Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Don't Open Till Christmas (1984)

I can totally see why Christmas is such welcome fodder for horror films. The stress really gets to you. The commercialization is headache inducing, the music-I could go on and on really. Then there's just the thrill some seem to get in fucking around with all that Christmas cheer. I'm sure that's what the Dick Randall produced "Don't Open Till Christmas" was hoping for, even though the end result is pretty bad and not as fun as it should be, especially considering how gleefully sleazy it all is.

The mask looks more like the face of a man whose about to be caught masturbating than it does that of a serial killer.

"Don't Open" deals with a fate worse than being a mall Santa-being a guy dressed as Santa while someone is killing all the other Santa's. You just know your next. Inspector Ian Harris (Edmund Purmond, who also directed) is on the case, but like most, the case isn't going to have a pretty ending. The fact that his only help is a scuzzy tabloid reporter (Alan Lake) isn't making it any easier.

If it sounds like I'm being a bit too vague when it comes to the plot, that's because there's little to actually write about. The whole thing is paced terribly, with only the murder scenes having any sort of interest. They are pretty bloody and nasty, with the worst being a castration that takes place while the victim is taking a leak. Then there's Caroline Munro, who shows up to sing a pretty bad dance pop song, only for that to end with someone dressed as Santa getting offed.

Caroline Munro, probably thinking of better times.

Everything outside of this is pretty forgettable. The direction is pretty bad, the majority of the performances are weak at best, and the whole thing feels like a jumbled mess. The killer's motive often feels wishy-washy, a lot of characters show up for no apparent reason, and people sometimes don't seem to be too upset that people are dying. Granted, a lot of this is probably due to the troubled production history of the film, with Purmond being fired as director, and replacement director (and writer) Derek Ford also getting fired. Indeed, nobody knows who directed the final product, but I don't envy them due to the constant delays and re-writes the thing went through. It's amazing the thing got finished or released at all. 

Apart from those who love to watch cinematic train wrecks and the most devoted trash fans, I can't see many getting a kick out of this. The whole thing is confusing, and feels more like a series of scenes thrown together than it does an actual movie.

Rating: 2.5/10

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