What if we misinterpreted exactly what Christmas was all about? What if instead of being the celebration of Christ’s birth, Christmas was actually the day of recognition of the suffering of human beings? Pretty heavy stuff, eh? In the holiday horror film, CAESAR & OTTO’S DEADLY XMAS, director and co-writer Dave Campfield flirts with this idea but the tone of this film is much too lighthearted to really delve into this dark theme. CAESAR & OTTO’S DEADLY XMAS is no doubt played more for laughs accented by scenes of gore than it is a serious holiday horror flick. But have no fear this is a funny, gory flick that’s a welcome addition to my collection of Holiday Horrors.
If the names “Caesar and Otto” sound familiar than that means you’ve been paying attention. Caesar and Otto are the stars of three films (CAESAR & OTTO, CAESAR & OTTO’S SUMMER CAMP MASSACRE, and the film I’m reviewing now) and two short films (CAESAR & OTTO IN THE HOUSE OF DRACULA and CAESAR & OTTO MEET DRACULA’S LAWYER). DEADLY XMAS is the latest of this duo’s antics and I must say that the writing, acting, and overall execution has gotten a lot better. A lot. I reviewed CAESAR & OTTO’S SUMMER CAMP MASSACRE back in 2011 and really hated it (my review). So when this screener came in the mail I was pretty hesitant. But being that I’m a sucker for a holiday horror film I popped it in and was pleasantly surprised. The overall production values have gotten better and the actors playing the titular characters look more comfortable in their skins/roles.
At it’s simplest, CAESAR & OTTO’S DEADLY XMAS is about Caesar (Dave Campfield) and Otto (Paul Chomicki), half-brothers who find themselves playing Santa and Rudolph during the holidays. Unfortunately they piss off another department store Santa who starts killing off all their friends (the killer Santa got a hold of Caesar and Otto’s Thanksgiving invite list). But what could’ve been a run-of-the-mill Santa slasher becomes more as a cult of Satanists come into the plot (this is where the aforementioned idea of Xmas being a day of suffering comes in).
The cast reads like a Who’s Who of the indie horror world. Supporting victims … er, I mean cast includes Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, Felissa Rose, Joe Esteves, Deron Miller, Robert Z’dar, Lloyd Kaufman, and Debbie Rochon. Most have small roles and some are introduced just long enough to kill them off, but it’s a lot of fun seeing so many familiar faces in one film. Sure the acting is a little uneven at times and there’s more than one occasion where we get some overacting, but it actually fits the tone of the overall film. Nothing here is meant to be taken seriously. This is just a fun film that spoofs previous killer Santa flicks. Specifically CAESAR & OTTO’S DEADLY XMAS lampoons SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, and there’s nothing subtle about it. There’s entire scenes from the 1984 classic film lifted and placed smack into Caesar and Otto’s world. The scene where the grandfather in the old folk’s home scares the shit out of his grandson is reenacted here using Lloyd Kaufman as the batty old man. We also get to see an updated version of Linnea Quigley’s death scene from SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, which will have you standing up and cheering.
This film is full of fun death scenes as the killer Santa (Deron Miller) hacks his way through Caesar and Otto’s friends. Quigley, who plays Caesar’s talent agent who he pays, has a hilarious exchange before her death:
Killer Santa: Why aren’t you out there acting?
Linnea Quigley: I got blacklisted
Killer Santa: What’d ya do?
Linnea Quigley: I turned 40
But perhaps my favorite character is Caesar and Otto’s friend Drew (Avi K. Garg). Drew is an uber-optimistic guy who, no matter how much he gets beaten and hacked up, always keeps his sunny attitude and disposition.
Besides the above mentioned bits of overacting, there’s also a few spots where the audio was a little muddled and hard to hear, but that’s just nitpicking. CAESAR & OTTO’S DEADLY XMAS definitely won’t be for everyone. It’s full of slapstick humor that would make the Three Stooges themselves smile and there’s also plenty of puns and references to other horror movies that’ll keep you on your toes. If you don’t go into this one picking it a part then you’ll have a good time. Who says a holiday horror film has to be all serious and stuff? Pop this baby in, get yourself some eggnog or wassail (whatever the hell that is), and have some fun.
Director: Dave Campfield (& co-writer with Joe Randazzo)
Plot: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 6.5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer
And in case you’re curious, there will be another CAESAR & OTTO film. After the credits we get this message: