Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Santa's Slay

NetFlix 3/5
IMDB 5.2/10
My Rating: 7/10
Sincerity Factor: 5/10
Treacle Factor: 1/10


Santa Claus is actually a demon that's been tied up in a legal contract for the past thousand years, forcing him to be good.  With the agreement finally at an end, Santa unleashes centuries of pent-up annoyance at the rosy-cheeked carolers of the world.

 This was absolutely hilarious.  In truth, I have found an enduring new holiday classic that will be part of our seasonal movie rotation for years to come, right alongside Miracle on 3th Street.  It is oft said, "They don't make them like this anymore", and here it is an accurate statement - They haven't made them like this since about 1989.  You'll swear you've died and gone to 80's cheese-horror heaven.  How can anyone not love a movie that kicks off with Fran Drescher being set on fire and then murdered by an insanely evil Santa?


I went into this with pretty low expectations, thinking it was just going to be one more god-awful "Madman in a Santa suit" slasher, but thankfully it is a league above, as well as having its tongue stuck so far into its cheek that it's wrapped around its brain.  Our evil Santa is played by some fellow named Bill Goldberg.  I'd never heard of him, but I understand he is a popular wrestler and it shows, since our Bad Santa kicks, bodyslams, and punches his way through a horde of victims in very WCW fashion, all the while channeling the personality of Jesse Ventura's cowboy-hat-wearing character from Predator.  Santa don't got time to bleed.

The plot, such as it is, explains that Santa is really an old world demon who was beaten 1,000 years ago by a disguised angel at a game of curling...  Yes, I'm not making this up... and because of this loss, Santa had to honor their bet and be a good guy for the next thousand years, bringing toys and Christmas cheer to all the kiddies of the world.  Now the contract is expiring, and before you can say, "Ho ho *Splat*", Santa's coming to town to kill everything in sight.  Standing in his way are the film's requisite teen couple, Nicolas [sic] and Mary [sic], and their wise old grandpa Robert Culp.


I was really delighted to see Culp in this, as he has always been one of my persona favorite actors, ever since seeing him in the classic Outer Limits episode "Demon with a Glass Hand" as a child.  Later, he starred in the excellent made-for-TV horror film Spectre (which I really must review here one of these days, because it's like a Hammer film mashed up with Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Strange).  But his defining role for me will always be Special Agent Bill Maxwell, FBI, the often exasperated scenario-deviser in Greatest American Hero.  Here, he plays the kindly grandfather who's a bit nutty - He has the whole backstory in a huge Necronomicon-like tome, he lives in a house riddled with secret passages and safe rooms, and seems to have a special relationship with Santa.

The film is a cavalcade of wisecracks amid all the murders.  It's not particularly gory, which was fine by me, but there are boobies and in-jokes flying - The high point being the story of Bad Santa and the angel, told via jerky stop motion in the Rankin-Bass style, complete with a half-second appearance by Topper the penguin.  FX are perfectly tolerable and in fact the Santa and his sled look terrific:


The only demerit I can give it is for the lead teen male, whose mopey whining and angst made me hope the Santa would stick him in a grinder.  This is one high school guy who seriously doesn't deserve his girlfriend.  Otherwise, it's a hoot - Pop the butteriest tub of popcorn you can find, get some fellow fans of cheesy horror together, and revel in the seasonal carnage.  You know you've always wanted to see Santa run slow-driving old ladies off the street with his killer buffalo sled, laughing all the way.





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