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In a 2015 interview with Bloody Disgusting, Michael Dougherty spoke about needing to pick and choose specific aspects from Krampus’ centuries-old folklore to include in the PG-13 horror comedy. “We’ve definitely Americanized him a little bit, in that it takes place in an American suburb in Ohio,” Dougherty admitted. “And then we added the idea that he has helpers like Santa Claus does, so, Krampus basically has the diabolical version of everything that Santa Claus has, so elves, toys, and other things.” With a film intended to be family-friendly with more of an Amblin vibe, Dougherty and his creature design team had to walk a fine line with the finished look of Krampus itself, and the myriad of minions at the Yuletide demon’s command.
When Krampus was revealed after busting through the chimney, Dougherty may have offered a clue about the true face of the monster that may or may not have been seen in the original film:
“We wanted to go for something that looked ancient, you know, that looked like it walked out of the dark ages, in a sense. The fur pelts, the heavy coats, the rusty chains, but we also wanted to acknowledge that everybody’s interpretation of Krampus is different, so we like the idea that we never fully reveal Krampus.”
There’s an evil Santa Claus face that lets out a frightening scream in “Krampus,” but, on second glance, it looks more like a mask of skin that’s been pulled over the face of an even more despicable entity. Grinning, Dougherty said, “You see a face, but is that his real face or not? His current appearance in this film… might be a rouse on his part.”