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"You Don't Want To Be On His List."
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Krampus is a 2015 horror comedy film co-written and directed by Michael Dougherty as a Spiritual Successor to his 2007 Cult Classic, Trick 'r Treat. The plot centers around the titular Krampus who searches and punishes people for their various misdeeds. His latest targets are a Dysfunctional Family whose spats cause the youngest son Max to lose faith in Christmas. Krampus, noticing Max’s disillusionment, unleashes demonic holiday icons on the family who must fight to survive.

The film was released on December 4th, 2015. Shortly before that a tie-in comic called Krampus: The Shadow of St. Nicholas was released.


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Tropes present in this movie:

  • Acrofatic: Krampus is a hulking mass. Though he walks slowly, he can also leap buildings in a single bound.
  • Adaptational Badass: The original legends mostly portray Krampus as a demon enslaved to St. Nicholas. Here, he is portrayed as his own separate entity who takes malicious glee in terrorizing the naughty.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In most of the original stories, terrifying as he is, Krampus is simply doing his duty - dealing with naughty children. Depending on the version, his partnership with Santa is either their own friendship or Teeth-Clenched Teamwork, with Santa having enslaved Krampus. This version of the character is a sadistic, cruel and demonic figure, with no acknowledged connections to Santa.
  • Adorable Evil Minions: The gingerbread men.
  • Adult Fear: This film really plays with a parent's fear of something terrible happening to their child and not being able to do anything about it, with Tom, Sarah, Linda, and Howard helpless to stop their children from being taken away by Krampus and his minions.
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  • Air-Vent Passageway: Several of Krampus' minions crawl about the vents of the Engel household.
  • The Alcoholic: Dorothy.
  • Antagonist Title: Well, the Big Bad is Krampus.
  • Anyone Can Die: Played horrifyingly straight...possibly.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Shepherd's gotta protect his flock."
    • "Keep the fire hot."
  • Art Shift: Omi's story of her own encounter with Krampus is presented with stop motion puppetry.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: Unlike most horror movies, the victims in this one fight back.
  • Asshole Victim: Krampus intends to make this out of Max's family due to them disrespecting the Christmas spirit. However, as things go from bad to worse some of the more unpleasant members of the Engel family (Howard and Linda) at least prove to have a few redeeming qualities after all.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Whether you accept the ending that Krampus has trapped them in the snow globe forever or put them through it all to teach them a lesson and is keeping an eye on them, the Trope applies.
  • Bad Santa: The mall Santa with whom the family takes a photo is seen in the picture clearly checking out Beth's ass. Note that this may or may not be the same drunken, Shell-Shocked Veteran mall Santa from the comic tie-in.
  • Badass Family: Be it through physical strength or strength of will, all the adults are shown to be capable of combating all the horror Krampus has in store this season. Before they eventually get battered enough that defeat is the only option...
  • Bag of Kidnapping: Used by Krampus to grab Omi
  • Bear Trap: Howard theorizes that the thing that grabbed him in the snow was a hidden bear trap. This is actually just to avoid panicking everyone.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The film features a demonic teddy bear.
  • Beast with a Human Face: Krampus's face looks more human than the traditional goat-like face he is given.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Max realizes this as Krampus gives him the bauble and it becomes clear that his despair and curses are the reason Krampus came.
  • Big Eater: Howie Jr. isn't interested in much else. During the argument at dinner, he focuses only on his food and doesn't notice the fight. A gingerbread cookie is suspiciously dangling from a chain in the fireplace and his first instinct is to go over and take a bite out of it.
  • Big Red Devil: Krampus has all the features, except, ironically, for being red. (Other than his clothes.)
  • Bilingual Dialogue: There's a lot of this, as Omi speaks almost entirely in German; but her family understands her fine, and she understands their English just as well.
  • Black Comedy: The film opens with crazed customers storming into a store for their holiday shopping, trampling over employees while Bing Crosby's "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" plays.
  • Cassandra Truth: Howard is the only one unfazed when Omi relates her own experience with Krampus.
  • Child Eater: Der Klown, the Jack-in-the-Box.
  • Child Hater: Aunt Dorothy, who says that she has never been able to stand kids, even when she was one. Her idea of keeping the kids occupied is to show them how to make peppermint schnapps, and let them have some. However, when the chips are down, she does show some protective instincts towards the children.
  • Chimney Entry: Unsurprisingly, Krampus' army of 'helpers' gains access to Max's house by coming down the chimney.
  • Companion Cube: Howard is devastated over the destruction of his Hummer, Lucinda. It was probably his biggest source of self-esteem apart from his kids.
  • Crappy Holidays: The plot is triggered by one of these.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The credits for the cast are shown as images in an advent calendar with creepy imagery. The remainder of the credits scroll alongside both awkward Christmas family photos and old artwork depicting Krampus,
  • Creepy Doll: The movie feature a killer teddy bear (Teddy), a killer jack-in-the-box (Der Klown), a killer demonic angel doll (Perchta), and a killer toy robot.
  • Creepy Long Fingers: The scene of Krampus caressing the face of Omi seems to be devoted to showing off his long fingers.
  • Dark Is Evil: Krampus is here portrayed as a Satan-esque demon. A notable contrast from his traditional literary counterpart.
  • Dark Reprise: The end credits are accompanied by a darker sounding "Carol of the Bells" with some rewriting of the lyrics.
  • Dead Hat Shot: When Howie, Jr. is yanked up the chimney by the Krampus, a single sneaker falls back down to his shocked family.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tom, Howard and last but not least, Aunt Dorothy.
  • Death of a Child: The film sets out its stall early on by having the teenage girl get killed first out of everyone, and eventually all of the kids die, including the baby. Granted, we don't actually see any of the main characters die, it's only implied. Best case scenario, they're alive and well despite being captured. The ending possibly subverts this. Possibly.
  • The Diaper Change: Happens offscreen after Howard brings his daughter in and hands her off to his wife, complaining that she pooped.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Cause a relative to lose their faith in Christmas? Everyone involved, aside from that relative, gets dragged into the underworld by the Krampus - even the baby and the dog. This can be especially unfair in the case of Omi's family. Omi lost her faith in Christmas as a child because her family was poor and suffering the aftermath of a terrible war, which neither she nor her parents could control. Even then, Omi's parents were still taken by the Krampus anyway. One can only hope that the end means that Krampus is just keeping an eye on them to make sure they never lose their Christmas spirit again.
    • If one believes the theory that the snowmen are the posed corpses of the neighbors, especially taking into consideration the destroyed, empty houses, then he went after completely innocent families who had nothing to do with the main characters.
  • The Dragon: Der Klown is the first Krampus helper to be unleashed and is by far the deadliest. Especially if you believe its serpent-like movements mean it is the creature slithering through the snow.
  • Dysfunctional Family: What Max's family start out as.
  • Eaten Alive: Jordan is swallowed whole by Der Klown. It can be surmised that Beth is as well, assuming the Jack-in-the-Boxes are one and the same. It may or may not also have happened to the dog Rosie.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Der Klown hugging one of the dark elves when they storm the house.
  • Evil Evolves: Implied. Along with versions of "classic" toys like a teddy bear, a jack in the box, and an angel doll, Krampus's helpers also include a modern-looking, electronic Killer Robot.
  • Eye Scream: The demonic bear Teddy gets stabbed in the eye with an icicle.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Omi stoically stares down Krampus once he emerges from the chimney.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Aunt Dorothy gives a resigned See You in Hell just before being dragged off.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Howard, when tasked with keeping watch.
  • The Fair Folk: The Elves are reminiscent of many interpretations of such.
  • Fallen Angel: Perchta the Cherub, the demonic angel doll that attacks Sarah.
  • Fat Bastard: Der Klown is rather plump once he swallows Jordan whole. Aunt Dorothy also comes off as a female example at first, but she gets better.
  • Feathered Fiend: The film features a killer demonic angel doll named Perchta.
  • Fingore: Not in the movie itself, but a demonic nutcracker does bite off a man's fingers in the graphic novel tie-in.
  • Flower Mouth: Der Klown the jack-in-the-box has a bottom jaw that splits into two.
  • For the Evulz: Krampus pretending (or maybe not) to be moved by Max's plea to Take Me Instead, only to laugh and throw him into Hell too seems to serve no purpose other than his own amusement.
    • Stevie and Jordan reading Max's letter out loud when it turns out all's he asking Santa is for his family to be happy while mocking Max about it.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: In the final scene of the movie, Krampus' dark elves and toys leap out towards the screen, screaming at the audience.
  • Gainax Ending: It initially seems like the events were All Just a Dream, only for it to turn out to be a reality when one of Krampus' baubles is discovered and everyone starts to slowly remember what happened. And then it turns out Krampus is watching them through a snowglobe, but it's unclear whether they're trapped in there to continuously be tormented or are merely being spied on.
    • The tie-in comic presents a similar happy ending, without the ambiguity. This makes it likely that Dougherty intended the more positive interpretation. Canonically Krampus is watching the family. They learned the lesson Krampus was sent to teach so he's obliged to let them off the hook for the lack of Christmas spirit and put everything back to the way it was. But should they slip up again the mercy they earned this time will not save them.
  • Genre Throwback: To 80s Amblin movies such as Poltergeist and Gremlins.
  • Giggling Villain: All of the creatures except for Krampus.
  • Gingerbread House: The Forward Operating Base of the the evil gingerbread men.
  • Ghost Town: The storm that Krampus and his helpers bring with them turns the neighborhood into one.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The death of the dog Rosie when she ventures into the vents to fight Der Klown.
  • Gun Nut: Howard and Linda both bring guns along to Christmas dinner. This turns out to be a very wise move on their part, as they prove to be deadly weapons against the Krampus's minions.
  • Gutted Like a Fish: Intended for Der Klown; at least, until Krampus's elves show up to save him.
  • A Handful for an Eye: During the fight at the Christmas recital, Max presses a handful of artificial snow into his opponent's eyes.
  • Heroic BSoD: Max's causes the Krampus to attack the family.
  • Heroic Dog: Howard's bulldog Rosie, at first, cowers at the strange goings on in the house. Then as the movie progresses and her family is slowly picked off she plays this trope straight.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Both Omi and Tom do this. After all is said and done, Max's final act against Krampus is to be asked to be taken to the Underworld in exchange for his family. Though that case is an Averted Trope despite the intent.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The sounds made by Der Klown are this incarnate.
  • Hidden Depths: Much of the family that seem either scared, annoying, spineless or useless get a lot of moments to kick butt... Not that it matters. Even the dog.
  • Hooks and Crooks: Krampus using a gingerbread impaled on the hook to lure Howie Jr. into the fireplace. Krampus is also shown to be utterly covered in all kinds of chains and hooks.
  • Hope Spot: Several near the end of the movie:
    • First, the family kills most of Krampus' monster minions, but before they can finish off Der Klown, the elves attack.
    • Then it appears that Max's plea to Take Me Instead has won Krampus over, only for him and his elves to start laughing, revealing they were just messing with him.
    • And finally, just when it looks like it was All Just a Dream, it's revealed that everything really did happen, and the family is trapped inside one of Krampus' snow globes. Possibly.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The story takes place on Christmas, and considering Krampus is associated with that holiday it makes sense.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Krampus is described as a several thousand-year-old demonic entity who delights in punishing and killing the naughty.
  • I Call It "Vera": Howard's beloved Hummer is named 'Lucinda'.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: One of Krampus' animated gingerbread men is impaled on a freezer door with a kitchen knife.
  • In a Single Bound: Krampus easily leaps from the roof of one house to another across the street from a standing start.
  • Infernal Retaliation: Happens when Howard lights the three psychopathic gingerbread men on fire. They still try to attack him, one of them almost killing him with a sharpened candy cane before Rosie noms it down.
  • Jerkass Realization: Jordan and Stevie gleefully read Max's letter to Santa out loud until they come to the part where he asks Santa to help out their family as they seem to be having financial trouble. But that only lasts until they see him asking that their father stop wanting them to be boys.
  • Jump Scare: While the movie generally avoids them, they indulge one big one two seconds before the credits roll.
  • Kick the Dog: A literal one happens when Der Klown kills the dog Rosie offscreen.
    • Krampus himself does this quite a bit:
      • First when he freezes the post delivery man for no apparent reason other than to get him out of the way.
      • Terrorizes Beth and leaves, after depositing a Jack-in-the-Box under the car to eat her.
      • It's revealed in the flashbacks that he stole Omi's family from her after they lost faith in Christmas during WWII, a truly dark time for pretty much everyone.
      • Before he sends Max to the underworld, he pretends to give in to his terms, and then makes an Evil Laugh as he tosses Max in the pit.
  • Kill 'Em All: Maybe.
  • Killer Teddy Bear
  • The Krampus: The main menace of this film. It's in the title.
  • Lamprey Mouth: Der Klown.
  • Lighter and Softer: It's PG-13. Compared to its spiritual predecessor, there's little gore or sexuality, and it has what can be interpreted as a happy ending.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Krampus may be imposingly large, but he can run and jump across rooftops with the speed and agility of a gazelle.
  • Living Toys: A teddy bear, a cherub doll, a Jack-in-the-Box, and a toy robot all come to life.
  • Logo Joke: The Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures logos are covered in ice and have snow falling over them.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The "elves."
  • Mama Bear: Linda gets her moment in the attic. Up until that point, she had been reasonably frightened and is struggling with the killer teddy bear. There seems to be no way out, but the sight of her daughter unconscious on the floor gives her the nerve to overpower the bear by stabbing it in the eye. She quickly grabs the axe and uses it to free Tom and Sarah from their tormentors, and makes a dash for the jack-in-the-box. She is sadly too late to catch it, but the fighting spirit is still there.
  • Mind Screw: The ending can be interpreted in several different ways... none of which are really pleasant.
  • Monster Clown: Der Klown, a monstrous jester with a split-open bottom jaw.
  • My Car Hates Me: Max and Stevie find that the abandoned snowplow won't start as they make their escape.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Howie Jr. looks identical to Charlie.
    • Max mentions wanting to watch Charlie Brown, which Billy Wilkins didn't want to do.
    • The robes and masks that the dark elves wear are reminiscent of what the undead kids from the bus looked like.
    • A deleted scene contained a reference to Warren Valley.
  • Nail 'Em: Three animate gingerbread men use a nail gun as a weapon.
  • Noodle Incident: Max's involvement in one is directly referenced, probably as a Shout-Out to Calvin and Hobbes
  • Nothing Is Scarier: We never do see what it is that drags people beneath the snow.
    • Aside from The delivery man, Jordan and Stevie, no characters are killed onscreen. They are merely dragged into the blizzard screaming.
    • We don't even see those deaths. We only see the delivery man after he's been frozen, Jordan was hinted at being swallowed whole, and Stevie was merely thrown into the pit.
  • Ominous Fog: More like ominous blizzard.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: Signals the appearance of the Jack-in-the-Box Krampus left for Beth while she was hiding under the delivery man's truck.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: Max wakes up, and, upon seeing none of his family seem to remember the incident, thinks it must've been a nightmare. Then, he receives the Krampus bell as a Christmas gift, and then slowly, the family seems to start remembering, shattering any ambiguity.
  • Overly Long Tongue: Krampus has one, seen disturbingly unfurling from his Santa mask to lick Max when he is grabbed in the snow.
  • Practical Effects: For most of the creatures in the film.
  • Precision F-Strike: Dorothy translating Omi in one scene. "She said we're fucked."
  • Rage Breaking Point: Max reaches his during the family's dinner, motivated by his older relatives constantly snipping at each other and his younger cousins reading his letter to Santa out loud. It leads to him screaming that he hates Christmas and everyone else.
  • Real After All: The ending starts off seeming like the movie was All Just a Dream, until Max gets a ornament from Krampus.
  • Reality Ensues: During the climax, the family attempts to escape in a snowplow... which has been abandoned with the lights on and the keys in the ignition for three days in a blizzard. When they try to start the engine, the battery is, of course, stone dead.
  • Retraux: The film is produced with this in mind, such as favoring practical effects over CG. The poster helps convey this feel.
  • Scary Jack-in-the-Box: The Jack inside is a worm-like monstrosity named Der Klown that swallows children whole.
  • See You in Hell: Aunt Dorothy says this right before Krampus' elves drag her off.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Omi, for having Krampus take away her family and nearly Max, until the ending.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Howard possesses one and Aunt Dorothy takes out the teddy bear and the cherub with it. Later, Tom uses it against the underground snow beast.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The scene of the demonic toys breaking out of their presents is very similar to the discarded cocoons found in Gremlins.
    • That being said for fans of Full Moon Features there is an interesting observation that the attack in the attic has an analog to each of the four original Demonic Toys. Both containing a clown jack-in-thebox, a teddy bear with teeth, a killer robot, and some doll that appears cute and girly but is really deadly (in this movie it's a Christmas angel and in Demonic Toys it's a baby doll)
    • Along with the aforementioned Noodle Incident reference to Calvin and Hobbes, the myriad of creepy snowmen that steadily begins growing outside is reminiscent of Calvin's Killer Monster Snow Goons.
    • Max has Gypsy Danger and Leatherback toys on his desk, and has posters with Rick and Robot Chicken on the walls of his room.
  • Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: Many moments involving adorable instruments of destruction. Some of the deaths are (initially) played for laughs.
  • Something We Forgot: Howard and Linda are in the Engels' house for several minutes before Tommy points out that they appear to be a child short, and they realise they have left their baby daughter in the truck.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" plays over a montage of aggressive shoppers and fighting children.
    • Despite the power being out, the radio comes alive to play "Up On The Housetop" as Krampus finally comes down the chimney.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Keep believing in Christmas or everybody dies.
  • The Speechless: Howie Jr. doesn't speak, though a reason isn't given why.
  • Spiritual Successor:
  • Swallowed Whole: Jordan is swallowed whole by Der Klown. The adults arrive in the attic in time to see her boots disappearing into Der Klown's mouth.
  • Tactful Translation: Inverted.
    Omi: (German sentence)
    Jordan: What's she saying?
    Max: I'm not sure.
    Aunt Dorthy: She says we're fucked.
    Omi: (Shrugs) Eh.
  • Take Me Instead: In the climax, Max pleads with Krampus to spare his family and take him; Krampus doesn't listen... or maybe he did.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Howie Jr. tends to stare awkwardly at everybody.
  • Tomboy: Jordan and Stevie, Howard's twin daughters
  • Too Dumb to Live: Howie Jr. getting pulled into the fireplace, who obviously did not think seeing a gingerbread man on a large hook dangling from a dark chimney might be a bad thing.
  • Toyota Tripwire: Max slams one of the elves with the door of the snowplough as he and Stevie escape.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: In this case, it's the poster used for the page image, which shows the snow globe with Max's house inside it, one of the very last scenes in the film.
  • Translation: "Yes": When Max asks Omi if they're going to be all right, she responds with a reasonably long phrase in unsubtitled German, which Max doesn't understand. When he asks her to explain, Aunt Dorothy helpfully condenses it to "She said we're fucked", to which Omi merely shrugs in agreement.
  • Worm Sign: The unseen snow monster leaves behind a trail of raised snow behind it.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Tom's reaction to seeing Der Klown.
    "Oh, come on."
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Tommy does this; standing in the middle of the road with a shotgun to hold off the thing under snow long enough for his family to make it to the snowplough.


 
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Krampus

The Krampus has come to take Max's family after he has lost faith in the holidays.

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