Okay, show of hands … who’s down for some savage naked Santa action? Good! We’re now just three little days away from the year’s biggest holiday season, and to celebrate the coming of Saint Nick (or whomever you believe in), we’ll be taking a look at a different yuletide horror flick each day until the 25th! Think of it as a cinema crazed Advent calendar!
I had every intention of putting Santa’s Slay in this spot for The Six Slays of Christmas. I had no doubt that the Bill Goldberg-fueled, Christmas-themed horror comedy would fit nicely on my list of six. That was until I did a bit of final research and stumbled upon a film that had previously slipped past my attention. And upon viewing Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, I knew it needed to be on this list. Santa’s Slay would have to wait.
This offering, imported from Finland, takes place in the stunning setting of Lapland, around the Korvatunturi, a mountain that overlooks the surrounding area and a key element of the film. As we arrive in the story, a group of excavators, under the guise of scientific testing, are actually digging and blasting into the mountain to find…something. We are given the information from the leader of the project that the mountain is actually a giant burial mound, and we eventually find out that they are digging for Santa Claus. But not the Santa we know and love. This one is more along the lines of the older Finnish legend of Joulupukki.
Very similar to the Austrian Christmas character Krampus, which we featured here at Dread Central a few weeks ago, the early Joulupukki (or Christmas Goat) didn’t initially bring gifts to good little boys and girls on Christmas Eve. He was an ugly creature who demanded gifts of his own and punished the bad boys and girls. And that’s what the excavators had discovered: the frozen, but living body of an evil Santa Claus, complete with his own army of scrawny, naked Santa’s Helpers.
Unfortunately for the villagers in the surrounding community, the excavation and coming of Santa Claus had some terrible effects on their lives. The herds of reindeer, which the locals use for their main source of income and food, have mysteriously died. Suddenly supplies are disappearing from their homes, most notably space heaters and burlap sacks. And then the children begin to go missing. Our heroes form their own tiny army and decide to take matters into their own hands as they see their simple way of life threatened by these outsiders. And that’s when the fun really starts.
The real strengths of Rare Exports are the emotion the film evokes and the amazing uniqueness of it. The story itself, which is an adaptation of director Jalmari Helander’s short film version of the tale, Rare Exports, Inc., centers around a young boy and his single-parent father. Their relationship is loving but strained, and you get an immediate emotional bond with the boy.
The setting of the film is absolutely incredible. The landscape of the Korvatunturi area, which Finnish children believe is the home of Joulupukki (who has adapted to be much friendly and almost identical to our Santa Claus these days), similar to our vision of the North Pole. The mountain views are amazing, and although the land is spacious, the openness actually gives off a feeling of being trapped, as if there is no one around to help and nowhere to turn if things suddenly go terribly wrong.
The film plays out in a wild, action-filled finale with a humorous final scene that puts an exclamation point on the tale. This film is incredibly entertaining, fresh and a true find for those who like a little something different for their entertainment dollar. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is a film which you may find becoming part of your holiday tradition, right alongside National Lampoon’s A Christmas Vacation and Santa’s Slay!
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