DON'T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS (1984)
posted 00/00/2010

Directed by:
Edmund Purdom

Starring:
Edmund Purdom ... Inspector Ian Harris
Alan Lake ... Giles
Belinda Mayne ... Kate Briosky
Mark Jones ... Sergeant Powell

Country: UK
Runtime: 86 min
 
   
   

As far as Xmas horrors go, none are as rare and obscure as this gem from the British Isles. Released in 1984 and plagued by a series of ridiculous production problems (including disappearing directors), this holiday horror is unique in how it spins its merry-making tale of jolly slaughter. Most Christmas horror films are slasher films...okay all of them are, really. But in those our favorite, fat, gift-giving St. Nick plays the bloodthirsty killer. This time around, and for the first and only time I know of, Santa isn't the slasher...he's the slasher's victim.

Some demented bastard is out to get Santa and he wants Scotland Yard to know it. Bizarre and brutal murders are happening all over England and the victims are all guys in Santa suits. Mall Santas, Santas at parties, and those Santas that ring bells on street corners for charity aren't safe. Anyone wearing the familiar red and white suit is a target for this perverse slasher. The man (or woman) doesn't just stab the Santa (although that does happen), he blows one Santa's head off, he barbecues another, and he embarrasses an elderly Santa in front of a very nice stripper by stabbing him in the brain and splattering his blood all over the glass separating him from the lovely young tart.

This is essentially a police-procedural with some scattered kills throughout. This means of course that the cops are on the trail and any suspects or witnesses become the focus of the plot. This time around the focus is on a young woman who's father was dressed as Santa when he was speared in the mouth at a Christmas party. The focus comes from the dull and lifeless Inspector Harris (played by the film's part-time director and British/Italian superstar Edmund Purdom) who may have a connection to the killer behind the merry massacre. Soon the film spins way out of control and leaps in logic happen that leave the viewer dizzy and confused. Characters come to realizations that seem to materialize from scenes that we never see play out. There is one wicked twist at the end that no one will see coming and shifts the focus of the film yet again, but it satisfied the horror movie lover in me and made the film much more memorable for myself. This film becomes a unique holiday horror movie by reversing the Santa/Killer relationship established by other holiday horrors, but it also pushes the envelope with some inventive kills and gory twists and turns.

Thanks to IMDB, I found a few fun facts about the film. Remember when I mentioned this film was "plagued by a series of ridiculous production problems"? Well, the film took almost 2 years to wrap up and that was mainly because of the director issues. Purdom quit (I assume after he finished all his acting bits) and another director, Derek Ford (The Sexplorer, The Gutter Girls), was hired. Ford was then apparently let go for some reason or another and a third director was hired, Ray Selfe (Don't Scream It's Only A Movie). Then came the rewrites and the addition of the infamous dungeon sequence. Jorge and I got a chance to catch this film on the big screen at the Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles. It was one in the morning and we were both dazed and buzzed equally when one of the Santa killer's victims decides to duck into some kind of haunted attraction. The print was muddy so we weren't sure what was happening, but we couldn't help but laugh at the fact that it looked like the sappy Santa had disappeared into some kind of netherworld to escape his pursuer and lets just say that this sequence went on for far too long.

This isn't a perfect film, but it certainly isn't a total disaster despite its many production setbacks. Sure, upon viewing you might start to realize that the film is kind of stupid and the characters act in nonsensical ways. In one scene, a girl in a Santa outfit and a guy are making out on the street. They spot some coppers in the distance and decide to run away because for some reason they think they will be arrested for making out. Illogical yes, but then who cares when we get to see the gal's boobs bared as the killer stops her and runs his blade down her tight body. Does she live? Well, you'll just have to watch the film to find out. Unfortunately, this isn't the only scene of incomprehenisbleness (new word, I coined it!). Many parts of the film will leave you scratching your head in wonder, but the good news is that as long as you take logic out of the equation and just watch it as a slasher you will have a jolly old time. You also learn that for 50 bucks anything goes!

  - Jose Prendes

 

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