Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Literal Nightmare Before Christmas, or Thoughts on Christmas Evil

Written and Directed by Lewis Jackson, Christmas Evil (1980) is a low-budget, low-rent Hitchcock homage about a psycho killer in a Santa suit.  Brandon Maggert stars as Harry, a Christmas-obsessed loner who sleeps in Santa pajamas and lives in his Christmas-themed apartment surrounded by his collection of antique toys.  In addition to his mother issues, Brandon spends his days spying on the neighborhood kids and keeping a naughty & nice list.  That’s not gonna lead anywhere good, and during the holidays at his job at the Jolly Dream toy factory he finally snaps, puts on the red suit and starts dispensing his version of justice with a kitchen knife and a candy cane themed hatchet.  Oh, and he also paints a sleigh on his creepy 70s molester van to stay on brand.
With nods to Psycho (1960) and Halloween (1978), Christmas Evil uses voyeurism as a plot device to trigger the rampage.  Brandon can’t stop looking in windows, owing to an awkward flashback where he saw his dad as Santa fooling around with his mother. 
An Evil Santa was transgressive in the 80s, audiences weren’t ready for that final boundary to be crossed, and to my knowledge Christmas Evil was one of the first of these films to walk that uncomfortable edge.  Very low budget (dare I say cheap) it remains subtle and effective, like the Christmas carols Brandon hums as he slowly goes insane.
Also look out for Jeffrey DeMunn, Dale from The Walking Dead, in one of his first film roles as Harry’s more successful (and sane) brother Phillip.



my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).