(Release Date: November 1980)
Now, now give me a chance here! This is director John Waters' favorite Holiday Film! And if that doesn't tell you what a piece of gristle this one's going to be then let me try! Young Harry Stadling accidentally sees mommy kissing Santa Claus one Christmas Eve, but they aren't under the Mistletoe and Santa wasn't kissing Mommy on the lips... at least not on the lips on her face! Unkind years later Harry is all grown up and played by Fiona Apple's father, Brandon Maggart. While Harry's brother Phil (Jeffrey DeMunn) has grown up to be successful, with a biscuit of a wife and two great kids of his own, Harry himself has grown up lonely, works in a thankless toy factory and spies on neighborhood kids, upon whom he actually keeps lists of who is naughty and who is nice. Forgive me for judging, but isn't that, in and of itself "naughty"?
Yes, it seems that hapless, hairy Harry has developed quite an unhappy fixation upon Santa Claus. In a scene reminescent of Schumacher's Batman Forever, Harry begins to construct and don his own Santa Suit, complete with Fur, beard, hat and sharpened blades! And you keep complaining that nobody keeps enough Christ in Christmas? This guy's thinking that there isn't enough murder in Christmas! What starts out as a somewhat well-intentioned plot to reward the good little boys and girls and punish the baaaaaaaaad little boils and ghouls turns into a serial killing spree that pretty well ruins some of these families' whole Christmas. Harry makes the Grinch look like Father Joe Carroll!
From this point, Harry gets busy driving around town in his white van painted up like Santa Sleighing stopping every once in a while to do some Satan Slaying.
The film is through and through poorly put together with the approximate editing skill of your average amateur straight-to-HTML Porn montage and dialogue that would make the writers for "One Life to Live" giggle into their sleeves! However, all the almost apt imagery and sallied attempts at quality evaporate faster than spilled brandy right around this point. Pretty much the first time a Fulci-esque eye popping scene disgraces the picture, all pretentions toward even vague standards retreat like the Decepticons at the end of any given episode of The Transformers.
Writer/ Director Lewis Jackson (who didn't work again for 23 years after this thing splashed into the cinematic potty) seems content to show us every varied second of Harry's rampage, regardless of how mundane or inept. A sequence in which Harry Claus tries to climb down a chimney, only to find out that he's far, far to fat to do so and must push his way out over what feels like sixteen hours of Screen Time comes to mind as something that might have better been served on the cutting room floor. While our boy attempts to build tension with these scenes he much more easily evokes the ancient but honorable emotion of boredom. However, with the poor acting, silly editing and a whacked-out shock-value-only story that pretends to have a socially conscious message right up until the most HELLO! ending I've ever smelled, this movie is practically perfect in every way for ironic laughter and egg-nog-drunken wisecracking! You'd have to be drunk on something to really get past the obvious stomach-cramping moments herein.
A drinking game could be made just in the search for now-recognizeable faces in this poo stew! Whether you're a Fiona Apple fan or not, you might well recognize Brandon Maggart from his various appearances in better things than this. Jeffrey DeMunn has appeared in everything from The Blob to The Green Mile to The X-Files: Fight the Future... As far as I know he doesn't have any rock star children. Character Actor Mark Margolis gives us the pivotal role of Man #2, without whom this would Certainly have been a different kind of Turkey! Rutanya Alda went on to change our lives as Dolores Montelli in the undeniable Film CLASSIC Amityville II: The Possession and Peter Friedman later gave us his own rendition of "The Wandering Jew" in The Seventh Sign but was also a regular on the similarly themed The Muppet Show! Most fascinating of all Patricia Richardson got her big break in this steaming heap playing the bitchy role of Moss' mother! I'd have liked to have seen that episode of Home Improvement! Tim would have had something to bark about that day, no? How about a new episode of Strong Medicine where old Patty does battle with Harry Claus to defend old Whoopi's character? Ah? Aaaaaaaaaaaaah? Now that's good television!
What's this? I see some of you are still here, still reading this! Wow! What perseverance you have to endure a turkey like this on such a magical day as today!!! Sitting through this turkey is sort of like sitting through a ballet dance performed by Dick Cheney while in his Tightie Whities to the sound of the cliche horror music that old Jackson spat onto this film can. If you do choose to purchase this one, purchase the Platinum Disc edition, packaged with three other flicks. I recommend this because this one retains the original terrible film transfer, allowing every scratch and flaw of the midnight showings to flare out at you in all their digitally un-mastered glory. It looks like it's snowing even when it's not, man! It maintains the purity of the original, sort of like going for that Original GREEN DEATH Flavor of NyQuil, instead of those newfangled "Cherry" or "Menthol Stoagie" tastes! Why does this make this movie better? Because, this one is a turkey, or in World's Greatest Critic language, a DOG! However, it's the best possible kind of Dog-stuffed-turkey filled with Ham! You'll laugh, you'll laugh, you'll laugh and you'll laugh! Now that we've all had our Turkey, it's time to Celebrate Christmas, or the Holiday Celebration of your Religious or Secular Choice! Open those Presents, attend that midnight mass and watch closely for that man in the red suit. He could be good Saint Nick, or he could be your dear sweet, Brother Kneumsi paying you a visit with another Turkey in tow.
On Slashers, on Pantsers, on Trancers, out Blitzin'!
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