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Review Christmas Evil a.k.a. You Better Watch Out Director's Cut (1980): Be good or else Santa will do something horrible to you!

genre: thriller, horror, slasher

Harry Stadling (Brandon Maggart) is mentally unstable from a young age. Why exactly this is does not become clear. But his mental health deteriorates considerably when he sees his mother and father in Santa suit being sexually engaged. Of course it could be a traumatic affair to see your parents like that. I mean seriously no child should see their parents in that manner. Still is that a good reason enough psychologically speaking to dismiss their act as wrong and evil?

While the film might seem like your typical Eighties slasher it does something unique. It actually shows us so much of Harry that we almost get to understand where he is coming from. Don't get me wrong. The guy is looney tunes for sure however I could relate to his actions somewhat since most of the people that were affected did deserve it in some way. A theory of mine is that his parents never paid attention enough to him and his thoughts. If they did they would have caught on his warped sense of what is good and not and they could have taken appropriate action. Strangely enough Harry has managed to remain normal until Christmas 1980 where he finally knows what he should do. It's to become Santa and deal with the good and naughty people. If you are good you will get nice presents. If you are naughty you are in big trouble. Before you get all excited there aren't that many murders being committed I mean compared to what you normally would expect. However this film does venture in bizarro world the last fifteen minutes. You won't be able to predict what will happen. And I loved it. Naturally if you think about it there might be a very reasonable explanation for this if you pay attention especially in the beginning. But this film ending like it did leaves room open for other interpretations which in this case does give the film extra value. 

There are some actors in this film who you might not recognize at once. But three of them stand out as they offer some nice and unique moments. First is Jeffrey DeMunn as Harry's brother Philip Stadling. Still not ringing any bells? What if I tell you that it's Dale Horvath from The Walking Dead. Then there is Patricia Richardson (Home Improvement) who plays the mother of Moss. Moss Garcia is one of the naughty boys who wants a lifetime subscription to penthouse. When Moss notices something in the bushes and delays his mother and him leaving she slaps him on the head real hard. It make me laugh instantly. These days you simply don't expect that to happen. But here the kid knew he had overstepped his boundary and did as told. Very classic moment if you ask me. Last there is Raymond J. Barry as Detective Gleason. He is one of those actors with one of those faces that keep popping up everywhere in TV land and films but won't know the name of. He remarks that he is not opposed to the actions of our evil Santa. According to him he is doing a good job of keeping people in check. 

Doesn't that make you want to watch this film? There is a good reason why this is John Waters most favourite Christmas movie. While this is not my most favourite it definitely is one I enjoyed very much and so will you if you give it a proper chance. 

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