Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yuletide Brit: Don't Open Till Christmas

I'm breaking the first rule of the movie by reviewing it today, but I don't care! Second, I must admit my love for Edmund Purdom- as an actor, mind you. I don't know what it is about him, but he has that odd intangible factor about him. In many ways, he has this swagger about him in all of his movies, even if they are crap like Lucifera: Demon Lover (a surefire review for 2010). In a way, he reminds me of someone like a John Steiner (Yor, Sinbad of the Seven Seas), who has a fun time making stupid films. Now, as a director, Purdom certainly has his faults. As The Cinema Snob can tell you in better detail, the shooting had some serious problems. The important thing is that a movie got made, for better or for worse. This is...
The movie begins with a naughty Santa doing some snogging in his motor with a bird. The pair don't take a-kindly to some first-person interference, but their tone takes a turn for the worse when both of them get stabbed. By the way, in case you are wondering, I'm not drunk- the movie is just British. Escaping my British expressions, the movie cuts from this bit of murder to a fancy party at disco. I should mention that this movie was released in 1985, by the way. There is a whole exchange with a man getting made up as Santa for the party and talking about how he looks like 'a queen' with all the make-up. Thanks for going there, movie- you stay classy. The movie attempts to make up for this by having the man speared through the throat by another P.O.V. killer. Damn those evil cameramen! The film cuts to Scotland, New Scotland Yard, where the police are discussing the rash of Santa killings. It doesn't pay to wear red and fur, it seems.
It seems that the police want to look into the two people who were there at the party with the man. He was the father of the girl, so they naturally look into her, but find nothing. Enough plot- more killings! This time, a man is stabbed by someone in a mask right out of Alice, Sweet Alice and falls on a roasting bin. For no apparent reason, his body sets on fire in a matter of seconds. I love logic, don't you? Around this time, a package is delivered to a rich guy's house and marked as 'Don't Open Till Christmas.' Ha, I got the title line in! We get another murder scene involving a man being shot with a gun, but it's so short and random that it is not worth mentioning...more than what I just did. Incidentally, these were all added in post-production without Purdom's consent, which is really obvious. It's real plot time and it involves the girl with the dead father, her boyfriend and a photographer. Things get awkward when he does a photo shoot and wants her to dress in a sexy Santa get-up. Too soon! Fortunately, the film had the decency to write him out of the movie
The whole thing gets trickier as we see a mysterious man make some threatening phone calls. Gee, I wonder if he is the killer? Another creepy Santa goes to a strip show and watches a woman from behind a glass door. While he's doing so, the masked killer cuts his throat and tries to get to the woman. She runs away and seems to be safe- sure, she is. Oh look, she got captured- big surprise. The choppy editing of the film makes the later parts a bit confusing as Purdom's character investigates and is then 'taken off the case.' This is told to us by one man on the phone, which is about as lazy as you can get. During all of this, we get another random Santa killing and a cameo by Caroline Munro (of Starcrash fame) as a disco singer. When did she date Prince? Skipping a bit, the stripper makes a break for it and knocks down the killer, but does the 'I'll slowly approach the body to make sure that it is dead' thing. Yeah, she dies. Oh and a Santa gets his 'member' cut off- thanks, movie. Speaking of bleak and sudden, the movie ends with Purdom opening the present from earlier, which is a bomb. The End.
This movie is good, but further review does not treat it too well. I watched this movie last Christmas and was fairly-entertained by it. Looking at it now, it definitely has some problems. On the up-side, the movie features a good flip on the killer Santa idea. Of course, that is all just in theory. In reality, it is simply substituting half-naked girls for men in Santa get-ups. As history documents, the production of the film was rough and involved two different directors after an incident with Purdom. This actually makes the odd continuity issues and Purdom's vanishing act mid-film all the more logical. Mind you, an explanation does not really make it better. It's sort of like knowing the story behind Zombi 3 and realizing that it is still not, you know, good. Given the obscurity of the film and the story involved, it is worth a look. It is just not going to replace Black Christmas.
Up next, I bring you yuletide cheer in the form of a low-budget horror film. I sure hope you like stock footage! Stay tuned...

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