A Christmas Horror Story is the new horror anthology film from Copperheart Entertainment. The stories in the film include a ghost story set in an school closed for the holidays, a family that mistakenly brings a demonic changeling into their home and two tales involving Krampus, the dark supernatural beast of Christmas. We spoke with actor and stuntman Rob Archer about his portrayal of Krampus and what it was like to take on the role of the darkest figure in Christmas lore.
Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, peace and goodwill. But for some folks in the small town of Bailey Downs, it turns into something much less festive. When Krampus – the anti-Santa who punishes the naughty children – is summoned by a young boy, everyone’s fight for survival begins.
How did you get involved in A Christmas Horror Story?
Rob Archer: I have a friend on the production team and he turned attention to the Copperheart team on some of the stuff I had did on Defiance and Lost Girl. He let them know that I was 285 lbs. and 6’6″ but I died it down to these crazy shapes. I’m assuming that’s when Copperheart started paying attention to me. Things started to progress in the script and the idea of it becoming an actual movie started happening and that’s when they contacted me. I planned photo shoots around that time as well, so I had some other motivation to go with and everything just kind of fell into place.
What attracted you to the role of Krampus?
RA: Growing up and being an 80s kid and knowing a lot of the horror creatures and monsters and saving up and buying Fangoria magazines, I was aware of all that. Behind the actual folklore of Krampus, I wasn’t aware of it until I had taken on the role and had been exploring the background of this psychotic creature and seeing what he was all about. It was really cool because he’s not huge in the North American culture, but over in Europe he’s absolutely massive where they actually have parades and dances and whatnot.
When I was going through and taking a look at a lot of Krampus’ over the years and where the folklore generates from, he basically looks like a billygoat with rabies. A couple other companies tried to touch base with being a little bit different, but it was putting their character into a big hairy bodysuit and we wanted to have that realism. We wanted to have an actual body for Krampus that wasn’t gonna be CGI and wasn’t gonna be padded suits. We wanted realism.
How was it dealing with the all of the makeup effects?
RA: I’ve got extreme patience because the first year I did Defiance, the Biomen would take four hours to get done. I’ve done some zombie stuff here and there so I’m pretty good with prosthetics. I didn’t know it wan gonna take nine hours, it was a really long process but I had three amazing special effects artists that took great care of me. I would doze off and they would put pillows between my shoulders and ears. We would be joking and laughing, it was a great team to be with so it wasn’t too bad.
As horrible as it sounds sitting there for nine hours having makeup applied and lifting your arms and being painted with rollers, I actually looked forward to going in and getting done up as Krampus. Seeing all the detail on my face and everything below my neck was just body paint, the face was what took all my time. A lot of people don’t realize that in that fight scene with Saint Nick and Krampus, I’m swinging that big chain and wearing inch and a half fingernails as well which made it really difficult to swing it and get that hook where I needed it to go. But we did it and I think it turned out perfect.
How was is shooting the big fight scene with George Buza as Santa?
RA: In that scene it was between -20 and -25 degrees. That wasn’t in a studio, that was in a barn outside and it was freezing. We’d already had it choreographed, I had down the basic motions, it was just putting us in synch with what we were doing, doing it in the cold as fast as we could before we froze. The hardest part of that scene was being accurate with the chain and swinging it so I didn’t wrap it around my own horns and hit myself in the face with the hook. Everything else because of my stunt background just came to me, everything they wanted to do just made sense. I loved how they incorporated using the horns as I draw him forward and headbutt him. I liked it.
What got you into doing stunt work?
RA: I ended up doing a movie way back with Seann William Scott called Bulletproof Monk and I got hired on as a principal actor and they snuck some fight scenes in there. On that set was another set coordinator from another show and and he approached me and asked me if I had considered doing stunt work. Being 6’6″ and 285 lbs. and sometimes I would get up to 310, nobody my size in the industry could move like me. I have a martial arts background, very athletic and flexible so I quickly became the fastest and most precise big guy on set.
Over time I died it down and got super lean and got more tattoos and started getting pushed into the bad guy genre which was totally my thing. Growing up through the 80s I loved Jason, I loved Skeletor, I loved Cobra Commander; I was always a lover of the bad guys. Outside of the monster stuff I was playing the drug dealer, the thug, the hitman, the mafia guy, the guy who just got out of jail and I was quite comfortable with that. I excelled at it and I really liked it so I got pushed into my area and said, “Hey, this is home. I like it. Let’s go to the top with it.”
In A Christmas Horror Story, one of the segments involves you hunting a family that has incurred the wrath of Krampus. How were the shooting conditions during that?
RA: It was all outside and like everything you see Krampus in, it was all -25 degree weather. It was absolutely freezing, but the cast was amazing. Copperheart took the bast care of us.
Are you interested in continuing to play the villain role in genre films?
RA: 100% I am. I absolutely like the sci-fi, the horror; it’s been my thing and I have no doubt we’ll be starting a ‘Part 2′ on this very shortly.
Check out A Christmas Horror Story starring William Shatner, George Buza and Rob Archer now playing in select theaters and available on VOD and iTunes.