|DVD Caesar and Otto’s Deadly Xmas
Run time: 83 min
Genres: Comedy | Horror
Director: Dave Campfield
Writers: Dave Campfield, Dave Campfield
Stars: Dave Campfield, Paul Chomicki, Deron Miller
Caesar and his half brother Otto take on duties as Santa and his elf. However, the bodies begin to pile up when a fellow store Santa (CKY’s Deron Miller) develops a vendetta against them, and he soon turns Caesar’s list of Dinner guests into a list of Xmas-inspired victims! Features cult movie icons Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, Lloyd Kaufman, Joe Estevez, Felissa Rose and Robert Z’dar. Written by Anonymous
|Plot Keywords: holiday in title, punctuation in title, apostrophe in title, killer santa claus, character name in title|
Release Date: 30 June 2012 (USA)
Despite what some might have you believe, comedy is a fairly personal experience. I've said it before: what one person finds funny isn't necessarily what another person finds funny. As a result, it's an increasingly difficult narrative to tap that is unless you're willing to go backward in time to go with what's been tried and true for years. Shtick. Some folks will call it slapstick. Others will call it bloated wordplay or puns. Whatever it is, it works, and that's what's at the heart of CAESAR & OTTO'S DEADLY XMAS. Yes, some of its bloody. Sure, some of it's a bit gruesome. But it's all done in the spirit of "getting a laugh." On that front, the film works just fine.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you're the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I'd encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you're accepting of a few modest hints at 'things to come,' then read on )
From the slipcase: "Caesar and his half-brother Otto take on duties at Xmas Enterprises as Santa and his elf. However, the bodies begin to pile up when a fellow store Santa (CKY's Deron Miller) develops a vendetta against them, and he soon turns Caesar's list of cancelled Thanksgiving Dinner guests into a list of Xmas-inspired victims! A cross between Scary Movie and Silent Night Deadly Night, C&O's Deadly Xmas takes the Christmas slasher into all new gruesome and hilarious territory."
There's really no reason to spend all that much time dissecting DEADLY XMAS. This is cinema shtick meant for folks who enjoy cinema shtick. While I'll be the first to admit it may not be what I find all that funny, I certainly would never begrudge anyone who enjoys it. There's plenty in here to smile about; and, if it's laughs you're looking for, then I've no doubt you'll find 'em. Much of it is fairly traditional vaudeville style humor some of the jokes you can see coming a mile away not because of the script predictability, per se, but because it's a natural part and parcel of characters like this. Odds are, if you've fond antics funny before, then you'll find them funny again.
The characters of Caesar & Otto are the creation of Dave Campfield and Joe Randazzo. Campfield is one of the film's stars (Caesar himself), so there's no one who knows his misadventures better.
And don't miss scream queen Linnea Quigley in a clever bit for laughs just in time for the holidays!
CAESAR & OTTO'S DEADLY XMAS (2012) is produced by Wild Eye Releasing and Fourth Horizon Cinema. DVD distribution is being handled by MVD Visual, A Division of MVD Entertainment Group. As for the technical specifications? Well, this is an independent feature, so it looks and sounds about as well as the next indie feature you'll likely see today audio was a bit muffled at times, probably due to production restraints, but it wasn't all that distracting. As for special features? Dave Campfield and his band of lunatics have ponied up a veritable bonanza for fans: there are three separate commentary tracks; a behind-the- scenes documentary; some alternate scenes; and three (count 'em!) short films that'll likely bring you equal laughs and smiles. Seriously, it's a nice collection, clearly put together by folks who love what they do.
RECOMMENDED. Look, if slapstick is your thing, then you're likely to love CAESAR & OTTO'S DEADLY XMAS. If you even just like fairly broad comic shtick, then you'll probably like it. To be honest, it just isn't my thing never has been. I tend to like humor a bit different than the average THREE STOOGES' short, but I don't begrudge anyone his or her particular chuckles. Writer/director/star Dave Campfield has a particular eye and ear for this particular comedy, and it probably plays well to most in the audiences; his script is always smart though perhaps a bit predictable but, as indie fare goes, there's nothing wrong with it. Turn off your brain and enjoy the holidays, folks even if it's a bit bloodier than the one you had last year!
In the interests of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the fine folks at MVD Visual provided me with a DVD copy of CAESAR & OTTO'S DEADLY XMAS by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
Two Christmases ago, I reviewed an amiable little horror film called Caesar and Otto's Summer Camp Massacre, the first feature-length directorial effort of Dave Campfield. The film was a big gift in a small package, combining hilarity within setups, nicely-done practical horror effects, and a pleasant buddy chemistry akin to that of Abbott and Costello. The concluding title of the film blatantly told us that a "deadly XMas" would be on the way and that these characters weren't going anywhere.
So here is Caesar and Otto's Deadly XMas, an equally fun little trip down the lane of low-budget horror that never ceases to surprise me. In a wake of horror films such as Mega Piranha and Sharknado – films that belong in the gutter and don't try to rise above their already ludicrous setups – a franchise like Caesar and Otto is a silver lining because it showcases film-lovers making film. The two stars, Campfield and Paul Chomicki, clearly have a fondness for campy, eighties horror and these films are showcases of how that kind of style can be exemplified in the present. If anything, they provide young film-lovers with the ambition and the mindset that they themselves can make exactly what they love to watch.
Campfield and Chomicki reprise their roles as Caesar and Otto, respectively, who arrive at a local Santa-recruitment center, prepared to tackle the job of being Santa and an elf this Christmas. However, in the midst of throwing a party that many backed out on last minute, Caesar's list of people who couldn't go to the party gets snatched up by a man dressed like Santa Claus on a murderous rampage (CKY bandmember Deron Miller). Immediately, this is a huge homage to Silent Night, Deadly Night, a controversial eighties classic that has found heavy admiration from fans of eighties horror. Now Caesar and Otto must avoid but also try to capture the murderer, and discover that Christmas and XMas are not interchangeable terms as they so taught.
Special appearances by horror actors, much like in the film's predecessor, are very common, with people like Troma's founder Lloyd Kaufman, Sleepaway Camp's Felissa Rose, scream-queen Linnea Quigley, and Martin Sheen's brother Joe Estevez turn up rather frequently, giving genre-devotees something to play along with while watching the film. The film's content, on the other hand, is a mix of horror and comedy, a mix that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't in the broad spectrum of the genre. In just seventy-nine minutes (eighty-three if you count the credit cookies, including one that pays tribute to a scene any horror fan would know in an instant), the film hurls many jokes at its audience, some falling flat, some warranting warm, nostalgic smiles, and others warranting big laughs.
Consider the scene where Caesar and Otto are trying out for the position as a Santa and need to pretend a small doll is a real child. Otto's corny but charming scene of falling in love with the doll clicks on-sight because of Chomicki's timing, along with Campfield's tryout as Caesar, who plays jittery and nervous in a way that works largely because of its timing.
The special effects, once more, are all done practically, with no CGI to speak of. All the blood is detailed naturally and added on in a way that is believable to look at. By doing this, the duo accentuate that the film was actually a good time to make, decorating each other with buckets of fake blood and red-paint, rather than adding much of the magic in post-production. This kind of close-to-home campiness is what we need more of in the horror genre and Campfield illustrates that by showing the wonders it can work.
The film concludes, once more, by giving us blatant insight into the future, this time telling us that Caesar and Otto's Paranormal Halloween is in the works. I like this idea for two reasons. One, because this is a holiday the duo could have a lot of fun with, and, two, if I can assume the film will go out of its way to parody the Paranormal Activity franchise, I have faith that the duo of Caesar and Otto can bring funnier parody material of the franchise than the what has been brought to the table within the last few years. I'd gladly drop money on this project than the forthcoming A Haunted House 2. At least this film knows what it wants to be and has humor and wit to back up its antics.
Starring: Dave Campfield, Paul Chomicki, Deron Miller, Lloyd Kaufman, Felissa Rose, Linnea Quigley, and Joe Estevez. Directed by: Dave Campfield.
Cranky Caesar (a delightfully manic turn by writer/director David Campfield) and his lovable oaf half brother Otto (an engaging performance by Paul Chomicki) find work for the corporation Xmas Enrterprises as Santa and his elf. However, unhinged fellow Santa Demian (a gloriously deranged portrayal by Deron Miller) develops a vendetta against the daffy duo and decides to gruesomely bump off various folks that they know. Campfield relates the enjoyably screwball story at a snappy pace, maintains an amiable tongue-in-cheek tone throughout, delivers oodles of outrageous over-the-top gore, and milks plenty of huge belly laughs from the hysterical sense of good-natured off the wall humor, with the great gonzo climax in particular rating as an absolute sidesplitting riot. Moreover, Campbell not only pokes merry fun at cornball slasher clichés and the immortal sicko Santa slice'n'dice classic "Silent Night, Deadly Night," but also tosses in a spot-on wicked caricature of Dr. Phil and parodies the infamous garbage day scene from the second "Silent Night, Deadly Night" outing for good measure. This film further benefits from neat cameo appearances by familiar genre names Linnea Quigley (as a washed-up scream queen turned agent), Brinke Stevens, Lloyd Kaufman (in a perfectly loopy send-up of the nutty grandpa from the first "Silent Night, Deadly Night"), Joe Estevez, Felissa Rose, Shawn C. Phillips, Debbie Rochon, and even Robert Z'Dar in a surprise ending credits bit as himself. Joey Rassool's slick cinematography makes snazzy use of split screen and overlapping visuals. Kevin MacLeod's bouncy score hits the spirited spot. An absolute hoot.