Tag Archives: christmas horror

Christmas Evil

Christmas Evil

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Merry Christmas, all! Today’s feature is appropriately a well-suited cult classic: Christmas Evil.

The writer and director on Christmas Evil was a man named Lewis Jackson. It was one of only a small handful of credits to his name, and is by far his most notable and well-remembered work.

The cinematographer for the film was Ricardo Aronovich, an Argentinian who also shot 1982’s Missing, 1971’s Murmur of the Heart, and 1977’s Providence, among many others.

christmasevil4One of the credited editors on Christmas Evil was Corky O’Hara, who also cut another 1980 cult classic: The Exterminator.

The special effects for the film were provided by Alex Fernbach (Black Caesar) and Tom Brumberger (Santa and The Ice Cream Bunny, Mo’ Better Blues), with stunt work by Jery Hewitt (C.H.U.D., The Stuff, Hackers, The Ladykillers).

christmasevil1The production design for Christmas Evil was done by Lorenzo Mans, whose only other design credit was for the lauded 1981 slasher The Prowler, which was directed by Joseph Zito.

The plot of Christmas Evil is summarized on IMDb as follows:

A psycho in a Santa suit gets to decide who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.

Christmas Evil was initially created under the alternate title of You Better Watch Out, which still appears on the title card on many copies of the movie. However, the title was changed for ease of marketing, and now the movie is much better known as Christmas Evil, to Lewis Jackson’s chagrin.

Though it is certainly a cult classic, Christmas Evil is far overshadowed by the later (and similarly-themed) film, Silent Night, Deadly Night, which also features a killer in a Santa suit. However, this is primarily due to public outrage surrounding the release and marketing of Silent Night, Deadly Night, which the lower-profile Christmas Evil didn’t receive. Still, it is impossible not to consider Christmas Evil to be a forerunner of the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise.

The noted shock filmmaker and advocate John Waters recorded a commentary track for a DVD release of Christmas Evil, in which he revealed that the film is a holiday staple in his household.

Christmas Evil currently holds a 5.0 user rating on IMDb, along with a Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 36%. However, its critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes is squarely in the ‘fresh’ spectrum at 80%, on the backs of some retrospective reviews that note the depth of the central performance.

christmasevil3Honestly, I definitely see where those positive reviews are coming from. There is something that I find weirdly impressive about Brandon Maggart’s lead performance in Christmas Evil. His contribution single-handedly elevates a movie that I am pretty confident would have otherwise been totally forgotten. I’m not sure if it qualifies as a ‘good’ performance, but it is sure as hell a memorable one. His physical acting and deliveries create a palpably disturbed character which is impossible to look away from, particularly in his more over-the-top moments.

On top of the lead performance, I also kind of adore the surreal ending to the movie, in which the lead character drives his sleigh (a decorated van) off a road and into the night sky, taking off like a proper Santa Claus.

Overall, I think that Christmas Evil is a great b-movie, and is deserving of its cult status as a holiday favorite. If you ask me, I would even take it over the more popular Silent Night, Deadly Night, which is a little more run-of-the-mill as a themed slasher movie. There is a surprising amount of depth and passion in this killer Santa movie that sets it apart, and makes it an easy recommend for b-movie fans and horror fans alike. I might even go so far as to

For some other reviews of Christmas Evil, I recommend heading over to YouTube and checking out the features from Dark Corners of This Sick World and Doctor Wolfula.

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Elves

Elves

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Today’s flick explains the historical link between Santa’s little helpers and the Third Reich: 1989’s Elves.

Elves was written and directed by Jeffrey Mandel, who worked on the television series Super Force and the low-budget flicks Firehead and Cyber-CHIC.

The cinematographer for the film was Kenny Carmack, who shot a handful of similar low-budget sci-fi features like Alien Seed and Laser Moon. The editor for Elves, Tom Matties, also worked on Alien Seed: one his few other listed credits.

The special effects work for Elves is credited to Evan Campbell, who has worked on such productions as The Faculty, Spawn, Darkman III, Darkman II, and Super Mario Bros., among many others. The stunt coordinator for the movie was an equally season B-movie veteran: Bob Bragg, who worked on Hell Comes To Frogtown, Friday the 13th Part VII, Mac And Me, Zandalee, and Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood.

The musical score for Elves was composed by Vladimir Horunzhy, who provided music for a couple of episodes of Tales From The Crypt, as well as for the notorious Stephen King miniseries adaptation of The Langoliers.

The most prominent and recognizable member of the cast of Elves is Dan Haggerty, who is best known for his lead role in The Life And Times Of Grizzly Adams. He also notably served as an associate producer on the movie.

The plot of Elves is summarized on IMDb as follows:

A young woman discovers that she is the focus of an evil nazi experiment involving selective breeding and summoned elves, an attempt to create a race of supermen. She and two of her friends are trapped in a department store with an elf, and only Dan Haggerty, as the renegade loose-cannon Santa Claus, can save them.

elves1Elves currently holds an IMDb user rating of 4.1, along with a 35% audience aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes. Its limited releases mean that it has mostly spread through word of mouth, but it has developed quite a reputation among bad movie fans as a holiday favorite.

Elves is, above all else, a very goddamn strange movie. The premise, that elves are not just real, but the result of genetic experimentation by Nazis, is so impossibly outlandish that it is hard to believe that this movie isn’t a comedy. When you include how awful the eponymous elf puppet looks, it is astounding that anyone would imagine releasing the finished product of this movie, even direct to video.

elves2Lucky for us all, this movie was made with its atrocious plot and dialogue in tact, and with the cheapest effects the production could afford with spare change. The result is a movie that is nothing short of gut-bustingly hilarious: the performances are laughable (particularly the German accents), but honest, and there is never even one hint that this movie wasn’t a 100% serious effort to make a horror movie. Despite dialogue about evil elves, Nazis, magic, and incest, every one of these performers plays it totally straight, and the result if pure magic.

Elves isn’t quite on the level of Troll 2 or The Room as a good bad movie, but I think it is the closest thing there is for the holiday season. Santa Claus Conquers The Martians and Santa Claus are good fun, but neither reach the heights of what-the-fuckery offered with Elves. For bad movie fans, this is a must see. Unfortunately, it has never received a DVD release, but VHS and digital copies are floating around in the ether, and you can find them with a little bit of digging.

For more thoughts on Elves, I suggest checking out Red Letter Media’s Best of the Worst, The Cinema Snob, Dark Corners of This Sick World, and the Bad Movie Fiends podcast. As it turns out, the real good-bad movies have a way of making the rounds quickly.