“A Cadaver Christmas” is a B-movie in every single meaning of the term, but it elevates itself to A-level status with a perfect blend of humor and gore.
25 DAYS OF HOLIDAY HORROR (DECEMBER 8): A CADAVER CHRISTMAS
I first caught A Cadaver Christmas at the Cedar Rapids Film Festival in April 2011. It has not only become my second favorite holiday film (behind Die Hard – both of which we watch every Christmas Eve), it is one of my favorite films…period.
A Cadaver Christmas, filmed with a meager 10,000 budget here in my home state of Iowa, is a grindhouse classic.
A man covered in blood walks into a bar where the bartender and local drunk are having a quiet Christmas Eve. They call the cops and to delay them while they arrive, ask him what happened. The man is The Janitor (Daniel Rairdin-Hale) at the local college and after most of the kids head home for Christmas break, he is tasked with cleaning up.
One of the science professors has an experiment go horribly wrong, and the cadavers he was working on come to life. The Janitor, the Bartender (Ben Hopkins), the Drunk (Hanlon Smith-Dorsey), a fired cop desperate to get his job back (Yosh Hayashi), his perp (Andrew Ryan Harvey) and a campus security guard (Jessica Denney) all set out to investigate and stop the cadavers before they spread their infection beyond the campus.
From the opening segment to the end credits, this movie is one of the best horror-comedies I’ve ever seen.
Despite its low budget, it has wonderful horror effects (there is no shortage of blood) and an extremely talented cast, led by Hale’s incredible performance and Dorsey’s solid work that allows him to be both the heart of the movie and the comic relief. Director Joe Zerull (who also shares writing credit with Hale and Dorsey) has a deft hand balancing comedic absurdities and the horror elements of the script.
Reading the credits, you also learn how low budget films get made, as many of the cast did double (and triple and quadruple) duty behind the scenes as did their family members.
‘A Cadaver Christmas’ is a near-perfect Christmas horror movie, finding the ideal mix of gore and holiday joy (so many Christmas traditions find uses as weapons – as does assorted pieces of janitorial equipment). So many holiday films focus on a killer dressed as Santa or Krampus, this one takes one of the most overused genres (zombies) and gives it a fresh spin.
Make sure you watch through the credits for some of the best post-credit scenes this side of a Marvel movie (and do yourself a favor and watch the bloopers). I have been desperately hoping for a sequel to this movie for years, and despite it being so long, I’m still holding out hope I’ll get one.
The Janitor: Decapitating cadavers and killing college kids hardly sounds like my idea of a Merry Christmas…
The Drunk: I know, but having someone special to share it with makes all the difference in the world.
And I am so excited to share this hidden treasure with you.