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An Interview with Craig Anderson, Director of Red Christmas

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2017

Films directed by Craig Anderson on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Red Christmas - in a few words, what is it about?

 

A Christmas with the family goes horribly wrong when a hooded stranger reveals a horrible family secret.

 

How did the project fall together in the first place, and how did you get genre legend Dee Wallace not only to star in it but also produce it?

 

I approached Dee through the writer Lee Gambin who was working on a fantastic book all about Cujo. She read my script and loved it. After one Skype call with Dee, we both wanted to work on the project together and I decided to make Dee a producer because of the amazing cinematic knowledge she was bringing to the table.

 

What were your sources of inspiration when writing Red Christmas?

 

I love the 1974 proto-slasher Black Christmas and wanted to write a film that spoke to that film and explored the ‘final girl’ at the other end of her life. It’s also one of the only horrors that deals with abortion, which is a big part of my film. Regarding that issue, I was also excited by Tony Kaye’s documentary Lake of Fire, which looks at the abortion discussion from many angles of entry.

 

Your personal worst Christmas experiences, and your thoughts about the holidays as such?

 

Once my father brought a stranger from church home for Christmas Day. He was a bizarre belligerent misogynist who made the entire Christmas lunch unbearable. As a ‘good Christian’ family, nobody asked him to leave, but in my movie, the family kicks him out and it leads to their inevitable downfall.

 

Going through your filmography, you've mostly done comedy prior to Red Christmas - so what made you try your hands on horror with this one, and is this a genre especially dear to you?

 

I love horror immensely and grew up as a ‘horror kid’. Growing up in Australia there were many more opportunities to make comedy, which I also loved, so I ended up doing comedy. But then I got tired of it and decided I wanted to do what I love.

 

So do talk about your movie's approach to horror for a bit?

 

I think humor is a great lubricant for storytelling. I love tragi-comedies because they allow the audience to laugh at horrible ideas. When I came to making this horror I applied the same philosophy. Using humor to slowly introduce horrible ideas and at a certain point it becomes impossible to keep laughing at them and the true ‘horror’ kicks in. I also love horror films that deal with social issues and aren’t as interested in ‘titillating’ their audience with scares and atmosphere.

 

Red Christmas sure has its moments of quite creative bloody violence. So do talk about the gory bits in your movie for a bit, and how were they achieved?

 

I had made a comedy show called Double The Fist, which was full of spfx and comical violence. I learnt on that show that the build-up was more important then the actual impact/kill moment. So in Red Christmas I worked the deaths like a clown show, focusing on the build up and reactions of other characters to the deaths, rather than on the deaths themselves. Fortunately some of the deaths are quite gruesome so people remember them as gory, but there really is nothing nearly as gory as a modern day ‘torture porn’ film.

 

What can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

I often thought of it as a Greek tragedy where there was a misunderstanding that led to tragedy - as opposed to a good person and a bad person pitted against each other. That’s also the stance I take on the abortion debate. I think it’s ludicrous to deny women access to health care, but I also think that abortions are a deeply personal issue with no wrong or right answer.

 

Red Christmas was shot in mostly one location - so do talk about your location for a bit, and how limiting or in fact liberating was that for you as a filmmaker?

 

One location is a dream. Everything is contained to a house so it made the days shorter and the budget cheaper. Literally that’s it. I have no wanky director philosophy behind it.

 

Do talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?

 

Besides Dee, most of the cast were comic actors from Australia. I love working with comic actors, because they are never thrown off by change, they are great at improvising and aren’t offended by out-landish ideas - which makes them perfect for horror on a budget.

 

A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

Being a guy who works on comedy, it was a fun set to be on with a real family atmosphere – literally (my family was catering and being production managers). It was a fantastic journey and the whole making of was captured by ABC Australia who are later this year premiering a series about the making of (Horror Movie: A Low Budget Nightmare).

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Red Christmas?

 

The film has been received well, some of the big guns liked it (Variety, LA Times, Scream Magazine) and others didn’t like it at all and claim that it’s not doing what horror is supposed to do. I find this conversation fascinating, because I think loads of horror fails because it panders to teenagers - like a theme park ride.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

I’m working on a sequel to this film set I college and it's all about MRAs, feminism and misogyny on campus. I’ve also written a very pandering “loud-bang-fest” based on the Korean urban myth of The Elevator Game.

 

What got you into making movies in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?

 

I studied theatre at college and fell into filmmaking through hands-on experiences. 

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Red Christmas?

 

In Australia the industry is small that specializing isn’t as common as learning how to do lots of different roles on set. So I’ve worked as an actor, first-AD, producer, editor and all manner of other roles that I think helped to educate me to the entire filmmaking process.

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

A comedian who works in the medium of film is a good way to put it. 

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

There are way too many too list, but for Red Christmas: Nora Ephron, Nancy Myers, Wes Craven, Dario Argento, Peter Jackson, Tony Kaye, Jill Soloway, Mario Bava [Mario Bava bio - click here].

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Again this is a very fluid list, but movies I was loving when I came to make this film: Black Christmas, Lake of Fire, The Family Stone, The Elephant Man, Hausu, Prom Night 2 - Hello Mary Lou, Suspiria, Funny Games, Mickey Mouse: Pluto’s Christmas Tree.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

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Every time I see a horror film where a woman is killed and it’s considered “hardcore” or “taboo” I cringe. I can’t think of anything more mainstream than killing a woman and it’s the most common act of violence on the planet. The ‘dark male psyche’ needs to move on, and start exploring other themes in horror. If you’re looking for taboo subjects to deal with, why not race, incest, abortion, misogyny, pedophilia, xenophobia, entitlement?

 

Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

I have 11,000 VHS tapes and I post images of the covers on instagram.com/craiganderson_vhs

I occasionally watch rare VHS and post my throughts and screengrabs on twitter.com/fibrecement

Red Christmas Facebook: facebook.com/RedChistmas/ 

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Nope.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Cheers J

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner

 

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