Look around this Christmas season. Evil Santas, evil elves, Krampuses galore, and evil reinde…there are no evil reindeer horrors, are there? Nevertheless, there are countless Christmas horrors out there. If I could guarantee one that is full of Christmas spirit and Christmas hijinks, then that guarantee would be SpookyDan’s and Dread Central Presents’ Slay Belles.
Slay Belles is the holiday tale of urban explorers who take their internet show Adventure Girls to an abandoned Christmas theme park dubbed Santa Land. Their intentions are pure. They explore the abandoned places, take some parting gifts, aka “treasures”, to remember their experience, all while filming it for their show. Their intentions may have been pure, but their Santa Land experience will not be pure. It ends up being one of blood, mayhem, and a fight to save the world from the holiday terror that is Krampus.
After learning that there may be a “bear” out and about, terrorizing the local hillbilly townsfolk, our titular Slay Belles, Alexi (Kristina Klebe), Dahlia (Susan Slaughter), and Sadie (Hannah Wagner) arrive at Santa Land in some legit Christmas cosplay, ready to broadcast their experience to their followers. A little debauchery occurs, they find their treasures, and then BAM! Krampus finds them, they find Santa, and the film turns into what I would call your average primetime Christmas special if your average primetime Christmas special dropped some of the wackiest acid ever.
The Belles and Santa must work together in order to defeat a recently released Krampus from slaughtering his way through the town before midnight drops. If he makes it beyond midnight, he cannot be put back down; therefore, he will rule Christmas, and all of the naughty children of the world will fall upon his claws, horns, and whatever else Krampus decides to use to off the naughtiness of the world. Unfortunately for the good kids of the world, Krampus sees everything as naughty, so no one will be safe.
The Belles are a mixture of fun characterizations. Kristina Klebe (Rob Zombie’s Halloween) gives a chill, sarcastic vibe to her Alexi. Susan Slaughter’s (Ouija House) Dahlia is the head Belle, and she plays her headstrong character to a tee. Hannah Wagner’s (The Devil’s Carnival) Sadie is the fun, delightful one, and has some of the best oneliners. Their deliveries bring a ton of fun to the flick.
No Christmas entertainment would be legit without Santa, right? How about a retired Santa who has lost everything because consumerism has taken him out of the job? How about if that Santa decided that he’s a biker and goes around in full biker get-up? He drinks, he uses the word “f*ck” a lot, but he still hasn’t lost that little twinkle in his eye. Now what if that Santa Clause was portrayed by Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show)? Bostwick is absolute perfection as all of the above. You expect Santa to be the glue that holds a Christmas piece together, and Bostwick holds this piece together with such horrible beauty (by that, I mean portrays the character with such cheese and sleaze) that you can’t help but fall in love with his iteration of the big guy.
“[Santa] drinks, he uses the word “f*ck” a lot, but he still hasn’t lost that little twinkle in his eye.”
Speaking of big guys, what about our antagonist? Slay Belles‘ Krampus is an absolute beast. Created by Vincent J. Guastini Productions, Krampus hovers over all of the Belles and Santa so much so that he makes them look teeny in comparison. Speaking of size, there’s a scene in which a member of Krampus‘ anatomy makes everything else look teeny in comparison, as well. Yeah, there’s Krampus peen in Slay Belles.
SpookyDan and co-writer Jessica Luhrssen created a mythology for Santa and Krampus that is off-the-wall berserk. Remember, this is a primetime Christmas special on acid. To go into details of the twists that are thrown into the tale would be to ruin a lot of the fun that was put into the script. I will let slip that one of the twists involves actress Diane Salinger (Pee Wee’s Big Adventure) who made me believe that every villainess from an 80’s movie was portrayed by her.
The visual aesthetic of the film is full of Christmas nods of delight. The opening credits of the film are an animated extravaganza that begins with your typical Christmas tunes before transitioning in to a Christmas themed EDM score. In almost every scene, there is some sort of Christmas decoration. Multicolored lights are strung all over the film. Santa goes from biker dude to donning actual Santa gear for the battle against Krampus. The Belles‘ cosplay centered costumes represent the holiday staples of an elf, Mrs. Clause, and a snowflake. The magic that Santa creates is bright and seems ripped straight from a Freeform Christmas commercial – which adds tons of Christmas spirit to the film.
While there are tons of Krampus hijinks, the film is surprisingly low on gore. There is one incredibly good bit that kickstarts the final act of the film, but the rest of the kills are done off-screen. Even the few aftermaths we catch aren’t full of the red stuff. For all of the insanity that occurs in the film, more blood would have benefited, as would a higher body count – but that is something that didn’t really occur to me until after the movie was over.
Is Slay Belles a perfect masterpiece? Absolutely not. A lot of people will look at the film as an absolute mess of tangled Christmas lights. But not every film needs to be a masterpiece. In the eyes of this horror fiend (who loves his Christmas horror movies as tacky and as fun as a multicolored decorated house with a manger scene surrounded by inflatable snowmen and Santas), Slay Belles is a perfect specimen of Christmas cinema.
Have you added Slay Belles to your annual Christmas spooky ooky Christmas viewing? What did you think of it? Should Barry Bostwick portray Santa in ever Christmas film, horror or not, from now on? Fa La La La us over on Twitter, the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook, or on our Reddit.