Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Evil – Ol’ Saint Nick Is Not So Jolly After All

By Steve D. Stones

The title Christmas Evil is not a judgment on Christmas itself, but more of an analysis of the main character Harry Stadling who witnesses his mother making out with Santa on Christmas Eve in 1947. Apparently even Santa can’t resist curvaceous cuties, even on Christmas Eve. Harry grows up to work in a toy factory and becomes obsessed with all things Christmas. His obsession is an attempt to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in his heart, despite his mother shattering his image of Christmas as a young boy.

Harry takes his job seriously at Jolly Dream Toy Company. He works hard to perfect quality toys manufactured by the company. Although he is promoted as a supervisor at the company, his dedication leads him to clock in overtime on the assembly line for a worker who calls in sick. He wants to make sure the company makes their toy quota just in time for Christmas. After his overtime shift, he sees the man whose shift he covered drinking at a local bar. This greatly upsets him.

In his spare time, Harry spies on local children and their parents and keeps a record book of naughty and nice children, just like the real Santa would. In his own mind, he is Santa Claus. He witnesses one male child looking at an issue of Penthouse magazine, and writes him up in his naughty book.

Deep down, Harry is a sexually repressed and emotionally unstable middle-aged man who cannot connect well with other human beings, living a life of isolation and depravity. His family members even begin to worry about him. He uses the character of Santa Claus as a way to try and connect with others, but his obsession leads him to murder adults on Christmas Eve. He transforms himself into Santa, and shows up at parties to give children gifts. He even climbs down chimneys while covering his Santa costume in chimney dust.

Harry stabs three worshippers leaving a church service after they tease him about being dressed in a Santa suit. In a scene reminiscent of the classic 1931 Frankenstein with Boris Karloff, locals take up torches and chase after Harry when they learn he is responsible for a number of local murders.

Christmas Evil was marketed under two other titles when it was released in 1980. It also appeared as Terror In Toyland and You Better Watch Out! The folks at Troma Studios sell a print of the film as Christmas Evil. Brentwood Home Video also released Christmas Evil in a four pack DVD set in 2001 with three other horror classics – House On The Edge of The Park, Messiah of Evil, and Deep Red – The Hatchet Murders. The former title is a film directed by Italian suspense master Dario Argento.

In comparison to other Christmas horror films, Christmas Evil is relatively well made and develops an interesting story line. Those who feel the subject of Christmas and Santa to be too sacred need not view this film. Other films in this genre include – Black Christmas (1974), Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984), Santa Claws (1996), and Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) among many others.

Happy Holiday Season to you and Happy Viewing!

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