Kris Kringle: Kill, Kill, KILL! ("Silent Night, Deadly Night" and the original "Santa Claws")
Ah, Christmas time. We love seeing our childhood corrupted. It's almost a perfect formula when you want to make something awesome. From "The Nightmare Before Christmas" to "American McGee's Alice" to "that scene from Mallrats where they beat up the Easter Bunny" to "Bad Santa" to "The Tits That Save Christmas" to "Jim Carrey in The Grinch", we've all seen or enjoyed SOMETHING that was solely based on taking something from our childhood and turning it on its ear (for better or for worse). As such, there have been a number of horror movies featuring things meant for children....only, well, more horrific. Since it 'Tis the Season to be gory, it's time to walk you through one of THE definitive horror movies when it comes to corrupting both Christmas and various childhood memories. If you haven't figured it out yet, it's time for a killer Santa movie.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Also known as "Slayride", Silent Night, Deadly Night is one of the films that I watch every Christmas season. It never fails to get me in the Christmas spirit. Ok, I'm lying. But it does have the most rape, murder, and nuns with whips than any of the other Christmas-themed films I've seen. SNDN (because, god damn it, I'm sick of typing the whole title already) was, funnily enough, a film a lot of people were offended by back in 1984. Apparently, a lot of family groups protested the idea of a horror movie "aimed at children" and wanted no part of it. As such, the film didn't debut in quite as many packed theaters as it should have when it came out.
My point is that people were afraid of a killer Santa movie and what it would do to their kids before it had even come out. I guess a modern equivalent might be...um. Wow. I can't come up with a modern equivalent. I guess modern sensibilities aren't quite as sensitive as they used to be. (Tangent: When you can turn on your television and watch two men talk about anal and oral sex with each other at four in the afternoon, you KNOW modern sensibilities aren't what they use to be. By the way the show was "Date my Mom" on MTV...and don't look at me like that. It was the only show in English at 4 in the afternoon. Stop judging me.) So you want to see what parents were so afraid of? Prepare yourself as I take you by the hand through a winter wonderland of a cheesy slasher film known as Silent Night, Deadly Night.
Say hello to Billy. Billy's five years old and at that adorable age when he wants to know all he can about that jolly fat man who brings him presents. The opening scene is just him reading a Christmas book and looking adorable. The only other thing I need to point out about young Billy is that he wears a hell of a lot of makeup for a five-year old. I mean, I know that EVERYONE wears make up in film, but was "5-dollar whore red" the only choice of lipstick? Let's move on. (Oh and if you're wondering, my copy of this film is subtitled in Norwegian. Lucky me.)
Meet Billy's crazy comatose grandfather. The whole family is here to visit Grandpa for Christmas...because even human vegetables need a little bit of the Christmas Spirit. The doctor has to talk to Mom and Dad, so they leave little Billy alone with Grandpa...because after all, he's in an age-induced coma or something. They reckon the worst he could do would be to fart next to Billy...and that might build character. Anyway, the moment they leave Gramps grabs Billy by the hand and the crap hits the fan. Let me paraphrase the conversation:
Grandpa: Hello BOY.
Little Billy: :insert the sound of boy pissing himself in terror here:
Grandpa: Do you know what today is?
Little Billy: Today is Christmas Eve. Tomorrow Santa comes with toys for the good boys and girls.
Grandpa: HAHAHAAHAAHA! Is that what you think? IS THAT WHAT YOU THINK LITTLE BOY THAT I COULD FIT IN MY MOUTH IF I WANTED TO?
Little Billy: Um....yes?
Grandpa: SANTA BRINGS ONLY DEATH AND TORTURE TO LITTLE BOYS WHO HAVEN'T BEEN GOOD ALL YEAR LONG. HAVE YOU BEEN GOOD ALL YEAR LONG? HAVE YOU? IF YOU HAVEN'T, SANTA'S GOING TO CRUSH YOUR BONES TO DUST AND FEED YOU TO HIS REINDEER. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? IS IT? WELL MERRY FREAKIN CHRISTMAS YOU LITTLE BASTARD AND I HOPE SANTA COMES DOWN YOUR CHIMNEY AND EATS YOUR FACE WHILE YOU SLEEP! FELIZ NAVIDAD!
I will admit that I took a few liberties with the conversation, but the brunt of it is that little Billy is now totally afraid of Santa Claus. This ends up being intensely important to the plot. I think you know why. In case you're slow, I'll just tell you: It's Killer/Rapist Santa time!
You see, there's not only one killer Santa in this film. While the film's been focusing on Billy and his nightmare-inducing Grandfather, there has also been a little scene of a random goon dressed in a Santa suit robbing and murdering a shopkeeper. Watching a guy dressed as Santa firing a few rounds into a man's chest is exactly what I expect to see in my holiday movies. So anyway, this "evil Santa" is out there and ends up meeting Billy when his car breaks down and he starts trying to flag down someone so he can steal their car. Santa kills Billy's dad right in front of him. In the resulting chaos, Billy and his little brother escape. Billy's mom is, shall we say, less fortunate.
When you can say that Santa "rode her like a sleigh," or "stuffed her stocking," you know you're watching a messed up film. So, Billy watches his mom get raped by a man in a Santa suit. Santa pulls out a knife and slits her throat, because that's the kind of evil shit a rapist Santa would do. Billy is seen hiding in the bushes. The scene fades to black....
Three years have passed, and: Billy's living in an orphanage run by nuns, Billy's terrified of Santa, and Billy got really ugly. It's so funny how cute kids can turn totally hideous...particularly when you're making a movie where kids are supposed to be getting older. By the way, just to balance out the shame, the hideous "Billy-Age 8" is played by a young Danny Wagner. You probably don't know who that is, but Danny grew up to be one of those crazy special effects guys that worked on all the big special effect movies, from the new Star Wars films to Men in Black to Van Helsing to other mainstream movies with too many special effects. So Danny, I salute you. You were a goofy-as-sin-looking kid, but at least you figured out that you'd be better working in a basement with computers and rubber monsters instead of pursuing that modeling career.
Back on target: Besides a scene where Billy watches a Nun spank two naked teenagers for having sex, there's only one other bit notable about the "8-years old and ugly Billy" part of the film:
I really want to know who on the film set sat down and was paid to draw a picture of Santa Claus and a reindeer perforated with knives. Sure, young and ugly Billy was supposed to have drawn it, but these "behind the scenes" questions haunt me. Mainly because whoever had to paint that, I want their job.
Say hello to the 18-year old Billy. I won't say I find him attractive or ugly or whatever, but I will say he's this sort of ripped meathead that would want me to "blast my quads" if I ran into him at the gym. Billy's just out of the orphanage and needs a job, so he ends up working in a toy story. Christmas time comes and the doom of Santa will soon be upon us, the audience. The only other thing that's neat about this part of the film is looking at the toys that are on the shelf during any scene that takes place in the toy store. The geek in me feels his heart skip a beat when I see "Jabba the Hut" and Ewok Village playsets on the shelf. This film looks and feels like something that was made in the 1970's (just the film quality) but the toys remind you that it was made at the same time my generation was being introduced to the notion of "holy crap I've got to get every damn Star Wars figure/Transformer or all the kids at school will make fun of me." Of course I was more a "collect every Ninja Turtle figure" kind of guy, but I assume it was the same with you folks older than me. Though it does make me wonder....what the HELL did kids collect during the 1970's? Baseball cards? Gah.
Let's speed this trainwreck of an article up:
Billy ends up having to be the toy store's Santa Claus. So here he is, totally psychotic, looking at himself in the same outfit that his mother's killer/rapist wore. Instead of saying no or quitting, he does his best.
Of course his best means telling little girls who won't behave that if they're not good he's going to break into thier house and punish them violently. I'm not joking.
Well, it's about time for the killing. Soon Billy's going to see one of his coworkers molesting another worker in the stock room and his "Santa-sense" is going to go apeshit and Billy's going to start killing people left and right in the name Kris Kringle. The best part of this is Santa's "war cry" that he shouts as he kills people. Imagine a man dressed in a Santa suit coming at you with an ax screaming the word: "NAUGHTY!" That's right. Santa is running around murdering anyone who's been naughty. It's awesome. Personally, I would scream "Sleep in Heavenly Peace!" as I killed people while wearing the costume, but that's just me. So let's list Billy's kills:
Nothing quite says "It's Christmas time" as hanging Christmas lights do...particularly when they're used to strangle you. This is exactly why I don't hang lights every year.
A lot of people have wondered how one guy with a boxcutter could hold an entire plane hostage. I think it's safe to assume that everyone on that flight had seen this movie. Remember, a boxcutter can kill you instantly, particularly if you have breasts.
I keep typing the phrase "It's Hammer Time!" and then realizing how stupid and dated that joke is. I will say that I'm sure no one out there hasn't wanted to cave in their boss' head in with a hammer at some point in their life.
Apparently, kids' toys really are dangerous, as this woman was killed with an archery set available at your local Kaybee Toys.
I'm not surprised that being a woman with no shirt is a fast way to get on Killer Santa's "naughty" list. Oh, and in case you were curious how Santa killed this one, those are ANTLERS sticking through her stomach. The above blonde is currently impaled on a deer head. This is also why I don't decorate with dead animal skulls. Too many of my dates end up puncturing themselves on it...like moths to flame or something. Can't explain it, really.
Yet another important lesson: If you kick Santa in the balls, he WILL throw you out a window. You were warned.
As if normal sledding wasn't dangerous enough, now you have to watch out for homicidal men in Santa suits that want to decapitate you. Can you hear the Slaybells? :groan:
Santa-Billy ends up killing a police officer (and there's also a scene where an innocent man in a Santa suit is shot in the back eight or nine times) but that's about it for this film. The main joy is watching a man dressed as Santa kicking open doors screaming "Naughty," and I never said this was fine cinema. Speaking of crappy films, the sequel to this film is AMAZING. By "amazing" I mean that it is the lamest and dumbest sequel ever. You know why? Because every single murder or "cool thing" that happens in THIS movie is shown in the sequel in a flashback. Every murder, every good line....the "sequel" only has about ten minutes of new footage. It's like it was made on a dare or something. There are also three other "sequels" to this film (Silent Night, Deadly Night 3, 4, and 5) but they're more about Holiday Horror than a killer Kris Kringle. All alliteration aside, Silent Night, Deadly Night has to be one of the first "bad" films that was good enough to show to my "normal" friends. By that I mean they still talk to me, even after they see me make fun of the Santa rape scene. Let's move on.
Santa Claws! (As pictured on the right)
In case you don't know already, it's almost impossible to copyright a movie or book title. I'm not sure exactly why, but if I wanted to make a zombie horror/love movie and call it Casablanca, I could probably get away with it. I say "probably" because if anyone with really scary lawyers went after me because of it they'd most likely bankrupt me before I'd win the case. I'm not a copyright lawyer....but anyone who's ever looked at the Internet Movie Database has certainly stumbled across some bizarre film that shares the same name as the film you were looking for. Just so we're clear, I am NOT reviewing John Russo's "Santa Claws," made in 1996. By the way, THAT Santa Slasher film doesn't bring me any joy, even if it was written by the guy who wrote 1/2 of the original Night of the Living Dead. So Russo's the guy who's NOT George Romero and will probably be forgotten if he didn't make films with breasts in them. By the way that poster on the left is for HIS version of Santa Claws. So yeah...if you NEED to see every possible Santa Slasher film out there, check it out...or if you just like women with really terrible breast implants.
So why the hell am I showing you a poster for a film that I'm not reviewing? I would have thought the boobs would have been enough. The truth is, there ISN'T a poster for the original Santa Claws. What you're about to read is something that ISN'T on the Internet anywhere else right now...or at least isn't in any language except for maybe German. Santa Claws, made in 1989, is a short film by German filmmaker Mathias Dinter. You KNOW what I'm about to talk about is obscure because, at the time of my writing this, it's not listed in the Internet Movie Database. Mr. Dinter is a German director/writer that pretty much makes goofy comedies these days. Sure, Santa Claws is sort of funny, but obviously made with the horror/gore thing in mind....something most young directors do because there's money in it. Maybe. I'm going to give you a quick look at Santa Claws...as best I can. The only copy I could find is a worn-out video tape, so if the images come out looking like something your dog already tried to eat but gagged, know that I did my best.
Say hello to some obnoxious German kids. They're having a party...with booze and drugs and music...and generally just having a good time. The party does get a little loud. This is what brings the horror into the film as the kids unwittingly live near the home of Santa Claus. Let me just run that plot by you in slow motion: Wacky teenagers have a party, the volume gets too high, when the kids won't be quiet, Santa Claus comes over and starts methodically killing each and every one. Yikes. Talk about terrible neighbors. I was pissed when my upstairs neighbors called the police instead of just asking me to be quiet. I rank the police much higher on "things to interrupt my party with" than a homicidal Santa Claus.
There's also a subplot about a goth guy/girl that can't properly kill his/herself but that's not really that memorable, save the moment he/she tries cutting herself with an electric shaver. If you ever been that desperate and suicidal, you'll know that doesn't work. At all. The only thing scarier than the killer in the film is the pizza delivery guy. But don't take my word for it. Check him and and see if you can tell what's missing from the picture:
Yes indeed: The greasy pizza guy isn't wearing any pants. :shudder: Let's move on.
The scariest thing about THIS killer Santa is the fact that, while he got the costume right, it's a plastic mask instead of anyone's face. Actually, it's one of those creepy flesh-colored fetish masks that you can buy in the back room of sex shops. That only makes it all the more frightening. (By the way I HAVE NEVER BEEN IN THE BACK ROOM OF A SEX SHOP AND DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT, despite rumors and/or pictures and/or websites to the contrary.) So instead of an actual guy, it's a guy in a rubber expressionless sex mask dressed as Santa.
And yes, those are indeed Santa's "claws." He uses them to kill folks (of course) but he's really a versatile killer. While I couldn't capture an image of my favorite "Santa Slaying" (and had to draw it) here are a few of the highlights:
Santa says "No" to underage drinking...by shoving a beer can into your brain pan.
One day, after mankind is extinct, aliens will watch our movies for research and try to figure out why splashing ketchup on our faces apparently kills us. God damn, I love cheesy special effects, particularly when they're holiday themed.
While he still dies three seconds later, you have to admit it takes some balls to attack Santa Claus with a chainsaw. I know I couldn't do it.
My favorite moment of the film couldn't be captured, because the scene had been watched and rewatched so many times that it started looking like an overwatched porno tape. Here's my rendition of it:
Yes. Santa Claus does indeed disembowel someone with an electric eggbeater. Yay.
In the end, all the kids are dead, and Santa goes back home, satisfied that he can finally enjoy his night of heavenly piece. Of course, the ending of this low budget Happy Horrorday is phenomenal.
Here St. Nick, having just finished ripping the children to pieces, enjoys a snifter of brandy. He's done a hard night's work and it's time for the film to end.
But what's that behind him? There's a man with a chocolate bunny mask on. Oh wait...it's the Easter Bunny! Hi Mr. East---HOLY CRAP IS THAT AN AX?
Any film that ends with the Easter Bunny covering himself with Santa's blood as he hacks him to pieces with an ax is an awesome film indeed. Thank you Mathias Dinter. You've brought so much Holiday cheer to us all.
In conclusion: I think that, when the great recounting comes, I will be in a lot of trouble for the "ride her like a sleigh!" line....no matter how much it makes me laugh every time I see it. I hope you guys have and had a great holiday.
copyright 2005...except for the images used for critical purposes. Critical indeed.