A STICKYRED SPECIAL HOLIDAY REVIEW
starring: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn and Dianne Hull
A night in 1947, a night in New Jersey,
Santa came to town and everything should be jolly.
But little Harry will learn, not everything is all but gleam, a Christmas Eve gone wrong, a trauma he will redeem...
What Harry Stadling saw that one Christmas Eve was his mother being groped by Santa Claus (AKA Harry’s dad), a sight that broke his childhood psyche, and probably unhinged him as he forced himself to cuts his hand with a shattered snow globe.
Things starts to flow horribly for Harry as one night, he peeped into the window of a local bar and sees a coworker having a drunken good time after he phoned in Harry at work on being sick. Frustrated by this, he rushes home and breaks a few toys while humming Christmas themes, and phones his younger brother Phil (Jeffrey DeMunn) in the next morning to decline his invitation for a Thanksgiving dinner just to watch Santa on TV.
When the Company Christmas party is in full swing, Harry watches the owner of Jolly Dreams making a televised announcement that, if production increases sufficiently, the company will be able to donate toys to the disadvantaged children at Willowy Springs State Hospital. Since nobody liked him, and nobody will ever will, Harry finally crumbles into dementia and has convinced himself as the one true Santa, destined to bring joy to all the good boys and girls.
Down in his basement workshop, he begins smelting toy soldiers and small axes. Alone after-hours, Harry steals the Company toys, wraps them, loads them into his van, and, in a rather lighter scene, gave them to the hospital where the company plans to deliver them. Overjoyed with his success, he later dropped by to a church and, after another argument with a group of young mass-goers, murders them with a toy soldier and a dinky axe. Fleeing from the scene, he later found himself welcomed to a Christmas party where he enjoys the company of good people and, once again, brought him back into his delusional state as Santa.
Later, Harry manages to invaded two homes; first, his brother's, where he delivers his own hand-made and stolen toys after destroying the ones already fashioned under their tree, and later, At the home of the coworker who lied about his sickness, whom he murdered after delivering his presents.
Christmas morning, Phil begins to suspect something is seriously wrong with his brother and argues with his wife Jackie. A full search mission was held at the local police stations, questioning every Santa they round-up in the streets. All the while, at the closed warehouse, Harry began breaking even-more toys in a fit of rage over all the things he had done that had caused panic. That night he drove off, and eventually finds himself pursued by an angry mob, who recognizes him as the homicidal Santa. Nevertheless, he manages to shake them all off and arrived at his brother's house.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight-
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
I saw this film by accident, with zero expectations, despite all the bashings this film had, including one review from Hysteria Lives!, but to my surprise, Christmas got a little early that year for me.
It blow my mind away; yeah it's slow and very tedious, but that's because it took it's time to flesh out the characters before the grand finale, a trait that, i admit, may come off as annoying and disappointing to those expecting a full-blown slasher film. Yes, it had murders, five of them actually, and pretty good ones, but it's more about Harry's descent into madness. More in the vein of time-bomb slashers like "Don't Go In he House" (another fave title of mine), Christmas Evil handed us a few cheesy but believably unnerving script, giving us a drama disguised as a hack and slash flick.
Staying true to it's slasher nature, however, is some of this film's cheesier moments, providing a few intentional or unintentional laughs, like Harry, staying close to his new Santa Claus persona, tries to dive down a chimney, only to get stuck and, in tribute to classic hammer films, Santa got chased by a mob, hand-holding flaming torches ala Frankenstein, it's silly as it is sort of symbolic on how the mob saw him a monster, despite his good intentions.
While it's not for everyone, Christmas Evil became a cult classic over the years and an unsung indie film triumph, whether as a slasher film or not, it's a quick tap on the back to remind us what the holiday is really all about. Presents come and go, and so does holiday breaks, but should happiness and innocence go away from both child and child-like, then what is left for Christmas to offer? A "slasher" with a Christmas message, Christmas Evil deserved second look for both fans and haters, for tis the Holidays had come, and ole Santa Claus is coming to town~!
1 male eye stabbed with toy soldier's sword
1 male head hacked with toy axe
1 female head hacked with toy axe
1 male throat cut with Christmas Star
1 male drove off a bridge and crashes off-camera