Tag Archives: killer santa

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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Santa’s Slay

Santa’s Slay

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Today’s feature is a holiday-themed horror-comedy: Santa’s Slay.

Santa’s Slay was written and directed by David Steiman, who was Brett Ratner’s assistant on Red Dragon and Rush Hour 2, and also worked on Inspector Gadget, What Lies Beneath, Cast Away, and The Family Man.

The cinematographer for Santa’s Slay was Matthew F. Leonetti, who shot movies like Accepted, The Butterfly Effect, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Red Heat, Action Jackson, Commando, Species II, Dragnet, Weird Science, and The Bat People, among many others.

Santa’s Slay featured two primary editors: Julia Wong (Extract, Good Luck Chuck, X-Men: The Last Stand) and Steve Polivka (Teen Wolf Too, Law & Order: SVU, Justified).

santaslay2The team of producers for Santa’s Slay included filmmaker Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, Red Dragon, Hercules), Andreas Schmid (Perfume: Story of a Murderer, Lord of War, Lucky Number Slevin), Matthew F. Leonetti Jr. (The Mechanic, Evil Dead, Oldboy), Sammy Lee (Monster), Stewart Hall (Running Scared), John Cheng (Horrible Bosses), and Andreas Grosch (Lucky Number Slevin, Lord of War).

Th effects work on Santa’s Slay was done by a team that included Prudence Olenik (Prom Night II), Leo Wieser (Shanghai Knights, Ginger Snaps II), Bob David (Android Apocalypse), Eugene Gogowich (Inception, Brokeback Mountain), Neil Krause (Tideland), Chris Aronoff (Giallo), Beverly Bernacki (State of Play, From Dusk Till Dawn 3, Robot Jox), Joshua D. Comen (Soul Plane, Riddick), Jamison Scott Goei (Dracula 2000, From Dusk Till Dawn 2, From Dusk Till Dawn 3), Anthony Ivins (Son of the Mask, The Spirit), Laura LeFaivre (Aeon Flux), Debbi Nikkel (Spaceballs, Armageddon), and Marlo Padon (Freejack, Con Air, Flubber, Total Recall, The Abyss).

The musical score for Santa’s Slay was composed by Henning Lohner, who also provided music for movies like In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, BloodRayne, and The Ring Two.

The cast of Santa’s Slay includes professional wrestler Bill Goldberg (Universal Soldier: The Return), Douglas Smith (Big Love, Terminator Genisys), Robert Culp (Xtro 3, Silent Night, Deadly Night 3, Goldengirl), Emilie de Ravin (Lost, Once Upon A Time), Saul Rubinek (Warehouse 13), and Dave Thomas (Strange Brew, Coneheads, Rat Race), along with brief cameos by James Caan (The Godfather), Chris Kattan (Corky Romano, A Night At The Roxbury), Fran Drescher (The Nanny), and Tiny Lister (Dracula 3000, No Holds Barred).

The plot of Santa’s Slay is summarized on IMDb as follows:

Santa Claus is actually a demon who lost a bet with an Angel, so he becomes the giver of toys and happiness. But when the bet is off, he returns to his evil ways.

Santa’s Slay isn’t a particularly beloved movie: it currently holds a 43% audience aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes, along with an IMDb user rating of 5.4.

santaslay3The idea behind Santa’s Slay is admittedly pretty amusing: that Santa Claus is actually a demonic Norse warrior, bound to serve children by a sort of curse. Honestly, if there is anything positive to say about Santa’s Slay, it is that Santa looks awesome, and it offers plenty of slasher movie deaths at his hands.

On the other hand, Bill Goldberg isn’t much of an actor, and fumbles his way through countless one-liners throughout the movie, as do the less interesting protagonist characters. The dialogue writing across the board is pretty awful, and contains a lot of half-assed attempts at humor that don’t come off very well, so it is hard to lay all of the blame on the actors there.

Overall, Santa’s Slay is a fun enough holiday slasher movie, even if it does wink a little too much, and is a bit lacking in the humor department. The opening scene is fantastic for its cameo density, and, as mentioned previously, Goldberg looks awesome in his rugged, demonic Santa suit. I wouldn’t go in expecting too much from it, but I think this is a fun enough movie to watch with a mixed crowd of casual movie goers and bad movie aficionados alike.

For more thoughts on Santa’s Slay, I recommend reading the always amusing Something Awful review post, and also check out the video on it over at Good Bad Flicks.

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2

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Today’s feature is a seasonal favorite in the realm of bad movies: Silent Night, Deadly Night 2.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 was co-written, directed, and edited by Lee Harry, who only had a handful of other low-budget credits over his career.

The cinematographer for Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 was Harvey Genkins, who also shot The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, H.O.T.S., and Don’t Drink The Water.

The primary producer for the movie was Lawrence Appelbaum, whose other credits included Charles Band’s The Alchemist, Penitentiary II, and Badge 373.

The effects work on Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 was provided by a team that included R. Christopher Biggs (Hudson Hawk, Super Mario Bros.), Camille Calvet (Firefly, Army of Darkness, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie), Tassilo Baur (Suburban Commando, House, DeepStar Six), and Bruce Scivally (Best of the Best 4).

The plot of Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 is summarized on IMDb as follows:

Ricky, the brother of the killer in the first film, talks to a psychiatric about how he became a brutal killer after his brother died, leading back to Mother Superior.

silentnightdeadlynighttwo2Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 is particularly well known due to the popularity of an out of context sequence of the movie that was circulated on the internet, in which the lead character hilariously murders someone while shouting “Garbage Day!”

Initially, Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 wasn’t intended to be a sequel, but an extended re-cut of the original movie with a a re-shot framing device. Ultimately, there was enough unique material for it to be labeled as an independent movie, though it still relies heavily on stock footage from the preceding feature.

The reception to Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 was negative from the handful of people who wound up actually seeing it when it was released. While the viral clip certainly expanded its audience in the past few years, there still isn’t any love to be found for this film. Currently, it holds a 3.5 user rating on IMDb, along with a 30% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

silentnightdeadlynighttwo3Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 is, for the most part, just a retread of the first movie. The amount of reused footage from Silent Night, Deadly Night is immense, which is understandable given the original intent for this to simple by a re-cut rather than a sequel. Still, as it stands, the movie is an outstandingly lazy excuse for a sequel.

The reason that this movie has entered the public consciousness at all is because of the lead performance by Eric Freeman, which is without a doubt memorable. In his brief time on screen, he manages to be so laughably terrible and over the top that the movie is almost worth watching as a result.

Overall, this movie isn’t really a complete movie at all. This is the equivalent of DLC content on a video game being sold as a standalone sequel at full price, which is roughly as dishonest as it is disappointing. The new content that is here is entertaining, but there just isn’t nearly enough of it, making this a totally half-assed feature. For the “Garbage Day” sequence alone, this is worth checking out. However, you shouldn’t expect too much from it, and I would generally recommend the original movie or Christmas Evil over this flick any day.

For more thoughts on Silent Night, Deadly Night 2, I recommend checking out the coverage of it over at The Cinema Snob and Antagony & Ecstasy.

Silent Night, Deadly Night

Silent Night, Deadly Night

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Today’s feature is perhaps the most infamous Christmas-themed horror movie: Silent Night, Deadly Night.

Silent Night, Deadly Night was written by Paul Caimi and Michael Hickey, neither of whom have any other listed writing credits on IMDb, outside of character credits on the sequel, Silent Night, Deadly Night 2.

The director on Silent Night, Deadly Night was Charles E. Sellier Jr., who has spent the vast majority of his career producing documentaries like Apocalypse And The End Times, The Search For Heaven, Evidence of Heaven, The Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Ark, and The Case For Christ’s Resurrection.

The cinematographer on Silent Night, Deadly Night was Henning Schellerup, who was a camera operator on movies like Maniac Cop, Suburban Commando, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Death Race 2000, and The Incredible Melting Man.

The editor for the film was Michael Spence, whose other credits included The Dread and One Dark Night.

The effects work on Silent Night, Deadly Night was done by a team that included Karl Wesson (Van Helsing, Blow), Richard N. McGuire (Re-Animator, Critters), Susan Reyes (Halloween 4), Judee Guilmette (Hider In The House), Rick Josephsen (Cujo, Fright Night Part 2), and G. Lynn Maughan (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Cujo).

silentnightdeadlynight3The musical score for the film was provided by Perry Botkin Jr., who also worked on the television show Mork And Mindy and 1981’s Tarzan, The Ape Man.

The cast of Silent Night, Deadly Night includes Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead, Fatal Games, Night of the Demons, Pumpkinhead II), Lilyan Chauvin (Predator 2, Catch Me If You Can), Charles Dierkop (Police Woman), Gilmer McCormick (Slaughterhouse-Five), and Britt Leach (Weird Science).

The plot of Silent Night, Deadly Night is summarized on IMDb as follows:

After his parents are murdered, a young tormented teenager goes on a murderous rampage dressed as Santa, due to his stay at an orphanage where he was abused by the Mother Superior.

Silent Night, Deadly Night spawned an entire franchise of films, which encompassed four sequels (Silent Night, Deadly Night 2, Silent Night Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out!, Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4, and Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker) and a 2012 remake called Silent Night.

Extreme controversy surrounded the release of Silent Night, Deadly Night, specifically because of the film’s advertising campaign, which emphasized the killer being Santa Claus. The violent portrayal of the beloved character sparked boycotts and protests across the United States, leading to the suspension of the advertising campaign, and eventually the withdrawal of the movie from theaters just two weeks after its release.

Adding to the litany of issues with the film’s release, Silent Night Deadly Night also shared an opening weekend as Wes Craven’s A Nightmare On Elm Street, one of the most influential modern horror films.

Reportedly, a number of the more violent scenes in the movie were ghost directed by the film’s editor, Michael Spence, because director Charles E. Sellier Jr. wasn’t comfortable shooting the graphic sequences.

Silent Night, Deadly Night was initially created under the production title of Slayride, which is a pun which would be used years later in the comedy-horror film Santa’s Slay.

A number of other directors were reportedly considered to helm Silent Night, Deadly Night, including Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, The Evil Dead II, Drag Me To Hell, Army of Darkness, A Simple Plan, The Quick And The Dead, Darkman), Albert Magnoli (Purple Rain, Tango & Cash), and Ken Kwapis (The Larry Sanders Show, Malcolm In The Middle, The Bernie Mac Show, The Office).

Silent Night, Deadly Night bears some striking similarities to a number of previous horror movies that also featured killers dressed as Santa Claus, most notably Christmas Evil from 1980 and the Tales From The Crypt anthology film from 1972. However, neither of those films met with the same extreme backlash faced by Silent Night, Deadly Night.

In 2013, the horror publication Fangoria sponsored a re-release of Silent Night, Deadly Night in select theaters for the holiday season.

silentnightdeadlynight1Silent Night, Deadly Night was made on a production budget of just over $1 million, and grossed roughly $2.5 million in its brief theatrical run before being pulled. At least partially fueled by the boycotts and protests, critics were particularly cold in their receptions of the movie: Siskel and Ebert went so far as to publicly shame the production companies and the crew for their involvement with the movie. However, in part due to that response, Silent Night, Deadly Night is now cemented as a cult horror movie, and is a seasonal staple for many horror fans.

Personally, when it comes to Christmas-themed Santa Claus slasher movies, I’m a bigger fan of Christmas Evil than I am of Silent Night, Deadly Night. However, there are definitely some enjoyable aspects to Silent Night, Deadly Night, and the swirl of controversy that surrounded it essentially immortalized it for horror fans, and has made it essential viewing as a result. Beneath that, however, Silent Night, Deadly Night is just a pretty generic slasher that only has the Santa Claus gimmick to set it apart, and, as mentioned earlier, that was a path that had already been tread.  The flick has its place in movie history due to the protests and boycotts, which is the best reason to hunt it down and give it a watch each holiday season for horror fans. The fact that is has a fun, campy sensibility is lagniappe.

For more thoughts on Silent Night, Deadly Night, I recommend checking out the coverage by both The Cinema Snob and The Horror Guru.