Christmas Evil (1980)
Posted: by Findlay
Christmas Evil (1980); Directed by Lewis Jackson
In One Sentence: A loveable psycho takes on the role of Santa, rewarding the good and ~punishing~ the bad.
Why You Should Watch: Did you see mommy kissing Santa under the Christmas tree? Yes? Did you see mommy being sfondled by Santa, then run upstairs and cut your wrist with a broken snowglobe? YES? Well it looks like you’re the protagonist of Christmas Evil, a sneaky wee beauty of a Christmas horror film.
Christmas Evil aka You Better Watch Out tells the story of Harry, who loves Christmas so much, that he dons a Santa suit and heads out to spread some good ol Christmas cheer. But this is an 80’s slasher, so you know that people are going to die, and they do… but they deserve it.
This is one of the best things about the film. Harry is a fucking mental case through and through, but the message of Christmas and goodwill is so beautifully encased in the film that you totally love the killer in it. He’s Santa. Just a Hardcore Santa.
The guy playing Harry, Brandon Maggart, does basically an OSCAR WORTHY performance of a guy so convinced he’s Santa that he’s keeping track of all the kids in the neighbourhood to see if they’re naughty or nice, and stalking the naughty ones. The slow descent into madness begins here. Sounds sinister right? IT IS.
It’s fine though, the kids get a bag of dirt, the bad adults? They die. Merry Christmas!
There are all these really ham-fisted but kind of clever allusions to the lore of Santa as well, like how Harry is a manager in a toy factory and all the employees wear elf striped uniforms but they all take the piss out of him. I can imagine Santa watching this and just screaming “KILL ALL THOSE FUCKING ELFS YAAAASSSS” totally sympathising with Harry. It’s pretty cool.
The film itself looks very nice. It’s got that classic early 80’s slasher look to it with cheapish stock, soft focus and some experimental lighting. Ticking every pre-Friday the 13th box going. Due to its festive theme, offsetting cheap synths and jolly Christmas radio songs alchemises this weird sense of dread that you don’t get with a lot of other slashers. Christmas and horror. It’s all so fucked up. Oh baby!
There are some nice little visual precursors that actually don’t seem like much at first but come into play later in a scene. Like a shot of a toy soldier or Christmas tree star that seem quite oddly placed but make much more sense as the scene unfolds, which adds some sneaky, well done directorial flare to what could seem (and most likely was) a cold hard Christmas cash in.
Easily my favourite part of the film is the end scene. The last 2 minutes of the film are possibly, as far as I’ve seen, the best final minutes in a horror film. Sure it’s a funny ending, but how you feel about the main character throughout makes it feel a bit like delusional sweetness. I won’t ruin it but Harry gets his wish of becoming Santa Clause teeheehee.
Hooo boy who knew Christmas could chew up my moral compass as much?
Thanks if you’ve been reading these since I’ve been doing them. The Alternative boys are lovely! Hope them, and you have a Merry Christmas and Happy Trails!