Caesar and Otto's Deadly Xmas (2012)
By: Devon B. on December 25, 2013 | Comments
Wild Eye | All Regions, NTSC | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 | 83 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Caesar and Otto's Deadly Xmas DVD
Credits
Director: Dave Campfield
Starring: Dave Campfield, Paul Chomicki, Deron Miller, Ken MacFarlane, Linnea Quigley, Summer Ferguson
Screenplay: Dave Campfield
Country: USA
The Simpsons wasn't the first show to do cutaway gags, but it certainly took them to whole new levels. There have been other things that built on The Simpsons' cutaway innovations, but usually they were also animated because live action cutaways require setup and expense for something that has little screen time. That didn't daunt Dave Campfield, who has crammed Caesar & Otto's Deadly Xmas with 'em. Maybe the budget was already so low it didn't matter if more time was spent on just a few seconds of footage.

Caesar (writer/director Dave Campfield) and Otto are two unpopular guys who are evidently half-brothers despite looking as much alike as Arj Barker and Ron Jeremy. Caesar is a failing actor and Otto is obsessed with a girl he hasn't seen in 15 years, but when Otto gets a lead on his dream gal he decides the way to win her heart is to play Santa. Caesar sees the situation as an opportunity to kickstart his thespian career, but he's struggling to take action because of some dark memories associated with the Yuletide season. Unfortunately for them both a co-worker, played by CKY's Deron Miller according to the cover, decides to start murdering people who have wronged the brothers.

The slick describes Caesar & Otto's Deadly Xmas as being "a cross between Scary Movie and Silent Night, Deadly Night." I guess Scary Movie's influence is the silliness so prevalent in Caesar & Otto's Deadly Xmas, but Silent Night, Dead Night was clearly a huge source of inspiration. Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of The Toxic Avenger, recreates the role of the grandfather from that film, and Caesar faces some of the tribulations that befell poor Billy, though Caesar's trials are not as extreme. Linnea Quigley also has a small part and she recreates one of her memorable moments from the Xmas slasher classic, albeit in a less spectacular, less nude fashion. Joe Estevez, Brinke Stevens, Robert Z'dar, Debbie Rochon and Felissa Rose all turn up as well, but I didn't catch any Silent Night Deadly Night references from them. However Miller throws several in quick succession, and then Otto references Part 2. I guess on screen acknowledgement counts for something, but Caesar & Otto's Deadly Xmas doesn't seem like a parody of the series. Maybe it could be considered homage, but it feels more like a wacky, low budget re-envisioning of the first film.

The movie also lifts gags from all sorts of things like Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Princess Bride, but the best jokes in Caesar & Otto's Deadly Xmas are the digs at low budget cinema and lazy scriptwriting. The swiping of a few gags isn't really a problem because the movie is literally overflowing with humour, and most of it is original material. It's not always funny, but the movie is always trying to make the viewer laugh. The gags are very rapid fire throughout the film, but equally quick paced is the editing, which is sometimes so fast that frames even get trimmed within single shots.

Aside from Silent Night, Deadly Night, what Caesar & Otto's Deadly Xmas reminded me of most was the TV series Community. Caesar is really, really like Abed from that show. I didn't know that Caesar is a long established character so I thought he was modelled on Abed, but it turns out Caesar was first. The characters are so alike that in a just world Campfield would be getting royalties from the TV show.

Caesar & Otto's Deadly Xmas looks like it cost about $4, but the crew managed to squeeze a lot of production value for that $4 so the whole thing is much higher quality than I anticipated. It never transcends its virtually non-existent budget, but it is far better constructed than most movies made for a similar price. A low budget, comedic assault on the senses, Caesar & Otto's Deadly Xmas is amusing and it's so frantic it doesn't have time to be boring.
The Disc
The movie sports a new and clean print, but it's shot on video so it never looks expensive. I noticed a few moments of interlacing, but otherwise this transfer seemed solid. The audio is a 2.0 mix and it's generally fine. The audio does get a little out of sync in a few places, and there are a couple of moments of distortion, but the latter seems like an issue with the source audio and not the transfer. The DVD is a fully loaded special edition type affair, featuring a making of; extended and alternate scenes; three shorts; commentaries; trailers for the Caesar and Otto films; and trailers for Disco Exorcist, Exhumed, Mold! and Dropping Evil. The making of isn't very long, but it is entertaining and offers a look at the set design and FX, which are impressive given the resources available. The first short is Piggyzilla, which is very short (about 80 seconds) and also features Caesar and Otto. This comes with an even shorter making of, focused on the silliness and FX. The next short is a little scene with Otto getting a job as a security guard, which has a few funny moments but the main gag isn't that interesting. The final short is much longer, running about 15 minutes. It's called The Perfect Candidate and also features Caesar and Otto, but is about a presidential campaign run by Joe Estevez and Robert Z'dar. Like the main feature this is pretty wacky, and has some really good jokes and some that are groan inducing. This short comes with both a director commentary track and a producers commentary track. Caesar and Otto's Deadly Xmas has three commentary tracks, a director one, a cast and crew one and a producers one. All of the tracks refer to the movie as a spoof as Silent Night, Deadly Night, but I stand by what I said about that earlier. Campfield's track has lots of little edits within it, which I always find distracting, but maybe he was stumbling over words a lot while recording it and wanted to chop that out. He points out all sorts of references within the film and gives some good indie filmmaking advice. The cast and crew track features a whole gaggle of commentaries spliced together. Unfortunately this track is less interesting because members of the cast like to impart information that only those on set would care about, but there is some good stuff between these less intriguing bits. The third track is the producers, who thankfully were recorded together so this track has a natural flow. This track gives background info on the film and the people involved, and works well in conjunction with Campfield's track. The disc is also loaded with Easter eggs, none very hard to find. On the main menu press up on anything in the top row or down on the bottom row to highlight the "X." Hit enter to hear the "Kill Them All" song. On the special features menu press left or right on anything to highlight an "X." Press enter to see some outtakes. On the trailers menu press up on "Disco Exorcist" or right or down on "Main Menu" to highlight the "X." Press enter for a look at some prop DVD art. On the Piggyzilla menu press up on "Play" or down on "Special Feature Menu" to highlight the youtube address. Press enter to see Otto's dating service video. From the Caesar and Otto trailers menu press right on anything or left on anything but the top one to highlight a rabbit. Press enter to be told about how to use youtube to learn more about a character from the film. On The Perfect Candidate menu press up or left on "Play" or right or down on "Main Menu" to highlight a flag. Press enter to see an outtake from the short.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Caesar and Otto's Deadly Xmas was way, way, way better than I expected it would be. The DVD clearly wasn't designed by Scrooges, and I can't think of anything else that it should've included. Fans of the characters will get a lot of value from this features laden disc, and even the casually curious should enjoy some of the extras.
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