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'Violent Night' writers have ideas for butt-kicking Santa sequels
From Mrs. Claus, to the elves, to Santa's Viking origin, Pat Casey and Josh Miller have no shortage of ideas.
Who wouldn't want to see David Harbour kick more mercenary butt on the big screen as jolly ol' Saint Nick? For screenwriters Pat Casey and Josh Miller, the festive Violent Night cinematic universe has only just begun.
"We're all hoping we get lots of sequels. We’re hoping we can baby step into crazier and crazier things," Miller tells SYFY WIRE over a recent Zoom conversation alongside usual writing partner. With a fresh 73 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes and a nearly $50 million at the global box office, another movie seems less of an if, but a when for Universal Pictures.
"Based on reactions to the first movie on Twitter and stuff, we see a lot of people wanting to know more about Santa’s backstory. So it does feel like there's an appetite for more of that tale to be told," Casey adds, referring to the brief flashbacks to Kris Kringle's origin as a ruthless Viking pillager with a penchant for bashing people's skulls in with a large hammer.
"We used to have more of his backstory in the first one and that got stripped out for pacing," Miller reveals. "I guess it'll be a bummer if we never get a sequel, but part of us was was kind of happy because that just leaves more stuff to do in sequels. One thing we've learned from the Sonic movies is [that] sometimes painting yourself into a corner for the sequel sucks. Because you're like, ‘Oh, man! I wish we hadn't said that one sentence in the earlier movie!’"
While the duo really wants to see "a full-on prequel," it may prove a tough sell from a financial perspective. "Budgetarily, doing something entirely set in the past might be a little complicated," Miller admits, hinting at the possibility of extended flashbacks in another contemporary adventure. We also ask if they'd stick with the Die Hard influence or tap into other famous action movies of the 1980s.
"There's obviously room for all sorts of stuff. But the fact that our producers are 87North [the banner co-founded by David Leitch] and their specialty is all these drag-out, bone crunching fights, the impulses is to continue with Santa kicking the asses of a bunch of stuntmen rather than like fighting a monster necessarily," Casey replies when we suggest the idea of a Predator-inspired follow-up where Santa battles Yetis in the North Pole. "Although Santa versus some sort of monstrous Easter Bunny has come up."
"There are so many movies that influenced Die Hard and that Die Hard influenced, that I think the special sauce of the franchise is always finding that weird middle ground of where Christmas movie tropes can kind of intersect with classic ‘80s/‘90s action movie tropes," echoes Miller.
And then, of course, we have Mrs. Claus and the elves — both of whom are only mentioned, but never seen. "The elves were part of our pitch, but once we sold the movie, that was one of the two big picture notes we got from Universal," Miller explains. "It was just kind of the simple, 'We can't really afford to show the North Pole, so let's just not do it.’ And we're like, ‘Gotcha.’"
"We do have a great idea for what the elves will be like," Casey teases. "If we get to do a sequel, the elves are gonna be great."
Santa's better half, on the other hand, did make an appearance in the original climax of the film — a "helicopter versus flying sleigh dogfight," Casey says — that was scrapped for budgetary concerns. Mrs. Claus was still part of the revised ending, but the writers decided to remove the character, feeling her involvement felt superfluous. "She still showed up, but she didn't really get to do anything awesome anymore," Casey adds. "And we're like, ‘Oh, if she's not gonna do anything, then let’s just save her for the next one.’"
Given the fact that this version of Father Christmas was once a Norse warrior, the cinematic scribes are excited to break the casting mold of the generic white lady we've grown accustomed to seeing in the countless depictions of Santa Claus over the years. "The Vikings went down to Africa, they discovered North America hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus, ‘discovered it,’" Miller says. "So really, the sky's the limit for who could play Mrs. Claus because who's to say at what point in his past he met her and where?"
If you've already seen the film and want to enjoy more of the wacky ideas that have come out of their imaginations, Miller and Casey recommend checking out the 20th anniversary Blu-ray edition of their first movie to be widely released: Hey, Stop Stabbing Me!
"I think anyone who really enjoyed the spirit of Violent Night would also enjoy Hey, Stop Stabbing Me!" says Miller of the horror-comedy, which was shot when the duo were 20-year-old college students in Minnesota. "And there's a whole other movie on there as a bonus feature called Sledgehammers at Dawn."
"Reflecting our love of bashing people in the head with sledgehammers," concludes a helpful Casey.
Violent Night is currently playing in theaters everywhere.
Feeling festive? How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (the 1966 animated special) can be found on Peacock.