Slay Belles is a movie that gives us the reality behind the Santa Claus myth and it’s a lot more trailer trash than we ever expected, hilariously so. It takes place in California, days before Christmas, and centers on three girls, Alexi (Kristina Klebe), Sadie (Hannah Wagner aka Hannah Minx) and Dahlia (Susan Slaughter). Sadie and Dahlia are urban explorers who document their exploits through their Adventure Girls YouTube channel. They drag Alexi along on their newest exploration of a supposedly abandoned theme park called Santa Land.
Meanwhile during the last few days children and random grown-ups are being murdered by what the local rangers, including Ranger Sean (Stephen Ford), are assuming is a bear, because these poor bastards are all torn up. But what the girls will learn is Santa Land is not abandoned, the owner still lives there. His name is Kris (Barry Bostwick) and he’s Santa Claus!
Okay, now, here’s the reality of the Santa myth as laid out by the man himself. Santa carries a magical cane, something never depicted in the American myth, and he works with a partner legend has fazed out of the human consciousness, so to speak — Krampus, The Devil Of Christmas! There is no naughty or nice list he makes, Santa delivers the presents, Krampus kills the naughty. Back when he lived at the North Pole he managed to seal Krampus in ice, but somehow he got out recently and is now killing kids in California, pilfering parts of their mangled bodies and bringing them back to Santa Land where he’s storing these odd little gooey furball remains in boxes. That’s not what he’s supposed to be doing according to Kringle. He’s supposed to take the naughty kids to Hell, so what’s the deal?
This movie has two more name actors in small roles: Diane Salinger (Creature, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure) and Richard Moll (TV series Night Court, The Sword And The Sorcerer, House). Moll plays veteran cop, Green, helping to solve the murders and Salinger is Cherry, the local tattooed mean spirited bartender who hates everything about Christmas. The twist in her character is she’s Mrs. Claus and her relationship with her husband has been on the rocks for a long, long time, so much so she’s been shagging Krampus. She’s come to loath her husband and has an insidious plan to kill every kid on Christmas, this is where those furballs come in (more on that later).
In the last several years filmmakers have suddenly discovered the myth of Krampus and now we currently have a small clutch of horror flicks about him in existence. The best three are Krampus (2015), from the makers of Trick ‘r’ Treat (2007), A Christmas Horror Story (2015), an anthology where one of the tales is about Krampus and Saint Nick doing battle, and now Slay Belles! Barry Bostwick steals the show playing a foul mouth Santa who, until he reveals himself fully, dresses like he’s in a biker gang. The second show stopper is the practical Krampus suit and effects from FX artist Vincent Guastini (Spookies, Lone Wolf, Mindkiller). I’m giving this movie a general thumbs up, but the sole reason preventing me from giving it the ‘Official DVD News Flash Seal Of Approval’ is the camera work. It’s not a found footage flick per say, there is that when the movie is seen through the camera of the girls documenting their Santa Land exploration, but when it pulls out the camera work still keeps moving around, so much so it feels like a “pseudo found footage flick.” Once Santa comes into the picture though, the camera work does slow down and steady itself somewhat and that’s basically when I started to enjoy it. I’m not a fan of this type of cinematography, just plant the camera and tell the story, but this is an independent flick, so, maybe, this wasn’t a stylistic choice but one based more on what’s the easiest way to film this with the money we have? Anyhow director SpookyDan was smart enough to stop the camera whenever Krampus was around so he could show off Guastini’s eye candy creature effects.
And speaking of eye candy creature effects we get a scene that reveals why Krampus is putting black haired tribble-sized furballs into boxes, this is how he and Mr’s Claus are going to kill the kids of the world. These furballs have mouths with teeth and once some poor kid unwraps this present I assume this “murderous tribble” will maul them to death. The girls just narrowly escape, though bloodied, with their encounter with these things.
This being a Christmas movie, albeit a comedy horror themed one, it does come with an upbeat ending, well, for the children of the world anyway, not to mention for the girls, and Sean too, but not necessarily for Kris, Krampus and Mrs. Claus. I won’t reveal much other than there is a very good reason Alexi straight up murders Claus in the end. Oh, shit, I guess I did say too much. The movie is an uncharacteristically short one, it runs only an hour and eight minutes, with a slow moving nine minute end credit crawl.
Epic Pictures has partnered with Dread Central to release a series of independent horror films under the Dread Central Presents banner! Slay Belles is one of their newest films you can buy here on Amazon or on Epic Pictures’ site!
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio, 5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio—English SDH subs only
Extras included . . .
- Audio Commentary With SpookyDan Walker & Jessica Luhrssen
- The Making Of Slay Belles (46:01)
- Hannah Minx Tours The Set Of Slay Belles (7:32)
- Hannah Minx Make-up Tutorial (3:57)
- Slay Belles Cookies & Conversation (21:03)
- Short Film: Bad Ass Russian In Istanbul (3:12)
A good batch of extras on this one, with Vincent Guastini’s creation of Krampus documented in the Making Of featurette!