Holy crap, it’s exactly two months until Christmas! Where has 2020 gone?
To celebrate (or mourn) the death throes of this asterisk-worthy year, I decided to watch a Christmas-themed horror movie I haven’t previously seen: Lewis Jackson’s 1980 film Christmas Evil.
The movie follows Harry Stadler, a toy factory worker who was mentally scarred as a child after seeing Santa Claus deliver the saliva sleigh to his mom’s southern hemisphere. Harry spends his free time spying on neighborhood children and keeping tabs on whether they’re naughty or nice. After a nervous breakdown, Harry decides to don his homemade Santa suit and slaughter everyone who’s mistreated him over the years.
Surprisingly, I didn’t hate this movie. It’s not my favorite holiday slasher film, but it has enough memorable moments to make up for its Rifftrax-worthy moments. The kills aren’t quite as cinematic as they could’ve been, but that doesn’t prevent them from being creatively done. One of my favorite moments, for instance, is the massacre outside a midnight church service, where Harry gets his bloody revenge on a group of goons while a crowd watches in awe.
Despite being a mentally unstable creep, Harry has a few charming moments throughout the movie, such as when he’s pulled into an office Christmas party and allowed to drink and be merry. He seems so filled with joy during this moment that I momentarily forgot he was the villain, and it was hard not to feel a little bad for him (creepy child watching notwithstanding).
I think Christmas Evil is a pretty fun movie, even if none of the other characters are noteworthy in any way. The script probably would have benefited by building on specific relationships between Harry and his coworkers. We see from the beginning that Harry’s a social outcast who’s easily manipulated by his shitty coworkers, but I wish there’d been more reasoning for his total mental breakdown.
This might not make much sense to everyone, but Harry in Christmas Evil makes me think of Arthur Fleck in 2019’s Joker. Although these are two totally different movies, both characters are men on the fringes of society who struggle to be understood by the world at large. In their own minds, they’re always trying to do the right thing while everyone else is in direct violation of an unspoken code of conduct. Arthur wants to bring joy as a clown, and Harry wants to bring joy as Santa Claus. Both men turn to murder once they feel completely backed into a corner, and their struggle for righteousness ultimately destroys them. Although I felt worse for Arthur Fleck in Joker, I would argue that Christmas Evil is a much more enjoyable experience overall, possibly because it doesn’t seem to take itself very seriously.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of Santa Claus having kinky living room sex with your mother, perhaps Christmas Evil is the movie you’ve been waiting to see.
And speaking of the holiday season, I’m on the lookout for more horror movies that take place on or around Christmas! Let me know in the comments what gruesome holiday flicks I might not have seen yet. I have something fun planned for December…