Poor Billy. Not only does he have a frankly terrifying visit with his grandfather in a mental institution, he then sees his parents slaughtered by a psychopath dressed as Santa who flags them down whilst on their way home.
He is then sent to a Catholic run orphanage where the Mother Superior loves to run proceedings with an iron fist. ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’.
We then see Billy all grown up and working in a toyshop. But Christmas is on it’s way and Billy has major issues with anyone dressed as Mr Claus and with the holiday season in general after what hes been through.
Billy then goes on a murderous rampage after being made to dress as Santa.
When this film was released in 1984 it outperformed A Nightmare on Elm Street which was released on the same day. However, after a TV spot was shown during a football game, the spaghetti hit the fan. Busybody morality groups aimed to take this ‘blasphemous’ film out of American cinemas. And it worked.
Yes, the film is a sleazy, extreme slice of holiday-based exploitation. But its also very tongue in cheek and possesses a sly humour that any person with an IQ over 25 will pick up on and enjoy. Halloween was never picketed for being a tasteless and corrupting movie that is based on an American holiday.
In fact, the film feels polished and accomplished but still brutal and seems to foreshadow later movies made a couple of years later like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and The Stepfather. Slick, well-made movies that are still not adverse to being extremely graphic when needs be. A hybrid between Hollywood and low-budget grittier filmmaking.
I love the fact that the murders stick to the Christmas motif with seasonal motifs like fairy lights and antlers being used to bump people off.
I watch this every December. But this celluloid delight can be enjoyed at any time of the year. Be thankful that common sense prevailed and this film is still available to the general public.
Filmmakers 1, Self-righteous Soccer Moms 0
4 out of 5 stars
A movie that goes one way but changes direction massively.
In fact before the plot twist that occurs I thought this was a film about the most unlikable and privileged kids I’d ever seen on screen. In fact they’re so privileged that when they got to college they would be the biggest social justice warriors, I thought as I drifted away from the dull film.
In fact the only tension or frisson in the first half hour was more centred around the couple next to me who kept talking throughout the film. They stopped after I suddenly shrieked ‘For fucks sake! Shut the fuck up!’
But then the film has a huge volte face regarding its plot and it touches upon something that is still taboo in real life and on film- killers who are children. In fact, as soon as the film started to touch upon this film I instantly thought of the case of James Bulger. I was genuinely shocked to see the use of a can of paint in the film. Anyone who knows about the proceedings of Bulger’s death will know that paint figures predominantly. Was this coincidental or intentional?
The film could have now developed into something much darker, brutal and savage. It doesn’t exploit this brilliant plot twist and is a bit too obsessed with gloss rather than grit. The last 15 minutes are extremely contrived and more Hollywood than horrorshow. This is a shame. The very end of the film is funny but this should have been a vivid display of gallows humour rather than a jokey conclusion to a good but not great movie.
A wasted opportunity. But not a failure- in this era of reboots and reboots (the curse of modern film), any trace of originality and innovation should be cherished.
If you want to see a much better ‘killer kids’ film watch Bloody Birthday. The best Christmas horror films are still Black Christmas, Silent Night, Deadly Night and Christmas Evil. If you want to watch a movie about vapid, overprivileged kids, you’re asking the wrong person.
2 out of 5.
Whilst most Christmas based media is sentimental bilge there are nuggets that are worth hunting out.
View Meathook Cinemas guide to Mondo Christmas. Brace yourself for festive horror, glam rock Christmas messages and LSD inspired Yuletide childrens movies. And much, much more…