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Krampus: The Naughty Cut Collector's Edition 4K UHD/ Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Scream Factory

Krampus The Naughty Cut Large

Directed by Michael Dougherty
Written by Zach Shields, Michael Dougherty and Todd Casey
2015, 102 minutes, Not Rated
Released on December 7th, 2021

Starring:
Adam Scott as Tom Engel
Toni Collette as Sarah Engel
David Koechner as Howard
Allison Tolman as Linda
Conchata Ferrell as Aunt Dorothy
Emjay Anthony as Max
Krista Stadlee as Omi

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Review:

There’s the C word and the F word, and this time of year that means Christmas and Family. For Tom and Sarah Engel, their children Max and Beth and grandma Omi, the holiday season is about to get a whole lot more stressful. Sarah’s sister Linda; her brash husband Howard; their litter of annoying children and dog; plus the surprise guest of honor, crotchety Aunt Dorothy, all come to celebrate the season and judge their hosts. Max just wants Christmas to be a happy time like it used to be, but when he is humiliated by his cousins at the table, his spirit is broken and he renounces all things Christmas. This is where things take a nasty turn as Santa’s evil doppelgänger Krampus arrives in a blizzard that turns the town into a frozen wasteland with his hellish minions to spread terror and fear to the faithless.

Michael Dougherty (Godzilla: King of the Monsters) found early success as a screenwriter with films including X2: X-Men United and Superman Returns. As a director, he made a big splash with his feature debut Trick ‘r Treat, a Halloween anthology that became an instant perennial favorite for horror fans. Dougherty has a talent for making holiday-themed movies his own as he proves with his sophomore effort, Krampus, a horror/comedy hybrid set at Christmas. Taking inspiration from such ‘80s genre films as Gremlins and Poltergeist, co-writers Dougherty, Zach Shields (Godzilla vs. Kong) and Todd Casey (Star vs. the Forces of Evil) introduce us to a dark piece of European folklore about the spooky side of the holiday laced with a friendly dose of black humor.

At the heart of this tale is a typical modern family trying to get along while navigating the harrowing tradition of spending time together for the holidays. Rather than simply defining their characters by trotting out dull clichés and stereotypes, the writers wisely allow room for each to grow and have depth. Tom and Sarah are more liberal-minded and better positioned financially than their blue collar conservative in-laws, which is the first point of friction, but this is not a dividing wedge. Despite their idealistic differences, when an actual threat is introduced, the family immediately sets aside any petty differences and unites to defend the house and children. Brother-in-law Howard has no problem admitting he was wrong about his dismissive views of Tom, just as Tom doesn’t think twice about picking up one of Howard’s many guns when in danger.

The star of the show however is Krampus, the half man, half goat creature that is the anti-Santa Claus. We get our first glimpse of him on a rooftop across the street as he chases Beth down, but close-ups are limited to his hooves and cloak. During the night, Omi insists the fire be kept hot and tells the story of how Krampus destroyed her village when she was a child – depicted in glorious stop-motion animation. We are introduced to Krampus’ minions, including imposing snowman sentries and a bagful of demonic toys that spring to life. These creatures happily claim adults and children alike and prove difficult to fight. Later, we meet an army of diabolically mischievous elves that pose an even bigger threat. Finally, Krampus makes his grand entrance and it is well worth the wait as he is truly terrifying.

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The ensemble cast is led by Toni Collette (Hereditary) and Adam Scott (Piranha 3D) as Tom and Sarah Engel, a likeable, well-meaning couple trying their best to keep the holidays merry. The two actors share great comic timing without winking at the audience. Scott’s best scenes are opposite David Koechner (Final Destination 5) as Howard, who constantly harasses Tom and lacks any form of social filter. Watching the two bond in a crisis and grow to respect each other is a welcome addition. There are no jerks in the film that you hope will meet a gruesome end. Even grumpy Aunt Dorothy, played by the late Conchata Ferrell (Edward Scissorhands), is endearing, possibly because she gets the best one-liners. As for the kids, they are all pretty solid, the standout being Emjay Anthony (Bad Moms) as Max, the young hero whose loss of Christmas spirit sets the whole nightmare in motion. He holds his own against the more seasoned adults and handles his more emotional scenes quite well. The most interesting character is Omi (Krista Stadlee, Maikäfer flieg), who as an elderly lady is something of an outsider within her own family. She possesses the information everyone needs to survive Krampus if they will only listen.

In addition to having an excellent script, a fantastic cast and a solid director, Krampus also benefits from gorgeous production design by Jules Cook (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) and cinematography by Jules O’Loughlin (The Hitman’s Bodyguard), who help bring Dougherty’s vision to life. Composer Douglas Pipes (Monster House) keeps things moving with a score that captures the tone of both a traditional holiday film and a more sinister genre tale. The folks at WETA Digital do a great job with the special effects – both practical and digital – bringing Krampus and his evil helpers to life.

When released theatrically in 2015, it carried a PG-13 rating, but not for excessive violence or language really – there is one F bomb and very little blood. Now, the film makes its 4K UHD debut as a Collector’s Edition labeled: Krampus The Naughty Cut. This is unfortunately a total marketing ploy that is misleading and disappointing. This version runs four minutes longer than the theatrical cut, but there is nothing naughty to be found in these scene extensions, just character beats and maybe a few frames of violence that are over before you notice. The previous Blu-ray release included seventeen minutes of deleted scenes (also included here) and some of those have been added back into the main feature. On the whole, they add little to the viewing experience and do not merit the subtitle promising something “Naughty”. Outside of the title, this is a great disc filled with all sorts of new goodies you’ll want to check out this holiday season.

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Video and Audio:

Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the film receives a new 4K upgrade that is every bit as satisfying as one would hope for a movie shot digitally only six years ago. Image quality is razor sharp and the level of small-object detail is terrific. Black levels are rock solid without any signs of crush, and colors are well-saturated.

The disc boasts an all-new Dolby Atmos track that improves on the already impressive DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that is carried over from the previous Blu-ray. The surrounds get a real workout and there is some fun low-end rumble. Dialogue is always clean and understandable and music cues are robust without ever being intrusive. Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

Co-writers Zach Shields, Michael Dougherty and Todd Casey deliver a highly informative and entertaining audio commentary full of insights and trivia. They discuss the inspiration behind the tale and track its origins. We get the expected praise for the cast and crew, but these guys seem genuinely giddy to have gotten to make this movie and their enthusiasm is infectious. There are lots of good production stories and laughs – definitely worth a listen.

A Dash of Mischief (19 minutes) catches up with Dougherty, who covers a wide range of topics, starting with the inspiration and folklore of Krampus. He goes on to cover the cast, shooting on stages in New Zealand, working with WETA digital on the creature design, the marketing tone, and the importance of the Christmas spirit.

In Storm of the Centuries (8 minutes), producer, co-writer Todd Casey talks developing the story, the casting process, storyboard art and creature designs. He goes on to share his thoughts on the picture’s tone and how it performed at the box office.

The great David Koechner sits for the interview segment The Great Predator (9 minutes) in which he opens with a story about how the storyboard artist drew him into the scenes as a fun casting idea. He continues with tales of shooting on stages in New Zealand and having dinner with Peter Jackson. He shares some really funny stories of working with Adam Scott and shooting the exteriors in fake snow. He looks back on the film as a truly positive experience and is proud of the work.

Something Bad Happened on Christmas (12 minutes) finds actress Allison Tolman reflecting on her first film and making friends with the cast. She has kind words for Toni Collette who plays her sister and praises Dougherty, despite his love of pranks.

Emjay Anthony remembers his time on set as a child actor in Max’s Journey (5 minutes) and what a fun environment it was to work in. He praises his co-stars and reveals some of the numerous pranks played behind the scenes.

Lord of the Things (10 minutes) finds WETA’s Richard Taylor discussing his work on the film starting with meeting Dougherty and developing ideas to support his firm vision. He goes on to talk about the design process creating the look of Krampus, the reindeer and the spooky Jack-in-the-box clown, He closes with his memories of being blown away when seeing the finished film.

In Mapping Mythology (8 minutes) storyboard artist Simeon Wilkins shares his joy of reuniting with Dougherty after Trick ‘r Treat. Rather than selecting key moments, they decided to draw storyboards for the whole film. He details the Beth meets Krampus sequence and how he playfully drew David Koechner into the artwork. He also talks about the original ending.

Luke Hawker was the performer inside the Krampus suit and in the segment I, Krampus (11 minutes), he reveals how the physical look of the character came together and what it was like bringing it to life.

Composer Douglas Pipes talks about the approach taken in writing his score in A Winter Chorus (8 minutes). He reveals which Christmas carols gave inspiration and how he balanced the shifting tone from holiday cheer to chilling nightmares.

Returning from the previous Blu-ray release is the five-part documentary, Krampus Comes Alive (30 minutes), which can be played either in individual chapters or as one continuous piece. The mostly self-explanatory segments include Dougherty’s Vision (3 minutes), The Naughty Ones: Meet the Cast (5 minutes), Krampus and his Minions (12 minutes), the stunts featurette Practical Danger (5 minutes) and lastly, Inside the Snow Globe: Production Design (5 minutes).

The archival featurette Behind the Scenes at WETA Workshop: Krampus (10 minutes) takes an interesting look at the creatures featuring interviews with cast and crew.

A collection of deleted/extended scenes (18 minutes) provides a look at some bits of dialogue and character beats that were cut for pacing. Some of these scenes were added back into the film for this new release.

A fairly amusing gag reel (5 minutes) delivers some laughs as actors flub their lines.

A slightly different alternate ending (2 minutes) offers a variation of the theatrical ending but isn’t as powerful.

There are five photo galleries: Theatrical Poster Art (5 images), Creature Art (112 images), Story Art (34 images), Michael Dougherty X-mas Card Art (10 images) and finally Storyboards (331 images).

The original theatrical trailer is also included.

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Grades:

Movie: Fourstars Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Cover
Buy Amazon Uk
Video: Fivestars
Audio: Fivestars
Features: Fourstars
Overall: 4.5 Star Rating

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About The Author
Robert Gold
Author: Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer - USA
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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