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Christmas Evil (1980)

You Better Watch Out (original title)
A toy factory worker, mentally scarred as a child upon learning Santa Claus is not real, suffers a nervous breakdown after being belittled at work, and embarks on a Yuletide killing spree.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Philip Stadling
...
Jackie Stadling
Andy Fenwick ...
Dennis Stadling
Brian Neville ...
Marc Stadling
Joe Jamrog ...
Frank Stoller
Wally Moran ...
Philip Stadling Jr.
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
...
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:

He'll sleigh you. See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

November 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Christmas Evil  »

Box Office

Budget:

$750,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (re-release)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The toy factory Harry works at was owned by the family of producer Edward R. Pressman. 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 »

Connections

Features Babes in Toyland (1934) See more »

Soundtracks

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
(uncredited)
Hummed by Brandon Maggart
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User Reviews

 
A loopy case of nostalgia
3 June 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's a constant challenge to keep up in this competitive and cruel world. Some are born or raised with tenacity, while others become withdrawn from the heavy weight of social pressures. Harry Stadling is a middle aged recluse with intimacy issues who maintains the same ideals he had when he was an innocent kid just learning the ropes. At first this looks like "Taxi Driver" or "Driller Killer" all over again, as the character's ambitions are far from wanting, or incapable of having, the normal life with a dedicated wife, eager kid and white-picket fence house, but the difference here is his mind is stuck reliving a childhood event that still matters dear. Something more like De Niro in the later picture "The Fan" to give a closer idea.

Harry has an obsession with everything related to the greeting card version of Christmas, from counting the days, decorating his apartment, watching parades and even dressing up as the jolly, white-bearded man himself. It's no coincidence he collects toys, works with toys, eats sugary cereal and holds what actions kids do with consequential meaning in written logs because he's mentally one himself. As others start to take advantage of this man-child--who's reserved and has something about him that isn't quite right--he becomes a ticking time bomb ready to go off. As the unlucky ones that learned the hard way from Dirty Harry about being judge, jury and executioner: You don't mess with a man on his own turf.

Instead of being just a straightforward plot about someone ready to commit violence if anything comes between their fixation like some typical slasher, this is a character study that goes through motivations in a quirky, off-beat way and reveals a method to the madness, as unorthodox as that may be. "You Better Watch Out" (aka "Christmas Evil") has a demented sense of dark humor that paved the way for "Silent Night, Deadly Night" to roll with it. There's no denying this has an out there and absurd plot that described in advance can make one either offended, morbidly intrigued or just run the other way (they did manage to dodge religious themes though). What ultimately made this work, was it was capable of balancing out seriousness and a sort of eccentricity while not skipping a beat in between. Its messages got a little too obvious towards the latter part of the film, such as giving reference to Frankenstein about a "monster" in society, but, on the other hand, it also steadily paced itself and kept you in the moment as it went. (Also submitted on http://fromblacktoredfilmreviews.blogspot.com/)


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