Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Evil (1980, Lewis Jackson)

Continuing on with the holiday celebrations is Christmas Evil (aka You Better Watch Out aka Terror in Toyland). I remember reading about this film and searching for it for a long time as a teenager. I finally found an ex-rental vhs copy for sale at a junk shop in East Asscrack, MA when I was 17. Unfortunately at the time, I watched it once and hated it.

Harry Stadling (Brandon Maggart) gets a little crazy around the holidays. His house is covered wall to wall in Christmas decorations and toys. He checks on the kids in his neighborhood to see if they have been good or bad. This year, something triggers a memory from Harry's childhood involving Santa Claus (actually Harry's father in a Santa costume) doing naughty things to Harry's mother. Harry decides that he will become Santa and show the world that good deeds will be rewarded and naughty people will be punished.

Christmas Evil is way more than just your average Christmas slasher. Brandon Maggart is incredible as the disturbed Harry, totally immersing himself in the role. This film is more of a character study of a mentally ill man than it is a bloody horror film. It took ten years since I first watched it before I could appreciate it for its brilliance.


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