The New Christmas Canon: A bigger, badder, and better Krampus digs deep into the title character’s mythology

In The New Christmas Canon, The A.V. Club looks beyond Rudolph’s nose and Zuzu’s petals to highlight entertainment from the ’90s, ’00s, and ’10s that has become a seasonal staple—or deserves to.

A little over two weeks ago, Krampus opened to somewhat positive reviews, and looks poised to become a modest box-office hit. But even the more favorable write-ups pointed out some glaring flaws in the film: In addition to perhaps being a little too stingy in showing off its practical creature effects—fanged teddy bears, harpy-like angels, and wormy jack-in-the-boxes run amok, but only in brief flashes—Krampus isn’t very clear with its own rules and mythology.

Granted, there’s not exactly a lot to go off of when building a story around the horned beast. The product of Austro-Bavarian Alpine folklore, Krampus is usually portrayed as an anti-Santa Claus, a terrifying yuletide figure …

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