CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980) [REVIEW]
Dir. Lewis Jackson
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
CHRISTMAS EVIL has probably not aged in the way it was meant and as a standalone horror film probably leaves a disappointed recipient to its gifts. But scratch under the surface and Lewis Jackson's film has a lot to say about mental health and society's response for anyone going against the norm.
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 bit not without good intentions that escalate out of control.
More subtle than other horror entries (BLACK CHRISTMAS, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT and SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT to name a few) the film manages to contain suspense through what goes against societal norms and an escalatingly uneasy soundtrack that sense something bad despite some more innocently intent moments.
While touching and delving into the psyche of an antagonist with mental health issues, for it's time, it handles them with sensitivity even mirroring a conclusion with James Whales iconic FRANKENSTEIN turning the villain into the victim.
There's a lot to take in and it does well to never overstep the mark in terms of kills or black and white good and evil despite Santa's good and bad lists and in doing so creates a more thoughtful and long lasting offering to the bad Santa genre.