Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey De Munn, Raymond J. Barry / Directed by Lewis Jackson
The B-Movie Channel's "Chiller-Thriller" Theatre presented this evocative film tonight, which I actually first saw one late night on a "xmas eve" on KDOC:
A delightful little xmas tale about a maniac turned Santa Claus who goes forth to avenge the wrongs done to him, and to preserve the wholesmeness of this cultural holiday, but whose mission goes awry along the way. "Harry" is traumatized as a young child when he hurredly and expectantly runs down to the living room to see Old St. Nick gently placing presents by the tree, but what does he see, but apparently, dear Santa is performing cunnilingus on his mother! Turns out that "Santa" was actually his father, but this creates a psychosis nonetheless, which he carries with him into 'adulthood', feeling deeply offended when toy factory co-workers lambast the holiday and the character of Santa Claus, as well as himself, being the butt of jokes and the company scape-goat. His past-time the rest of the year includes spying on children with binoculars and "keeping a list" of all the good and bad girls and boys, about which he actually keeps a journal called, not surprisingly, "Good & Naughty Girls & Boys".
One day near xmas, he reaches his tolerance level, dons the beard and red suit, and sets out to become the veritable personafication of xmas. He also paints a sleigh on his white van, steals bagfuls of toys from the assembly room, and goes on his way to deliver toys to the needy at a nearby children's hospital, and is met with enthusiam by the resident nurses and orderlies, after getting past a reluctant security guard, that is. Later that night, which proves to be the key scene in the film, he drives up to a church, and awaits the congregants to emerge - and when they do, he is treated with ridicule to which he stabs one through the eye with a toy-soldier's bayonet, and candy-cane axes another, after which he speeds off into the night. Subsequently, he passes by the company party and is spotted by a couple of revelers who pull him into the celebration. He eventually assumes character, uttering a hearty "Merry Christmas!" to the sounds of applause by all present, and proceeds to join in the festivities with dance and song. Another notable scene occurs herein, when just before leaving, he points at the exhuberant children advising them to be good, listen to their parents and study hard, to which he will bestow them presents every year - but if they are naughty, he will bring them something "horrible". He then bellows another "Merry Christmas!" and takes his leave amidst the visibly disturbed parents.
The Police are alerted to the earlier evening's massacre, and go about seaching for this killer Santa, lining up Kringles for witnesses, and broadcasting the bad tidings of discomfort and fear on the news. He is spotted later on, and a mob forms to capture him, but is at first protected by some neighborhood children, fending them off, until he makes his escape in his "slay"-van to his brother's house, with whom he has had an ongoing animosity with. Feelings of harbored resentment surface as "Harry" is strangled into unconsciousness and placed back in his van. He awakens and slugs him one before screetching off again.
The first hour is rather slow and even laborious, so you may wish to catch the second hour, or skip ahead to when he begins actualizing his dementia in the mirror. In the end, a very surprising conclusion in which Harry finally receives his heart-felt wish.
This is not the typical movie in the common sense of the word, both in his method of operation and the fate of the character. It might have been a bit of an overkill, but he did actually rid the world, and himself, of rotten antagonists against his person, and what he believes in. In the cinematic fictional sense, the punishments were justified, as well as being poetic. Harry was a tortured soul who righted the wrongs done against him, although stepping over the line, considering the theme of the holiday. There was also no glaring dualism herein, no grand "good vs. evil" scenario, but focused instead on one man's deadly obsession, who actually succeeds in his final endeavor, which actually proved to be a rather charming scene.
Rating: 3/5 Pentagrams atop the Yuletide Tree.