Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring except for a murderous Santa Claus. To celebrate Christmas Eve, we at Horror Facts decided to watch ‘Christmas Evil’ (AKA: You Better Watch Out.)
The film tells the story of Harry Stadling, who grows up obsessed with the idea of becoming Santa Claus after discovering one Christmas that the man he thought was Santa was just his father in disguise.
Believing himself to be Santa, he spies on all the neighborhood kids and keeps a list of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.
Meanwhile, at his job at the Jolly Dreams toy factory, his co-workers considered him a joke, and ridicule him behind his back.
While attending the company Christmas party Harry learns that Jolly Dreams is planning to donate toys to a local hospital, which is just a secret ploy to get the employees to increase production on all the companies’ toy lines and trick them into contributing their own money. Angered by the companies disregard for the Christmas spirit, Harry breaks into Jolly Dreams and steals a bunch of toys from the factory.
While dressing up as Santa on Christmas Eve, Harry loses touch with reality and begins delivering toys, to all the good boys and girls and goes so far as to deliver a bagful of dirt to a local boy who landed on the naughty list.
While waiting outside a church for the two Jolly Dream executives responsible for the hospital scheme he is belittled by a group of churchgoers. Resulting in him murdering three members of the group. Following these murders, he enacts his revenge on fellow employee Frank.
While Harry’s crimes begin making the news, he breaks into Jolly Dreams once more and begins destroying all the toys.
After being recognized as the wanted murderer by a group of torch-bearing citizens. Harry drives to his brother Phil’s house, where his brother recognizes him as the wanted fugitive. After the two get into an altercation, Harry manages to flee in his van, while the angry mob and Phil chase him on foot.
The movie ends with a surprise twist that leaves viewers to speculate if Harry really is Santa.
What makes ‘Christmas Evil’ unique is that it never gained the notoriety of ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ despite the fact it was made four years earlier and involves the same concept of a killer going on a rampage dressed as Santa, punishing those he deems to be naughty. This is most likely because the film offers little content other than Harry running around pretending to be Santa.
‘Christmas Evil’ is more about what happens when one man lets his obsession with Christmas drive him completely insane. His belief that he is Santa Claus sees him stalking neighborhood children all in the name of determining whose been naughty or nice, and occasionally dealing out lethal punishment to those he feels have wronged him or jeopardized the true meaning of Christmas in some way.
The horror elements of the movie seem few and far between, which is absurd considering one of the tag lines for the film reads “1st came “Halloween”…Then “Friday the 13th”… and NOW this Christmas you better believe in Santa…or he’ll slay you.”
The performance delivered by Maggart as the deranged Harry Stadling is both the best and worst part of ‘Christmas Evil’. His childlike innocence and bafflement at how anyone could engage in activities that compromise the holiday starts off corky, but it quickly becomes tiring and crosses the threshold into absurdity. That’s saying a lot for a film that primarily focuses on this one character.
On a scale of 1-5 stars, I give this movie 2.5 stars.
If you’re going to watch a killer Santa movie this year, go with the more slasher style horror of ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ over ‘Christmas Evil’.
No matter which of the two films you decide to pick this Christmas be sure to watch out and remember that Santa Claus knows when you’re sleeping.
‘Christmas Evil’ stars Brandon Maggart as Harry Stadling, Jeffrey DeMunn as Philip Stadling, Dianne Hull as Jackie Stadling, Andy Fenwick as Dennis Stadling, Brian Neville as Marc Stadling, Joe Jamrog as Frank Stoller, Scott McKay as Mr. Fletcher, Peter Friedman as Mr. Grosch, Peter Neman as Moss Garcia, Lance Holcomb as Scotty Goodrich, Elizabeth Ridge as Susie Lovett, Chris Browning as Richie Sharp, Tyrone Holmes as Frankie, and Patricia Richardson as Moss’ Mother.