Don’t Open ‘Til Christmas (1984)
--Review by Nic Brown
Some films you watch, some films you endure. Don’t Open ‘Til Christmas is the latter. The premise of the film is that someone is going around London killing anyone dressed as Santa Claus. A very straight forward idea for a slasher film. So it was prophetic of the film’s scrambled nature that the first victims were a couple making out in a parked car…which had nothing whatsoever to do with the plot. The film does quickly regain its footing and takes us to a disco/club where all the drunken revelers are about to be entertained by Santa. That is until someone puts a spear through the back of Santa’s head while he’s giving out presents.
Now the late Santa’s daughter and her boyfriend are drawn into Scotland Yard’s investigation of the Santa killer. I would spend additional time detailing some of the film’s plot, but with its simple 80’s slasher theme, the story bounces back and forth with such confusing fervor that it defies description. I would attribute the film’s random nature to the jumble of filmmakers involved in its production.
The original director, Edmund Purdom, quit half-way through the film. He was replaced by Derek Ford, the film’s original writer. However, Ford must have appeared too focused for the producers’ tastes so he was fired after just two days on the set. Finally, in an apparent effort to completely confuse anyone watching the film, the producers had Al McGoohan rewrite parts of the script, including the original ending. Lastly, director Ray Selfe was brought in to re-shoot some of the scenes and finish the film. This mix of writers and directors results in an overly complex story, with random plot elements that just appear with no explanation throughout the film.
The one consistency throughout the film is the killer’s radar like ability to be in the right place at the right time to lay waste to London’s population of Santa Clauses. It is also worth noting that apparently in England Santa is required to be a drunk, because most of the Santas are on the sauce when they get the ax… or knife… or gun.
Don’t Open ‘til Christmas is not a great film. In fact, calling
it a good film would be a bit of a stretch. However, I will say that
it is enjoyable in some ways. The Santa slayings are original, with
no two dying the same way, and there is enough gore and nudity to
keep the viewer interested if not overly involved. So if it is
December and you’re not in the mood to watch It’s A Wonderful Life
for the 217th time, check out Don’t Open ‘til Christmas. It isn’t
the best holiday film but if you drink enough spiked egg-nog you’ll
probably have a good time.