Adam Scott loves a good, off-beat take on a Christmas movie, which was a big part of why he was keen to star in "Krampus," the family horror film about Santa's demonic counterpart who terrorizes the naughty. "'A Christmas Story'" is one of my favorites, as is 'Bad Santa' and 'Elf' and 'Gremlins,'" Scott says. "And I think this really would sit well in a Christmas film festival with those movies."

What was your reaction to the pitch for this?
Michael Dougherty and I got together and before I had read the script he just told me he wanted to make a movie in the vein of the '80s Amblin movies that we both had grown up on like "Poltergeist" and "Gremlins" and "E.T.," "Goonies," these kinds of movies. And that just got me excited because those are my favorite movies.

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Why do you think those kinds of movies don't get made as much anymore?
I guess at a certain point the genres became much more starkly defined. You have to have either a hard horror movie or a kids movie. You watch "Poltergeist" now and I'm struck by how much it plays out like the movie "Parenthood" or something, a very natural, character-driven story, and then the supernatural element steps in. "Gremlins" has this touch of comedy, it has these real character moments in them that you don't see as much in horror movies anymore. The PG-13 horror movie is something that we really haven't seen in a long time.

But you're right, everything is very much strictly in genre boxes.
And, like, "The Dark Crystal," I can't imagine showing "The Dark Crystal" to my kids because they've grown up on kids movies that are so safe and free of anything resembling peril that it would scare the s— out of them if I showed them "The Dark Crystal." They're just so not conditioned for that kind of tone that it would freak them out.

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Have you explained the legend of Krampus to your own kids yet?
No, they're a little young. But they were there in New Zealand when we were shooting the movie, so they saw Krampus and they saw all the scary snowmen and everything. But I didn't really tell them the back story because I feel like it would scare the s— out of them.

How does this movie's rather terrible extended family experience compare to your own?
I've never really had a bad Christmas experience. I grew up in a happy household, so we never really had that. I mean, I think everybody gets a burnout at a certain point with the holidays and all being crammed into a hot room eating Christmas dinner. I think there's a certain point where everyone's ready to move on from the holidays. But I never had one of those nightmare Christmases myself.

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