There aren’t all that many movies about Christmas killing sprees but judging by the quality of what we do have (the original Black Christmas, of course, alongside Silent Night, Deadly Night and this very title) it’s maybe a niche we should look forward to filling up.
It turns out that Santa (played by Bill Goldberg, well known to wrestling fans) was actually the child of Satan and loved nothing more than causing mayhem, carnage and death wherever he would go. Upon losing a bet, Santa had to behave for 1000 years and act as the loving gift-giver we all know today. But those 1000 years are up and Santa has been counting the days. He heads off to the aptly-named Hell Township to exact his revenge. The only people forewarned and fore-armed about the situation are young Nicolas Yuleson (Douglas Smith) and his grandpa (Robert Culp), an old man who never enjoyed Christmas and who has been labelled by all of the locals as someone not quite all there.
Written and directed by David Steinman, Santa’s Slay has a lot in it that will have many sane movie viewers avoiding it like that plague. Fortunately, I have never been accused of having any cup brimming over with sanity and I loved every minute of this brisk, brief (it runs at just under the 80 minute mark), barmy movie.
The opening sequence alone, a strained and bitter family dinner interrupted by the big red fella bringing pain and death, is fantastic and really sets the tone for the entire film. In fact, it’s great to see so many people involved who were in on the humour of the piece with those first 5 minutes or so including James Caan, Fran Drescher, Chris Kattan and Rebecca Gayheart.
For the rest of the film we get a standard bit of exposition here and there, some chase scenes and more of those fun moments that show the consequences of “When Santas Go Bad”. The acting is fine, everybody does what they need to do but it’s clear that they all seem to be supporting the comedy rather than going for anything that comes even remotely close to a straight horror. As well as those mentioned we also get Emilie De Ravin as a leading character and a small role for Saul Rubinek. It’s Bill Goldber who gets all of the best lines and moments though, chewing up everything around him while delivering one-liners that are easily predictable and cheesy but no less entertaining for it.
The effects vary from so-so to excellent but, again, the movie does everything with such a desire to please that you don’t really notice or feel the urge to criticise any minor lapses in FX work. It’s the crazy puppy that you love to bits even while it’s spending it’s first Christmas bringing down your tree and chewing your presents.
There isn’t much gore on show but there is a helldeer, inventive use of some seasonal staples and the acknowledgment that this big, mean Santa is “scary, yet educational”. Which makes it a lot of fun indeed, in my opinion.
DIRECTOR: DAVID STEIMAN
CAST: BILL GOLDBERG, DOUGLAS SMITH, ROBERT CULP, EMILIE DE RAVIN
RUNTIME: 78 MINS APPROX