Christmas Evil (1980)
Back of the box...
“As a boy, he saw mommy making love to Santa Claus. As an adult, he is a crazed killer who has kept a list of all the girls who have been good, and all the girls who have been bad. It’s Christmas time, and all the bad girls are in trouble.
A man dressed as Santa Claus is stalking the streets, brutally murdering innocent girls. Who’s to say if the kindly old gent, whose knee your daughter sits upon, is a maniacal murderer?”
Director: Lewis Jackson
Starring: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull
Watch the Trailer
In an essay titled “Why I love Christmas” John Waters praises Christmas Evil as the best Christmas movie ever made! He liked it so much that he even did a commentary track with writer / director Lewis Jackson for the DVD and Bluray releases. So is he right, is Christmas Evil the best Christmas movie ever made? Eh, we’re not sure about “the best” but it is surprisingly fun to watch and we completely get why John Waters would like it so much. It’s dark and quirky, with a sympathetic, sexually repressed killer who only wants to spread Christmas cheer! . . aaaand maybe punish a few people on his naughty list.
Harry Stadling, played by Brandon Maggert (whose only other noteworthy role is being the real life father of Fiona Apple), experienced some seasonal trauma as a child when he watched Santa Claus seduce his mother. Now, as an adult, Harry is a single guy in his forties who works at a toy factory and may have a slight obsession with Christmas. When not being tormented by coworkers for his recent promotion, he spends his time spying on the neighborhood kids, documenting their behavior in his comically oversized books with gold lettering indicating who has been bad or good. Equally fueled by a desire to spread seasonal cheer as well as revenge, Harry embarks on an evening of gift giving and eye-gouging.
We had no idea what to expect from this movie (especially when it’s original title You Better Watch Out popped up on the screen), it has all the hallmarks of unwatchable shit, but also the praise of a man whose opinion we respect. Though we can’t fully endorse John Waters’ claims, we think it’s a crime that Christmas Evil isn’t more well known with a place on everyone’s yearly holiday watchlist.
If you’re looking for horror, Christmas Evil may not be what you’re looking for, but if you just want to watch a good, dark Christmas movie with some gore elements, we highly recommend it. It has a charm and whimsy that rarely accompany a movie with an eye-gouge scene. The ending goes a little off the rails and we’ve heard the film’s received some criticism for it, but it had us grinning.