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Christmas Evil (You Better Watch Out) - Vinegar Syndrome Print E-mail
User Rating: / 4
Written by Richard Taylor   
Wednesday, 24 December 2014
Directed by
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AKA: You Better Watch Out, Terror in Toyland, Böse Weihnacht, Navidades infernales, Swiateczne zlo, Natal Infernal, Teuflische Weihnachten

Directed by:
Lewis Jackson
Written by:
Lewis Jackson
Produced by:
Pete Kameron, Burt Kleiner
Ricardo Aronovich
Editing by:
Linda Leeds, Corky O'Hara
Music by:
Don Christensen, Joel Harris, Julia Heyward
Special Effects by:
Tom Brumberger
Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull, Andy Fenwick, Brian Neville, Joe Jamrog, Patricia Richardson
1h 34min

Studio: Edward R. Pressman Productions
Distributed by: Vinegar Syndrome, Troma, Synapse Films

The Christmas horror film -- there are a few to indulge in, some good, some bad, some awful and some so bad they're good. Personally, I'd love to see more movies with jolly ol' Saint Nick goin’ on a killing spree but the track record is few and far between. The best in the subgenre in my opinion being Silent Night, Bloody Night, a film so offensive and sleaze filled it outraged parents and movie critics alike. It hit the nail on the head with all the right stereotypes and pushed all the right offensive buttons. They attempted a remake simply titled Silent Night with the return of the killer Santa but it was dull and forgettable. Other mentionable movies are Santa Slays (ex-wrestler Bill Goldberg as a Santa on the rampage), Jack Frost (offensive and funny killer snowman which even had a sequel), Don't Open Till Christmas (this time Santa's the victim), the original and remake of Tales From The Crypt had a killer Santa story in there and finally Bob Clark's Canadian classic Black Christmas (and the horrible remake). Some others are Elves (a film I couldn't sit through) and Silent Night, Bloody Night with Christopher Lee.

Then we have You Better Watch Out, a.k.a. Christmas Evil, a 70's dark horror/thriller with a dark sense of humor thanks to the lead character named Harry played well by Brandon Maggart. Harry is a disenfranchised toy factory worker who has been recently promoted, something which seems to only add to his misery. Harry has his heart in the right place but his mental state is questionable. The events which take place in the film push him to the breaking point in which his mind's warped reality takes over sending him further into the abyss of deviance. This results in good and not so good results such as murder, even if his victims were deplorable human beings.

It all began one Christmas night when Harry and his younger brother Phillip (Jeffery Demunn of The Walking Dead fame) watch their Dad dressed up as Santa pay them a visit on Christmas Eve. Harry's brother knows that their Dad was Santa that night but Harry doesn't want to acknowledge such blasphemy and goes back downstairs to investigate further. Harry discovers Santa Clause or "Dad" getting fresh with his mommy. Witnessing this drives Harry over the deep end, permanently traumatizes him, causing him to bury some bad memories deep into his subconscious until he gets much older as a naive and mentally disturbed adult.

Now as an adult, when he's not working at Jolly Time Toys manufacturing shoddy toy soldiers and dump trucks, Harry is keeping his own naughty and nice book with all the children in his neighbourhood, creepily keeping tabs on them to see if they are up to no good or are genuinely nice kiddies. Harry is a kind hearted and naive to co-workers, he actually has a sense of care and duty to his job, something which gets him taken advantage of in the film. Harry see's the greed of the bosses of Jolly Time, the phoney corporate charities at a children’s hospital. Harry's younger brother holds much disdain for him for never having an older brother to look up to. All these events cumulate and there is only one thing Harry is left to do, make a homemade Santa outfit, paint a sleigh on a delivery van and go out delivering toys to good little girls and boys and killing the adults who have wronged him.

Harry breaks into people’s homes, tries to climb down people’s chimneys and even delivers a bunch of toys to a children’s hospital. Harry's actions are not all met with admiration, however. He confronts and dispatches the corporate head’s and their family’s after a church service, gets back at a co-worker who wronged him and meets up with some less than appreciative parents in an alleyway. All who later form an angry mob and chase him through the streets.

Christmas Evil is a character driven film. Brandon Maggart is the film’s saving grace, with a darkly humorous, memorable performance by him. You can sympathize with him, you feel bad for him despite his actions. The movie is the chilling and sometimes comedic story of the rise and fall of a toy factory worker.



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