The Six Slays of Christmas - Day One
We're just six little days away from the year's biggest holiday season, and to celebrate the coming of Saint Nick (or whomever you believe in), we'll be taking a look at a different yuletide horror flick each day until the 25th ... starting NOW! Think of it as a cinema crazed Advent calendar!
There's loving Christmas, and then there's loving Christmas on a level that's unhealthy. And that unhealthy, disturbing love of Christmas is the subject of the first film of Dread Central's Six Slays of Christmas. Released on November 1, 1980, we give you... Christmas Evil.
For those of you who may have missed this one, Christmas Evil (a.k.a. You Better Watch Out, a.k.a. Terror in Toyland) is the story of a boy who 1) is really, REALLY upset to find out there is no Santa Claus and 2) goes completely apeshit when he sees his mother getting felt up by jolly ol' St. Nick (who's actually his dad in costume) under the Christmas tree. (Note to parents who want to play out Santa fantasies this year: Make sure your kids are asleep for Christ's sake!) Fast forwarding to adulthood, our hero, Harry, has basically made himself into a modern day Santa Claus. He works at a toy factory and (creepily) spies on the neighborhood kids while keeping 'Naughty Children' and 'Nice Children' journals. Yeah, that's really, really disturbing.
Needless to say, something eventually sets Harry off, and he goes from good guy Santa wannabe to revenge-crazed killer. Played brilliantly by Brandon Maggart (dad to your favorite folk singer and mine, Fiona Apple), Harry is extremely disturbed, and when he finally goes off the deep end and decides that he really is Santa Claus, you're in for a treat from his performance.
True to form, he rewards all the good kids with presents. What else would you expect from a nutcase who thinks he's Santa Claus. However, he's got a real bug up his ass for one kid on the block who continually makes his 'Naughty' list, Moss Garcia. On a side note, Moss Garcia kinda has an excuse for being a bad egg because in the film we see his mother beat his ass for not listening. Smack right across the face. If you want a how-to example for raising a child sure to end up on the 'Naughty' list, check out Moss Garcia's mom. Not a master class in parenting by any means. (By the way, a bit of trivia... Moss' mom is played by Patricia Richardson, who would go on to portray Tim Allen's wife in "Home Improvement." Didn’t beat the kids there, did you, Patty?)
Anyway, Christmas Evil is a great holiday horror treat. We get to watch Harry go from borderline wacky neighbor to all out crazed psycho. And Maggart is brilliant in the role. At one point he puts on a Santa beard with heavy-duty glue, and his reaction when he can't pull the beard off is priceless! Unadulterated insanity.
Another bonus for you horror fans, Jeffrey DeMunn (crotchety old Dale from "The Walking Dead") plays Harry's brother, Phil (and ladies, believe it or not, he's jacked in this film). Phil tries his best to keep Harry from going off the deep end. Fortunately for us he fails miserably.
And yes, for those familiar with the film, the ending is a bit ridiculous, but let's not hold that against this unique piece of filmmaking. All the central characters are brilliant, especially Maggart and DeMunn, and the story is one of true suffering and insanity. All the things you look for in a quality Christmas film. ABC Family, you've got nothing on Christmas Evil!
So it is with this first offering from Dread Central's Six Slays of Christmas that we celebrate an early, but very effective holiday film... Christmas Evil.
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