It's that time of the year again where we all go out and spend whatever money we have in our bank accounts on gifts for the one time of the year holiday where we have a jolly fat man dressed in red who slides down a chimney and eats all of our cookies. To this day I still have no clue how parents can explain to their kids if they don't have a chimney how Santa manages to find his way into the house. But let's face this is also the one time of the year that many will moan and groan over the fact that a simple horror movie showing a killer Santa can bring down the house of everything we hold holy about this holiday. But let's face it. Who doesn't like to watch a Christmas horror themed movie? I mean look at the slew of films that have been put out since the 80's into the present and you can honestly say there's nothing really wrong with it. I mean let's face fact there are horror movies about the Easter Bunny so nothing is sacred anymore.
So since today isn't Christmas and it is the holiday season I figured why not give this movie a spin in the Blu-ray player. I will first off like to thank Vinegar Syndrome for this chance to review a film from them. Vinegar Syndrome is great for releasing various genre films and those late night XXX films!!!! If you want to check those out here's where you can find them http://vinegarsyndrome.com/.
Christmas Evil actually predates the supposed first Christmas horror themed movie, Silent Night, Deadly Night by four years and is lesser known cause its title use to be known as "You Better Watch Out". Filmed in New Jersey....Yes my home state where I live and it was shot in Edgewater, Englewood, Glen Ridge and Montclair. Knowing that I live only a few minutes from where the film was originally shot makes happy cause almost every time someone says something about NJ in a film its a cheap shot. But I don't care cause I know we have it all and most states are jealous.
The film opens in 1947 and to a mother and her children sitting on the stairs watching as Santa comes down their chimney and proceeds to eat bread and jelly all while washing it down with milk. Not the combination I would expect but I didn't make that decision on what to have the Santa eat. As the kid's laugh at Santa he winks at them and then goes right back up the chimney. Moments later after the kid's go to sleep one of the brother's wakes up to go downstairs and finds his mother having Santa on his knee's before her and them fooling around. This prompts the kid to run up the stairs and in a fit of anger decides to smash a snow globe and use the glass to cut himself. Why at the time the kid doing this didn't make much sense cause if your getting mad that your mom is getting it on with Santa than you have serious problems cause more likely its your dad in the costume....Oh wait that's probably why he realized at a young age that Santa is fake and is dad was playing the part.
The film jumps 33 years to 1980 and we see Harry has grown up and is working for a toy company that's making lousy toys. I mean lousy by means that they seem flimsy and cheap and later in the film Harry breaks them while calling them lousy. But this is also where Harry has taken it upon himself to become the true Santa Claus, he sleeps in costume and his apartment is decorated wall to wall with Christmas decorations. He also spies on the children in his neighborhood and keeps tabs on them in a his Good and Bad kids books. One kid whose cutting out a naked chick from a Penthouse magazine is quickly judged being bad. Really what kid of that time never did that? But anyway as time progresses Harry becomes more and more detached from reality and slips into his own insanity as he takes on the full look of Santa. His killing spree begins after he delivers toys to a hospital for children and he makes a stop at a church where he's mocked by the people exiting the church and before his boss who doesn't recognize him, he kills three people with an axe. Now this was in front of a GROUP of people who did nothing but stood there in shock and awe as Santa just started chopping people in the head. No one did a thing to stop him as he gets back in his Christmas themed van and speeds off.
Now the film does drag in some parts and lacks dialogue here and there where it technically could've been used. The film though somewhat humorous to me cause of the time period it was filmed and the fact that your watching Santa kill people and practically get away with it cause no one is taking the intiative to stop him. I mean they even went full Frankenstein mob on this guy and lit torches to chase down Santa and then they watched hopelessly as he flees the scene in his van. Jeffery DeMunn plays Harry's brother and though its no shock to see Dale from the Walking Dead in this film cause the man is infamous for starring in horror movies from the 80's onto today and he actually sells falling onto a blanket covered in fake so look so real. Well not really cause its very noticeable that it was a blanket covered in fake snow. The film's ending is something of a question cause you don't know whether the main character commits suicide or in fact does fly off with his van.
Now for a 4K transfer from the films 35mm original print is beautiful in my eyes. The colors are vibrant and saturated. I loved seeing cigarette burns from the original 35mm pop up here and there. Those gave me that nostalgic feeling that I was almost watching the real thing on my television and not the Blu-ray. The film's special features are spread over both the Blu-ray and DVD, ranging from commentaries, an interview with the director Lewis Jackson and Brandon Maggart, deleted scenes and a slide show of what the original comment cards from the film's test audience. Some of the comments they left about the film range from hilarious to down right serious feelings that this film should not be released. You can learn a lot from the interviews and commentaries regarding various things from the film such as which actors were passed on for roles, the name change of the film, the films score and the look of the film in general. So if your looking to buy this film for your horror collection that your slowly transferring over to Blu-ray I will tell you that this is a must own for horror movie fans and is a huge step up from the previous DVD releases put out by Troma and Synapse. So in all Vinegar Syndrome hit the nail on the head with this Christmas horror release and found another gem in the rocks and released it upon us trying to make us fear that Santa isn't all that nice as he's made out to be!!!
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.