Christmas Evil (1980)
Director: Lewis Jackson
Where to get it: Synapse
Harry Stadling (Brandon Maggert) is obsessed with Christmas! In fact he wants to “be” the authentic Santa Claus, with a real suit, sleigh and reindeer. Ever since he learned the “truth” about Santa, he’s tried to make Christmas a reality. Growing up a toy maker, Harry is met with naysayers and critics who mock him for his yuletide beliefs… but he wants people to get the presents they deserve, even if that means giving the gift of murder!
I will admit that the first time I saw this film some years back I wasn’t impressed. But that was also the Troma version that looked like a VHS rip. Here we have the Synapse version and it’s a beautiful transfer. It is really a prime example of the credit Synapse deserves for what the effort they put into their releases. I also will admit that I did enjoy the film more this time around having now known it wasn’t a straight forward slasher and more of a slow paced psychological look at one man who was traumatized on Christmas. So if you go into it expecting less Silent Night, Deadly Night and more Taxi Driver you’ll feel more at home and be more patient as you allow the story to unfold.
Above everything else we have a great performance from Brandon Maggart as Harry. It really is a great performance that seems to be overlooked due to the film’s content. And outside of one rather graphic scene, it’s not the most brutal film you’ve ever seen. It is slow and I’m sure as a horror fan that we’d love more of a body count. That being said it’s still a far superior release to the Troma one and it’s a film with a very nice setting and feel to it. This movie also packs some nice special features that should overall make it essential Christmas viewing for fans of genre, even if that ending still doesn’t really make sense to me.
– New Anamorphic Widescreen [1.78:1] Transfer from Original Vault Materials
– Audio Commentaries from Director Lewis Jackson and Cult Icon, John Waters!
– Original Never-Before-Seen Director’s Cut Version
– Original Storyboards
– Almost 30 minutes of Rare Actor “Screen Tests”