Rachael​’s​ ​Q&A With​ ​Visionary​ ​Director, Craig​ ​Anderson: Red Christmas

Rachael​’s​ ​Q&A With​ ​Visionary​ ​Director, Craig​ ​Anderson: Red Christmas

red christmas, dee wallace, craig anderson,

Typically​ ​during​ ​the​ ​steamy​ ​summer​ ​months,​ ​us​ ​horror​ ​fans​ ​can​ ​look​ ​forward to​ ​a​ ​plethora​ ​of​ ​slashers,​ ​cabin​ ​getaways​ ​and​ ​vacationing​ ​nightmares​ ​on​ ​the big​ ​screen.​ ​By​ ​autumn,​ ​we’re​ ​happily​ ​moving​ ​on​ ​to​ ​reliving​ ​our​ ​favorite seasonal​ ​classics,​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​the​ ​inevitable​ ​Halloween​ ​release​ ​schedule​ ​before cozying​ ​up​ ​inside​ ​with​ ​haunting​ ​holiday​ ​horrors​ ​in​ ​the​ ​winter.​ ​At​ ​least,​ ​that​ ​was the​ ​status​ ​quo​ ​until​ ​Australian​ ​director​ ​Craig​ ​Anderson​ ​broke​ ​all​ ​the​ ​rules​ ​with this​ ​passed​ ​summer,​ ​2017,​ ​slasher​ ​flick​ ​​Red​ ​Christmas.​

 

Starring​ ​iconic​ ​scream​ ​queen​ ​and​ ​spiritual​ ​guru​ ​Dee​ ​Wallace​ ​(​The​ ​Hills​ ​Have Eyes,​ ​E.T.​),​ ​​Red​ ​Christmas​​ ​is​ ​a​ ​strong​ ​yet​ ​unbiased​ ​commentary​ ​on​ ​abortion with​ ​the​ ​blended​ ​aesthetics​ ​of​ ​slashers,​ ​classic​ ​Greek​ ​tragedies​ ​and​ ​black comedy.

A​ ​profoundly​ ​intelligent​ ​and​ ​moving​ ​film,​ ​Anderson​ ​explores​ ​the​ ​most​ ​absurd scenarios​ ​involving​ ​the​ ​unforeseen​ ​dangers​ ​those​ ​with​ ​pro-choice​ ​views​ ​could face.​ ​With​ ​an​ ​honest​ ​empathy​ ​for​ ​those​ ​living​ ​with​ ​Down​ ​syndrome​ ​and​ ​the obstacles​ ​and​ ​stigmas​ ​they​ ​face,​ ​​Red​ ​Christmas​​ ​breaks​​ ​​the​ ​cookie-cutter mold​ ​by​ ​casting​ ​Gerard​ ​O’dwyer​ ​(who​ ​is​ ​living​ ​with​ ​Down​ ​syndrome​ ​himself) as​ ​both​ ​its​ ​hero​ ​and​ ​studly​ ​knight​ ​in​ ​shining​ ​armour,​ ​Jerry.

As​ ​a​ ​fan​ ​of​ ​the​ ​film​ ​myself,​ ​I​ ​might​ ​even​ ​go​ ​so​ ​far​ ​as​ ​to​ ​saying​ ​​Red​ ​Christmas just​ ​may​ ​have​ ​replaced​ S​​ilent​ ​Night,​ ​Deadly​ ​Night​​ ​as​ ​my​ ​go-to​ ​Christmas horror​ ​movie.​ ​Sitting​ ​down​ ​for​ ​a​ ​Q&A​ ​with​ ​writer​ ​and​ ​director​ ​Craig​ ​Anderson, we​ ​discuss​ ​the​ ​motives​ ​and​ ​underlying​ ​themes​ ​behind​ ​his​ ​summertime slasher,​ R​​ed​ ​Christmas.

Rachael​ ​Rumancek’s​ ​Q&A With​ ​Visionary​ ​Director, Craig​ ​Anderson:

 

RR:​ ​First​ ​off​ ​I​ ​have​ ​just​ ​got​ ​to​ ​know,​ ​why​ ​did​ ​you​ ​choose​ ​the​ ​summer​ ​for​ ​the Red​ ​Christmas​​ ​release,​ ​as​ ​opposed​ ​to​ ​winter?

In​ ​Australia,​ ​where​ ​the​ ​film​ ​is​ ​set,​ ​our​ ​seasons​ ​are​ ​reversed​ ​so​ ​Christmas​ ​is always​ ​real​ ​hot.​ ​I​ ​thought​ ​of​ ​changing​ ​it​ ​to​ ​match​ ​the​ ​Northern​ ​Hemisphere,​ ​but then​ ​the​ ​Australian​ ​audience​ ​would​ ​think​ ​it​ ​was​ ​insincere​ ​and​ ​probably​ ​reject​ ​it. So​ ​I’m​ ​stuck​ ​with​ ​a​ ​hot​ ​Christmas,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​what​ ​I’ve​ ​been​ ​stuck​ ​with​ ​my​ ​whole life.

RR:​ ​The​ ​characters​ ​are​ ​all​ ​very​ ​unique​ ​and​ ​individually​ ​crafted​ ​away​ ​from horror​ ​stereotypes.​ ​Were​ ​any​ ​of​ ​the​ ​characters​ ​written​ ​specifically​ ​with​ ​any of​ ​the​ ​actors​ ​in​ ​mind?

Apart​ ​from​ ​the​ ​sensational​ ​Dee​ ​Wallace,​ ​most​ ​of​ ​the​ ​characters​ ​were​ ​written with​ ​actors​ ​in​ ​mind,​ ​because​ ​I​ ​had​ ​worked​ ​with​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​them​ ​on​ ​Australian​ ​TV comedy.​ ​From​ ​the​ ​start,​ ​I​ ​had​ ​always​ ​written​ ​Gerard​ ​O’Dwyer​ ​into​ ​the​ ​script.​ ​He was​ ​born​ ​with​ ​Down​ ​syndrome,​ ​but​ ​it​ ​doesn’t​ ​define​ ​him,​ ​and​ ​I’ve​ ​worked​ ​with him​ ​on​ ​projects​ ​for​ ​over​ ​a​ ​decade.

RR:​ ​Gerard’s​ ​performance​ ​was​ ​outstanding.​ ​He​ ​was​ ​both​ ​lovingly​ ​goofy​ ​yet fierce​ ​and​ ​unwavering​ ​when​ ​defending​ ​his​ ​family.​ ​Was​ ​his​ ​character​ ​inspired by,​ ​or​ ​meant​ ​to​ ​emulate,​ ​anyone​ ​in​ ​particular?

Well,​ ​having​ ​written​ ​for​ ​Gerry​ ​in​ ​mind,​ ​it​ ​was​ ​easy​ ​just​ ​to​ ​change​ ​one​ ​letter​ ​whist writing.​ ​When​ ​I​ ​asked​ ​him​ ​to​ ​be​ ​in​ ​it,​ ​we​ ​talked​ ​about​ ​the​ ​name​ ​coming​ ​from Jerry​ ​Lewis,​ ​because​ ​Gerard​ ​and​ ​I​ ​had​ ​once​ ​done​ ​a​ ​clowning​ ​routine​ ​which featured​ ​Lewis’​ ​famous​ ​mime​ ​typewriter​ ​routine.

RR:​​ W​​ithout​ ​giving​ ​away​ ​too​ ​much​ ​away,​ ​Jerry​ ​eventually​ ​faces​ ​off​ ​against the​ ​hooded​ ​intruder​ ​who​ ​introduces​ ​himself​ ​as​ ​Cletus.​ ​Although​ ​Cletus​ ​is clashing​ ​with​ ​Jerry,​ ​he​ ​isn’t​ ​necessarily​ ​an​ ​evil​ ​person.​ ​When​ ​writing​ ​his​ ​part did​ ​you​ ​envision​ ​him​ ​as​ ​bad​ ​guy​ ​or​ ​something​ ​different​ ​altogether?

Great​ ​question.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​always​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​present​ ​different​ ​sides​ ​of​ ​the​ ​abortion debate​ ​and​ ​treated​ ​the​ ​film​ ​as​ ​if​ ​it​ ​was​ ​a​ ​Greek​ ​tragedy,​ ​where​ ​two​ ​people​ ​have a​ ​failure​ ​to​ ​communicate​ ​and​ ​end​ ​up​ ​destroying​ ​each​ ​other.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​also​ ​very sympathetic​ ​to​ ​whichever​ ​actor​ ​I​ ​was​ ​talking​ ​to​ ​at​ ​the​ ​time,​ ​letting​ ​both​ ​Dee Wallace​ ​(Diane)​ ​and​ ​Sam​ ​Campbell​ ​(Cletus)​ ​feel​ ​as​ ​if​ ​it​ ​was​ ​their​ ​story,​ ​and​ ​they were​ ​justified​ ​in​ ​their​ ​actions.​ ​Regarding​ ​good​ ​or​ ​bad,​ ​Cletus​ ​commits​ ​murder because​ ​of​ ​his​ ​beliefs,​ ​which​ ​makes​ ​him​ ​a​ ​jerk.

RR:​ ​The​ ​characters​ ​and​ ​casting​ ​aren’t​ ​the​ ​only​ ​unique​ ​aspect​ ​of​ ​the​ ​film.​ ​In addition​ ​to​ ​being​ ​complex​ ​and​ ​profound,​ ​the​ ​film​ ​itself​ ​is​ ​very​ ​unique.​ ​Where did​ ​the​ ​idea​ ​of​ R​​ ed​ ​Christmas​​ ​stem​ ​from?

I​ ​tried​ ​to​ ​think​ ​of​ ​the​ ​stupidest​ ​idea​ ​for​ ​a​ ​movie,​ ​and​ ​thought​ ​a​ ​pro-life​ ​slasher film​ ​was​ ​pretty​ ​stupid.​ ​I​ ​wrote​ ​a​ ​dumb​ ​draft​ ​that​ ​was​ ​reminiscent​ ​of​ ​low​ ​budget slashers​ ​from​ ​the​ ​’80s,​ ​but​ ​felt​ ​it​ ​was​ ​too​ ​obvious​ ​and​ ​simplistic​ ​for​ ​such​ ​a heavy​ ​topic.​ ​It​ ​also​ ​didn’t​ ​align​ ​with​ ​my​ ​personal​ ​beliefs.​ ​So​ ​I​ ​spent​ ​two​ ​years looking​ ​into​ ​reproductive​ ​rights​ ​and​ ​was​ ​fascinated​ ​at​ ​the​ ​ethically​ ​challenging opinions​ ​on​ ​both​ ​side.​ ​I​ ​then​ ​attempted​ ​to​ ​write​ ​those​ ​views​ ​and​ ​actions​ ​into the​ ​script.

RR:​ ​Speaking​ ​of​ ​’80s​ ​horror​ ​movies​ ​and​ ​their​ ​undeniable​ ​influence​ ​on​ ​the script,​ ​which​ ​classic​ ​Christmas​ ​slasher​ ​was​ ​your​ ​favorite,​ ​or​ ​most​ ​reflective of​ ​your​ ​film​ ​and​ ​its​ ​inspiration?

I​ ​love​ ​the​ ​campiness​ ​of​ ​’Silent​ ​Night,​ ​Deadly​ ​Night,’​ ​the​ ​awesome​ ​filmmaking and​ ​nostalgia​ ​of​ ​’Gremlins’,​ ​but​ ​without​ ​a​ ​doubt,​ ​my​ ​favorite​ ​is​ ​Bob​ ​Clark’s awesome​ ​proto-slasher​ ​’Black​ ​Christmas.’​ ​I​ ​feel​ ​as​ ​if​ ​my​ ​film​ ​is​ ​a​ ​spiritual sequel,​ ​as​ ​it​ ​sees​ ​a​ ​woman​ ​go​ ​head-to-head​ ​with​ ​a​ ​crazed​ ​killer​ ​in​ ​a​ ​big​ ​house, and​ ​both​ ​films​ ​deal​ ​with​ ​abortion​ ​and​ ​women’s​ ​rights.

RR:​ ​As​ ​you​ ​endearingly​ ​think​ ​of​ R​​ ed​ ​Christmas​​ ​as​ ​your​ ​”spiritual​ ​sequel”​ ​to Black​ ​Christmas,​ h​​ave​ ​you​ ​considered​ ​making​ ​a​ ​sequel​ ​or​ ​kicking​ ​off​ ​a franchise​ ​of​ ​your​ ​own?

Well,​ ​I​ ​think​ ​it’s​ ​such​ ​a​ ​bizarre​ ​little​ ​film​ ​that​ ​it​ ​wouldn’t​ ​really​ ​need​ ​to​ ​become​ ​a franchise,​ ​but​ ​that’s​ ​me​ ​talking​ ​as​ ​a​ ​producer.​ ​As​ ​a​ ​dreamer,​ ​I’ve​ ​always​ ​thought that​ ​the​ ​only​ ​character​ ​who​ ​is​ ​left​ ​alive​ ​at​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​this​ ​film​ ​would​ ​grow​ ​up and​ ​go​ ​to​ ​college​ ​where​ ​the​ ​sequel​ ​would​ ​be​ ​set.​ ​That​ ​movie​ ​would​ ​be​ ​all​ ​about MRAs​ ​and​ ​misogyny​ ​on​ ​campus,​ ​following​ ​a​ ​group​ ​of​ ​women​ ​surrounded​ ​by angry​ ​entitled​ ​men​ ​who​ ​are​ ​upset​ ​that​ ​they​ ​are​ ​being​ ​murdered​ ​by​ ​a​ ​white cloaked​ ​‘Cletus-esque’​ ​character.

RR:​ ​There​ ​seems​ ​to​ ​be​ ​some​ ​debate​ ​as​ ​to​ ​whether​ ​​Red​ ​Christmas​is​ ​swaying in​ ​favor​ ​of​ ​the​ ​pro-life​ ​and​ ​pro-choice​ ​movements.​ ​How​ ​would​ ​you​ ​sum​ ​up the​ ​overall​ ​lessons,​ ​morally​ ​speaking,​ ​that​ ​Jerry,​ ​Cletus​ ​and​ ​the​ ​entire​ ​​Red Christmas​​ ​family​ ​have​ ​to​ ​offer?

Well,​ ​it’s​ ​hard​ ​not​ ​to​ ​be​ ​taken​ ​as​ ​a​ ​pro-life​ ​story​ ​because​ ​it’s​ ​about​ ​a​ ​guy​ ​who survives​ ​his​ ​own​ ​abortion​ ​then​ ​comes​ ​back​ ​to​ ​meet​ ​his​ ​family.​ ​But​ ​I​ ​also worked​ ​hard​ ​to​ ​represent​ ​the​ ​other​ ​side​ ​of​ ​the​ ​discussion​ ​too.​ ​For​ ​instance, Dee’s​ ​character​ ​has​ ​her​ ​choice​ ​taken​ ​away​ ​from​ ​her​ ​when​ ​a​ ​right-wing​ ​nut blows​ ​up​ ​the​ ​clinic​ ​and​ ​then​ ​raises​ ​a​ ​child​ ​she​ ​didn’t​ ​want.​ ​She​ ​then​ ​has​ ​to​ ​dealwith​ ​that​ ​denial​ ​of​ ​choice​ ​coming​ ​back​ ​to​ ​haunt​ ​her​ ​and​ ​totally​ ​screw​ ​up​ ​her life.​ ​There​ ​are​ ​also​ ​a​ ​few​ ​talking​ ​points​ ​in​ ​there​ ​regarding​ ​eugenics​ ​and​ ​religion.

RR:​ ​After​ ​all​ ​is​ ​said​ ​and​ ​done,​ ​what​ ​aspect​ ​of​ ​the​ ​film​ ​are​ ​you​ ​most​ ​proud​ ​of?

Well,​ ​I’ve​ ​made​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​low​ ​budget​ ​TV​ ​in​ ​Australia​ ​and​ ​this​ ​film​ ​was​ ​no​ ​different. We​ ​shot​ ​it​ ​in​ ​11​ ​days​ ​and​ ​everyone​ ​was​ ​working​ ​for​ ​deferred​ ​wages.​ ​So​ ​I​ ​was happy​ ​that​ ​no​ ​one​ ​got​ ​hurt​ ​and​ ​that​ ​the​ ​film​ ​got​ ​completed.​ ​Since​ ​then,​ ​I’ve learnt​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​about​ ​film​ ​sales​ ​and​ ​distribution​ ​and​ ​am​ ​amazed​ ​that​ ​it​ ​got​ ​a​ ​US release​ ​-​ ​and​ ​that​ ​you​ ​and​ ​I​ ​are​ ​even​ ​talking​ ​about​ ​it​ ​now.

RR:​ ​Anything​ ​you​ ​wish​ ​you​ ​would​ ​have​ ​done​ ​differently​ ​on​ ​the​ ​film?

For​ ​sure,​ ​but​ ​that’s​ ​the​ ​difference​ ​between​ ​having​ ​money​ ​and​ ​having​ ​to​ ​work with​ ​what​ ​you’ve​ ​got.​ ​I​ ​don’t​ ​have​ ​any​ ​regrets.​ ​Although,​ ​the​ ​film​ ​was​ ​sound mixed​ ​in​ ​14​ ​hours,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​two​ ​times​ ​I​ ​went​ ​out​ ​to​ ​buy​ ​food​ ​for​ ​everyone​ ​are​ ​the only​ ​two​ ​times​ ​that​ ​there’s​ ​an​ ​audio​ ​cue​ ​I​ ​hadn’t​ ​planned​ ​on.​ ​So​ ​next​ ​time​ ​I’ll order​ ​delivery.

RR:​ ​Now​ ​that​ ​​Red​ ​Christmas​​ ​has​ ​been​ ​released​ ​and​ ​is​ ​making​ ​its​ ​way​ ​through the​ ​film​ ​circuit,​ ​would​ ​you​ ​like​ ​to​ ​see​ ​it​ ​curated​ ​on​ ​Netflix​ ​or​ ​similar streaming​ ​services?

Netflix​ ​is​ ​great​ ​for​ ​a​ ​wider​ ​audience,​ ​I’d​ ​love​ ​that.​ ​That’s​ ​the​ ​big​ ​thing​ ​about making​ ​a​ ​movie​ ​-​ ​finding​ ​an​ ​audience,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​think​ ​that​ ​nowadays​ ​anyone​ ​can make​ ​a​ ​movie,​ ​the​ ​bigger​ ​challenge​ ​is​ ​getting​ ​it​ ​to​ ​an​ ​audience.​ ​Marketing​ ​and Distribution​ ​is​ ​the​ ​real​ ​trick.​ ​I’m​ ​so​ ​happy​ ​that​ ​Artsploitation​ ​have​ ​taken​ ​on​ ​that challenge​ ​in​ ​the​ ​US,​ ​they’re​ ​a​ ​great​ ​company.

RR:​ ​So​ ​now​ ​that​ ​​Red​ ​Christmas​​ ​is​ ​successfully​ ​in​ ​US​ ​circulation,​ ​is​ ​there anything​ ​else​ ​you’re​ ​working​ ​on​ ​that​ ​fans​ ​can​ ​look​ ​forward​ ​to?

Well​ ​if​ ​you’re​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​the​ ​rights​ ​of​ ​first​ ​nation​ ​people,​ ​you’ll​ ​love​ ​a documentary​ ​I​ ​did​ ​comedy​ ​directing​ ​for​ ​back​ ​in​ ​Australia​ ​called​ ​’Occupation Native.’​ ​It’s​ ​educational,​ ​political​ ​and​ ​comical.​ ​I’ve​ ​also​ ​written​ ​an​ ​action comedy​ ​about​ ​terrorism​ ​called​ ​’Blue​ ​Terror,’​ ​which​ ​should​ ​have​ ​no​ ​trouble getting​ ​made.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​world​ ​of​ ​horror​ ​there’s​ ​that​ ​sequel​ ​I​ ​mentioned​ ​(‘Red Christmas​ ​2;​ ​Coffin​ ​Birth’)​ ​and​ ​I’ve​ ​nearly​ ​finished​ ​a​ ​script​ ​about​ ​The​ ​ElevatorGame,​ ​which​ ​hopefully​ ​sees​ ​kids​ ​all​ ​around​ ​the​ ​world​ ​pissing​ ​off​ ​adults​ ​as​ ​they try​ ​to​ ​hit​ ​the​ ​right​ ​combination​ ​of​ ​buttons​ ​to​ ​enter​ ​an​ ​alternate​ ​universe.

 

Red​ ​Christmas​ ​​has​ ​since​ ​hit​ ​select​ ​theatres​ ​worldwide​ ​since​ ​it’s​ ​summer release,​ ​an​ ​October​ ​DVD​ ​release​ ​and​ ​is​ ​now​ ​conveniently​ ​available​ ​via​ ​your local​ ​Redbox.​ R​​ed​ ​Christmas​​ ​is​ ​the​ ​perfect​ ​holiday​ ​gift​ ​for​ ​any​ ​horror​ ​fan​ ​this holiday​ ​season,​ ​so​ ​don’t​ ​forget​ ​to​ ​write​ ​Craig​ ​Anderson’s​ ​insta-classic​ ​in​ ​to your​ ​Christmas​ ​list​ ​this​ ​year.

 

Bill

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Founder/Head Writer of The Horrorcist.

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