Killer SantaChristmasCaro LenssenEgbert Jan Weeber
Also known as: Saint Nick
Medium: film
Year: 2010
Writer/director: Dick Maas
Language: Dutch
Country: Netherlands
Keywords: Killer Santa, Christmas, horror
Actor: Huub Stapel, Caro Lenssen, Egbert Jan Weeber, Escha Tanihatu, Madelief Blanken, Bert Luppes, Kees Boot, Ben Ramakers
Format: 85 minutes
Website category: Foreign language
Review date: 16 December 2011
It's another Killer Santa movie. The difference this time is that the movie's Dutch and its festive slasher is technically Sinterklaas, or as he's spelled here Sint Niklas. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of children, sailors and the city of Amsterdam, to name a few, and his special day isn't Christmas but 5 December (Saint Nicholas' Eve). He's popular in France, Germany, the Low Countries and territories of the former Dutch Empire.
He's similar to Father Christmas, but there are differences. Sinterklaas rides over the rooftops on a horse and he goes around in a bishop's outfit, complete with mitre and crook (correctly called a crosier). Oh, and according to this film he's also undead and has a gang of thugs who go around slaughtering people whenever there's a full moon on Saint Nicholas' Eve.
You'll have guessed that this isn't an intellectual movie. It's not as clever as Rare Exports, for instance, although it manages not to be stupid. It's not a particularly substantial film, but it manages to serve up undead slasher killings and imaginative gory violence without looking cheap or shitty. It's quite good. I liked the lead actor. It has decent production values and looks like a proper movie on which people spent money. You wouldn't be embarrassed to show it to people.
The star of the show is of course the title character, De Sint. We first meet him in 1492 on a seasonal visit with his "elves" (the Zwarte Pieten), or to be more precise looting, pillaging and murdering. He takes away children in a sack. I have no idea what he does with them, but it's guaranteed not to be good. Anyway, these Dutch villagers at last decide that enough is enough, so violent retaliation ensues and we learn that the Zwarte Pieten are black (their traditional colour) because in the 15th century they got burned to charcoal. Unfortunately though these guys are so hard that they're not even stopped by death, so on jumping to the present day we find that even now De Sint and his gang are still liable to start hacking people to bits.
This is done with great enthusiasm, by the way. It's probably the most memorable thing in the film. In fact the violence here is juicy enough that occasionally it made me laugh, which is always good. De Sint's gang use medieval weapons (swords, axes, etc.) and will go at you like Vikings or a pirate raiding party. Limbs and heads come off, torsos are skewered and fun is had by all.
What raises all this nonsense above the level of Feeders 2: Slay Bells or the Gingerdead Man films is the fact that it's wrapped in a good-looking movie with non-cardboard characterisation and an interesting lead actor. I really liked Egbert Jan Weeber. He gets less acting to do as the film continues and his scenes start revolving around axes, swords and so on, but this is clearly a man with a long future in this business. He's vivid. He seems more alive than anyone else in the movie. As for his co-stars, Bert Luppes gets a great introduction when on seeing a seasonal present on his desk at work, he immediately draws a gun and shoots the hell out of it. (Something red oozes out. Is that blood?) Forty years ago he was the only survivor of a De Sint family visit, you see, so understandably he's not big on holiday spirit.
Dick Maas has form with this kind of film, incidentally. His previous work includes:
1. De Lift -- about a killer elevator, which Maas later remade in English
2. Amsterdamned -- serial killer in Amsterdam's canals
3. Flodder -- politically incorrect comedy about an anti-social family, which ran to three movies and a TV series
You can see how a Killer Santa movie would appeal to someone like that. Incidentally the movie's poster became controversial, when parents' organisations complained about their children being exposed to a killer zombie De Sint. They were even taken to court over it, which of course led to them winning an annual Dutch award for 'best cinema poster of the year'. The imdb trivia page seems to think all this might have been part of a clever publicity campaign.
I watched this raw, without subtitles, but it stood up just fine. Its only problem is that it's a bit lightweight. I could have lived with a bit more dramatic meat on the finale, but it's still lively seasonal fun with a new twist on the Killer Santa genre. Normally these guys are merely serial killers in a Santa suit. Not this time. Personally I even found it slightly educational, since I hadn't previously known much about Sinterklaas. The topless girl keeps her back to the camera (boo), but otherwise I don't see much wrong here. It's fun. I wouldn't suggest putting any effort into hunting this down, but by all means watch it if you find it to hand.