Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull, Andy Fenwick, Brian Neville
Director: Lewis Jackson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
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 Chri... more »
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A True Christmas Classic!
Charles Kangas | Tromaville | 07/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Greetings from Tromaville! Aside from being John Waters's favorite Christmas movie, this film is known as the best of the Holiday Horror genre. Originally titled "You better watch out.....", and also known as "Terror in Toyland", the film was re-released with the title "Christmas Evil" to cash in on the success of "Silent Night, Deadly Night". But "Christmas Evil" is a much different film. Contrary to the cover art, "Christmas Evil" is a psychological horror film that digs deep into the mind of a person who loves Santa, and hates the greedy. He always brings presents to the "nice", such as numerous toys for the children's hospital. What makes it a horror film is that he treats those who have been "Naughty" with death. There are two things commonly misinterpreted about the film. First of all, it is not anti-Christmas. If anything, it's against the commercialization of Christmas. Second, it's not completely a psychological horror film. It's mostly a dark-comedy in the vein of "Jack Frost" (not the conglomerate crappy Keaton one, but the horror/comedy distributed by A-Pix Entertainment.) that will leave you mesmorised.It also contains running commontary with the director, and the star, Brandon Maggart, who is the father of pop princess Fiona Apple, as well as a special holiday introduction with Troma President Lloyd Kaufman.In conclusion, see "Christmas Evil". It will do for Christmas what Charles Kaufman's "Mother's Day" did for Mother's Day"
There's a new Santa in town
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 05/04/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Christmas Evil holds a unique spot in the genre of Christmas slasher films. While a few individuals are murdered, there so little blood that I would not classify this as a slasher film at all. This is more of a psychological treatment that transcends horror of a primal nature. In its own special twisted way, Christmas Evil is really sort of touching, and I would argue that it actually does possess a measure of real Christmas spirit. Harry isn't a bad guy; his heart is in the right place - it's just a few of his toys of death that end up in wrong places such as someone else's neck. As a young child, Harry sees disturbing evidence before his very eyes that Santa Claus is not real, and this experience scars him for life. He does not let the Christmas spirit die in him, however; the spirit actually grows to the point that, as a forty-something year old man, he tries to become Santa Claus and spread joy to good little children. He spies on the neighborhood kids, writing down notes in his books of naught boys and girls. As a newly-promoted manager at a toy factory, he is dismayed to see inferior-quality toys rolling off the assembly line, his co-workers speak badly of the holidays, and a new hotshot executive puts forth a promotional campaign to send toys to a children's hospital without knowing or caring if there will be enough for the kids. Eventually, poor Harry snaps, dons a Santa suit, and goes out to spread Christmas spirit all around. Of course, a few adults have been very bad in his eyes, and a few of them end up dead. Brandon Maggart is really quite good in the role of Harry. Some of his laughing fits early on are rather annoying, but his face really shows a lot of emotion and complexity, especially on those occasions when he is doing something that will make children happy and when he finally comes to grip with the idea that his plan to give everyone a real Santa has failed. Take away Harry's obvious mental unbalance and you are left with a weird sort of inspirational story, one that actually fits in to some degree with classic Christmas tales such as A Christmas Carol. I'm not saying this is a movie every family needs to watch every Christmas Eve - that is clearly not the case. However, Harry, in his own tragically disastrous way, does have the Christmas spirit and tries to keep it in his heart every single day, and that is what I will remember about him the most."
Terribly beautiful film
Duncan C. White | Austin, TX United States | 01/31/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ok so this is a Troma film and you can feel managements influence in the film. We have an outrageous sex scene that feels a bit tacked on. We have a few gory bits to get press in Fangoria that also feel a bit unneccessary. The film is not high budget but if you look past that you are rewarded.
I find this film to be a true gem. The horror of this movie doesnt come from cheap gags and gore it comes from the fact that this film forces you to ask yourself questions and reevaluate yourself and what you hold to be true.
Far from being a 'insane maniac' as some have described him, I find the lead to be a fairly sympathetic character, the role is brilliantly played by Brandon Maggart btw. He feels deeply the drudgery of everyday life, he sees the greed and self-serving nature of most people, he feels the crushing weight of family expectations. Fairly common problems in modern life, so as you follow the character when he snaps the horror in this film comes from the fact that you cant really hold some of the bad things character does against him too much.
There are magic moments in the film too, the myth of Saint Nicholas is explored and believably explained, its magical to see. Really a great film, one I highly recommend, dont expect to be coddled though this film is quite raw. The only guarantee is that if you watch this film you will feel something, you may like it or you may not."
CHRISTMAS EVIL: Naughty or Nice?
Michael R Gates | Nampa, ID United States | 02/25/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Originally titled YOU BETTER WATCH OUT (and a.k.a. TERROR IN TOYLAND), 1980's CHRISTMAS EVIL amounts to little more than a crass attempt to hitch onto the holiday-horror gravy train initiated by John Carpenter's universally better HALLOWEEN in 1978. It's only notable for the fact that it was the first of the HALLOWEEN rip-offs to feature a Killer Kris Kringle (fortunately, it wasn't the last!).
Character actor Brandon Maggart--who, by the way, was a member of the original cast of TV's SESAME STREET and is the father of pop singer Fiona Apple--portrays Harry Stadling, a sexually repressed middle-manager at the Jolly Dream Toy Factory who is haunted by a childhood incident in which he saw Ol' Saint Nick joyfully boffing mommy amidst the presents under the tree on Christmas Eve. One nasty Noël, the blatant commercialistic attitudes exuded by his family and coworkers burns at his psyche until his subconscious finally boils over, and Harry then blithely dons the red and white and hunts down both the naughty and the nice to mete out their just deserts. To the innocents and the kiddies, he delivers dreamy delights; to the cruel and calloused, he doles out death!
Now, a story with a serial-killer Santa is a delightfully twisted concept that offers lots of opportunity for dark humor and satirical subtext. Alas, CHRISTMAS EVIL simply falls flat. The ineptly handled schizophrenic shifting between chills and chuckles makes for confusing viewing, leaving one tempted to conclude that the screenwriter is just as loony as Harry Standling himself. And to top it all off, the film's feel-good surprise-ending is glaringly out of sync with the overall tone of the rest of the film.
To be fair, it must be said that CHRISTMAS EVIL does contain a few items of merit. In spite of the mediocre material he has to work with, Brandon Maggart does a great job as psychotic Harry Stadling. Maggart is an offbeat but interesting actor who adds a little consistency to an otherwise arrhythmic flick. And one of the few really good scenes in CHRISTMAS EVIL is a delightful homage to James Whale's FRANKENSTEIN (1931) in which Harry--in full Santa regalia--is chased through the streets by angry citizens carrying fiery torches. For genre fans with a good sense of humor, this scene is a real knee-slapper that just begs to have a better movie built around it.
And the DVD from Troma? Well, the digital transfer isn't of the greatest quality, sometimes displaying the type of jittery edges and ghost-like artifacts that leaves one wondering if the much-lauded re-mastering of CHRISTMAS EVIL was done on VHS video tape. However, the extras on the disc are actually better than the movie itself. There is an optional feature commentary with star Brandon Maggart and director Lewis Jackson, as well as individual video interviews with each. A nifty storyboard-to-film utility allows you to first view the director's hand-drawn concept for each scene, then it lets you jump over to view the scene as filmed. Another cool feature allows you to "flip" through the comment cards that members of the audience filled out after a test-screening of the flick. And best of all, each time you select an option at the main menu, a close-up of Santa's face fills the screen as he wickedly utters "Ho-Ho-Ho" before engaging your selection. Fun stuff!
CHRISTMAS EVIL review in short: Frankly, the film itself deserves only two stars, while the fun-packed Troma DVD is a four-star product. The average score, then, is three stars."