Don't Open Till Christmas (1984) Poster

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More seedy slasher fun from the folks who brought you Pieces!
hypostylin24 April 2008
Now this is what I'm talking about! I love an unabashedly terrible slasher film that revels in its own sleaziness and stupidity. From the crappy synth score to the iffy performances, I was eating Don't Open 'Til Christmas up by the shovelful. I'm not even going to begin explaining the plot -- why should the plot even matter when drunk shopping mall Santa Clauses are getting their faces burned off, eyes slashed out, and penises castrated (YES!) all around you?!

I'd never recommend this to anyone who isn't into true bottom-of-the-barrel stuff like myself, but sludge lovers will want their grimy stockings stuffed with this filthy British exploit. Let me put it this way: if you liked Pieces, you'll also dig this film (which kind of makes sense, since some of the people from Pieces worked on this). Sure, Don't Open 'Til Christmas lacks the acting chops of the Georges (that's Christopher and Lynda Day to you), but it's slightly more enjoyable in the sense that it isn't quite as misogynistic as Pieces (i.e., most of the victims in this one are male). Skeezemeister Edmund Purdom (I find him inexplicably unsettling in a creepy uncle sort of way), who was one of the headliners in Pieces, claims this gem as his one and only directing credit.
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Enjoyably clunky and mean-spirited seasonal slasher trash
Woodyanders22 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
A vicious psycho brutally bumps off various unlucky guys dressed up as Santa Claus around Christmastime. It's up to the dour Inspector Ian Harris (a very sour and indifferent Edmund Purdom, who also fumbled the direction) to catch the maniac. While this movie totally fails to provide any true chills or tension, it certainly succeeds in delivering a steady succession of grisly and ghastly murder set pieces that are randomly injected throughout the narrative with an appealingly appalling lack of finesse and cohesion: one poor tubby dude gets castrated while using a public lavatory, another has a spear shot into the back of his head, a third's face is fried on a grill, and so on. Moreover, Purdom does manage to effectively create and sustain a thoroughly nasty and seedy tone, there's a hefty corpse tally of 14, the foul script blithely breaks the usual established slice'n'dice rules (for example, the final girl is a cheery harlot instead of the customary virginal innocent), and the St. Nick victims are mostly despicable jerks (one Kris Kringle is offed while visiting a sex shop on his lunch break!). The cast do their best with the tawdry material: Alan Lake as creepy low-rent tabloid newspaper reporter Giles, the fetching Belinda Mayne as the distraught Kate Briosky, Gerry Sundquist as Kate's insensitive boyfriend Cliff Boyd, Kelly Baker as bubbly peepshow booth worker Sherry Graham, and Mark Jones as Harris' partner Sergeant Powell. Caroline Munro makes a cameo appearance as herself singing a cruddy disco song in a nightclub. As a tasty added plus, buxom blonde Pat Astley bares her fine shapely body several times as brash nude model Sharon. Alan Pudney's cinematography makes neat occasional use of a prowling hand-held camera. Des Dolan's quivery synthesizer score does the generic ooga-booga hum'n'shiver trick. Worth a watch for fans of sleazy holiday horror fare.
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Another Christmas Holiday Slasher
matt-28214 August 2001
"Another Santa is slain," is the quote one person says early in this movie and that about sums it up for the outline. Set in London, England during the Christmas holiday season, someone killer is going around killing anyone dressed as Father Christmas, while two astonishingly stupid Scotland Yard detectives track him down and dither. Most of the abundant splatter is nothing new here as we see one Santa after another get either shot, stabbed, speared, burned, cleaverd, electriuted and even castrasted. Gore and splatter fans will not be disappointed. But here the victims are not the sympathetic bunch as every Santa victim is either a derelict, drunkard, drug user, or loser we most wish the killer would get. Edumond Purdom who directs and stars as the lead detective, Inspector Harris, who's in charge of investigating the murders, serves up some potential suspense and a fair amount of black humor, but the script plays it very straight.

As for the rest of the plot, although we know that Inspector Harris is not the killer, he appears to know a lot more of what's going on with the killings than the other characters, one of whom is a woman who wants the killer brought to justice since her own father was one of the many victims. The rest of the movie is not as amusing as it sounds, but one can't completely dismiss a horror film like this that piles up more victims than a room full of attorneys. Pop star Caroline Munro even makes a musical cameo appearance as herself during one of the stalking/killings which adds a fairly nice touch to such nonsense.

Contents: 14 killings; lots of messy looking corpses; a masked psycho; costumed victims; slight suspense; mediocre mystery; not bad as usual. With Pat Astley as the model who keeps removing her top.
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That'll be an extra fiver.....
FlashCallahan2 November 2022
Warning: Spoilers
A murderer is running loose through the streets of London, hunting down men dressed as Santa and killing them all in different, and extremely violent, fashions.

Inspector Harris has decided to take on the unenviable task of tracking down the psychopath, but he's going to have his work cut out for him.

Only the suspicious reporter, Giles, seems to offer the Inspector any promising leads......

Well this film is an oddity to come from the UK. A slasher movie that would sit at home comfortably with the more iconic slasher films of the eighties. And what makes it work, is the dingy feel that the film has, and makes London look bedraggled and worn throughout. A long way away from films like The Long Good Friday.

It's cheaply made, funny for all the wrong reasons, and the payoff at the end is pretty hilarious.

But this film is stuck in 1984, but it looks like it was filmed in the late seventies.

Characters are your atypical fare from the golden age of sexism, and the killers motives are over the top, but sound.

If you are into Christmas based horror films, this a fun entry to the genre.

Everyone else will hate it though.....
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Terrible but I've seen worse. Far worse.
mwold14 December 2008
A terrible movie on many levels. The plot is absolutely ridiculous and outlandish. The acting mediocre at best. The premise involves people that dawn Santa costumes during the holidays being unceremoniously killed one by one. Therein lies the problem; lack of ceremony. A slasher movie without ceremony is like a romance film without a kiss. Santa after Santa is killed. However, we don't know who they are, we don't care, and suspense doesn't fit anywhere is this poorly constructed equation. The murders themselves are not doted on and lack any imagination whatsoever. Going back to the story line, logic is totally thrown out the window at every misstep. With an entire city under a terrifying siege, why on earth do people continuing to put on these ridiculous costumes, only to seemingly wander right into the hands of the killer? Had this been handled by a competent writer and director, not to mention the addition of a budget, any budget, there's actually potential to this very anemic holiday horror.
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Only three more killing days left until Christmas! Cheap and sleazy slasher, I liked it.
poolandrews24 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
It's Christmas, a back street somewhere in London, a man dressed as Santa Claus (John Ashton) is having sex with a woman (Maria Eldridge) in the back of a car. The man notices someone spying on them through the window, he gets out of the car to confront them and is stabbed to death, the woman is also murdered. Next we are at a Christmas fancy dress party. Cliff Boyd (Gerry Sundquist) introduces a special guest, Santa Claus (Laurence Harrington). Cliff's girlfriend Kate (Belinda Mayne) is at the party, and it's her dad who's playing Santa. While on stage Santa is murdered with a spear. It appears that a lunatic psycho is running around London killing anyone dressed up as Santa. At New Scotland Yard, Chief Inspector Harris (director Edmund Purdom) and Sergeant Powell (Mark Jones) are on the case, but they have very little to go on. More Santa's are murdered by "person or person's unknown". A newspaper reporter, Giles (Alan Lake) starts to take a more than professional interest in the case, contacting both Sgt. Powell and Kate. Cliff bumps into an old friend Gerry (Kevin Lloyd) a porno magazine photographer. While taking pictures of a model named Sharon (Pat Astley) he dresses her up in a Santa coat, thigh high boots a pair of panties and nothing else, nice. The police spot her flashing her breasts in public to Cliff, they both run in different directions for fear of being arrested. Sharon runs down a dark alley, the murderer jumps out and runs a straight razor across her naked breasts and body in a delightfully sleazy scene. However, he doesn't kill her. Insp. Harris now believes that Cliff might be responsible as he has no alibi for at least two of these incidents. In some sleazy back street London strip club a Santa (Wilfred Corlett) who works in a local store is talking to a stripper (Kelly Baker) in a booth. He is murdered in front of her. This puts her in extreme danger as she has seen the killer, even though they were wearing a mask. As more and more Santa's are viciously murdered can Harris and Powell track the killer down before it's too late and manage to save the stripper!?

Directed by star Edmund Purdom I liked this sleazy mix of murder mystery and gory splatter. Although cheap the effects are gory, there's a great scene in which a Santa is castrated in a public urinal! Other Santa's are stabbed, burnt and set on fire, shot, one has his eye poked out with a spiked glove, and another has a machete planted in his face. The film has a real early 80's dirty, sleazy and noisy London feel to it, check out those old battered public phones, unlike today's London. The script by Derek Ford isn't the best, but it's kind of fun and entertaining and certainly keeps moving at a fair pace, it never becomes boring. However there are problems, some of it is just so stupid. The killers motives aren't great. When the killer kidnaps a girl he locks the door, she hits him with a plank of wood and runs to to door finding it is locked and she can't get out. The killer stands there and holds the key up, they say "looking for this?". She then grabs the key off them, hits them again and runs away! This killer ain't to bright. And the ending doesn't really conclude anything, it just sort of finishes, we don't really know what happened to anyone. Acting is OK, I liked Purdom and the sleazy Lloyd, although she is given near top billing in the opening credits Caroline Munro is only in it for a couple of minutes as a singer. There is an interesting credit that reads 'Additional scenes written and directed by Al McGoohan'. He probably filmed a lot of those gory Santa deaths. Overall I had fun watching it. Cheap, nasty and sleazy what more do you want? This also features one of the best tag lines ever which is probably worth a mention, 'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring.......they were all dead!'
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‘If I saw those eyes again I'd recognize him, if he were smiling'-Blackpool Pat Versus Crazy Alan in a second-hand Ford.
gavcrimson17 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS Despite being shot in a decade when dodos and British horror films were becoming synonymous Don't Open Till Christmas must have initially seemed like an idea that couldn't fail. The late movie mogul Dick Randall was a character right out of Eskimo Nell. Chubby, with a thin Gilbert Roland moustache and of shortish stature he was the consummate low budget producer cum film broker. In the Eighties Randall owned a flat in the West End where he oversaw his production/distribution outlet Spectacular-Trading and also had dealings in the music biz. Don't Open Till Christmas seems to have been envisioned as a British version of Randall's chainsaw horror hit ‘Pieces'. Applying an ‘if it ain't broke don't fix it' logic Don't shares that films co-producer, its ultra-violent set pieces, and one of its stars in good old Edmund Purdom, but by all accounts the result was lucky to see the light of day. Brooding Purdom and bald former sex actor Mark Jones play baffled detectives on the trail of a psychopath (bad boy actor Alan Lake) who has made quite a habit of going round the West End bumping off anyone dressed as Santa Claus. The main plot evokes around a couple (Belinda Mayne and Gerry Sundquist) drawn into the yuletide slayings when a Santa-impersonating relative gets a spear through the head. Plot-diversions include a peep-show floosie witnessing a pervy client being butchered by Lake and later being the object of a kidnapping attempt and an anti-peep show rant. While Blackpool's own Pat Astley-plays topless model Sharon who also has an unpleasant encounter with the Santa-hating madman. None too pleased as to how she's dressed (as Santa) the masked man touches her up with a cut throat razor before disappearing into the night. ‘His eyes, they seem to smile' she tells the police who arrest her for indecent exposure anyway.

Don't Open till Christmas is an uneven patchwork of a film, although not without good reason. The production was a deeply troubled one that took nearly two years and three men behind the camera to make. Edmund Purdom quickly exited the directors chair, and replacement director Derek Ford (also the film's writer) didn't last long either. It was in fact editor Ray Selfe, who finished directing the film and had the unenviable task of making his efforts and the aborted work of his two predecessors resemble a movie. Despite the best attempts of one time sex cinema owner Selfe, the released version of Don't bears all the scars of a film re-shot, re-cut and reinvented numerous times. Many scenes and one seemingly crucial character (Dr Bridle played by Nicholas Donnelly) are eluded to but appear to have been lost to the cutting room floor. The narrative is severely mangled with various protagonists randomly popping in and out of the action. By the end most of the cast are either forgotten about or mean-spiritedly bumped off as this rag-bag tumbles towards an abrupt excuse for a finale.

Derek Ford was a dab hand at writing horror films (viz;1967's Corruption) but was principally known for directing sexploitation movies like The Wife Swappers(1969) and The Sexplorer(1975). Ford could never quite shake off the sex film director tag, on or off screen, so its no surprise that Don't Open Till Christmas retains the atmosphere of a Ford sex film, both in the seedy Piccadilly Circus area locations and the seaside postcard caricature characters like the ‘ducking and weaving' dirty photographer and the gormless glamour model. The casting of Mark Jones, Alan Lake and the always fun to watch Pat ‘Blackpool Patricia' Astley only adds to the blurring of British sex and horror film. ‘Additional scenes by Al McGoohan' seemly tagged on as an afterthought, amount to little more than a typical Dick Randall crash course in opportunistic filmmaking. Novelty value is provided by a scene set in the famed wax museum ‘The London Dungeon', while Dusty Bin era Caroline Munro appears as herself and sings a disco song (George Dugdale aka-‘Mr Munro' also worked on the film). Increasing the gore quota are ‘slasher-movie' sequences in which actors dressed as Santas suspenselessly meet their maker at the hands of Lake's psychopath. Faces instead of chestnuts are roasted on an open fire, machetes embedded in heads and brains blown out. Don't Open Till Christmas' vomitous highlight finds an obese Santa Claus relieving himself in a urinal only to be caught short when Lake creeps out of a toilet and castrates him. Such scenes caused the film multiple problems upon its British release in the closing months of 1985. After all the tail end of the ‘Video Nasty' furore was not perhaps the greatest of time to present the sight of Santa being castrated in a urinal as entertainment.

Hands on heart, Don't Open Till Christmas is unlikely to feature on anyone's list of favourite British horror films in the near future. The film aims to be as colourful a B-movie as anything else with Dick Randall's name on it does, but the overall feel is one of desperation, from the repetitious score to the tacky gore effects and the casting of neglected, forgotten or never made it actors. But despite (or perhaps because) of these reasons the film still intrigues in an end of the pier pantomime way simultaneously being sad, distinctly British and all very low end of the showbiz ladder. Derek Ford worked with Randall one more time on Attack of the Killer Computer(1990), a gore film with a mostly porno cast shot in Randall's West End flat- it was never released. Don't Open Till Christmas may not have been the end of Dick Randall's career, but it was the last interesting chapter in his story. The final Randall productions that saw release (Slaughter High(1986) and Living Doll(1989)) are well made yet utterly routine 80's horrors. But that these business as usual productions appear to have passed without the headaches of Don't Open Till Christmas is perhaps all Randall could have wished for.
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'Tis the season to get slaughtered!
Hey_Sweden27 December 2011
The same year that the American made "Silent Night, Deadly Night" caused a furor over its controversial content, the US / UK co-production "Don't Open Till Christmas" was released, with a premise reversing that of its counterpart; it's up to the viewer whether they find this more or less distasteful.

In this instance, Santa Claus is not the murderer, but the victim - more to the point, any man in this movie wearing a Santa costume is fair game for a sadistic killer with a hatred for all things Christmas. The put upon Scotland Yard inspector Ian Harris (Edmund Purdom) is in charge of the case, while young Kate (Belinda Mayne) sees her own father perish near the beginning of the story due to his having been in Santa garb at the time.

For a movie that was such a troubled production, "Don't Open Till Christmas" is about as "good" as it could possibly be. Purdom, who'd already acted for producers Dick Randall and Steve Minasian in the notorious "Pieces", agreed to star in this under the condition that he get to direct. After Purdom failed to be up to the task, screenwriter Derek Ford was brought in, only to be fired soon himself. The job then landed in editor Ray Selfes' lap, and Alan Birkinshaw was recruited to do some rewriting. Ultimately, Selfe did assemble something basically coherent out of the footage that was shot.

For entertainment value, though, this is hard to beat, especially for any horror fan who prefers their viewings to be on the decidedly trashy and sleazy side. Co-stars Pat Astley and Kelly Baker, very sexy birds both of them, show off some delectable bodies. Astley has a great scene, where, standing outdoors, clad in little more than a Santa coat, she is molested by the killers' straight razor. The various murders are sure to have folks howling with approval: being burned on a brazier, stabbed, castrated and left to bleed to death, etc. Two major set pieces have one victim pursued through a "dungeon" containing assorted macabre displays and props, and another slaughtered in a basement while a cheesy music number, performed by the legendary sex symbol Caroline Munro, is taking place above.

The decent performances (save for Purdom, who looks disinterested throughout) get the job done; standing out are Mark Jones as Sergeant Powell and Alan Lake (a real hoot) as the reporter Giles; sadly, Lake never lived to see this become a sort of cult favourite as he committed suicide the following year. Some silly & hilarious moments add to the fun, such as the reason why Cliff (Gerry Sundquist) abandoned Sharon outside in the first place. The killers' motivation, shown in flashback form right near the end of the movie, will be very familiar to those who have seen a certain other "killer Santa" classic. The music is sometimes reminiscent of vintage John Carpenter, and is most amusing, as is the abrupt denouement, and the subversion of at least one genre cliché.

Fans of seasonal horror are advised to check this one out. It finally got a proper DVD release in Region 1 thanks to Mondo Macabro, and it looks better than it ever has. Giving it a viewing may well become a tradition for you as it has for this viewer.

Eight out of 10.
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Could be woise...
ofumalow8 August 2010
The only movie directed by 1950s Hollywood costume hunk turned Euro-exploitation regular Edmund Purdom (at least partly--someone else is credited with directing "additional scenes," probably including the nudity inserts) is a typical 1980s slasher involving disco, sexually active youth, and crudely done gory deaths.

I saw it in a budget packet of "Drive-In Movie Classics" that clearly used a 3rd-generation VHS dupe--so I can't fairly judge the film's visual presentation, which seems professional enough. It's odd that at age 60 Purdom suddenly decided to try directing, let alone on such an obviously cheesy project.

This being a British film, the performances are competent despite the script's utterly shallow depths--no doubt everyone was conservatory-trained. At times the film feels jumpy, as if scenes (or just violent bits) were coarsely edited out. Even so, one murdered Santa is garroted, then thrust face-first onto a sausage grill. It's a Brit giallo that's not all bad, or as utterly formulaic as many slashers from the era, but it sure isn't inspired.
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A great film for any time in the year
d2046417414 July 2007
One of my all time favourite movies. Purely for it's one of a kindness. There will never be another film made like this. Though i can understand that it's not to everyones taste, but most films aren't to my taste. This film is inept, badly acted, poorly directed and a bit of a mess, but for my personal tastes, these things all work in it's favour. The DVD is cut and doesn't include the Santa that gets shot in the head. The sequences have also been rearranged for the DVD release. There is also a making of documentary for this film ('The Making Of A Horror Movie') which is well worth seeking out and goes some way to explain the less than perfect end product. It is interesting to see the amount of time that was spent on the gory make up for this film. The effects, while only fleetingly shown in the film are actually very competent, especially considering the movies low budget. If you like inept, one of a kind movies check this out.
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I'm a warrior of Love - yes I am!
Bezenby15 August 2011
2016 slight edit:

This film is great to be honest. It's far from scary, but it's a top line cheesy eighties slasher film, full of quirks and the usual madness that makes films like Pieces so great. Plus, it has a brain damaging ending. What else can you ask for? A killer is targeting people dressed as Santa. It's up to Edmund Purdom, who's a cop, to stop whoever it is.

This isn't your usual slasher flick. There's no teenage annoyances here, and most of the film is set in Soho, London. The list of suspects isn't that huge either(although I did get the identity of the killer wrong) and the 'final girl' isn't who you'd expect it to be.

Quirks? There's a musical number (Warrior of Love) by Caroline Munro that's almost the best part of the film (and comes out of nowhere) a bit of gore, some of the most bluntest nudity you'll see, heaps of sexism, daftness, and, as I mentioned, the ending will have you weeping tears of laughter. I loved it. This IS the perfect companion piece Pieces.

Purdom is just as daft here as he was in Pieces, but this time he directs also.
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psycho_15312 January 2000
This movie is pretty lame, but not unwatchable. The acting is cheesy and the killing scenes are ultra cheese, but I did like the killer, his face (mask) was cool and when he talked to the girl he chained up his voice was great. It was an interesting concept but the makers didn't maake it solid enougth, a lot of loose ends, and holes in the plot. The story is Somebody with very little Christmas spirit is killing anyone in a Santa suit one London holiday season, and Scotland Yard has to stop him before he makes his exploits an annual tradition. It's a very cheesy flick, special effects arn't great but a good watch if you like 80's slashers.
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A seasonal stinker.
BA_Harrison4 February 2009
If seasonal slashers such as Black Christmas, Christmas Evil, and Silent Night Deadly Night are to be believed, Christmas isn't really the season for 'peace on Earth and good will to all men'—it's the time of year you're most likely to end up hacked into cubes by a maniac with an axe.

Usually, a cinematic Yuletide killer is fairly easy to spot (hint: he's the one in a scruffy, blood-soaked Santa suit, clutching an axe), but UK horror Don't Open 'Til Christmas bucks this trend: in this film, it's those that are dressed as good old St. Nick that wind up dead, victims of an escaped loony with an extreme hatred of jolly old men with big white beards!

A sleazy, low-budget slasher from exploitation producer Dick Randall and sexploitation scribe Derek Ford, 'Don't Open...' stars Edmund Purdom as a New Scotland Yard Inspector hunting for a serial killer who has left a trail of dead 'Santas' all over London (including a 'roast' Santa, 'shish-kebab' Santa, 'machete-in-the-face' Santa, and 'bloody-stump-where-his penis-used-to-be' Santa). Given its exploitation pedigree, this tawdry tale should be a terrific slice of thoroughly tasteless entertainment, but thanks to some of the worst acting, weak direction, and cheap gore effects in slasher movie history, the film only succeeds in being extremely tedious.

'Don't Open...' never really finds its feet, faltering during the opening scene, in which a couple canoodling in the back seat of a car are unconvincingly stabbed (with a retractable knife presumably purchased from the local joke shop). The film then stumbles chaotically from one dreadful moment to another, subjecting viewers to lots of unconvincing gore FX, a pointless tour of a wax museum, an even more pointless cameo from beautiful British scream queen Caroline Munro, and some hilariously bad dialogue ("they'll think we're a couple of gays"; "it'll make your nip-nips stick out"), until an unintentionally funny 'explosive' finale ends the film rather abruptly.

On a positive note, there is some welcome gratuitous nudity from softcore star Pat Astley and a surprisingly repugnant scene where the killer torments an abducted peep-show stripper, but it just isn't enough to prevent this from being a dud.
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Silent night, boring night
BandSAboutMovies18 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
A guy in a Santa suit has sex with a woman in a filthy alley before they're both killed by a man in a grinning see-through mask. Another Santa ha shis head impaled by a spear while his daughter watches. And yet another has his face grilled while roasted chestnuts on an open fire.

Scotland Yard inspector Ian Harris (Edmund Purdom, who wrote and directed this film as well as appearing in 2019: After the Fall of New York and Pieces) and detective Powell are perplexed. Plus, Harris just got a gift that says "Don't Open Till Christmas." They question Kate, whose father was a killed Santa, and her boyfriend, Cliff.

The next day, Cliff tricks Kate into coming to a porn studio. She storms off and he takes photos of a model dressed as Santa. A pair of police officers spot them shooting nudes in public, so he runs and the killer finds her, but lets her go. Oh yeah - and there's a reporter named Giles digging around, too.

Things get worse. A strip club attending Santa gets knifed. The police think Cliff is the killer and the paper Giles says he works for has no idea who he is. And another Santa runs into the London Dungeon (yes, the place The Misfits sang about) and gets killed.

Even after undercover officers go after the Santa killer, they can't find him and are killed themselves. The killer has a stripper who was there on the night he killed the Santa in her club and says that she will be the supreme sacrifice to Christmas evil. And Caroline Munro (!) is on stage in a nightclub when a Santa is chased on stage and stabbed in the face with a machete. Another Santa is castrated soon after.

It turns out that inspector Harris has no birth certificate and has gone on leave, disappearing to a mental asylum where Kate follows.

It turns out that Giles is Harris' insane brother. Kate finds out first, bit she is strangled and stabbed while detective Powell listens. Then, Giles lures him to his doom, as he electrocutes him in a junkyard.

Sherry escapes and Giles chases after her. She knocks him over a railing and he has a flashback of when he went insane: he caught his father, dressed as Santa, having sex with another woman. When his mother found out, Santa shoved her over a railing. But it's too late for Sherry, as Giles has survived.

Finally, Harris wakes from a bad dream and unwraps his gift, complete with a card from his loving brother. It explodes, killing him and ending the film.

What I have just done is written about this film in a way that will probably make you want to watch it. It's a slasher that even references Halloween in its opening credits. But it's no Halloween.

According to, "this utter sleazefest of a film is quite a jumbled and confused mess, and for good reason. While production began in 1982, the film remained in Development Hell for two years, due to the title of director continually changing hands; first up was Edmund Purdom (who also portrayed Inspector Harris) who walked off the set, prompting at least three or four others to fill in for him, with one only holding Purdom's former position for a mere two days before being fired."

Whew. You got better things to do this Christmas. Trust me.
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* out of 4.
brandonsites198128 May 2002
One of the most troubled and delayed productions in horror cinema history is about a killer on the loose in London killing anybody wearing a Santa Claus suit.

One of the most cruel and mean spirited films ever made with a lousy ending and no payoff what-so-ever for sitting threw 90mins. of explicit murders with no plot, lousy direction (rumor has it three directors worked on this) & awful acting (watch for a silly cameo by Caroline Munro). Also film suffers from not knowing what it wants to be, a seedy sex thriller, a detective movie, or a drive in thriller. Rated R; Extreme Graphic Violence, Nudity, Sexual Situations, and Profanity.
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Don't go too far out of your way
lazarillo3 May 2006
It's refreshing to know that Americans aren't the only ones who can turn out crappy slasher movies. The same British team that did this one also made one of the more idiotic American slasher movies of the 1980's ("Slaughter High"), but here they abandon the stateside setting and the faux American accents to embrace their inherent Britishness while still making a movie that is every bit as inept and pathetic as their "American" effort.

In the seedier parts of London a mad killer is slashing men dressed as Santa Clause. Why? Believe me, you don't want to know, but never has there been a greater collection of drunken, lecherous reprobates than the Santa victims in this movie (Don't they screen their prospective Santa Claus candidates in London?). Between the drunks, potential child molesters, and garden-variety creeps, there isn't a unworthy victim among them. And if there is a mad Santa killer on the loose, why do they all insist on going everywhere dressed in their Santa duds? One sap even wears his costume into a peep show where (in a scene that, I think, is meant to be funny) he tells the stripper that he's not "the real one." Then there is nude fashion model who takes a guy out in the alley for a quickie dressed only in a Santa coat, and of course, meets the killer who luridly runs his knife down her nude body. (I'd complain about the gratuitous misogyny here, but it's one of the best scenes in the movie). On the gore side, we have an grossly overweight pervert Santa who is castrated in a urinal (a metaphor for the movie as a whole perhaps?)

Aside from the aforementioned gore and crumpet, this movie is mostly just boring. I'd term it as a London-based X-mas version of "The New York Ripper", but it's much more dull than tasteless. The only good thing I can say about it is I don't regret having watched it (mostly because it came as part of a dirt cheap 50-movie DVD compilation I recently bought). Don't go too far out of your way for this one though.
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Creative deaths in a sleazy British slasher
Leofwine_draca29 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This cruel film has pretty much everything you could want from a cheesy slasher flick: ample gobs of gratuitous Kensington Gore, plenty of gratuitous nudity, and some poor acting to round it all off. This British variant on a well-worn theme goes for the all-out sleaze aspect of the genre, focusing entirely on some grimy, bloody and explicit death scenes and mixing them in with peep shows and seedy, lecherous drunkards. Taking in the darker, grimier side of London, the actual setting is very good for a horror film, and setting some stalking scenes in dungeons and weird exhibitions works successfully; these scenes actually turn out to be quite frightening.

The particularly vicious edge to the killings in this film elevates it to a higher horror status than the other contemporary American offerings. Knives are shoved through heads, people are garroted, strangled, stabbed in the stomach, and in the film's piece de resistance, a gentleman relieving himself in the toilets has his member hacked off by a straight razor! Another gruesome highlight has a kindly old Santa roasting chestnuts over a grill, only to have his face shoved into the flames and scorched before being set alight! The acting here is below average: only a couple of the cast members convince in their roles, and everybody else is just wooden. Edmund Purdom and Mark Jones are quite good as Inspector Harris and Sergeant Powell respectively, and the killer's bug-eyed insanity fits the role nicely. But the female cast members seem only to have been picked for their glamour, take for example Caroline Munro who pops up to perform a musical interlude in one dire moment.

Thankfully, while we're mired in the poor editing and exceedingly slow police investigation, you can be sure that another brutal murder will soon pop up. This film has a very high body count, with just about everybody being bumped off by the time the credits roll. The eventual confrontation with the unmasked killer is rushed, too, unfortunately, and marred by an unconvincing is-he-dead final shock which appears to have been tacked on. Being a mid '80s film, you can expect some lousy fashions and hairdos, with the men looking like women and the women all having huge blonde hair. An embarrassing disco scene pops up and the killer lurks around in a "shrunken head" costume - it's pretty funny. Another scene guaranteed to evoke a few chuckles occurs when a drunken Santa is attacked by a gang of punks who then proceed to nick his bike! A cold detachment hangs over the film, meaning that we never really care what happens to any of the characters. The deaths impress only due to their creativity, and as we never get to know any of the victims, there's no emotional involvement, and therefore, no real scares. Still, the extreme gore is there, along with the extremely sleazy atmosphere to appeal to most genre fans. Worth a look, if this is your sort of thing. Oh, and one final thing: check out the 'surprise' ending, as it's a real gobsmacker!
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'Tis the season #2 - 'Don't Open 'Til Christmas' (1984)
Shattered_Wake23 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The London streets are running red. . . with blood and velvet! A masked psychopath is roaming the city violently slaughtering every Santa-dressed person he can find. As the death toll rises, it's up to a Scotland Yard detective to solve the crimes and put a stop the murderous maniac.

Yikes. When I saw this referred to as 'sleasy, Z-grade slasher fare,' I was imagining something along the lines of Pieces in quality and enjoyment, as they're both brought by some of the same people. . . unfortunately, by quality, it was far, far below Pieces. Luckily, however, it was almost as fun and sleazy. While it is low quality, that fault can be forgiven a little bit due to the ridiculous production it went through (including at least three or four directors and multiple in-production rewrites). After two years of a disastrous filming, however, Don't Open 'Til Christmas was completed and released in all its nonsensical glory. As far as typical slasher stuff goes, it's all there: Good & violent deaths, sex, sleaze, blood (though horribly done), etc. It's a fine specimen in the art of trash film-making. Unfortunately, its entertainment value doesn't COMPLETELY make up for its horrible direction, brainless script, and awkward acting. Well, maybe it does. But, the faults still need to be addressed. The style obviously varies throughout the film since much of it was filmed by various directors at different times. The story, if there even is one beyond 'crazy man killing Santas,' tries for nothing new at all. The dialogue is horrible and unrealistic, made worse by a cast of seeming amateurs (though some veterans do shine a bit). In the end, however, it's not a film that needs to be or should be over-analyzed. It is what it is: A cheap, poorly made, sleazy B-slasher that was made simply to offend, shock, or titillate (depending on what kind of fan you are). If Pieces was up your alley and you're looking for some holiday cheer, give Don't Open 'Til Christmas a look. Just don't expect much and you'll do fine.

Obligatory Christmas-Horror Elements:

  • Subgenre: Slasher

  • Christmas Carols: There was a disappointing lack of Christmas music, surprisingly.

  • Snow: Christmas in London? Yeah, bit of snow.

  • Person in a Santa suit: If you're wearing one: RUN AWAY!

  • Violence/Gore: There are some brutal deaths including stabbings, boiling flesh, and one that will make the boys squirm. *shudder* There's plenty of blood & gore, but it's not done well at all.

  • Sex/Nudity: Dig British women? Well, this one's for you. Many a fair young lass bear it all here.

  • Scares/Suspense: Suspense? None. But, there were a couple good jump scares here and there. All typical stuff, though.

  • Mystery: Well, a mess of a script certainly can make for a great mystery. . . as it's really unclear what the hell is going on and for what reason most of the time.

  • - -

Final verdict: Averaging the entertainment with the low quality. . . 3.5/10. But, a high one.

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Don't open at all
Chase_Witherspoon28 March 2012
Gory, inane slasher flick has a murderous psychopath stalking Santa Claus' in London, as baffled detectives (Purdom & Jones) struggle to find leads let alone a suspect. Daughter of a Santa costume wearer (Mayne) who was speared at a Christmas party does her own investigative work, but it's her boyfriend (Sundquist) who's the prime suspect.

Joining the wasted talents of Purdom, Mayne (Ferdy's daughter) and Alan Lake (Mr Diana Dors), are familiar faces Mark Jones, Kevin Lloyd (pre- Tosh in the long-running police soap "The Bill") and the frequently topless Pat Astley, in something of a self parody. If you thought that sultry Caroline Munro would be reason enough to tune in, you'd be mistaken; she plays herself in a three-minute music video that serves as the background to one of the ghastly murders, apparently promoting her fledgling singing career. Once noted Shakespearean actor Purdom turns up hot on the heels of "Pieces" for another slasher companion, this time he's also behind the camera, although he was replaced and the film's original ending re-shot (you'll see the narrative and personnel change noticeably after Purdom and Mayne dine at the restaurant). Consequently, the double-headed climax looks disconnected.

The acting is variable, and the dialogue absurd, while the explanation for the killer's motivations (told in flashback) is laughable; the only redeemable feature is the film's tasteless and macabre sense of cruelty to the poor old, often sozzled Santas, slain in about a dozen different ways: digging implement gouges out the eyeball of one, another is speared through the mouth, gunshot to head, machete across face, hot plate face melt and the crowd favourite, the castrator. Apart from that novelty, the rest is a load of reindeer droppings.
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A distinctly British slasher
WirelessE18 August 2015
A very British entry into the 1980's slasher cannon. It feels as if the EastEnders writers thought that they'd give jumping on the slasher bandwagon a go, but lacking any real insight into the genre they get it a bit wrong at most turns!

Lacking the perkiness of most of its American cousins and the style of the Italian gialli, the film is nevertheless more aligned to the giallo in terms of structure and plot, police procedural action and a whodunit angle with numerous characters.

It gets pluses for the mask, a variety of amusing kills, the London Dungeon scene and the sheer curiosity factor given that UK slashers of this era are relatively rare. There is a bargain basement TV actors look and feel throughout, like a fairly straight BBC version of a slasher film. London looks suitably gross, seedy and grotty. A few off the wall moments keep it fairly enjoyable and worth a look for fans of sleazy, cult, obscure trash.
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Not a good movie.....But!
kamikaze-423 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
To say Don't Open Till Christmas is a classic is really stretching it. To say it is a bad film is unjust. The movie is much more entertaining than The Silent Night Deadly Night trilogy. Edmund Purdom stars as a police inspector on the lookout for a psycho who kills people who dress up as Santa. Seems when a young lad, the psycho saw his Daddy dressed as Santa doing the nasty with a party guest, and seeing Daddy accidentally killing Mommy when discovered. A few twists and turns, and not to mention a Godawful cameo of Caroline Munro performing a pop number and discovering a dead Santa makes this film one of a kind. I'm kind of curious why anybody with half a mind would dress up as Santa in public with all the murders occurring. Then again, if these victims didn't dress up as Santa, we wouldn't have a movie. To some, that might be a good thing. To me, this film is a suitable sleaze warm-up to my fave Xmas terror films, Night Train Murders, Silent Night, Bloody Night, Black Christmas and of course, Christmas Evil. To Hell with the Silent Night Deadly Night series.
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On the Third Day of Christmas … I shot Santa right in the face!
Coventry3 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"Don't Open Till Christmas" is a pretty bad and often irritating 80's slasher, but on the other hand I honestly can't bring myself to write too many overly harsh things about it, because there were still several elements that I appreciated and thought showed a lot of potential. For example, this is probably the only holiday-themed slasher that reverses the characters. Usually in this sort of flicks, the maniacal killer dresses up as Santa Claus and goes on a murder spree. In this case the killer wears a 'normal' disguise but exclusively targets people who are dressed up in Santa Claus suits. You know, like drunks at parties or employees at the mall. You would assume that, after the third murder or so, the entire city is sufficiently alerted and the police advises people not to appear in public dressed as Santa, but no. Our deranged killer easily keeps finding victims throughout practically the entire movie. After nearly a dozen of Santa Claus kills in the same London area, people still go out dressed as Santa. "Don't Open Till Christmas" also isn't your average 80's slasher with stereotypical teenage characters and clichéd campus ground settings. The film takes place in the darkest alleys of London (either that or they just didn't have the budget for light bulbs) and introduces plausible lead characters, like a fatigue old Scotland Yard inspector and the shocked daughter of a recently slain victim. The inspector has an unreliable partner and the girl has a suspiciously behaving boyfriend. Together they hunt for the Santa slayer, but there really aren't any clues given, so we're just supposed to patiently sit through another handful of gross killings until the revelation of the utterly grotesque and stupid denouement at the end. Luckily enough the body count of "Don't Open Till Christmas" is quite high, because the film is incredibly boring when there aren't any murders occurring. Some of the kills are quick and delightfully mean- spirited, like the Santa guy who bluntly gets shot in the face, whereas other ones appear to be endlessly stretched. There's one Santa who flees throughout the half of London before finally getting stabbed in the stomach at a museum and another one has to endure an whole ugly disco song, sung by Caroline Munro, before a machete splices his face. The scenes in the peepshow-theater are undeniably the best ones, largely because I can't say for certain whether the humor is intentional or not. That sequence, along with the urinal castration of course, are the highlights of the film. There isn't the slightest bit of suspense or intelligence to be found in the scenario, so naturally you go look for hilarious incompetence example to list as the film's highlights. "Don't Open Till Christmas" stands as the sole directorial effort of Edward Purdom. This fine British gentleman appeared in tons of inferior horror productions, mostly Italian and Spanish ones like "Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks" and "Pieces", but this homeland film was his one shot at directing. According to the trivia section, he quit the job and it took another two years before the film got released.
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DON'T OPEN TILL Christmas {Re-Edited Version} (Edmund Purdom and, uncredited, Derek Ford, Ray Selfe and Alan Birkinshaw, 1984) *1/2
Bunuel197626 December 2011
Following on from the previous decade's BLACK Christmas (1974; easily the best of the bunch), SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT (1973) and Christmas EVIL (1980), the Eighties also saw a proliferation of Yuletide horrors like GREMLINS (1984; a Yuletide perennial during my childhood days) and the SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT franchise; this troubled production was the British contribution to that cycle. The three uncredited directors, collectively dubbed "Al McGoohan", included screenwriter Derek Ford (whose most notable work was done in the 1960s for director Robert Hartford-Davis), editor Ray Selfe and director Alan Birkinshaw (of the reportedly just-as-abysmal KILLER'S MOON {1978} fame)!

Rather than the expected 'murderer dressed in a Santa costume', here we have the annihilation of the persons dressing up as Father Christmas – a modus operandi that is, needless to say, triggered by a childhood trauma (involving a man in a Santa outfit who is obviously not his father shagging Mommy). Given the dearth of admirable qualities on display here (it is considered the cinematic equivalent of a Christmas turkey dinner!), there remains little for me but to describe the copious murders: from the very first sequence, we have a Santa done in through the window of his car where he is smooching his girlfriend: she, too, foolishly but predictably rushes out of the car to her death; a reluctant Santa Claus is impaled through the mouth with a spear during a Christmas party by the murderer wearing a gruesome mask...but, apart from a weak scream, none of the witnesses make any kind of reaction – not even his daughter nearby!; a street-side Santa is strangled, has his face pushed against a stove and subsequently set alight!; in the re-edited version I watched, the fifth murder – where a Santa has his brains blown away with a gun, has been removed and replaced by the later tenth(!) one of a Santa castrated with a razor in a urinal!; another Saint Nick (a lonely, middle-aged soul) unwisely takes a break from his Christmas duties to go check out a peep-show and gets his in the neck to the horror of the teasing tit-flasher in the booth (when the murderer returns to kill her, she subsequently runs out into an incongruously deserted London street!); another is stabbed in the gut via a knife-wielding shoe!; a Santa – who has taken shelter in the London Dungeon (which I visited on my first trip to the British capital in 1999) – gets it in the neck too; another receives a machete to the face and turns up on-stage during a musical performance; the heroine is strangled but subsequently found all bloodied(!?); an investigating police officer is electrocuted; the killer's mother dies in a fall in a flashback sequence; the villain himself is thrown off the stairs at the top floor of the stripper's flat…who predictably comes back to life when she goes to check up on him!; finally, the Police Inspector on the case (though his lack of productivity eventually gets him taken off it) dies in a slow-motion bomb blast, which effectively concludes the film, when committing the titular act (why he never doubted the contents of the package is anybody's guess)!

While the killer is seen having no qualms about stabbing a couple of females, he is clearly taken aback when a would-be Santa victim turns out to be a nude model to whom the hero had taken his bereaved girlfriend to uplift her spirits by taking part in a saucy shoot (WTF?!). The daughter of the second murdered Santa and her callous boyfriend subsequently become the relative protagonists of the piece; however, during the latter stages, it is the stripper who takes centre stage (especially since the nominal heroine is herself bumped off) – she is eventually kidnapped by the killer who intends offing her on Christmas Day (earlier, she had told the cops she might be able to recognize the murderer if he smiled at her!?). It is idiotic to have people keep turning up everywhere in Santa outfits when they are likely to be targeted by the murderer for it – neither do the local authorities issue any order to refrain from doing so for safety's sake; in any case, the Police put Santa decoys in an effort to apprehend the killer but they only end up among his death-list, one of them messily losing an eye to him!

For no very good reason (except that her husband was behind this production), Caroline Munro appears as herself to warble a tacky song. Persistent journalist Alan Lake turns out to be the killer and Purdom's insane brother (the heroine comes to know of his monthly visits to the ostensibly committed sibling but she is not given the opportunity to do anything about it), taking care to implant the seeds of suspicion into the mind of the latter's direct subordinate (though he misconstrues the situation by thinking Purdom himself is the guilty party); tragically, the actor committed suicide before the film's release as a result of the death of his wife, iconic British star Diana Dors earlier in the year!

The film (which, apparently, was not even officially released, going straight-to-video instead!) has been recently released as a SE to little fanfare on R1 DVD by esteemed cult label Mondo Macabro. For the record, it shares its producer with that of the equally execrable PIECES (1982), also featuring Purdom; the latter, then, appeared in the following horror-related films throughout his European wanderings: THE NIGHT THEY KILLED RASPUTIN (1961), Sergio Corbucci's THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1966), Pupi Avati's THOMAS AND THE BEWITCHED (1970), THE FIFTH CORD (1971), LUCIFERA: DEMONLOVER (1972), Riccardo Freda's TRAGIC CEREMONY (1972), FRANKENSTEIN'S CASTLE OF FREAKS (1974), THE NIGHT CHILD (1975), Joe D'Amato's ABSURD (1981), the aforementioned PIECES and FRACCHIA CONTRO Dracula (1985; as the Count!).
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Standard holiday slasher, made-in-Britain
gridoon1 January 2007
"Don't Open Till Christmas" is definitely not among the worst films of its type, but that's not a big enough accomplishment to be proud of. The premise could be described as a reverse version of "Silent Night, Deadly Night", and it has an unmistakable element of idiocy in it (why don't people stop dressing up as Santa Clauses for a while? Shouldn't the police issue a warning or even an order?) Although the film is set and shot in London, there is little of the city's flavor in the cheap production. Like most slasher films, it is basically a drearily monotonous series of graphic killings. Fans of the genre may see this as a good thing, except that even the killings themselves are mostly unimaginative (the very last one is probably the best). It also tries to add a bit of mystery to the mix, but gives us no real clues. (*1/2)
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Jaw-droppingly bad
heedarmy4 March 2002
I knew from previous reviews that "Don't Open Till Christmas" would be bad, but I didn't realise just HOW bad! But perhaps that's just as well. The 'story' is so sleazy and mean-spirited that the film would be deeply nasty if it were well-made. As it is, it is just laughable.

Even on the most basic levels, "Don't Open Till Christmas" fails to work. The various murders, though gory, are suspenseless. We know nothing of the victims, we know when the killer's about to strike (so there is no surprise) and the direction is hamfisted. The giallo elements fall flat because neither we nor the police are given any clues and indeed the police investigation never really comes to a conclusion.

Parts of the film simply don't make any sense. The timeframe is all to hell, for one thing. Early on, a newspaper headline reads "Only three killing days left to Christmas", but then four or five days pass and we're only at Christmas Eve! Lines like "Is there a pattern here?", after 3 Santas have been gorily dispatched, beggar belief. It also seems unlikely that people would still be happily wandering around London in Santa costumes if a psychopathic Claus-slayer WERE on the loose!

The direction is inept, the dialogue ludicrous and the acting desperately flat. And why does Mark Jones, as one of the police investigators, dress like a Twenties matinee idol? Perhaps his flamboyant costumes are an effort by the makers to disguise attention from the threadbare sets!

Nevertheless, "Don't Open Till Christmas" does have a certain historical interest as the very last gasp of the low-budget British horror film. The involvement of Derek Ford gives it a tenuous link to the gory glory days of Compton and Tigon. And it's amazing to think that it was made in 1984, the time when Goldcrest were at their height. What a contrast between such genteel efforts as "Chariots of Fire" and "The Dresser" and this sadistic little affair!
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