ChristmasKiller Santa
Psycho Santa
Medium: film
Year: 2003
Writer/director: Peter Keir
Keywords: Christmas, Killer Santa, horror, low-budget, boobs
Country: USA
Actor: Lucien Eisenach, Kimberly L. Cole
Format: 72 minutes
Website category: Horror modern
Review date: 22 December 2012
It's another of those low-budget independent films that's basically a jumped-up home video. It screams "amateur". It looks like what you'd produce if you collected a few friends and spent your weekends one summer trying to make a movie... but I managed to enjoy it.
Warning: it's not a popular film. The (few) people who've seen it think it's rubbish. What's good about it is:
(a) one actor,
(b) the script's sheer malevolence,
(c) the skanky nudity.
What's bad about it is, um, everything else. The director doesn't know what to do with a camera. The cameraman might as well be your little brother and there's a shot of a rocking chair on a porch that's almost funny in how inept it is. The violence looks risible, despite one good gore shot with a guy with a spurting neck. The "music" has been perpetrated by a non-musician with a synthesiser who's making 1980s Doctor Who incidental music sound like Mozart. Think of it as electronic farting.
What about the actors? Most of them have been in a tiny smattering of other things, mostly straight-to-video projects with names like Cadaver Bay, Dead Clowns, Chubby Killer and Shriek of the Sasquatch!. (The two who come closest to having an acting CV are Lucien Eisenach and Kimberly L. Cole, but neither of those is the guy I liked. That wouldbe a scrawny chap in glasses who plays Psycho Santa's dad.) The worst performer here, despite fierce competition, is Ms "Ghost Stories, Oh No", but there's a brother-sister towards the end who are so poor that I found them mildly creepy.
Then there's the writing. It's an anthology movie, in which the narrator has so much insight into Psycho Santa that I was assuming he'd actually turn out to be the slasher. Nope. He's similarly all-knowing when it comes to non-Santa characters. In addition, people are called things like "Burglar", "Burglar", "Victim" and "Boy". However the script's main problem is that it doesn't understand the purpose of storytelling. You need a story. It's not just pictures on a screen. Scenes should move things forward in some way, e.g. furthering the plot or deepening our understanding of the characters. However this film is happy just gawping at stuff, especially if there's a naked woman and a bath. Will anything be happening? Not necessarily.
What's more, there won't even be anything happening in other scenes to which the film is occasionally cutting between the flesh shots. Someone walks around. Gee.
However that said, I loved the script's gleeful misanthropy. It manages to have non-throwaway dialogue in the Christmas-bashing speeches, although I'm not convinced we needed two of those. The rant about mistletoe is a laugh, for a start. The first story's punchline is cool, although its surprise factor is mostly due to the fact that you're underestimating the film due to its shoddiness. The story with the blind woman and the burglars is disturbing and by far the most worthwhile of the episodes. (It also has no dialogue, unless you count "aaargh".) The bit with the telephone is downright sadistic. All this is great. I was grinning like a maniac at the scene where Santa's creeping up behind a small boy doing his piano practice. Will this film kill a child? I'll give you three guesses.
Wittiest shot in the film: "Jesus," says a bloke, after which we see that he's looking at baby Jesus in a nativity scene.
I nearly forgot to discuss the nudity. This film loves exploitation and will leer shamelessly, even though there's not actually that much flesh. Most of the nudity is from a punk-like woman with piercings that you'd almost call ironmongery, but the best cleavage is on a woman who's trying hard to look like a hooker.
It doesn't look like Christmas, though. There's no snow. It's not cold and wintry. Yes, I realise that I'm complaining about a Dickensian stereotype that doesn't apply to huge swathes of the world... but what the heck.
By almost all measures, this film is desperately poor. Even calling it a film in the first place is mildly generous. There are times where it abandons even any attempt at characterisation, while the gore shot for the mother is beyond ridiculous. You'd think she'd been killed with a pinprick. The production values, acting and writing are all demonstrating the gulf to be found between amateurs and even the most worst professionals. However on the upside, it's an anthology and short enough not to get boring. There's always another episode around the corner. It has lots of evil personality and occasional nice touches (e.g. the car in the water, or the entire "burglars and blind woman" episode). I liked bits of it.