A man obsessed with Christmas starts to live out his fantasies of being Santa Claus, and the people on his naughty list pay for it with blood.

Date: 1980
Director: Lewis Jackson
Writer: John Hay, David Logan
Starring: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull
Runtime: 1:34:12

Jeff’s Review:
Four Stars

Christmas Evil (or ‘You Better Watch Out’ as it was originally titled) is an underrated little psychological take on a man who loves Christmas so much he starts to see himself as Santa Claus. He starts to see a world which mocks his idealism. He wants so much for their to be a Santa Claus, he has to become him.

It’s a creepy little film with a big heart and a small budget. But that’s okay, that can work. I assume it was a much smaller version when I watched the old VHS release for so many year, but now that it’s gotten a proper Blu Ray release, it gives it new life. The muted, dead colours of videotape give way to explosive new reds and greens in the Blu Ray. Few films get such a revitalization from this new format. Sure the resolution isn’t what we might expect today, but the improvement over the old version is incredible.

The real problem with this was expectations, not the film itself. The people marketing it wanted to be a slasher film, not some dark, slow-paced study of one tragic figure. While this was groundbreaking for the time with what I think was the first killer Santa (Silent Night Deadly Night came out in 1984), it wasn’t really fitting what the blood and guts crowd that wanted that sort of film was looking for. This has blood and guts, but it really wants to be something more. This is the story of our hero/anti-hero, and his losing grip. As that, I find it really successful, but I’m not sure that’s the film anyone else wanted.

Regardless, the new Blu Ray makes this little sleeper well worth revisiting. You won’t believe what colours they had intended all those years ago. The muted, drab print I remember is gone, and Santa and his suit glow brightly once again. Not for everyone, but an interesting little slice of Christmas (and Santa) movie history.