I recently had the distinct pleasure to see a midnight showing of Christmas Evil at the Bridge Theatre in San Francisco. The night, which was hosted by the amazing Peaches Christ, not only featured a living nativity scene made up mostly of Drag Queens, but also a "Scary Santa" contest and Christmas Evil Director Lewis Jackson live in person!! But you know what the most awesome part of the night was? John Waters was sitting behind us. Yes, that John Waters. See, Christmas Evil is John Waters' favorite seasonal film. And if you know what kind of taste John Waters has, then you have a pretty good idea of what kind of film Christmas Evil is.
I had never seen this film, also known as You Better Watch Out, before this magical night. Yes, a few beers at the English pub down the street increased my enjoyment, as did the contact high. On its own, Christmas Evil is a bizarre little horror film that is actually kind of melancholy. Brandon Maggart (Fiona Apple's Daddy) stars as Harry Stadling, a man-child who is obsessed with Christmas. See, as a little boy, he caught Santa fondling Mommy (actually Harry's dad dressed up.) This so disturbed Harry that he developed an obsession with Santa. Not just Santa, but the idea of BECOMING Santa (this film is as psychologically disturbing as Black Swan.) He has what must be the most awesome job in history, supervisor at a toy factory. He keeps a list of naughty and nice girls (this sounds really gross and perverted, but the way it is played out on the screen it is actually kind of sweet). His grasp on reality is very thin however, and one bad day pushes him over the edge.
Disappointed with the company he works for and his coworkers, Harry decides to steal a bunch of toys and give them to needy children. So far so good. I can totally get behind this. He dresses as Santa and delivers the toys in his van, which he has painted to look like a sled. While passing a church he is mocked by a bunch of yuppies leaving Mass. Thus begins what is perhaps the greatest church step/yuppie/Santa slaughter scene in all of history. He kills those yuppies and he kills them good. I can totally get behind this. Are there even yuppies anymore? I don't know. Not where I live. I am surrounded by a bunch of socially awkward geniuses and Hoover institute fellows. At least they are not yuppies.
Anyway, Santa begins a killing spree which for the most part is totally justifiable. He also has some fun along the way, crashing a holiday party and dancing his jolly red ass off. Harry's uptight but sexually active Brother, Phillip (played by Jeffrey DeMunn, Dale from The Walking Dead. It is bizarre to see him all skinny and getting it on. It was really strange.) figures out that Harry is the killer Santa. What does he do? He kills him of course!!! What a fucked up family.
The film goes on and has a very strange ending. Well, actually, it is the exact type of ending you would expect from a (non-horror) Christmas film. There is magic and wonderment.
This film is worth seeing for the church step slaughter scene alone. Brandon Maggart does an excellent job as Harry. You really identify with him and feel sorry for him, even though it is clear that he is bat shit crazy. Now, as my holiday gift to you, please enjoy this picture of John Waters with this pretty little girl.