The Krampus: A Retrospective

Krampus! By Brian Joines and Dean Kotz

krampu, christmas, history, movie

A comic miniseries released in 2014, this interpretation seems to be relatively well-received by readers. Krampus has been sealed away for years by the Secret Society of Santa Clauses. When he is mysteriously freed of his bonds, it’s up to Krampus to save Christmas. While I haven’t been able to personally read this, it does seem like it might be worth a skim

Krampiness: N/A, but not too promising

“A Very Venture Christmas” – The Venture Bros. Season 1

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The Venture Brothers displays a deep love of 20th century popular culture in nearly every frame, and this holiday special is no exception. Within the first two minutes, you’ll be treated to references to all your favorite holiday specials and the story hasn’t even kicked in. The run time is a compact 12 minutes and the story is served well within that time. Dr. Rusty Venture wakes from a dream on Christmas Eve morning, prior to hosting an annual soiree at his super science compound. His arch rival, The Monarch is plotting to kill him, and his boys are scheming to get themselves the presents they want. While the party is in full swing, the boys run across an ancient book left unattended by the resident necromancer Dr. Byron Orpheus (he’s pretty much Doctor Strange). Upon reading an incantation, the boys summon everybody’s favorite punisher of the wicked, Krampus himself. He wanders around the party, seeking the naughtiest of the bunch until he lays eyes on Rusty and focusing all his attention on him and punishes the crap out of him. This is another great episode with excellent pacing and comedy. If you haven’t watched the Venture Brothers yet (are you here by accident?) and are interested in the Krampus, this would be a great place to start.

Krampiness: 7/10, some inconsistencies regarding the mythos, but it’s the most accurate depiction I’ve seen

“A Krampus Carol” – The League

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The League, in the most elementary description, is a comedy about a fantasy football league and the life events affecting its members. The show is pure comedy and doesn’t bother with niceties, it’s like ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’, but with children and day jobs. This episode’s Krampus tie comes from the most irresponsible character, Taco, visiting the local mall and trying to persuade the manager that Krampus should accompany the mall’s Santa Claus. The show in general is very funny, and I’d recommend this episode on the basis that it features both Jeff Goldblum and Bob Odenkirk in memorable bit parts.

Krampiness: 2/10, some discussion about the creature himself and the lore, but the portrayal is way off

Krampus, Directed by Michael Dougherty

krampu, christmas, history, movie

Oh boy. I hung a lot of expectations on this movie before seeing it, and I do not think that served me well at all. The story centers on a family of suburbanites at Christmas (parents played by Adam Scott and Toni Colette), lamenting the trappings of modern holidays. As their extended family (David Koechner and Allison Tolman, with Conchata Ferrell) comes to stay from the rust belt with their kids in tow, the family takes jabs at each other, culminating in the central pre-teen son wishing that his family would disappear for Christmas. This of course seals his fate, and brings about the titular baddie, who bestows punishment by using an arsenal of murderous toys and minions.

To be fair to you, dear reader, let me tell you that this is a horror movie. It’s not a comedy, despite the cast. It’s not much of a Christmas movie, either. To me, it seemed as though this film does try to check the boxes for all three of those categories, but ends up falling flat. I didn’t think it was scary, funny, or Christmas-y enough. It just doesn’t deliver on a strong premise. It did engage me for the duration, and I’d say that if you’re inclined to want to see a horror film that takes place at Christmas or a film about the Kramp himself, see this at least once. Unfortunately, I just can’t see this becoming a yearly watch for most folks.

Krampiness: 5/10, This film does uphold key elements of the myth, but makes odd concessions that it really doesn’t have to

Belsnickel Bonus Pick-le: “Dwight Christmas” – The Office (U.S.)

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Part of the charm of the American version of The Office was the depth it added to every character in the titular location. One of the breakouts of the series was Dwight K. Schrute, the pseudo Pennsylvania Dutch-raised antihero. This late series entry is a great example of why the series endured and serves as a good holiday special in general. The office party planning committee forgot to plan a Christmas event, and they open the floor to suggestions for a quick substitute. A few options are given before Dwight mentions a traditional Schrute Christmas. Jim, Dwight’s nemesis and office prankster, agrees whole-heartedly with this idea, knowing that he will only be working for half the day. Dwight is elated to introduce everyone to his traditions and even portrays the Belsnickel himself. There are some storyline elements that carried through the season in this episode, but they’re not invasive to the point that it would disrupt your viewing. I highly recommend this episode.

Belsnickelry – 8/10, as per usual, the show portrays Pennsylvania Dutch tradition somewhat accurately, allowing a latitude of Schrute family weirdness to seep in

Where will he go from here?

It’s hard to say. There doesn’t seem to be any Krampus-related entertainment news, such as a film sequel. I wouldn’t count him out of that realm just yet, however. He’s proven his staying power for hundreds of years. Certainly, we can expect many more years of Krampusnachts and Krampuslaufs. And just to make sure he’s not forgotten…

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Article by contributor Russ Schuckert.

One thought on “The Krampus: A Retrospective

  1. I love the Krampus from the show “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell” A creepy old man with onset dementia that eats children is always a hoot.

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