Any film starting with a shake-tastic mid 80's disco dance party, complete with jerky, spastic dance moves straight out of crackville will usually capture my attention - and my heart. Toss in a harpooned through the face Santa and you're looking at straight love 4 life. 1984's Don't Open 'Till Christmas (Till, 'Til, or Til?) has both of these things within the first 5-10 minutes, but my heart I cannot completely give to this Holiday themed Slasher, still it's worth a yearly holiday booty call at least.
With an intricate and complicated plot, Don't Open 'Till Christmas is about a serial killer running amok in the streets of London. His target...Santa Claus! No, not the real Santa Claus, he lives in the North Pole not London, I'm talking about dudes rocking the red and white, complete with white beard and bottle of booze Santa. Scotland Yard is on the hunt to capture this Santa Slasher, but how many faux Santa's will be taken out before the authorities can figure out whom is behind these Claus killings?
With an insanely low IMDB score of 2.4, Don't Open 'Till Christmas is a second, maybe even third rate Slasher, but third rate is more than capable of delivering SOME goods. Some being the key word, thus the capitalization. This is one of those movies that is almost so bad that it's good, but it's not quite good enough to make it a must see, unless you are an avid Slasher fan or someone that enjoys B-Movies. I fall into both of those categories, so whatever that says...
Don't Open 'Till Christmas is technically inept at times with some terrible editing and complete lack of continuity between shots. There is no sense of direction in this film at all and often you have no idea where a scare might come from, because you have no clue where the characters are with the lack of flow from shot to shot. The lighting is weak too, but this is a low end 80's Holiday Slasher, so I won't harp on that too much - I will say that the music is so obtrusive at times, it could give Marlee Matlin a migraine.
The one thing about this film that hurts it the most is when it gets slow. That can hurt any film, but the slower parts of this movie are not just slow, they are completely boring...boring to the point that I ended up dusting my DVDs and some of my books during the downtime. Seriously. Anytime there wasn't the threat of a kill, or a naked lady, I was completely checked out. Then there's the killer, who is almost scary, wearing one of those clear masks without any expression on them. However, the way this Kringle killer "smiles with his eyes," just makes him look sort of like Jim J. Bullock in a see through mask.
Boring and clumsy or not, the film is not an entire loss. There are so many entertainingly bad things that happen in Don't Open 'Till Christmas, that I will have a soft spot for it no matter what. There is a street performed flute solo from one of the main characters. There is a chase scene between a couple of punks and a Santa on a bike, who cannot seem to generate enough peddle power to get away from the on-foot rebels. Then there is the best dialogue ever, when a chick dressed up in a Santa outfit tries to hook up with one of the main males characters, he yells "They'll think we're a couple of gays!" Is that like a couple of dollars, or a couple of cheeseburgers?
Oh, the fun doesn't end there...when trying to find the key to the door between you and freedom, the last person you should be asking is the murderer that captured you and is holding you captive. He probably isn't going to tell you...just a thought. And nothing says perfect Christmas present for a 12-year-old kid than a Swiss Army knife. You just never know when little Bobby might need a tiny pair of nose hair scissors or a wine opener. Unless he has aspiration to be a mall Santa that is, then the opener may be a great gift idea.
Now, the real good stuff comes in the form of the kills. I'm serious too. While there are a fair amount of straight stabs, there are also a ton of very satisfying Santa Slashings. The poor Santa's in this movie - they are just getting blasted, plastered, and splattered left and right with a variety of weapons. Axes to the face, knives in the gut, spiked glove to the dome piece, an eye gouging, the before mentioned harpoon through the grill, there's even a Claus cock cut. So at least there are a lot of fun kills to be had and that is a big saving grace for this movie.
You know what, besides being slayed, flayed, and uhh, made...to be dead, Santa is given one heck of a bad rap in this film. Each one of these dude could give Billy Bob a run for his money as they are portrayed as despicable, pathetic losers and all but one of them is bombed. The one that isn't wasted though, is the one that is looking to fulfill his fantasies and dreams, at a peepshow - cause he's a dirty-bird perv! Shit, there is even some child witnessed Santa sex as one of these poor excuses for magic is caught plowing more than his driveway.
So while it didn't completely steal my heart, Don't Open 'Till Christmas made it flutter a bit with its acceptable amount of nudity, entertaining death scenes, and all around awful badness. Still, there is a lot going against it with there being so many dragged out slow moments and lack of movie making skill. For a fan of the genre and anyone looking for a fun party movie, I can recommend this Santasploitation to keep you warm this season. There are worse, but there certainly are better too. Ya know, like Jack Frost, or any of the Silent Night films. Those are high-class art!