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Christmas Evil (1980)

This is one of those, what did I just watch? movies.


So the movie starts: 30 (ish) years ago Santa comes down the chimney of a house, delivering presents, but watched by a mother and her two young children. Santa notices them and "magics" them back to bed, I think, before going back up the chimney. I mean, they just disappear. As in "special effect" disappear. And I'm not sure if that really happened or not. Maybe it was artsy direction?

Anyway, the two boys are now in bed arguing as to whether it was really Santa, or their father, further fueling my confusion over magic use. That's a give away, right? The use of magic? So the son that believes it really is Santa goes downstairs...for some reason?...only to Kissing Santa Clause. Yes let's go with that. He then, distraught, goes to the loft, and...starts self harming? 


And then cut to "present day" which is in the 1980's. Thus the film begins proper. 

The two brothers, now grown up, lead very different lives. The level headed brother, now living in the old family home with a wife and two children, and the mentally scarred one, living in an apartment, with a Christmas complex.

From the beginning, obvious nutjob Harry Stadling, works in a toy factory (of course he does), and spies creepily on the local children. Making a list. 

Checking it twice.

When the factory says that they won't have enough toys to donate to the children's hospital this year, it pushes Harry over the edge, and sends him into some fevered Santa slasher frenzy, where all adults who as mean to him get what's coming to them. And it isn't a bag of coal. 

The film culminates in a bizarre ending, with Harry fleeing from villagers with burning torches (I shit you not), the police, his family, and the kitchen sink. 

That's right. Hide behind a wall of children. 
Well directed by Lewis Jackson, and with a cast of relatively recognizable actors (Most noticeably Jeffrey Demunn as brother Philip Stadling (The Mist / The Walking Dead)) the film is pretty solid. 

The portrayal of Harry Stadling by Brandon Maggart (Sesame Street / Brisco County Jr.) is well handled. He has a child-like naivety, which when seen by the viewer comes across as weird and creepy, but as the film goes on you realise it really isn't. 

The guy really does just want to do the right thing. And he tries to, until being sent into a rage by heavy-handed employers, and cruel co-workers. People who can't see that he has a problem.

If you expect a slasher movie, you'd be disappointed, although some good stabby kills. The film explores a man with problems. Family detachment. Guilt. Anger.

There are a couple of strange and detracting scenes, most notably the torch-and-pitch-fork scene, where the angered locals in small town USA suddenly have dozens of burning torches to hand, and the ending. Which I won't spoil, but somewhat jumps the shark.

If you like horror, but with some added depth, I would heartily recommend this.

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