09th Nov2012

‘Christmas Evil’ (aka You Better Watch Out) Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull, Andy Fenwick, Brian Neville, Joe Jamrog, Wally Moran, Gus Salud, Peter Neuman, Lance Holcomb, Elizabeth Ridge | Written and Directed by Lewis Jackson


When little Harry sees his Dad in a Santa Claus outfit, groping his mother one Christmas Eve, life changes for the quiet little boy. Thirty odd years later, now all grown up and disgruntled by his dead end job in a depressing toy factory – he’s making a list, checking it twice and descending into a self-created Christmas nightmare where he is Father Christmas and his judgement is final! Dressed as St. Nick, Harry is going to show his bullying co-workers and all the other naughty people what the true spirit of the season is.

Lensed in 1980 and described by cult director John Waters as “greatest Christmas movie ever made,” Christmas Evil is one of only a handful of Yuletide-set shockers to ever grace movie screens. Also known by the more ominous moniker of You Better Watch Out (the on-screen title on this new DVD from Arrow Video), the film is a sleazy slasher movie that, like many of the genre, spends the majority oi it’s running time showing just how psychotic our protagonist is, before unleashing his rage in a handful of set-pieces – in this cast of the cheesy variety; although the first eye-gouging scene is pretty effective for a low-budget slasher such as this. Sadly the violence, when it eventually comes, is so ineptly filmed that an possible impact it could have is wasted. And that’s the case with the entire film…

Don’t get me wrong, the premise is solid, as is the story – after all, if you’d seen Santa sleazing on your mum on Christmas Eve no doubt you’d have a “thing” for the season too. Although whether your thing would involve glueing a beard and ‘tache on your face and then slaughtering a few scrooge-like folks remains to be seen. I would have thought that, given the circumstances, dressing up as Saint Nick would be the last thing you’d do.

But despite a great premise and story, the film remains – much like 70s horror Don’t Go In the House – a dated slasher genre cash-in that, whilst it does relish in it’s own sleaziness, wastes far too much time just meandering around, following the protagonists on his everyday activites (even if some of those are a bit weird). Oh and let’s not for get the truly ridiculous sight of Harry trying to squeeze down a chimney – a brief two minutes of the film that feels like twenty!

Christmas Evil is out now on DVD from Arrow Video.

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