Christmas Horror Reviews: Christmas Evil and It's a Wonderful Knife
Ah, Christmastime! Santa! Reindeer! People bleeding out in the snow!
Last week I watched Christmas Evil, which asks the question, “what kind of psychological damage would it do to be the kid in ‘I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus?’” (In this case it’s “I saw Santa perorming oral sex on Mommy,” but I guess the concept is the same.)
The answer is, “He’d develop an unhealthy obsession with Santa and eventually go on a killing spree!” The kills are nothing to write home about, gore-wise, but there’s a lot to recommend this. First, though it was released in 1980, it’s thoroughly grounded in the New York City of the 70’s. So if you dig that grainy, gritty 70’s vibe, this movie is for you.
Also, Brandon Maggart gives a fantastic performance as the guy who snaps. He’s believably beleaguered at the beginning, and even after he snaps, he maintains this weird, touching love for the idea of Santa and wants nothing more than to be loved by children, but not in a creepy way. (Except for Moss Garcia, who is on the naughty list and receives a bag of dirt! Shame on him for always talking about porn!)
Also the ending was completely unexpected and totally changes the movie. I really enjoyed this one.
But I just loved It’s a Wonderful Knife. It’s a slasher version of It’s a Wonderful Life that asks the question, “what if the final girl never existed?” Absolutely fantastic performance from Justin Long, but Jane Widdop and Jess McCleoud carry the movie’s pretty spectacular tone shift and both give great, winning performances.
(I guess it’s a work rules thing, but why does every movie cast people in their 20s as high school students?)
This is a slasher movie (great costume for the slasher, but the kills are, again, nothing special), but it’s got a squishy, sentimental heart. It was touching without feeling saccharine or maudlin, and, readers, I cried tears of joy at the end. (this is not much of an achievement—I have been known to cry at commercials—but it was thoroughly unexpected from a horror movie.)
This one will be joining Bad Santa in my regular Christmas movie rotation.