be recognized by the Academy. But y’know something? I may be acquiring that taste. This is a nasty, mean-spirited and occasionally quite unpleasant Christmas movie. In other words: just the way I like ’em. I will say, the wraparound segments are confusing: there’s a guy in a forest picking up pine-cones, a radio preacher, and an outbreak of a particularly nasty virus. How it all meshes is unclear, and it may just be Herman using up whatever footage he had lying around.

The individual stories though, are mostly pretty entertaining. We begin with “All Chopped Up and Nowhere to Go”, which features series regular Wynkoop as a particularly repellent character who’s short on the Christmas spirit, to put it mildly. Then there’s “The Best Company”, a segment from Uruguay in which a serial killer (Alonso) with mommy issues, finds his festive date isn’t going to go as expected. Third up is “Re-gifting”: the new boyfriend of Suzette (Debbie D) gives her a present she won’t soon forget. Finally, is “Christmas Revenge”, where Curtis (Bower) kidnaps Santa Claus and tortures him, as payback for Santa’s seduction of Curtis’s mother. Turns out all is not well at the North Pole.

I think the last was probably my favourite in this batch. It takes the “I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus” concept, and runs with it to its natural conclusion. And, indeed, quite some way beyond it, with a vengeful Mrs. Claus and pissed-off elf also in the mix. On the other hand, “Re-gifting” seemed to spend an excessive amount of time with people chatting on the telephone, before getting to the meat of the matter. Though I will say, nobody dies and plays dead like Debbie D! The others lie somewhere in the middle. In “Chopped”, I’d probably like to have seen Drudge (Wynkoop) get some kind of comeuppance for being a total bastard to his wife, disabled child and wife’s friend.

It’s all very much an anti-Christmas movie, in that the spirit of the season depicted here is hardly festive, and certainly not charitable. Scrooge and The Grinch would probably not their heads approvingly at the mostly unsavoury characters and their typically brutal actions in this. It’s not going to replace Die Hard in our Christmas catalog, but it’s certainly an effective, defiantly lo-fi, antidote to Mariah Carey and egg-nog. Providing you like your movies to be punk-rock in nature – sticking up two fingers at the cinematic establishment, while thrashing away on three dubious chords – then this might be a good Christmas present to yourself.

It’s out on November 10. You can message Phil Herman or Joel D Wynkoop on Facebook messenger for details, or email Phuil at [email protected].