Friday, March 13, 2009

Christmas Evil (1980)

Fear 3/5
Gore 2/5
Creepiness 5/5
Entertainment 5/5

The film begins with a kid who is overly obssessed with all things Jolly St. Nick, sneaking halfway downstairs with his brother and mom to catch a glimpse of the rotund mound of overly cheery delight on the eve of Christmas. Crowding the staircase of the home, the mother tells the little boy that she thinks she hears old Sainty Claus coming down the chimney. Sure enough, everyone's favorite rosy cheeked fat bastard comes sliding down, dropping off the kid's presents and promptly scaling back up the chimney. The mother tucks the kids into bed and the boy's brother remarks that it was all a crock of crap as the costumed bringer of Christmas cheer was actually dear old dad. The boy tells his brother that he is full of it, springs out of bed, and runs downstairs in a fit of fury. He stumbles upon his mom and dear old Santa, with mommy kissing and fondling his no-no parts. Cue kid being traumatized and messed up good for the rest of his life.
Flash forward 30 years or so and we see the guy leading a pretty quirky life. Carrying on his obsession of all things Christmas: adorning his house with Christmas decorations, blaring holiday music 24/7, and even dressing up as St. Nick himself in his house and prancing about. He even works at a toy factory, coming full circle in his cycle of weirdness. He refuses to show up to his brother's house (he still harbors ill-will towards him for his grand revelation of St. Nick being a sham) for Thanksgiving day dinner, as he is transfixed by the Macy's parade and its main attraction: guess who?
His over the top obsession with the holiday also translates into his meticulous crafting and judgment of the quality of the toys he and his coworkers produce. He lashes out at them when their output is not up to snuff and lambasts coworkers who trivialize the work that they do. The straw on the camel's back comes at the company holiday party and one of the execs tells him that none of the kids at the local hospital will receive toys this year in an effort to cut costs.
Coupled with his stewing hatred of his brother, this final act pushes this weird, deranged, introverted, St. Nick dresser over the top. He goes on a killing spree through the town, saving only children whom he befriends, giving them presents from the factory. He feels that they deserve them after all the hard work he's put into them. In his reign of terror, the townsfolks go on a Frankenstein-like manhunt, chasing him through the streets. He gets away in his cargo van that has a sleigh painted on the side (another overlooked element of his creepiness). And then the film abruptly ends in one of the silliest ways imaginable.
Despite that, the film is altogether creepy and disturbing on multiple levels. Christmas Evil was not what I had expected at all. Not overly gory or bloody but that doesn't matter as the real story is the seriously deranged central character. He is horrifying enough. Overall, a solid horror flick, save for the silly ending.

Cortez the Killer

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