Friday, December 12, 2008
Christmas Evil Review
The time has come for another Christmas horror movie review, and while I have been kind of waiting a little longer than usual before unleashing all my reviews, I have to say that it’s a lot better than when I used to issue reviews on a daily basis. Today I have for your reading pleasure or displeasure, Christmas Evil, a movie that came out in the early 80’s and was written and directed by Lewis Jackson. Jackson apparently didn’t do a whole lot more than this film, most likely because this would’ve ruined his career.
Christmas Evil is now widely available on dvd, but it hasn’t come without some controversy. Much like “Silent Night Deadly Night” this film deals a controversial blow to the Christmas mythos by having your main antagonist be a Santa Claus character. The plot surrounds a man with a very scary obsession with Santa Claus. We start off in 1947 with two kids seeing Santa come down and deliver presents, but as one kid is skeptical he rushes down for one more look, only to find Santa rubbing his mom’s leg and this shakes his core to a place where he now lives alone and can’t handle society’s pressures.
Completely obsessed with Santa Claus, our main character Harry has a life of voyeurism and crippling odd behavior. He begins to embody the idea of Santa Claus , now in the present day, as he runs a toy factory and is struggling to deal with the hypocrisies of his neighbors and their children. This is presented in a very creepy sequence of events that unfold, and you can genuinely feel tension and good overall direction as the camera moves in a very smooth manner through the explanation of Harry’s story.
The movie derails in the third act and in the final act completely destroys all credibility of being a good horror film, and you are left with a lot of questions, no answers, and an abrupt end to horror film, if you can call it that.
There are some great one liners in the film, my favorite being when Harry asks his neighbor’s kids what they want from Christmas and one kid yells “A lifetime subscription to Penthouse magazine!”, which makes Harry go nuts yet again. Classic, just classic.
Why Christmas Evil is Scary: Christmas Evil is not necessarily scary on the surface. However, put in its proper time in history, you might find some scary notions in the film. Take for instance Harry’s complete crippling of sexuality. He didn’t even see full blown sex between Santa and his mom, he saw his father dressed as santa rubbing a leg. Sure 1947 was a year of repression in a lot of ways, but to cripple your sense of being for the rest of your life? I’m not sure if I can get behind that notion, but for the sake of argument, let us consider this part of the film. It is scary to think that someone could be completely crippled psychologically by such a pseudo sexual trauma. The idea of a pure and wholesome Santa Claus is not something that you would have considered in 1947 nor even 1980, but to completely cripple the psyche of your main character? That’s where I think this movie really starts to defy logic, but I don’t deny that it is scary on that level.
The second scary notion happens in the serial killings that are processed by Harry. Harry does them in such a harsh manner, but immediately gets scared at his own realization. He also seems to break in and drop off presents to people without any noise, and without any sort of awareness to common sense. This particular notion is amplified in his killing of his coworker, as he crawls in through a window, unlocked and easily accessible, and just comes right in. Given the year and the location, I do not see how this is plausible, but I do find it scary that the scene and sequence could be used as a metaphor for evil in general. Sometimes evil notions and situations (including people) sneak up on you so easily and before you know it, you’re dead. Consider my review of “The Believers” in regards to the idea of cults and misinformation. We as consumers and horror movie fans are not always rational in our viewing of these films. While we often times look for inconsistencies, or stupidity and/or entertainment in these films, we miss the obvious metaphorical and what I presume unintentional pearls of subversion that are found.
We give our trust to doctors, government, church, family, and strangers on a daily basis. Here is a paranoia trip that really sets out to confuse the audience. Is Harry wrong? Is he really the protagonist? The film treats Harry like Frankenstein, being chased by a mob of vigilante’s who are dead set on killing the killer Claus for his somewhat justifiable crimes. We then are treated to the biggest “WTF” moments in movie history, and I won’t spoil it, but it left me shaking my head in disbelief.
Christmas Evil is not the scariest of entries in holiday horror, but it serves up a very good character study. It seems like it was going somewhere good, building tension through Harry’s obsession and crippling childhood experiences, but it really tries to jump the shark in the second half before rerouting to a unforgiveable parody of Frankenstein. Christmas Evil is not recommended viewing, unless you absolutely must see a holiday horror film.
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