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Christmas Evil back to product details

A Great Stocking Stuffer!
written by EPetersen October 19, 2003 - 11:33 AM PDT
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
This rare horror film, originally titled You Better Watch Out, is a real treat for fans! It had been lost in obscurity until 1984, when the controversy surrounding another Christmas-themed scare flick - Silent Night, Deadly Night - prompted an enterprising distributor to re-release it as Christmas Evil. The title was changed again to Terror In Toyland for its first home video release in 1987.

Brandon Maggart, the father of rock singer Fiona Apple, was a vasty underrated and unjustly neglected actor. He was most famous for his co-starring role as Lou on the acclaimed Showtime sitcom Brothers. In Christmas Evil, he has the starring role as Harry Stadling, a toy factory worker with serious mental problems.

When Harry was a little boy, he saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus (actually it was Harry's Dad dressed as Santa, and they were doing a lot more than kissing) and that screwed him up for life. Now Harry is a lonely, emotionally crippled middle-aged manchild whose only pleasure is life is playing Santa Claus every December. But to Harry, he's not playing anything - he IS Santa.

Harry's brother Phil (Jeffrey DeMunn) has always worried that Harry is taking the Santa thing a little too far. What Phil doesn't know is that Harry is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode, and this year, he's going off! Tired of watching all the naughty kids and grownups around him make a mockery of Christmas, Harry makes a list and checks it twice. He knows who's been naughty and who's been nice, and those who are naughty will pay the price...

Christmas Evil is more than just a slasher movie. The script and acting are way above par for a low-budget horror flick. Brandon Maggart is superb as Harry, and plays him as a three-dimensional character, a mixture of comedy, pathos, and chills. Harry is funny, sad, pathetic, and of course, completely insane. The surreal ending, which I wouldn't dream of giving away, ties in with the dark humor sprinkled throughout the film.

This DVD, released by Troma, contains commentary by Brandon Maggart and others, plus special features. The only thing preventing me from giving it a 10 is that the print is full-frame. When are those stupid corporate suits going to realize that full-frame prints and special edition DVD's don't mix?

- Eric Petersen


(Average 5.17)
30 Votes
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