My notes on the Christmas-themed horror film Slay Belles, out in the US December 4th.
‘The Adventure Girls’ – Dahlia (Susan Slaughter) and Sadie (Hannah Wagner) – persuade their marginally less adventurous friend Alexi (Kristina Klebe) to join them on the Christmas edition of their netcast spree series – accessing and exploring (ie: breaking and entering) the derelict Santa Land amusement park. Kitted out in sexy elf or snow maiden gear, the trio spend surprisingly little time prowling around the crumbling attraction – abandoned theme parks are always creepy – before wild and crazy supernatural shenanigans ensue. The seemingly zoned-out old biker type (Barry Bostwick) who owns the place turns out to be the real Santa – semi-retired in the modern era – and his evil counterpart Krampus – who has been racking up quite a few screen appearances in recent years – is on the loose, ripping up naughty and nice children and adults.
There’s a little padding in cutraways to the inept local sheriff’s department – and interventions from a forest ranger (Stephen Lunsford) and a local barmaid (Diane Salinger) who turns out to be ‘Santa’s crazy ex’ – but it’s mostly a runaround with one-liners, an impressive horned monster (with a Borowczyk/Beast-stype phallus), and quite a bit of blood spatter on cleavage … though for all the gruesome stuff and pin-up posing, this is rather an innocent, uncynical Christmas horror. Scripted by producer Jessica Luhrssen and director Spooky Dan Walker, this ramshackle seasonal romp was lucky enough to land veteran Bostwick as a funny, crazy, grouchy yet sweet Santa – who has a Corsican Brothers-type connection with his evil counterpart – and canny enough to let the rest of the enthusiastic cast play off him. Salinger, who also has a long cult career, is strong in a smaller role, offering a radical reenvisioning of ‘Mrs Claus’.
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