Christmas Evil

Christmas Evil

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We had a lot more to say than we thought about this weird cult film. Check it out!

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Christmas Evil (1980)

Episode 13, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw

Todd: Welcome to Two Guys and a Chainsaw. I’m Todd. I’m Craig. Now we’re in week three of our Christmas themed horror film Fest. And, uh, the movie tonight was Christmas Evil, originally titled, You Better Watch Out. Craig, you’re the one who suggested this. How did you hear about this film? 

Craig: Right. So we were talking about, uh, doing some work Christmas themed movies.

And so I just did a quick Google search of Christmas horror movies. And it brought up a list of about 20 or so. And this one stuck out to me one because I had never seen it before. And two, because the cover art. Was really kinda, it caught my eye and it made me think, I think that when I was a kid, this is one of those covers that I would see at the video store.

And it was always intriguing to me, but for whatever reason, uh, I never picked it up and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but, uh, it’s an interesting little 

Todd: movie. It sure is, you know, as a kid, uh, watching this film, I think you probably would’ve seen it very differently than as an adult watching this film.

Don’t you think 

Craig: most probably, you know, it’s one of those things that I had to wonder, having never seen it before I had no kind of emotional connection to it, you know, there are some, I’m just gonna throw it out there. There are some bad movies out there that, you know, I kind of just have a nostalgic feeling for.

Uh, and so I kinda have, uh, there’s, you know, a little special place in my heart for them. This isn’t one, I don’t have a, I didn’t have that going in. And so my, uh, my objective take on it is probably a little bit different than it would be had. I seen it when 

Todd: I was a kid. Yeah. You’re, you’re not colored by nostalgia with this film.

Probably not. A lot of people have been considering. I guess it didn’t get much of a theatrical release at all. Um, I believe there was a problem with the NPAA and the advertisements. They didn’t, um, approve the advertisements in the newspaper for this. 

Craig: Yeah. That’s what I heard. And then, so it, the release was more limited than they had initially anticipated.

And when it came out, you know, what I’ve read is that really. Critics were pretty good. You know, they were pretty nice about this film. They had pretty positive things to say about it. It wasn’t received very well though. Uh, and the director thinks that that’s because there’s really a pretty low body count and there’s really not a lot of Gore.

And while there are kills, they don’t come until about 50 minutes or so into this. What, 80 something, 90 minute 

Todd: movie. Yeah. It’s pretty low on body count. Yeah. And, uh, if you were coming in here looking for a slasher horror film, probably as people around this era were right. I mean, you’re looking at 1980.

That was, uh, just a year after Halloween. Um, around the time of checks at Texas chainsaw massacre, probably that’s what folks coming to see this were expecting. And instead what they got was almost, um, Like a David Lynch film. Yeah. In a way it’s a lot more into this. It’s more of a psychological thriller than a horror film.

Like a character study. Yeah. 

Craig: Exploration it’s I think that’s exactly what it is. I mean, uh, the premise is we start out in what I guess is kind of a flashback it’s sometime in the 1940s, 1944, 46, something like that. And it’s a Christmas scene where you got a mother and two boys sitting on the stairs. You know, kind of watching the fireplace and Santa Claus comes down the fireplace and starts putting presence around and whatnot.

And then one of the little boys starts giggling and Santa Claus turns and kind of gives them the little Santa Claus, wink and whatnot. And, and they go back to bed. And one of the brothers, the younger brother, Billy is saying, Oh, that was just dad. That was just dad dressed up. And the older brother, Harry says no way, there’s no way that was dad.

Daddy, that wasn’t daddy. Well, daddy, you’re crazy. Yeah, no, you’re crazy. You don’t know nothing Philly, Philly, but I guess it’s curiosity gets the best of him and he goes back downstairs and he finds Santa in a compromising position with his mother. Now, of course it is his dad. Um, but, uh, apparently he still doesn’t put that together.

And, uh, I think that that kind of. Breaks him somehow. And he goes upstairs to the attic and smashes a Christmas globe and slices his hand with the Christmas globe. And then we cut and jump to present day where we have Harry waking up in the morning to a Christmas music box, a alarm clock he’s wearing Santa Claus pajamas.

You know, he’s got. Dolls and Christmas memorabilia all over the house. The walls are papered with images of Santa. So obviously he’s been obsessed since that event in his childhood. And then we follow him from there and he’s clearly 

Todd: unhinged. Yeah. It’s, it’s interesting how that event, when you look at his apartment, when he wakes up, obviously it’s kind of a sad.

Single man’s apartment. Definitely. This guy’s that has middle-aged by now. I presume it’s present day. So it’s 1980. So you go from 1949 to 1980. He’s in his forties or so. And all of the, even, even the music that he wakes up to, or at least it’s playing in the background is that 1940s, 1950s style, jazzy, Christmas music, and all of the decor and the imagery and things around his apartment.

They’re not necessarily as there’s some of the modern, but more or less sort of that classical Christmas. Did a very good visual representation. I think of how this guy is clearly stuck in the past and have clearly stuck with his old Christmas memories. And then of course you think, Oh, well, must be Christmas time.

Well kind of, but there’s a sign on the wall where he has this Christmas countdown and says thirty-five five days in the middle of Christmas. Like, Oh gosh, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. So this guy’s clearly obsessed. And then of course, to top it all off. What does he, but he’s the, the newly promoted sort of foreman at the local toy 

Craig: factory.

Right. Right. If it’s 20 factory and you know, he’s concerned about quality, you know, he really wants these toy. He wants the workers who are, you know, not interested at all or concerned at all about quality. He really wants to make sure that the toys are quality, cause they’re going to be going to children.

And it’s such an important thing. He’s clearly obsessed, you know, there’s, there’s no other way to put it. 

Todd: It almost hearkens back to even, uh, the Krampus that we watched last time, where it starts out as this. Guy, who’s sort of afraid that everybody’s not really keeping the true spirit of Christmas as he is.

And boy is he keeping it, you know, he, he even has that flashback. Uh, it has some cute moments. So like when he was sort of, he’s getting ready to shave and he puts on his shaving cream and he holds up the rate at first, he’s really sort of delighted by the fact that he kind of looks like Santa, even though he’s a dark haired guy, he’s got this sort of Santa beard on.

And then he goes up with his razor to shave. And he has a sort of moment where he’s sort of a mental snap. 

Craig: Yeah, he Nicks himself and the side of the blood causes him to flash back to that moment when he cut himself, uh, when he was a kid, I don’t really get the sense necessarily that that was any kind of breaking point.

You know, I get the sense that this guy has been looped, you know, from the time he was a kid and we, you know, we. We see his, his younger brother as an adult too. Um, and his brother is talking to his wife and his wife’s like, you know, please leave Harry alone this year. Don’t give him a lot of trouble. You won’t ever let him, you always bring up his mistakes and remind him of his mistakes.

And the brother says, well, he’s made lots of mistakes. So you get the sense that he’s been troubled throughout his life. What, that was one of the things, you know, Yeah, this isn’t a good movie folks or at least I don’t think so. You know, it’s got its, it’s got its fans out there and I, I probably, my guess would be that they’ve got that nostalgic attachment to it, but it’s interesting in some ways, because Harry, the main guy is really not your typical bad guy at all.

His intentions are really coming from. A good place. You know, he wants to remind people of the true meaning of Christmas throughout the course of the movie. He, you know, wants to reward people who are good, especially children. And he has an affinity for children. Now it’s really 

Todd: creepy. Yeah. He’s up on the rooftop, uh, staring out through binoculars across the street at the apartment building and he’s, uh, going from window to window and looking at all these kids and say, Oh gee, you know, Julie, she’s really nice.

She’s really good. And it goes up in. One of the kids, uh, mosques Garcia, who we get to hear about a lot is reading a penthouse 

Craig: and like cutting out the 

Todd: centerfold. It’s awesome. And he’s like, uh, what like eight or nine, all these little, the kids. And he goes back and he actually has a couple sets of books.

There’s a book of good girls and boys, 1980 bad girls and boys 1980. And he is meticulously been documenting each of these kids. Sins, which for the most part, especially cause their kids are pretty silly. 

Craig: Yeah. Like uses foul language, fixes notes crosses against the light

Todd: impure thoughts. The closest we get to anything that sounds somewhat sinister that these kids do. It’s 

Craig: funny because he clearly takes this very seriously. I don’t know where he had these books bound, but he’s got like these large, like leather bound books, 

Todd: professionally printed, 

Craig: good little boys and girls and bad little boys 

Todd: and girls.

And yeah, you’d almost think that the person at the printing store would go catch onto this. It’s like, you know, 14 years of this. So these big empty box that you’re binding 

Craig: anybody had caught him doing what he was doing. You know, he’s watching these kids with binoculars through the window from across the street, but then later on, he comes around at night and is looking directly into their windows.

And, um, it’s, it’s, it’s very creepy at the same time. You, my initial thought, if I saw somebody doing that would be creepy pervert, you know, bad guy. But he doesn’t really have those motives, you know, he’s really just, he’s, he’s really just observing. And at one point he goes to that, the bad kids house Moss’s house and, uh, tries to scare him.

But it’s nothing violent. 

Todd: No. Um, he looks in the window and then he sorta S marks his house. He. Smears his face and his hands with dirt and kisses, the, the outside wall and puts his hands on there. And then, uh, when Moss comes out with his mother, he’s hiding in the bushes and kind of makes himself seen and Moss slowly approaches.

And then he jumps out at him a little bit, but not to the point where his mom can see it. It’s kind of a weird scene. It’s kind of a forced, a unrealistic thing, but he is, uh, A figure in his neighborhood, he walks down the street with his groceries and the kids are calling out at him from across the street and asking him, what did you wish for today?

Craig: We started with super magic.

I wanted that in school.

Oh, right. Great.

Todd: And he’s not even paying the particular mind, but he’s delighted. And the fact that they’re continuing to talk with him as he continues to walk by, 

Craig: and it seems like he’s liked by the children. You know, it seems like they have some kind of rapport or relationships. So yeah. I mean, he’s. Again, like I said, he’s not your typical bad guy.

I mean, seriously unhinged. And then later on in the movie, he starts punishing the bad people, but only adults, you know, uh, you know, we go through Thanksgiving and he watches the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade. Which on another note, there’s tons of holiday thrown in here. I mean a lot. Yeah. It’s huge on, you know, Christmas imagery.

The, the entire soundtrack is Christmas music, lots of traditional 

Todd: Christmas music, surprisingly some modern Christmas music, which you wouldn’t think a movie like this could get the rights to that’s playing in the background at the Christmas party. Yeah. Things like 

Craig: that. There was, I think like a disco version of here comes Santa Claus.

I’ve got to get my hands on. Oh, it was awesome. You know, he, he watches the Thanksgiving day parade and he’s all excited about Santa. We follow him through the course, uh, of, of the movie kind of prepping, getting ready for Christmas. And eventually we do get there and he goes to his office, Christmas party and finds out that they are having this.

Promotion within the company where however much they can produce, you know, it’s, it’s encouraging productivity, however much they can produce a percentage of that will be donated to this channel burns hospital. 

Todd: Oh no, it’s the Willow state hospital for retarded children. More or less shows the age of the film and 

Craig: yeah, not, not so PC 

Todd: there a little in that regard, 

Craig: but, uh, you know, he, he sees it for what it is.

He sees it as a business ploy, the guy who planned it is, uh, not concerned at all about. Getting toys to the kids. It’s just about productivity. Are there 

Todd: enough 

Craig: toys for all the children from hospital? 

Todd: I don’t have a slightest idea. How many children are 

Craig: in that hospital? Harry, I worked on campaign presentation, but I’ll tell you something.

The idea of mine is really solid. The factory can’t always show to the whole bird. You mean you’re waiting for these guys to contribute here on the other side of the desk. Now you’ve got to understand good business. 

Todd: It’s okay. Harry, really the factory comes out. Okay. And so those kids are just so worried about him.

He is, he 

Craig: doesn’t even know why to invest, to be played. You actually know how to play, 

Todd: look what you’re 

Craig: doing, and that’s kind of what sets them off. And that’s really what leads to the first 

Todd: murders. That’s right. He basically goes to the toy factory in the middle of the night loads up on a bunch of presents, paints his van with a it’s kind of cute.

Actually, he’s got this white van, but then he paints it with the sleigh. And at home, even he’s sort of constructing toys, he has this sort of creepy dolls everywhere, like in his workshop, in his garage and things like half put together toys and dolls, like he’s got his own 

Craig: workshop at home and some of them, you know, if you look closely are really kind of dark.

Yeah. They’re not all happy. And, and that’s, that’s really the case. You know, with his deco too, like for the most part, it’s really kind of traditional Christmas stuff and, you know, lots of Santa’s imagery, but there’s one image on the wall that they do a close-up of for a minute that depicts Santa as this judge, like kind of, you know, up, uh, on a pedestal, looking down and pointing down accusingly at the bad kids.

So there is kind of a dark side to it too. Yeah. 

Todd: Clearly how he sees Santa as this sort of judge has person who’s responsible for them for keeping the morality in check of these kids. So that they’ll grow up to be good adults. And it’s like, he’s not going to punish the kids, but he goes Abe over the adult.

Right. And that I think is kind of a weakness of this film in that the first murder takes place. Of course, after he delivers the toys to this Willow street, Home for retarded children is, uh, is, uh, ease well-received. Yeah. There’s even kind of a magical moment there where he is waiting for the security guard to go inside and tell people what’s going on.

And they’re going to come out in the meantime, he’s practicing his Merry Christmas and he’s going Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas,

Craig: Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas,

Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas.

Todd: And then suddenly snow kind of comes down from behind and it was Merry Christmas. At the same time he came, they come out and. It’s this odd sort of jubilant point where you for a moment are kind of on his side. Yeah. You 

Craig: know, because there’s nothing sinister about it. I mean, the movie kind of plays it.

Like you wonder if he’s going to somehow turn sinister, even in these moments where it seems like he’s trying to be good natured, but he doesn’t, you know, he really is just wanting to deliver the toys to these kids. And at first the security guard is skeptical of him. You know, here’s this guy showing up in the middle of the night on announced, but you know, he charms his way.

Not inside, but he gets the staff to come out and he, he opens the back of the van. It’s full of toys. They happily unload everything and take everything out. And they’re genuinely grateful. You know, one of the nurses, uh, gives them a kiss on the cheek and he goes on his Merry way, you know, nothing sinister 

Todd: at all.

It’s really quite nice. And so. You, you, you do get on a side a little bit. You think, Whoa, you know, you’re watching what’s bill this of a horror film. So you know that something’s going to turn at some point, but you’ve been waiting a long time for it. And that’s probably part of the problem maybe with people who are expecting it.

But then he, as he’s driving, as pretty much happens throughout this movie, you have this juxtaposition of really happy, good things that he’s doing. And then as the high of that comes down, he starts thinking about the bad things that have happened to him and the guy at work who forced him to take his shift.

When, when he didn’t really mind, it didn’t seem to really mind taking a shift, but he keeps rubbing it in everywhere. Like 

Craig: it does mine. And he, he comes to find out that he was manipulated and, you know, into doing it. And that makes him mad, which would make me mad too. 

Todd: But yeah. Yeah. And he goes to, goes back to the guy with the Willow street home and how he admitted to him.

We don’t really know how many kids there are there. We don’t really care. It’s all kind of a ploy. And so then he goes to this church and he’s standing outside the church. And I guess he supposed to know that those two guys are inside the church and he doesn’t 

Craig: know when he was talking to them at the Christmas party.

The main boss, the guy whose idea this whole productivity thing was he’s new. And the main boss is introducing Harry to this new guy. And he explains the whole thing with the toys or whatever, but he mentions he’s new in town. He’s going to be staying with me and the wife over the holidays. He wants the whole experience, the whole midnight mass and everything.

So he knew they were going to be there. And that’s who he goes there. 

Todd: Okay. Yeah. Any standing outside and all the people sort of. Pile out and instantly you have these two very snobby kind of stereotypical snobby couples who come down the steps and start to rib him just because he’s Santa, you know, Oh, look at his code and look at all this stuff, which is a code he’s put together himself, which is actually pretty impressive.

It really is. And we get to watch him do it, which begs the question. All right. If he’s been this unhinged this long, and there’d been this many years that go by, does he create a new suit every year? Why now, who knows? But his suit is different and distinctive because he cut up an old, uh, fur coat. And so instead of having white fur all over it, it’s, it’s the, you know, brownish forever.

Anyway, they come up and they rip him in the meantime, he’s trying to ignore them and he’s looking and basically. He pulls a toy soldier out of the back of his coat of his pack and stabs, uh, one guy in the eye with it. And then everybody kind of screams. And somehow he pulls out a hatchet that he has to, and he knocks the other people down.

He’s pretty much killed at least three of these people. And down on the ground in front of a group of folks, nobody really runs out to do anything. Everybody’s just sort of standing and staring. And then he gets in his extremely conspicuous truck and drives off and. That’s another problem with this movie, which really puts it more in the surreal category, you know, than in anything realistic.

And that is that these things are just sort of allowed to happen and any true human intervention just. We’re we’re kind of in a world here where people don’t act the way they would normally act. 

Craig: Right. Absolutely. You know, and it really shouldn’t come as a big surprise. I haven’t listened to the commentary, but I, on the, on the Blu-ray, um, release, but, uh, apparently the director.

Uh, says in the commentary, and this is a quote, this is the Genesis of the whole movie, 1970, smoked a joint and saw an image of Santa Claus with a knife in his hand, and then built the whole story around it. So the surreal nature might be explained by that, I suppose, Louis 

Todd: Jackson, right? The director.

Didn’t he do that commentary with John Waters with John Waters. 

Craig: This is funnily enough. This is one of a John Waters. Favorite movies, period. And, and, uh, his favorite Christmas movie, he plays it at his Christmas party every year, or at least that’s what he claims in the commentary and really. The attention that, you know, he’s written about it in his books, and he’s talked about it and interviews, and that’s kind of increased the popularity of it somewhat in certain circles.

But, uh, yeah, I read some, uh, some of the quotes from their comments. Terry had some pretty 

Todd: interesting stuff. Well, you don’t, it’s not too far out of the territory of John Waters, quite honestly. I mean, you think this is the guy who did pink Flamingo later went on to do cry, baby, but you especially look at his earlier work and it’s in many ways, very reminiscent of it.

A lot of John Waters earlier stuff doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Right. It kind of goes all over the map. It’s really more about the characters themselves and their quirkiness and about the kitsch aspect, which he’s all about. And this, this is something John won. This is a movie John Waters could have made, except he wouldn’t make something that’s quite this dark.

You know, everything he does is kind of this element it’s laughing at itself. Yeah. This movie has joke elements in it. It has some. Humor, but you D I do at least question whether that humor was intentional or whether it was not, 

Craig: I don’t know. I think it was, I mean, I think that we’re looking at it from our contemporary standpoint and a lot of the things, I mean, they play a silly at the end.

You know, there are several ones. The one that, um, it, it was funny. Folks were, I was sitting here at one point, Todd just kept going, Oh my God. There’s uh, you know, so he, he kills those people in front of the church and you know, all of this happens pretty quickly. Cause like I said, he doesn’t even get to the, the violence doesn’t happen until.

Probably more than halfway through the movie. So then the, the spree happens pretty quickly. He, uh, kills those people at the church. Then he goes to the home of the guy who, uh, contem into taking his shift at work. And there’s kind of a little unintentional, maybe funny part too, where he tries to squeeze down the chimney, but he gets, yeah.

Stuck. And he can’t. And like, this is like a two minute seat of him, like stuck in the chimney, trying to get out, 

Todd: like realizing he can’t, 

Craig: he finally gets out and he goes in the window and did the basement window. He leaves, um, he leaves presents for the kids. Uh, and then he goes into the guy’s room and.

Kills this guy, first of all, he tries to smother him with his Santa bag, which doesn’t look like it would be effective at all. And the guy’s like thrashing and fighting. Meanwhile, his wife is just sleeping peacefully, 12 inches away, but so eventually I guess he realized the smothering is not going to work.

He grabs the star off the Christmas tree, that’s over their bed. Right. And slashes his throat with it. And the guy. Falls over on his wife who now wakes up, but apparently is struck mute by the horror of the scenario and kind of does this weird, like silent scream, really bizarre. But, um, it 

Todd: almost looked like she might’ve screamed and re and one, they were shooting this, but he took the sound out and post, you know, it’s just an open mouth kind of like 

Craig: kinda bizarre.

And then, um, then the next day, it’s Christmas day, it’s all over the news that there’s this killer Santa. Um, and then we cut to like the police station. Oh my God. 

Todd: Just this unnecessary bits are thrown in with the police. There are only two of them and they don’t go anywhere, but they’ve the newscaster who himself is pretty hilarious, you know, announces if, you know, if you know anybody who’s dressed up as Santa.

Please report them to the police and don’t come near anybody dressed as Santa, just this total ridiculous thing. Uh, and the police have sure enough created this lineup of Santa’s people dressed as Santa who were coming through and stepping out. And that was the one moment that I thought, okay, they know what they’re doing here.

They’re intentionally being funny because even as they file off the stage, another guy, you know, the group of sand has come up and one of them is black and he says something about. What’s up with this jive ass deal or something just kind of in the background, kind of as an aside, I thought, okay, that he put that in on purpose.

That’s funny. But then the dialogue that follows is totally 

Craig: no, maybe I’ll send, it’s going to do some good after me. You mean get the myth back. Its meaning Ms. Smith. 

Todd: And that kid’s scared again, they won’t take everything’s coming to them. So he’s that bad. 

Craig: Just Santa, when 

Todd: you’re 

Craig: a real philosophy and know that the Gleason Rilla any luck, they knew Santa was coming last night.

The mother told us I can’t figure out the connection between Stoller and the three victims outside the church. Sandoz hit-list has goddamned selective gift list. He’s making our list. Checking it twice going to find out who’s naughty or no. No, it wasn’t. 

Todd: It’s horrible. You couldn’t have even looked good on the pain.

And, and that’s the problem with this movie in general? Um, I feel like Louis Jackson actually has some good stuff in here. He really does a good job. I think. Of portraying this guy slowly being unhinged. He takes his time with it. He has very interesting camera angles. Very good pacing. I have to say on those elements, as long as you’re not expecting a slasher film, that’s going to be a shock a minute.

And you’re in the mood for this sort of slow character study. That’s what you get. And it’s very effective. 

Craig: I thought so too. I was really surprised actually, because I knew I, I, cause I had read about it. I knew that the violence didn’t start until late in the film and I thought, Ugh, That seems like an awfully long time to get there, but it didn’t really feel like it.

I mean, it was really kind of an interesting look into this guy’s life. I wasn’t bored. I think if it had taken any longer, even a minute longer, it might’ve gotten to that territory of boredom. But, uh, I wasn’t, and it didn’t feel long. I didn’t feel like I was checking my watch every couple, you know, it reminded 

Todd: me of a maniac.


Craig: So funny. I wrote that down too. Very reminiscent. There’s 

Todd: another one that’s that’s way, way off the reservation from even maniac, uh, called a combat shock. Nope, no something that trauma released, not quite a while ago about a Vietnam vet who comes home and sort of has to come to terms with things.

It’s more of an art house movie, very much closer to this than to maniac, but again, in the same vein where you’re really following this guy around that’s unhinged and you’re kind of watching a breakdown and it’s interesting and it’s good and it’s artistically done. However, the moment two people have to talk to each other.

It all falls apart. Yeah. The dialogue is horrible in this film, the acting between most of the actors is melodramatic and at times it’s just, 

Craig: it’s bad. Yeah. I mean, there’s a scene, you know, once the, once Harry’s brother Billy and his wife see the news report the next morning, and you can kind of tell that, uh, Billy is already suspicious that this may be Harry, but there’s an exchange between Billy and his wife.

And it’s just, the acting is, is, is bad. It’s 

Todd: painful to them.

Craig: Why won’t you believe something’s wrong? You gotta stop. This very has forced me to be this, be honest with yourself about why he’s not here. You don’t understand what’s happened to us. That is turning it down. It’s kind of unfortunate. Because the lead guy whose whose name? I don’t know. It’s really not bad.

I mean, he’s, he’s an interesting kind of actor. I mean, he certainly doesn’t look like your stereotypical Hollywood actor type. He’s a very average looking guy, 

Todd: kind of a Paul Giamatti ask kind of, yeah, yeah. 

Craig: A little bit. Right. But there’s. Kind of a subtlety to his performance. You know, there’s not, when it’s just focused on him, there’s not much dialogue.

There’s not much talking, you know, you just kind of watch him through his expressions and a little bit through, um, some, you know, his flashbacks and stuff. And from time to time, Like he’ll hum. Christmas tunes. And you know, when he’s happy, he’s humming very cheerly. And then when he gets angry, it gets very dark and kind of sinister is humming.

Um, so his performance is really not bad. 

Todd: I wouldn’t even say it’s. It’s good. Yeah. It’s, it’s interesting. And it’s good because of how far he could have taken it. He could have been like, everybody else had been very melodramatic about it the whole time through 

Craig: played it really over the tops Looney tune.

Exactly. And he doesn’t in fact. Uh, and, and, you know, eventually he puts on the Christmas, uh, suit and he looks very Santa. Like, I mean, he’s, he’s a good looking Santa. Um, and you know, there’s a lot of close-ups on his face and there’s kind of a softness, an innocence in his eyes, you know, kind of almost like a childlike nature.

And I, you know, I found myself kind of feeling sorry for the guy. 

Todd: Oh, Oh, of course. And it’s really in that sweet spot where there really are people like this, this, this is, uh, not Hollywood type a slash or killer, somewhat supernatural. What do you say? It’s hard to break up impossible to. He gets away everywhere.

Uh it’s what happens when you have a movie like this that follows the killer? That’s who our focus is throughout the whole film, as opposed to we’re on the side of the victims being acted upon by the killer. It reminded me a little bit of a documentary called I think we’re alone now. I haven’t seen that either, man.

It’s, it’s worth a watch, but it’s incredibly sad and it follows two people who are obsessed with the singer, Tiffany from the eighties. Do you remember her? I think we’re alone now that all the shows in the mall, stuff like that, they’re in the same age as this guy, one’s a little younger and they live.

Tiffany like this guy lifts, Santa Claus, pictures up all over the wall. One guy just is sure that they’re going to get married. They’ve sort of built this relationship that doesn’t exist, but it’s all in their heads. And it’s a funny movie. It’s extremely sad and depressing, very compelling. And after seeing a film like that, that’s a documentary that’s real.

You can really understand. That there are people like 

Craig: this out there. Right. And it does seem like they were really kind of trying to consider the psychology, you know, it’s, it’s, uh, I don’t know. I imagine there was some tongue in cheek to this, but, and, and I certainly don’t mean to be offensive in any way.

I’m just saying what John Waters said was that he sees Harry as, as being kind of equivalent to a transgendered person, somebody who doesn’t feel that they are. Who they’re supposed to be, and they’re desperate to try to make themselves into what they want to be. Um, and he says, you know, that, uh, this guy kind of fetishized his Christmas a little bit, and there is a scene when he’s putting on the Santa garb and he puts the spirit gum on his face and he put a beard up on the glue and then he starts tugging at it and tugging at it.

And it won’t come up. It’s me.

Like, he’s really made this transformation and it’s, it’s, it’s odd and creepy, but sad at the same time. 

Todd: It’s funny you bring that up because coincidentally and I think you will. I don’t think I’m alone. Now. One of the people in that is transgender. There’s a lot of psychology there. There’s probably a bit of Freudian aspect to it.

A little bit of that when. I imagine what we’re trying to understand is that when he saw his father is Santa, you know, making out with his mother, then when he puts on the Santa suit, he puts on a little bit of that persona is sort of trying to be that guy. He does look in on his brother and his wife when they’re sort of making out on the sofa.

That’s kind of, yeah. Interesting moment. Those moments are so fleeting they’re really touched on and that’s probably. Skillful filmmaking them. They’re not dwelled upon and hammered on your heads, but you’re right. It does add an interesting texture to this character that really, I think, proves of this film, it’s a well-intentioned well made in many ways, film that just utterly fails to hit its Mark in.

Other aspects that just kind of derail the whole thing. Right? 

Craig: Well, and it takes you out of it too much. It does a little bit, and especially, I’m sure, you know, we’ll get to talking about the end here in a little bit where things really get kind of wacky. Um, but it’s not the worst one I’ve seen, you know, there.

We one of the movies that we floated around talking about with silent night, deadly night, cause it’s got this big cult following. It’s kind of when people think of horror movies, that’s kind of the one that comes to mind. Yeah. It’s got that, uh, iconic, you know, box cover with the Santa, you know, with the acts.

Yeah. Um, and so we thought about it, but we both said. It’s such a bad movie. Like, do we really want to sit and watch it again? Mean if you’re a horror fan, I feel like you’re kind of obligated to see it, but it’s really not a great movie. And that came like four years after this. And I think really had to have drawn inspiration.

There are so many parallels. Um, even, you know, what sins, uh, the main character on his psychotic break is very similar. It’s a sexual related thing with Santa Claus in that movie too. But I think this movie is better. Then that movie, it’s not a great movie, but it’s definitely not one of the worst 

Todd: I’ve seen.

No, and it’s well, um, the filmed, it has great camera angles. Uh it’s you know, the sin for a horror movie. What makes a horror movie bad is boring. Right? We will put up with a lot of schlock and a lot of bad dialogue and a lot of crappy stuff. It can still be fun, but if it’s boring, you’ve, you’ve turned us off completely.

And this movie isn’t. Boring. No, not like silent light, fricking deadly. This is super boring to sit through. Yeah. You know, speaking of interesting camera angles, I was thinking particularly about one scene where. Santa comes into, it’s still Christmas Eve and he’s murdered one or two people at least. And he ends up in the Christmas party, just sort of a random Christmas party, another one of these maybe office or family or church parties or whatever it is.

Right. Kind of peering in the window. And a couple guys in there, see the Santa guy peering in the window and they’re thinking, Oh, this will be great for some laughs. And they pull him in and you’re wondering, Oh geez, what’s he going to do here? Is he going to kill these guys? Are they making fun of him?

Right. But they really embrace him as Santa. And what really breaks him and makes him happy. And kind of out of his moodiness at this moment is when the crowd parts and these kids run up to him in the sand and suddenly he starts interacting with the kids, handing out presents to them. And the next thing we see is they’re dancing around the room.


Craig: becomes the life of the party. I mean, he’s having a good time. They’re celebrating him and he’s celebrating with them. It’s a, it’s, it’s kind of a sweet. It’s a sweet 

Todd: and tragic because you know, what’s going to happen to this guy. So it’s just sort of sweet and tragic. It’s, uh, it’s a very good scene. I, I really like that.

And I did too. 

Craig: And it was, I love, uh, his monologue at the end when he finally says I have to go and he kind of gives this sincere farewell to the kids saying, I want you to remember to stay good boys and girls. Respect your mothers and fathers and do what they tell you a Bay, your teachers, and learn a whole lot.

Now, if you do this, I don’t make sure you get good presence from me every year,

but if you’re a bad boys and girls. Name goes in the bed, boys and girls book, and I’ll bring you something horrible.  parents are in the background. Great. Have given each other sign of kids 

Todd: with like wide open mouth and then he goes 

Craig: and everybody kind of laughs 

Todd: it’s funny that that is brilliancy, you know, on its own.

Uh, I really liked that part. 

Craig: A lot to the psychology of what he’s going through. You know, he calls his brother after he’s killed these people after, you know, the police and everybody is on the lookout for him. And he calls his brother and said, you know, I finally figured it out. I finally figured out what I’m supposed to do and I, and I’m going to do it.

You know, you get the sense that he thinks that he’s doing the right thing. And then. Later. Um, he more happens before this, but he ends up back at his brother’s house and his brother is chastising him for what he did. And he says, uh, I failed. He says, I, I wanted to give people what they say they wanted, but they don’t want Santa Claus.

He says, you know, kids. Yeah. Wants someone to notice who’s good and who’s bad, and they want to be rewarded for their good behavior. So it’s almost as though he just can’t understand, like he doesn’t have the capacity to understand why, what he’s doing. Isn’t acceptable, you know, for him, that is the true nature of Santa you reward.

Children for their good behavior and children who behave badly or punished 

Todd: Santa as the judge, right? Yeah. Right. Yeah. It’s, it’s very interesting. It’s sad that everything just gets so undercut by really weak plot points and poor acting. And the reason that his brother is really worried about him is that he hasn’t shown up.

It’s the first Christmas that he hasn’t shown up there now. They’re worried, but they’re beyond worried. I mean, he’s fuming around the house sweating and like talking to his wife, it’s like, Oh, please come on. And then when he comes in, there’ve been these reports of these Santa clauses, the Santa Claus, who’s murdering people and stuff, but they really have absolutely no basis for suspecting him of doing any of this for thinking that he’s dressing up as Santa for thinking that he’s behind this.

I mean, it’s a pretty far reach. But they jumped to that conclusion pretty darn quickly. Even before they see him dressed as Santa, you know, you get other, especially the brother it’s, it’s, it’s unfortunate writing. I think. Well, I, I 

Craig: feel, you know, we gotta, we gotta get to the end and I don’t know. It’s the ending is, is odd.

And I’m not exactly, please. Sure. What they were going for now, like you said before, the whole thing is kind of surreal. Like it really doesn’t make any sense that he could still be so conspicuously driving around in the day in this, this van, and nobody would, would find them. But you know, you suspend your disbelief to, to some extent it’s, it’s a, it’s a horror movie, whatever, but then he goes, I don’t remember where he’s trying to get to.

I feel like he’s trying to get somewhere, but his. His van gets stuck right outside this really nice neighborhood. That’s really decked out for the holidays. Like the whole street is lined with these light up decorations and whatnot. And, uh, he encountered some children, right. And children with their parents and the children run up to him and embrace him.

And you know, this is Christmas evening. So they’re thanking him for the gifts that they got, but his parents. Are on the lookout for this killer. And they believe that it is him. Um, and they start getting aggressive. Uh, and he kind of, he doesn’t use the children to shield him, the children do it on their own.

Um, but he kind of allows them to kind of protect him. And one of the dads gets aggressive and kind of comes at him with a knife. Um, but he’s able to get away and he starts running away. And then everybody in the neighborhood lights, torch, lights up there, handy torches, all wet panties, right? I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s the, it’s the mob, right.

It gets 

Todd: done in 1980. 

Craig: They’re chasing him through the streets, this angry mob with every single one of them with a torch. And, um, nobody’s shouting, 

Todd: nobody hopped in a car at a motor. No. 

Craig: And so he runs back to his van and, and somehow the van comes loose or whatever. And. Um, that’s when he drives to his brother and he has the confrontation with his brother, his, you know, he kind of tries to talk.

He’s not reasonable, but he tries talk reasonably to his brother and explain, you know, what he was doing. But, uh, the brother freaks out and like strangles him. And you think that, um, you think that he’s dead? The brother drags him out to his van and puts them in, uh, the van, but then he comes back awake and he punches the brother and knocks him out and he starts driving away.

Coincidentally at the same time that the angry mob arrives and is starting to chase him again. And he goes off, speeding down the road and he swerves to avoid the mob. And his van goes off a cliff or like over 

Todd: a break and overpass or something or something, but it clearly is it’s not going over it, but it’s going.

Off of it. So it just keeps flying straight through the air in what had to be the highest, uh, you know, budget, special effect that this film had, which isn’t saying much no. And, uh, and into the sky. And we hear the last bits of the twice a night before Christmas, I heard him 

Craig: exclaim as he drove out of sight, Merry Christmas to all and to Raul good 

Todd: flies, almost ITI, like.

Across the moon across the moon and up there and credits. Right. And so as his brother, it must be said watches in amazement, right? It’s not like. This happened in his head and he’s really plummeted down into the water. Well, it’s a little confusing. It could be, except for the fact that there’s a shot of his brother looking in amazement.

Craig: Right? I know it is though, because you know, everybody talks, if you read message boards or, or whatnot, the ending is the part that everybody really talks about. This kind of really weird surprise ending in the IMDV trivia, um, for the film. It says that he doesn’t actually fly away, that there is actually a crash and that you hear the crash.

Um, but people mistake it for the sound of the brother rolling down the Hill. But I don’t and I was listening. I was paying attention. You do hear a crash after he goes over and the brother is rolling down the Hill, which is also hilarious because it’s so clearly like fake sheets, 

Todd: you know? 

Craig: Um, and I feel like there’s even cardboard boxes that like pop 

Todd: out from underneath.

Right. There’s clearly for more 

Craig: than just, you do hear a crash, but like you said, I can’t imagine that that was really the filmmaker’s intention because then you see him flying off. And, and you see the brother watching now, if you didn’t see the brother watching, I guess you could kind of look at it metaphorically, like he’s escaped or, you know, in depth, his way 

Todd: of going 

Craig: to dinner.

Right. But, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s peculiar to say the least. I don’t know. I mean, it’s, it’s a weird into a weird movie and every once in a while you just come across these movies that are just so oddball that you kind of don’t 


Todd: know what to make of it. It, again, it’s very, Lynchian, uh, it’s the sort of thing.

And if there had been more really, truly sort of magical realism kind of aspects to it throughout the ending wouldn’t seem so shocking and jarring. You’d put the movie in its place. You would understand this is the kind of film we’re dealing with. And the ending would almost be fitting, but it comes so far out of left field and so quickly.

And so suddenly at the end that it doesn’t seem quite 

Craig: right. I don’t know. You know, I don’t know what would have been the fitting ending. Well, that’s true. I guess. I mean, it, as odd as it may sound, it really kind of seemed like a fitting ending for this weird movie to me. Yeah. 

Todd: There, there are a lot of strange things in here.

I think it’s. It’s funny what? That he smelts a toy soldier in his garage. Yeah. He’s just 

Craig: got smelting tools. He’s like pouring the hot, hot lead, like into this cast mold. 

Todd: Uh, quite a bit is made of that scene, which is interesting, but, and on that cool way where he kind of smacks a toy as he’s leaving and the camera ominously sort of jumps in to this freaky looking sort of marionette Teddy bear or whatever, that’s kind of bouncing.

And one thing that. That the film did really well with sound. I thought, I thought the sound was very effective. It was a weird amalgamation of both what you said earlier. The traditional Christmas carols and the modern Christmas carols with. Music that was clearly composed for it. That was sometimes sort of your horror 

Craig: type music, your eighties synth kind of stuff, which, you know, you have to have a fondness for, but I thought that what was here was actually really good.


Todd: Yeah. And sometimes it was just noise and there were often very good transitions where the music would serve as a great transition where somebody was playing something on a record player. We’ve kind of heard it for a while. And then suddenly in this. Mrs party, somebody stumbles against the record player that makes the record scratch you get that scratching noise.

And as we’re moving into him, kind of coming on hinged again in the 

Craig: van, right. Or it changes the RPM. So you’ve got this. Uh, you know, uh, be fun traditional holiday song, but then somebody bumps it and the speed gets turned down. And so it’s kind of this draw now, and it’s kind of spooky and they do that in the score too sometimes where you’ll have elements of Christmas songs that you can definitely recognize, and then they distort it.

In, in ways that makes it unsettling. And I, I agree. I thought it was, and it must be 

Todd: said, this is a movie that if you’re grossed out by Gore, you could probably watch. I mean, there’s one bit where those three guy people get killed and that happens pretty quickly. Yeah. 

Craig: Uh, there is one practical effect where a guy like gets stabbed through the eye and, you know, it’s so fast, it’s blinking it.

You hardly notice 

Todd: it. And it’s like in sort of a close-up, but it’s almost in silhouette in a way. And so. That shouldn’t scare you away from watching this film. If that’s the sort of thing that bothers you, it’s probably everything. Yeah. Yeah. 

Craig: I, you know, I don’t know who I would recommend this film to. I it’s, uh, I don’t think that it’s necessarily something that I would ever watch again.

Um, but it was interesting to see, you know, and there is some hype, you know, there are people. Uh, out there in, in horror communities who really kind of cherish this as one of their classic Christmas horror films. And, um, I’m, I’m glad to have seen it now. I don’t feel the same way, but you know, it’s an interesting effort, 

Todd: nonetheless.

It is. It’s not a bad movie. It’s just not a very good one. Yeah. 

Craig: I was hoping to weave these things in more naturally, but there was some of the stuff that came from, uh, the waters, uh, commentary that he did with the director that I feel like is just too good. Not to mention. I think it’s the lead actor is feeling Apple’s dad.

No way. Isn’t that 

Todd: random. Oh my gosh. 

Craig: And uh, in the, uh, John Waters, uh, or somebody in one of these asks, um, If a sh if they think she’s ever seen it and the director says he doubts it. Um, another, another thing we talked about that scene where Harry kind of scares the kid and then his mom’s trying to pull them away in that scene.

You know, when the kids like there’s somebody in the bushes, the mom just slaps him right across the face, which is hilarious in itself. But that mom was Patricia Richardson from home improvement. And I knew that going in and I didn’t even notice, I didn’t even recognize her at all. She must’ve been. Super young.

Um, and then finally that, uh, the scene that we talked about where he kind of stumbles upon the Christmas party and he’s looking through the window, watching people dance that dancing in that seed, which is, you know, not super impressive choreography or anything, but it was choreographed by Meryl Streep’s brother.

Like, is this some of the most random connections I thought were so interesting to read about. And I guess all that comes from the commentary, which I can only imagine would be just as amusing to watch, if not more so than the film 

Todd: itself. The only way I’d watch this movie again, it’s to hear John Waters and the director of talking about this, and I’m sure John Waters Fonz all over this film.

Yeah. Well, there you have at Christmas evil, otherwise known as. You better watch out. We’ve got one more week coming up of Christmas theme, horror movies. We’re going to be watching rare exports next week. It’s a catch us then next week, same time, same channel where they’re on Stitcher. We’re on iTunes.

We’re on our website. If you enjoyed this podcast as always, please share it with a friend, check out our Facebook page like us on there until next week. This is Todd and I’m Craig, with Two Guys and a Chainsaw.

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