Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984)

13% – Audience

Don’t Open Till Christmas Storyline

A murderer is running loose through the streets of London, hunting down men dressed as Santa and killing them all in different, and extremely violent, fashions. Inspector Harris has decided to take on the unenviable task of tracking down the psychopath, but he’s going to have his work cut out for him. Only the suspicious reporter, Giles, seems to offer the Inspector any promising leads.

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Don’t Open Till Christmas Movie Reviews

Could be woise…

The only movie directed by 1950s Hollywood costume hunk turned Euro-exploitation regular Edmund Purdom (at least partly–someone else is credited with directing “additional scenes,” probably including the nudity inserts) is a typical 1980s slasher involving disco, sexually active youth, and crudely done gory deaths.

I saw it in a budget packet of “Drive-In Movie Classics” that clearly used a 3rd-generation VHS dupe–so I can’t fairly judge the film’s visual presentation, which seems professional enough. It’s odd that at age 60 Purdom suddenly decided to try directing, let alone on such an obviously cheesy project.

This being a British film, the performances are competent despite the script’s utterly shallow depths–no doubt everyone was conservatory-trained. At times the film feels jumpy, as if scenes (or just violent bits) were coarsely edited out. Even so, one murdered Santa is garroted, then thrust face-first onto a sausage grill. It’s a Brit giallo that’s not all bad, or as utterly formulaic as many slashers from the era, but it sure isn’t inspired.

Enjoyably clunky and mean-spirited seasonal slasher trash

A vicious psycho brutally bumps off various unlucky guys dressed up as Santa Claus around Christmastime. It’s up to the dour Inspector Ian Harris (a very sour and indifferent Edmund Purdom, who also fumbled the direction) to catch the maniac. While this movie totally fails to provide any true chills or tension, it certainly succeeds in delivering a steady succession of grisly and ghastly murder set pieces that are randomly injected throughout the narrative with an appealingly appalling lack of finesse and cohesion: one poor tubby dude gets castrated while using a public lavatory, another has a spear shot into the back of his head, a third’s face is fried on a grill, and so on. Moreover, Purdom does manage to effectively create and sustain a thoroughly nasty and seedy tone, there’s a hefty corpse tally of 14, the foul script blithely breaks the usual established slice’n’dice rules (for example, the final girl is a cheery harlot instead of the customary virginal innocent), and the St. Nick victims are mostly despicable jerks (one Kris Kringle is offed while visiting a sex shop on his lunch break!). The cast do their best with the tawdry material: Alan Lake as creepy low-rent tabloid newspaper reporter Giles, the fetching Belinda Mayne as the distraught Kate Briosky, Gerry Sundquist as Kate’s insensitive boyfriend Cliff Boyd, Kelly Baker as bubbly peepshow booth worker Sherry Graham, and Mark Jones as Harris’ partner Sergeant Powell. Caroline Munro makes a cameo appearance as herself singing a cruddy disco song in a nightclub. As a tasty added plus, buxom blonde Pat Astley bares her fine shapely body several times as brash nude model Sharon. Alan Pudney’s cinematography makes neat occasional use of a prowling hand-held camera. Des Dolan’s quivery synthesizer score does the generic ooga-booga hum’n’shiver trick. Worth a watch for fans of sleazy holiday horror fare.

More seedy slasher fun from the folks who brought you Pieces!

Now this is what I’m talking about! I love an unabashedly terrible slasher film that revels in its own sleaziness and stupidity. From the crappy synth score to the iffy performances, I was eating Don’t Open ‘Til Christmas up by the shovelful. I’m not even going to begin explaining the plot — why should the plot even matter when drunk shopping mall Santa Clauses are getting their faces burned off, eyes slashed out, and penises castrated (YES!) all around you?!

I’d never recommend this to anyone who isn’t into true bottom-of-the-barrel stuff like myself, but sludge lovers will want their grimy stockings stuffed with this filthy British exploit. Let me put it this way: if you liked Pieces, you’ll also dig this film (which kind of makes sense, since some of the people from Pieces worked on this). Sure, Don’t Open ‘Til Christmas lacks the acting chops of the Georges (that’s Christopher and Lynda Day to you), but it’s slightly more enjoyable in the sense that it isn’t quite as misogynistic as Pieces (i.e., most of the victims in this one are male). Skeezemeister Edmund Purdom (I find him inexplicably unsettling in a creepy uncle sort of way), who was one of the headliners in Pieces, claims this gem as his one and only directing credit.