Christmas Evil out on DVD

Tuesday, 20 November 2012 11:43
Posted in Cult Movies on DVD
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Christmas Evil - out now on DVD“Christmas Evil” (sometimes called “You Better Watch Out”) is all about an unhinged killer who goes on a rampage dressed as Santa Claus, having been disturbed as a child by witnessing Santa getting intimate with his mother. Harry (Brandon Maggart – “Dressed to Kill”) is a loner who works in a toy factory; he is ridiculed by his family and colleagues, and lives in a spooky flat full of strung-up toys, puppets and Christmas memorabilia.

Harry imagines he is Santa, spying on the local kids whilst scribbling their good and bad behaviour down in a notebook. Come Christmas Eve, he dons the famous red outfit and fake white beard, setting out into the cold winter night to reward the good kids with stolen toys, and get his revenge against the adults who have tormented him all his life. Harry becomes an insane combination of Robin Hood and Michael Myers!

Horror fans expecting a straight slasher movie will not get their kicks here. There are some suitably festive murder scenes, including someone being poked in the eye with a toy soldier and another victim being suffocated under Santa’s gift sack. There is not a lot of gore, and the special effects are not very convincing thanks in part to the independent film’s low budget.

That said, genre addicts looking for something more original and unusual should venture forth. This is an unpredictable and quite disconcerting film with a central character who is difficult to pin down. He has some redeeming qualities, such as being appalled when the toy shop’s management engage in an underhand charity promotion about giving toys to disabled children, when in fact the lion’s share of the funding comes from workers’ donations. He tries to make it right by stealing toys from the factory to give to local kids, delivering them in a white van with a sleigh motif on the side.

The film is primarily a study in how a mentally scarred child can develop into a psychotic adult if left to their own devices and shunned by others. One cannot help feeling slightly sorry for Harry despite his warped and evil behaviour.

There are a few memorable scenes, including one where, having watched a naughty child through his bedroom window, Harry daubs himself in mud and when makes a print on the wall with his hands and face, marking the house out for a subsequent visit. In another moment, he glues a Santa beard to his face and undergoes a chilling transformation, hysterically laughing like a maniac. He also imagines himself corralling a group of reindeer whilst driving his van, shouting and encouraging them on with the crack of an invisible whip.

The movie has a dark, comic undertone, and scenes such as when Harry gets stuck trying to go down a chimney prevent it becoming too depressing. The ending is both inevitable and a surprise, leaving a slightly baffled audience to mull it over. I would advise potential customers to consider it if they want a Christmas novelty which offers something quite different from the norm.

The DVD comes with the following solid extras:

  • New widescreen transfer in the original ratio of the Director’s Cut
  • Audio commentary with director Lewis Jackson
  • Audio commentary with Lewis Jackson and director John Waters
  • Interviews with Lewis Jackson and Brandon Maggart
  • Deleted scenes
  • Original story-board sequences
  • Rare audition tapes
  • Optional English SDH subtitles


Collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by critic and author Kim Newman, John Waters and a new introduction by Lewis Jackson, illustrated with original stills

The joint commentary track reveals a good rapport between Jackson and cult director Waters (“Hairspray”, “Cecil B Demented”); the Brandon Maggart interview is amusing and suitably surreal, partly because it is attended by somebody in a bizarre Sgt Kabukiman costume (from a Troma movie), and partly because Maggart appears to be mildly inebriated!

“Christmas Evil” (1980) is out now, courtesy of Arrow Films. The movie has a running time of 96 minutes approx, carries an ‘18’ certificate and retails for £15.99, or less from


Last modified on Tuesday, 27 November 2012 14:35

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