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Christmas Evil (1980)
"You Better Watch Out" (original title)

R  |   |  Horror, Thriller  |  November 1980 (USA)
5.0
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Ratings: 5.0/10 from 2,411 users  
Reviews: 81 user | 160 critic

A psycho in a Santa suit gets to decide who's been naughty and who's been nice.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Brandon Maggart ...
...
Philip Stadling
...
Jackie Stadling
Andy Fenwick ...
Dennis Stadling
Brian Neville ...
Marc Stadling
Joe Jamrog ...
Frank Stoller
Wally Moran ...
Young Philip Stadling
Gus Salud ...
Ellen McElduff ...
Harry's Mother
Brian Hartigan ...
Harry's Father
Peter Neuman ...
Moss Garcia
Lance Holcomb ...
Scotty Goodrich
Elizabeth Ridge ...
Susie Lovett
Chris Browning ...
Richie Sharp
Tyrone Holmes ...
Frankie
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Storyline

Widely recognized as the best of the Christmas horror efforts, Christmas Evil is the story of a boy who loves Christmas. He is scarred as a boy when he learns that Santa is not real. Throughout the rest of his life, the toy-maker tries to make the Christmas spirit a reality. He becomes obsessed with the behavior of children and the quality of the toys he makes. When he is met with hypocrisy and cynicism, the resulting snap causes him to go on a yuletide killing spree to complete this dark comedic horror. Written by Jason Duvall <jasduv@edge.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

You'd better take care...Santa is coming to town! See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

November 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Christmas Evil  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$750,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (re-release)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Harry slips on the street running from the mob, he really did slip, and Lewis Jackson left it in the film. See more »

Goofs

When Harry's brother falls down the hill, it's obviously a fake sheet of snow as it all lifts off the ground. See more »

Quotes

[last line after Harry gets away from the vigilante mob]
Harry "Santa": But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the end credits, the filmmakers are heard yelling "Merry Christmas". See more »

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User Reviews

 
I'm with John Waters on this one: this movie is great.
11 December 2011 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This cult favourite seasonal picture is writer / director Lewis Jackson's interesting, offbeat take on the holidays, focusing on a pathetic figure named Harry Stadling (Brandon Maggart), whose mind has been warped ever since seeing something as a child that he ought not to have seen. He's grown up with an obsession with Christmas; the decorations at his place have a Christmas theme, for one thing. He's dismayed at the attitudes displayed by co-workers at his place of employment, a toy factory, and goes so far as to catalogue the naughty or nice activities of children in his neighbourhood. When he learns that his company plans on donating toys to a local hospital, but expects all employees to make any financial donations, that's when he truly becomes determined to spread his own brand of Christmas cheer.

Now, this is not really for hardcore horror fans. True enough that Harry does end up murdering a few people, but this is not about racking up the body count. This is ultimately about one man's mental and emotional deterioration, and nowadays some folk might even insist on giving it the common "psychological thriller" label. Jackson takes aim at the crass commercialization of the holiday, a common theme in Christmas fare, and comes up with some very striking images, notably the police line up of Santas, and the homage to the Fritz Lang classic "M" with angry torch bearing citizens hellbent on getting their hands on Harry.

Talented star Maggart came in cold for his audition and delivered the exact performance seen in the movie; it's truly something to see. Fellow character veteran Jeffrey DeMunn ('The Walking Dead', "The Green Mile", etc.) is also effective as Phil, the younger brother frustrated over having to look out for Harry for many years rather than being able to look up to him. The cast and crew is filled with a number of people who did very well for themselves afterwards; the actors include future 'Home Improvement' wife & mom Patricia Richardson, as well as Peter Friedman, Mark Margolis, Raymond J. Barry, Robert Lesser, Bill Raymond, and Rutanya Alda; the crew includes "presenter" and producer Edward R. Pressman, cinematographer Affonso Beato (who would shoot "The Big Easy"), and the late editor Sally Menke, who cut all of Tarantino's directorial efforts. Fun sequences feature Harry partying hearty with some strangers at a Christmas party and delivering toys to the children at a hospital. Seeing Harry spy on the kids, however, does create a fairly creepy vibe, no matter how good his intentions are.

One thing is for certain, and it's that this amusing low budget flick is fairly memorable, right down to its ending.

Seven out of 10.


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Recent Posts
Future inspiration for SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT? petekrug17
This movie is unbearable to watch hhh_thegame100
Why do people feel like they have to defend movies like this? sean-mcclain-dc-sw
Is this film better than 'Silent Night, Deadly Night'? blackchristmasfan74
Genuine Artistry XDevonousX
Who is the performer of Santa Claus is Coming to Town on the soundtrack? Carlo Houtkamp
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