Christmas Evil

12/11/2017 10:14

Film: Christmas Evil

Year: 1980

Director: Lewis Jackson

Writer: Lewis Jackson

Starring: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn and Dianne Hull



This film starts back on Christmas Eve in 1947. We see two children, played by Wally Moran and Gus Salud, sitting on the stairs. With them is their mother, played by Ellen McElduff. They are waiting for Santa Claus to come. Two feet appear at the bottom of the chimney. Santa is played by Brian Hartigan. He comes out, washes his hands and eats some bread with milk that is left out for him. He leaves presents and Moran laughs. Hartigan looks at them and puts his finger to his nose. He then goes back up the chimney.

The two boys go to bed, but Moran thinks it was their dad. Salud doesn’t believe him and goes back down the stairs. He then sees Hartigan with McElduff. Hartigan is on the ground and he is running his hand up her leg and has his head between them. This bothers Salud and he goes up the attic. He breaks a snow globe and cuts his hand with it.

We then jump to what would be present time. Salud has grown up to be Brandon Maggart. He loves Santa Claus and Christmas. We see him go about his morning and then to work. He works in a toy factory where he has been recently promoted to management. He misses working on the line with the toys though. We see him at lunch with some of his former co-workers. One in particular comes in, played by Joe Jamrog. He is trying to find someone to cover his shift for him so he can go out of town with his wife. He bullies Maggart into covering him and working the line again.

On his way home from work, he passes a bar and sees Jamrog inside with his co-workers. He mocks Maggart and how he got him to cover for him. This bothers him and we see that his mental state was fragile to start, but he is losing it.

Maggart does have a hobby. He watches over the children that live across the street frp, him. He has been keeping good and bad books, detailing what they have been doing throughout the year. He looks at them through their windows with binoculars to record the things they have been doing.

We also see Maggart as he goes back to his childhood home, where his brother, played by Jeffrey DeMunn, still lives. He has a wife, played by Dianne Hull, and two boys, played by Andy Fenwick and Brian Neville. He watches as the boys wrestle with their father until they are taken up to bed. Then DeMunn and Nevill make love on the couch.

On Thanksgiving, Maggart is supposed to come over for dinner. DeMunn is worried when he hasn’t showed up yet. Hull tries to get him to promise to not go off on Maggart, but he can’t agree to it. Maggart then calls to state that he can’t make it over. DeMunn tries to ask questions, but he can’t hear as Maggart turns up the television louder. He is watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade and Santa is about to come by on his float.

Maggart has come up with a plan after the Christmas party. He states during it that he has learned the correct tune and it has taken him this long. He freaks out when he asks about the toys being donated to a hospital for mentally handicapped children. The new guy created the campaign, but doesn’t know if all kids will get a toy or not. Maggart goes home and sews together a Santa costume. It is Christmas Eve and he murders two people after midnight mass.

When DeMunn hears what happened, he fears for the worst and can’t get a hold of Maggart. Will Maggart come back to his senses or has he officially lost it? Can he be stopped before it is too late and who else is going to be part of his rampage?

I actually had never heard of this film, but when I saw it was being played at my local theater I decided to give it a chance. From what I have gathered, the original title of the film was You Better Watch Out. This film has an interesting story. Maggart is a mentally disturbed man who saw his father, playing Santa Claus, being sexual with his mother. He really thought that Santa was the real one though. He has an unhealthy obsession with Santa and Christmas in general. It is also creepy that he is a peeing tom, looking through these children’s windows to see what they are doing. I like the idea of him becoming Santa when he finally snaps and trying to come to terms with what he has done. He actually does good though. He steals a bunch of toys and goes to the hospital they are going to be donated to. He ensures that all the kids will get one. He also has a few interesting kill scenes in this film. I hated the ending of the film though. I believe it is the final snap of Maggart and I don’t think it is real, but showing the characters react to what they see as they do makes it seem otherwise.

I think there is actually some pretty good acting. Maggart was highly believable to me as someone who is hanging by a thread in the beginning. He truly thinks that he is doing goods when he murders those that bully him and giving children presents. He even spooks a child who was bad and brings him dirt. DeMunn is good as the protective brother who is also at wit’s end with what Maggart does. I liked Hull. I thought she was good looking and was really trying to help the weaker brother. The rest of the cast was decent enough for what they needed.

The best part of this film was the score. It is a combination of Christmas music, Maggart humming songs from the holiday and some great instrumental that built tension. There was multiple times that hearing some of the songs got my heart rate up. I wonder how much of this was being in a cinema seeing this, but I was a fan. The effects were pretty good. They show the attacks quickly and would focus in where it hit. I thought that was a solid touch. The blood was a little too orange though. The editing did have problems. It does build to the climax, but there seemed to be too much filler in the film. This could have benefited from a few more deaths in my opinion.

Now with that said, I found this film enjoyable for the most part. The story is a good concept and parts were executed very well. The ending I was a fan of. There are also some odd filler scenes when they should have used more deaths. This film feels like it wants to be a slasher, but misses the mark. The acting was pretty good for the most part. The score of the film was great. The effects were done practical and were decent aside from the color of the blood. The editing does build tension, but it is plagued with the filler scenes as well. I would say that this is a below average slasher, but setting it on and around Christmas brings the film up to being slightly above average for me. It is a fun flick so if this sounds interesting, I would say give it a viewing.


My Rating: 6 out of 10