Fear of Santa Claus Part 7 (Christmas Evil, 1980)
Let us continue our journey through the most celebratory aspects of the Christmas holiday season. Now, certainly, the concept of the “Christmas Horror” horror film was an attempt to cash in both the popular late 70’s phenomenon of slasher horror films centered on holidays. Add the extra dimension of controversy and I am sure the film makers thought they had a gold mine. It is rather interesting to note that these films came significantly after Black Christmas. The Christmas Horror Film, which is rapidly appeared to be “movies about psychos in Santa Suits.”
For instance, there is Christmas Evil, starring…uh…well a guy who played a guy who may or may not be Santa on an episode of ER and directed by a guy who wrote two movies (including this one) between 1950 and today and was a producer of a 2003 film. Okay, not entirely fair. He may have written more, just two that made it to the screen. And that is two more than me. Let us discuss this 1980 Christmas charmer.
Harry Stradling loves Christmas. Always has. But as a child he is devastated to see Santa doing things with mommy that Santa just should not be doing. He grows up to be a low-level management type in a toy factory with an unhealthy obsession with watching children. He also spies on his co-workers, keeping a book of who is naughty and who is nice.
Bullied by those around him, he grows increasingly incensed at the way adults tell kids to do one thing, while doing the opposite. Basically, he is upset because the adults tell kids to be nice while being naughty themselves. He paints his van like a sleigh and proceeds to attempt to kill a co-worker who conned him into taking an extra shift. Then he stabs some people in front of a church. In front of a lot of witnesses. And runs away. And they just watch. Because, lets face it, if you saw Santa Clause pull up in a van, jump out and stab people and then drive away? You’d probably be pretty dumbfounded by what you saw it happen as well.
He ends up hiding out at a party, where people seem to like him, and the acceptance he craved is within grasp…until the cops let it be known there is a killer Santa on the loose. He goes on the run being chased by villagers with torches. Well, New Yorkers who apparently stopped off at that medieval torch store that New Yorkers are always talking about. But some are probably from the Village. In the end, this bit is hysterically memorable, as is the ending, in which Harry and his van fly through the air, past the moon, declaring…
“A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
Sigh. It is as bad as it sounds. Gluttons for punishment can check the movie out with Amazon Prime. By the way, the film cast includes Jeffrey DeMunn who you might recognize from movies like the Green Mile and the TV show the Walking Dead.