Christmas Evil (1980)

Genres - Horror, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Slasher Film, Psychological Thriller, Urban Drama  |   Release Date - Nov 1, 1980 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Though it is often lumped in with the "Santa slasher" movies that popped up in the 1980's, Christmas Evil deserves better than that label. In fact, it's much more a dark satire than it is a horror film. Director Lewis Jackson plays his material out in a deadpan style, never going for cheap laughs and taking the time to build up Harry's break with reality so the audience understands it. He also makes good use of an unusual editing scheme and jittery synthesizer music, combining them with unexpectedly pretty cinematography in a way that gives the proceedings an off-beat, surreal feel. Best of all, he has Brandon Maggart to drive his film with a magnificent performance as Harry. Maggart's work is broad enough in the right places to make Harry's insanity convincing but he manages to pull off a slow-burn descent into madness that also makes the character sympathetic in a sad way. It all adds up to a film that is nothing like the ad material would lead you to expect. It's probably too artsy and deliberately paced for the horror crowd but aficionados of the cultish and bizarre will appreciate its ambition and satirical bite. In short, Christmas Evil is not for all tastes but its well worth the time for those looking for a darker, different kind of yuletide film.