Admit it: you’re sick and tired of watching cheerful holiday movies. We’re three weeks into the holiday season, and you’ve heard enough Christmas carols, and been forced to watch too many Hallmark movies, to give a damn about mistletoe or gingerbread houses. You may need an escape from all the holiday cheer and a reprieve from candy canes and shopping for gifts.
Joe Begos has the cure for your holiday woes. The director, whose new film Christmas Bloody Christmas is now streaming on Shudder, has made a nasty horror movie that literally slices through the holiday mundanity with a killer robot Santa Claus who terrorizes a small town. In a conversation with Digital Trends, Begos opens up about what drew him to make a “holiday horror” film, how The Terminator and Gaspar Noé inspired him, and if he has any sequel plans for the movie.
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Digital Trends: There is a great tradition of holiday-themed horror movies with Black Christmas and Silent Night, Deadly Night, to name just a few. What does Christmas Bloody Christmas contribute to that subgenre?
Joe Begos: Well, I think that it’s kind of like an anti-Christmas Christmas movie. I don’t have a family of my own. I don’t have kids, I’m not married or anything like that. So my Christmas tradition, once I grew up and was away from my actual blood family, is just going to a party because everything else is shut down. I like the aesthetics of Christmas and I like the tradition of hanging out with my friends around that time.
I wanted to make a movie that’s from a point of view of dirtbag metalheads who don’t have any family because I’ve been in that position for a decade. I bring my own kind of sense into [the genre]. And also, we haven’t had a killer robot Santa movie in decades unless you count the Silent Night, Deadly Night sequel.
I don’t think anyone counts that one. [Laughs] The movie has plenty of brutal and creative kills. Which one is your favorite and how did you pull it off?
My favorite kill is when the neighbor comes out and sees his car has been crashed into by Tori. I decided to cast myself in that role because I want to give myself a little cameo. And I figured why not have the coolest kill?
I wrote the screenplay with the intention of trying to up the ante when I was doing the kills because the Santa robot has an ax and I didn’t want him to randomly pick up a chainsaw just to have some variety in the deaths. Everything had to stay pretty close to him just having the ax and using the elements around him. And so, I got to be a part of the coolest kill in the movie.
You pay homage to not only past holiday horrors, but also to kind of other genre masterpieces like The Terminator, Assault on Precinct 13, and even Touch of Evil with that opening, unbroken shot. Was that a conscious decision on your part?
Yeah. In my first couple of movies, I think I leaned too heavily into references to other movies. And I think that’s because I just didn’t have really any life experience. I was so young and now, I’ve experienced other things in life that lend themselves to my movies.
But there’s always going to be the element of pulling from a greater cinematic language. I love Touch of Evil and I love Abel Ferrara and Gaspar Noé, but now I’m just taking cinematic things that I like and leaving other things I’ve seen and absorbed behind. I make horror movies, but I try to do something different each time. I don’t want to repeat myself.
Christmas Bloody Christmas has two leads: the final girl Tori and Robbie, her co-worker and occasional lover. Do either of them reflect aspects of your life?
Tori and Robbie are definitely both extensions of me and my friends. You know, people complain that everybody in my movies talks the same. Of course they do because I hang out with people who are like me. Like, if you come and listen on my social circles, we’re all going to talk the same because that’s what friends do.
Tori is very much me and all the other characters possess some attributes of my other friends or people from my life. Robbie definitely has some traits of me as well. Riley [Dandy] and Sam [Delich], who play Tori and Robbie, are both so good at their job that they realized that they were playing facets of me and they started to observe me. They were both like a sponge absorbing my behavior.
Would you return to direct a sequel to Christmas Bloody Christmas? Like it could be the same Christmas setting but in a different location or there’s a killer leprechaun robot for St Patrick’s Day or something like that?
Well, I’ve never wanted to make sequels to any of my movies, but his one I 100% do. I hope it’s successful enough to warrant one and I hope I can direct it. They would definitely be set around Christmas time again and possibly use the seasonal lead-up of Halloween to Black Friday to Christmas to have some fun. But we’ll see how successful this one is. We’ll see if people want to see multiple killer robot Santa movies.
The world doesn’t have enough killer robot Santa movies. Thanks for talking with me, Joe.
Christmas Bloody Christmas is now streaming on Shudder and in select theaters nationwide.
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