If you’ve ever been curious about Krampus, aka the anti-Santa Claus, the mythical being who punishes the bad kids around Christmas time instead of rewarding them with a Nintendo 64 – then here’s what you need to know. These are the definitive films and books you need to check out immediately over the holidays.
Krampus – What or who is this Krampus? He is a horned, half goat/demonic figure who punishes bad children during the holiday season in opposition to Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus) who rewards the good ones. The origins of Krampus are hazy, but they date back to pre-Christian times of a mythical figure who wants to uphold Pagan rituals and values, which would explain the bundles of sticks he thrashes little A-Hole kids with. Krampus is a scary looking half man, half goat monster who has been known to kidnap naughty children in order to eat them, or just scare them into learning the true values of the holiday season.
I’m fascinated with Krampus. I can’t get enough of Krampus – because he’s just the perfect foil to the over-commercialised Christmas season. He’s here to bring respect back to the horribly misguided youth of today and he’s doing so with a vengeance. I love it. Now onto your guide for the best Krampus films and reading material —
Director Michael Dougherty’s Krampus is my favorite incarnation of the character. From the man who brought traditional importance back to Halloween in his cult classic Trick R’ Treat, Dougherty has nailed the horror in Christmas and truly delivered what is hands down my favorite holiday film of the past several years. I dare say it could be the best Christmas horror film since Gremlins… The effects team in WETA created a hulking and powerful beast in designing Krampus (shout out to Wolf Cop effects mastermind Emersen Ziffle for his work on Krampus – watch the Blu-ray special features for his fascinating insight). Minor Spoiler – I wish, I WISH, we could have seen Krampus’ face, but instead we get this twisted dead man skin mask that he wears in order to mock Santa Claus. That in itself is so cool that I’m willing to forgive my curiosity of what he looks like.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
Director Jalmari Helander (Big Game) made a remarkably grim and delicious slice of Christmas horror with his secret Krampus flick Rare Exports… After a young boy in Finland discovers what appears to be an evil and probably cannibalistic Santa Claus out in the wild, we soon discover that this old wacky dude is only the beginning of a much more frightening discovery. Spoiler alert – All these naked bearded cannibals aren’t Santa(s) – they are elves, or minions to the beast that is Krampus. Once again, you won’t see Krampus’ face, but you’ll see the scale and horns and it is goddamn scary. Helander’s Finnish horror film is a must-see during the holidays and it’s such a bizarre and refreshing movie. Rare Exports is unlike anything else you’ll probably ever see during the holidays.
A Christmas Horror Story (2015), which features a segment where Krampus battles Santa himself amidst a collection of various holiday themed horror shorts all packed together. Bonus – William Shatner is in this movie and it isn’t all that bad considering how it could have turned out. I would recommend you start and end with this B-movie when it comes to Krampus in low-budget horror because every other Krampus feature aside from what I’ve featured here – is hot garbage.
Krampus The Yule Lord (2012)
I don’t read many books but when I do – Brom usually ranks high and his Krampus: The Yule Lord novel is a nasty bit of black comedy that somehow connects Krampus and Santa Claus into Norse mythology. The end results are magical and readers wind up on an adventure where Krampus and his goons try to take the holiday season back from a vicious Saint Nicholas, who apparently imprisoned Krampus in order to hide a terrible secret for centuries. Brom did a splendid job digging into the mythos of Krampus while connecting several dots that more than make sense considering the hazy history of the the anti-claus. I highly recommend this novel to anyone remotely interested in Krampus because it truly is one of – if not the best pieces of literature focused on the horned holiday demon.
Grant Morrison and Dan Mora’s Boom! Studios comic series which sort of acts like a Batman Begins twist on the Santa Claus story, integrates Krampus as the Joker to our hero/ eventual jolly fellow in the red suit. Krampus in this incarnation is more demonic than ever and did I mention Grant Morrison wrote it? When Grant Morrison writes something you pay attention and then you go to your local comic shop and ask them to add it to your pull list immediately. If you missed Klaus the first time, grab the gorgeous hardcover collected edition and see Krampus and Klaus go toe to toe.
Krampus! (2014) from Image Comics, writer Brian Joines and artist Dean Kotz. You don’t want to miss out on this hidden gem which has Krampus as an antihero on a mission to stop the Secret Society of Santa Clauses and he does so by flying around the world on his wolf Stutgaard, encountering various mythical figures of winter lore.