Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Evil (1980)

Harry Stradling has a problem. He was traumatized as a young child when he caught Santa Claus making cookies with mommie on Christmas Eve. Now, as an aged adult, he is completely obsessed with Christmas, working for a toy company where he tormented by his co-workers, living in an apartment that is decorated for Christmas year-round, all while watching the little girls and boys and taking notes on who has been naughty and nice. This is a special year, however; the year when Harry will take to the streets in his new Santa costume to spread his twisted Christmas cheer be handing out presents to the good boys and girls while punishing the naughty ones.

CHRISTMAS EVIL is a melodramatic character study that shares much more in common with Abel Ferrara's THE DRILLER KILLER than the holiday classic SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT. It is commonly mistaken for a Slasher film thanks to a misplaced marketing campaign, which often leads to disappointment with many genre fans. Brandon Maggart offers a sad and pitiful performance as the tortured and distraught Harry. He is frighteningly convincing in the role, selling his insanity through his manic behavior paired with a series of blank and lifeless expressions that reveal his distancing from reality. Maggart is easily the strongest element in the film, since the majority of Harry's character is revealed through his portrayal on screen, and not in the writing. There are several complex layers that director Lewis Jackson has accomplished through the film, playing with the concept of man versus myth, commenting on the commercialism of the holiday, and contrasting fantasy and reality. As the film progresses, the environments and score both become reflective of the darkening mental void that Harry is entering. By the end of the film, it is difficult to tell how much of the events on screen are still intact in reality, and how much of it is part of Harry's delusional fantasy. In truth, this is not a fun film, and it has not been tailored to the average gorehound that will be expecting buckets of blood and gore. Instead, it is a smartly crafted and well-played portrait of the darker side that the holiday can play on the psyche. If you can enter the film without the expectation of it being a Slasher film, I think there is a lot to like here.

Rating: 8/10.
Gore: 3/10.
Number of views: 3.



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6 comments:

  1. Probably my favorite Xmas horror film or it's at least tied with Silent Night, Deadly Night and Black Christmas.

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  2. Just watched and wrote a review for this last night. I really enjoyed it too and I thought I had seen it years ago, but nothing was familiar outside of the opening. It's a bit of a sad movie in a way and I loved the ending.

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  3. For a second I was worried that everyone hated this film, glad to see some positive support!

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  4. Man, I love Harry and this flick. I watch it ebvery year, sometimes 2x. I think it IS appropriately disconcerting and weird, but I love that it actually has a happy and uplifting kind of ending. And I'm waaaay late to the party on this, but welcome back! Glad to see your Blogger issues resolved!

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  5. ...and yes, I totally MEANT "ebvery" in my last post. It is TOO a word!!! ;)

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  6. Thanks man, finally got ebverything taken care of! I really hope that anyone that was turned off to the film in the first sit down due to it not being a straight Slasher will take the time to revisit it.

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