Have a Harry Christmas

Brandon Maggart in Christmas Evil (1980) (aka: You Better Watch Out)

As a child Harry Stadling fully believed in Santa Claus till the Christmas Eve a noise disturbed him and when he snuck down stairs to his horror he saw Santa Clause seducing his mother. Many years later and Harry is still obsessed with Christmas and Santa Claus as he works by day in the Jolly Dream toy factory, by night he makes his own hand crafted toys and when he isn't doing that he is keeping eye on the kids in the neighbourhood to see who has been naught and who has been nice. After another depressing day in the factory Harry finally snaps and having dressed as Santa Claus he decides to go around and make all those on his naughty list pay for their naughtiness.

Captivating and utterly curious are the words which spring to mind to describe "Christmas Evil" which on its original release was called "You Better Watch Out". It's curious because this is billed as a horror movie and a friend who recommended I watched it sold it as a man obsessed with Santa turning into a real sick old Santa who hurts those on his naughty list. And as such I can understand why back in 1980 people objected to this movie without even watching it; in fact I am sure I would have at one point. But there is more to "Christmas Evil" than that and much more than my friend suggested.

You see for me "Christmas Evil" is actually a look at a man who is breaking down and it started all those years earlier as a small boy when he witnessed Santa groping his mum unaware that it was his father. What we then see is on one hand his secret obsession with Christmas an in particular Santa Claus and on the other hand all the things which are nibbling away at him; the work colleague who bullies him in to doing his shift, the new manager who cares more about the look of a charitable idea than actually the act of helping little children. And there is plenty more till eventually Harry snaps and decides to make those who he sees as bad pay, in blood. Yes there is killing but this isn't a slasher movie but a look at a man losing it.

As to what happens well let me just say that as you watch "Christmas Evil" you won't be sure how mad Harry will become as we see him dressed as Santa wielding a large kitchen knife yet in a scene shortly after he shows up at a children's hospital with his van full of toys. On the subject of his van he has it decorated with a sleigh painted on its side as he goes full Santa. It certainly keeps your attention as part of you wonders whether his obsessed behaviour will mount to anything and then you begin to fear the worst. Yes I am being vague but that is because "Christmas Evil" works on a couple of levels which work best when you don't know exactly what happens.

What this all boils down to is that "Christmas Evil" is certainly a curious movie with this obsessed man having a breakdown and becoming an evil Santa but it is also captivating as it keeps you on your toes as to what might happen.

Tags: Santa Claus, Christmas Movies

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