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Christmas Evil – Review

Christmas Evil – Review

Jan 13, 2010

reviewed by Hallo
directed by Lewis Jackson, 1980
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Christmas Evil, aka You Better Watch Out, is a 1980’s slasher film that enjoys the prestigious status of being the first “slasher Santa” movie.  Directed by Lewis Jackson, of whom you have never heard, and starring Brandon Maggart, of whom you might have heard, Christmas Evil tries its best to supply a foundation of ultimate disgust in the loss of the true Christmas spirit.  A spirit that has been replaced by commercialism and, even worse for Harry Stadling (Maggart), a disbelief in Santa Claus.

After watching good ol’ Santa get a little frisky with his mom (I Saw Momma Kissing Santa Claus to the next level), a young Stadling is forever haunted by the imagery now fixated in his mind.  Interestingly, he does not rebel against the guy in the red suit, but becomes obsessed with him.  It is not entirely clear whether Stadling eventually believes he truly is Santa Claus, although he probably does; after all he is keeping record of “good” and “bad” boys and girls.  What is abundantly clear is that he finally has had enough with the inability of the toy factory for which he works to truly grasp the essence of Christmas, and after being humiliated by a co-worker, decides its chopping time.  Stadling dresses up as Santa on Christmas Eve and starts wondering through the streets.  Some cheer him on and welcome him, to which he responds positively.  Others make fun of him and mock him, to which he pulls out toy soldiers and stabs them in the eyes.  The chaos continues until finally the movie runs out of ideas and concludes with a bizarre and ineffective finish.

Stadling is a character who does a pretty good job of drawing sympathy from the viewer.  We find ourselves rooting for him and, in some strange way, appreciate his determination to keep the Santa Claus  character alive and well.  I must give credit to the film for trying to build the psychosis of Stadling on a premise of industrial greed and moral depravity, themes that are heightened at Christmas time when Santa is on the lookout for those who are “good.”   There are two unrecoverable issues with the movie.  First, director Lewis Jackson and his editing team do a poor job creating a smooth flowing, understandable story.  The directing is splotchy at best and the sequences are at times jarring to the eye.  Second, the film just doesn’t know where it is going.  Someone latched onto the idea of a Santa Claus who kills, a creepy concept indeed, but failed to bring the story through to a respectable end.  There are so many different variables to Stadling’s character that never seem to gel in any discernible way.  And the ending sleigh scene, as good as an attempt as it was to end on a classic Santa Claus note, is just plain silly.

Finally, we can thank John Carpenter for this and a whole slew of slasher films to follow.  The Halloween premise is all over this film, from a disturbed individual wreaking havoc to the use of the first-person steadycam.  So, if you are into slasher films, take a look  If not, move on to the next movie on the shelf.  You won’t be missing much.

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2 comments

  1. Keeler /

    First of all – – Great Website!! It looks fantastic and so far the reviews have been great. I’m a fan! (although this seems like a pretty big departure from your other website.)

    I am probably one of the few reading this review who actually saw this movie. I think you are overly kind in your remarks – – this movie has very few if any redeeming qualities.

    Can’t wait to read more brother.

  2. Keeler,

    Thanks for checking us out man, I’m glad your digging the site. Talk to you soon!

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