Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Don't Open Till Xmas (1984)

The man who produced this film was also behind such quality-sounding cinematic experiences as Around the World With Nothing On and My Bare Lady.  So I think you can imagine what one of the selling points of this film might be.  Hint: I don't mean the cameo by Caroline Starcrash Munro, even if that was one of my favourite two random moments of the film.

The premise of this film is that someone is going around murdering people who dress as Santa.  You'd think that would be a fairly easy crime spree to end, but apparently 'stop wearing Santa outfits' is not a strategy that occurs to anyone in this movie.  Indeed, at least two police officers will become undercover Kris Kringles, and then Santa Corpses.

Apparently the film had major production issues, and I suspect that the disjointed narrative that ensues may at be partly explained (though not excused) by these issues.  The script ends up being something of a trainwreck, really.  It's certainly got some out-of-the-normal-formula choices in it, successfully subverting a formula requires more than just not following it.

It's something of a shame that the film fails on the narrative front, because some of the actual murder scenes are quite imaginative, and the script smartly puts the more involved and elaborate examples in the middle of the film, rather than blowing all its cool moments in the opening kills.

Basically what we have here is a pretty squalid little movie, attempting to cash in on the mid-80s fad of Xmas-themed horror films.  It's worth a look only if you're interested in slasher films in general and want to see what the British were doing, compared to their more famous American competitors.

Oh, my second favourite random moment, other than Caroline Munro?  Is when a young woman has been kidnapped and chained up by a man she knows is a serial killer.  He gives her food and she asks to be untied so she can eat it.  'Do you promise not to escape?' he asks.  She tells him she does, and the camera zooms in on her crossed fingers, in case we were unsure as to whether she was willing to lie to the psycho.  Gloriously stupid stuff, that.

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