Kevin Smith‘s retirement seems like a moot point. Right now, the director has four projects in various stages of development: the walrus horror romp Tusk, the Christmas horror romp Comes the Krampus, the apocalyptic comedy Helena Handbag and Clerks 3, which Smith swears he’ll shoot, at some point — just not at any foreseeable point in the near future. Oh, also there’s Hit Somebody, which went from a movie to a six-hour miniseries, but hasn’t been mentioned much lately.
Tusk is already rolling towards a vague late-2014 release, which means it’s on to the next film in the great Kevin Smith retirement-o-rama. Which is Comes the Krampus.
Or was Comes the Krampus, anyway, because the film is no longer titled Comes the Krampus. Now, it’s the much more user-friendly The Anti-Claus. Probably a smart decision in the long run, given that the Krampus is less than a household name (excluding, of course, the rash of Austrian households with missing children and hoofprints in the foyer). Tell some schmoe on the street about Comes the Krampus, and chances are he’ll become confused and hostile. The Anti-Clause is more schmoe-friendly; it conveys that for every Santa, there is an equal and opposite evil Santa. Much like how The Santa Clause used Santa to teach us about emergency provisions in binding legal documents.
The name’s not all we’ve got, though as along with The Anti-Claus‘s spiffy new titling, it’s got a spiffy new cast. Which is not really “spiffy” or “new,” considering it’s the exact same cast from Tusk, but it’s a cast nonetheless. The Hollywood Reporter, responsible for the breaking of all this Krampus news, has Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez and Michael Parks all attached to the film. There’s also a touch of distribution info, in that Smith and XYZ Films will be selling their Christmas Krampus to international buyers at Cannes with the aid of some fun concept art, solidifying that Smith’s Krampus will, in fact, be an angry horned goat man.
But right now the name seems like the most eventful news, given that Smith has a tendency to re-use actors he has a fondness for. And now The Anti-Claus has a name that condenses the Krampus tradition into a neat package for all those who aren’t down with child-snatching goat men. Which, given his current representation in the mainstream media, is probably a lot of people.
Because this is all the Krampus has, right now:
- One episode of Supernatural (“A Very Supernatural Christmas”), in which the Krampus myth is boiled down and repackaged as two middle-class, Christmas-loving, body-snatching Pagan deities.
- One episode of Grimm (“Twelve Days of Krampus”), in which a man suffers amnesia and goes all Krampus-y, turning into a goat demon in a Santa suit and abducting children in a big sack.
- One episode of American Dad (“Minstrel Krampus”), with a fairly accurate Krampus myth, but also a hero Krampus and a traitorous Santa who shoots people with a candy cane revolver.
- One The Venture Bros. Christmas special (“A Very Venture Christmas), in which the Krampus punishes the wicked with his powers of sexual deviancy.
- One instance of Stephen Colbert being Krampused on The Colbert Report.
None of these TV appearances are really enough to vault the Krampus to the upper echelons of pop culture. Neither are his two film appearances, in Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale and Krampus: The Christmas Devil. The former is a Finnish import, and the latter a mega-low budget horror flick. Neither one’s going to be making a whole lot of waves here in the US of A.
But The Anti-Claus might be the hairy horned guy’s big break. Which is great news for all those Krampus enthusiasts out there. And slightly less great news for naughty children with a fear of being stuffed into a burlap sack.