The Film: Don’t Open Till Christmas
The Principles: Starring Edmund Purdom, Alan Lake, Belinda Mayne, Mark Jones and Caroline Munro. Directed by Edmund Purdom.
The Premise: Someone in London with a bad case of the holiday blues is stalking men dressed up as Santa Claus and murdering them in a wide variety of insanely violent manners. Inspector Harris has the unfortunate duty of capturing the masked maniac responsible for the slaughtered Santa’s, but this case will push him further than any other has before!
Is it any good?: It’s a sleazy, gory, unintentionally hilarious little slasher with lots of blood, nudity and one of the most original concepts I’ve ever seen, in which the genre is turned upside down in that it exclusively features Kris Kringle carnage only. If you’ve ever had the desire to see a movie where one Santa Claus after another is executed in a strange and ghoulish fashion, then here are the top ten reasons why you should see this film:
1. A Santa stabbed in the gut that had the audacity to make out with a pretty blonde during the holiday.
2. A Santa impaled with a spear during a party in a crowded club.
3. A street vendor Santa roasting chestnuts is choked to death with a garrote and horribly burned on the grill he uses, which sets his highly flammable Santa suit ablaze.
4. An old drunk Santa is shot in the mouth at point blank range, blowing the back of his head off.
5. A naked blonde model in a Santa robe is ogled and threatened with a straight razor.
6. A Santa with a penchant for peepshows has his jugular cut by the killer.
7. In a very Argento-esque scene, a Santa is chased into a weird haunted house type performance art show and stabbed in the gut.
8. A black Santa is kicked in the nuts with a knife-shoe (like the one from that Bond movie) and beaten in the face with a studded glove.
9. A Santa gets a bottle broken over his head and the glass shard is shoved in his eye for a very nice homage to Fulci.
10. A Santa is castrated while relieving himself in a gentleman’s urinal.
The film was made by the men who produced the brilliantly trashy Spanish slasher Pieces and it was directed by and stars Edmund Purdom, who played the killer in that movie as well. Here Purdom utilizes his calm British demeanor while playing the burdened Inspector Harris, who at times is a suspect himself.
It has the tone and style of an Italian giallo from the seventies – including a mysterious black gloved killer, red herrings, beautiful women, colored lighting gels, gruesome violence and a psycho-sexual trauma suffered at childhood that was the impetus for the slayings. There’s also a nice spin on the survival girl angle with a likeable peepshow dancer who witnessed one of the murders while filling in for her mum.
Is it worth a look?: Nothing says, “Merry Christmas!” quite like a film featuring a huge body count of slain St. Nicks! If you have a fetish for the tabooed cinematic delights this grindhouse classic boasts, or you consider yourself an aficionado of all slashers from this amazing era, then this could be your cup of eggnog, so I’d ask Santa for a copy now. It’s a great way to get out all that pre-Xmas rage!
Random anecdotes: Sexy Italian starlet Caroline Munro appears while performing a pop song that has absolutely nothing to do with the movie’s plot, other than the performance is interrupted when she discovers a dead Santa on the set.
Cinematic soul mates: Black Christmas, The Dorm That Dripped Blood, Silent Night, Deadly Night, To All a Good Night and Christmas Evil.