Thursday, December 17, 2015

Dismember December: Christmas Evil

Welcome back carolers for Day 4 of Dismember December and as luck would have it we have us an also known as title. Precursor to Silent Night, Deadly Night our original title is You Better Watch Out, a lesser known flick compared to the upheaval that was Silent Night, Deadly Night. Oddly enough a lunatic goes on a rampage of murder and mayhem while dressed as Santa. This is Christmas Evil a.k.a. Terror in Toyland a.k.a. You Better Watch Out.

Look kids!  Santa's naughty now!

Directed by Lewis Jackson (The Deviates, The Transformation: A Sandwich of Nightmares, Christmas Evil), a fan favorite of the infamous John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Desperate Living, Hairspray, Cry-Baby, Serial Mom, Pecker and A Dirty Shame) our film opens with a lovely trip to suburbia (shudder) during the year 1947 as young Harry sees his mother being felt up by Santa a.k.a. His dad in a suit and with that the lad is heartbroken. 33 years later, Harry (Brandon Maggart of Purlie, The World According to Garp, Jennifer Slept Here, Chicken Soup, Dream Date and The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.) is working a assembly position at the Jolly Dreams toy factory but at home...well Harry sees himself as the next tride and true Santa (THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!), with his apartment decked out in lights, ornaments and various toys, "Santa" watches on the neighborhood children from the roof of his building...with a creeper and even keeps a journal of naughty and nice kids.

Another eye gouge?? Must be Fulchi's fault.

Harry realizes that several of the assembly workers have been treating him like some dumb schmuck and taking advantage of him for ages. Seeing his co-worker Frank (Joe Jamrog of Christmas Evil, Blue Steel, The Fisher King and United 93) in a bar when he was supposedly sick making Harry fill-in for him teeters him from the realms of safe and sane. To make matters worse, Harry's own brother Phil (Jeffery DeMunn of The X-Files, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Mist, The Walking Dead and Mob City) cancels Thanksgiving dinner on him at the last minute. Harry has left this grounded world and is convinced he is Santa and proceeds to dish out...Christmas justice??!!! A few rounds of breaking and entering, he smashes his nephews' toys and replaces them with handmade ones.

Harry takes out three preppies with an axe and... I am not certain if I should feel bad or imagine them as hipsters being vanquished instead. Really hate hipsters. Frank and his buddy George witness the murders as the Santa flees. Tension rises at Phil's household in which he is concerned about Harry and wondering if he is doing alright.

Will Harry carve out a new Christmas tradition? Will there be anyone left alive in Jersey? Will anyone notice Jersey devoid of people?

A few points I would like to make now. The cinematography of this low budget slasher is AWESOME! Shot with Panaflex in 35mm spherical it really gives it a good vibe in spite of being in mono via sound. Falling under Britian's Video Nasty Ban list, our movie an hour and 40 minutes but was deemed too gory to be edited down to 95 mines instead. I saw the hour and 40 so I guess some nudity and a couple of close-up zoom hatchet scenes were yanked.

I am perplexed by what I saw. On one hand, Santa is murdering a fair amount of people, but he delivered toys to kids in the hospital. This whole film seems to document a life that was scarred at an early age and attempted to muddle through it as best as possible. Attention slasher fans, the body count and death scenes are not over the top and not a large amount of them. What this film depicts is about a man's mental and emotional mindset ebbing away and no one seems to care.

I loved the police line up of Santas and the fact I recognized character actor Jeffrey DeMunn or Dale from Walking Dead and a very young Patrica Richardson (Jill from Home Improvement and Sheila Brooks from The West Wing). Not so much a psychological thriller but it was quirky, odd and kind of fun.

Holiday shopping can be murder,right?