CHRISTMAS CINEMA: Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984)

A guy in a Santa suit has sex with a woman in a filthy alley before they’re both killed by a man in a grinning see-through mask. Another Santa has his head impaled by a spear while his daughter watches. And yet another has his face grilled while roasted chestnuts on an open fire.

Scotland Yard inspector Ian Harris (Edmund Purdom, who wrote and directed this film as well as appearing in 2019: After the Fall of New York and Pieces) and detective Powell are perplexed. Plus, Harris just got a gift that says “Don’t Open Till Christmas.” They question Kate, whose father was a killed Santa, and her boyfriend, Cliff.

The next day, Cliff tricks Kate into coming to a porn studio. She storms off and he takes photos of a model dressed as Santa. A pair of police officers spot them shooting nudes in public, so he runs and the killer finds her, but lets her go. Oh yeah — and there’s a reporter named Giles digging around, too.

Things get worse. A strip club attending Santa gets knifed. The police think Cliff is the killer and the paper Giles says he works for has no idea who he is. And another Santa runs into the London Dungeon (yes, the place The Misfits sang about) and gets killed.

Even after undercover officers go after the Santa killer, they can’t find him and are killed themselves. The killer has a stripper who was there on the night he killed the Santa in her club and says that she will be the supreme sacrifice to Christmas evil. And Caroline Munro (!) is on stage in a nightclub when a Santa is chased on stage and stabbed in the face with a machete. Another Santa is castrated soon after.

It turns out that inspector Harris has no birth certificate and has gone on leave, disappearing to a mental asylum where Kate follows.

It turns out that Giles is Harris’ insane brother. Kate finds out first, but she is strangled and stabbed while detective Powell listens. Then, Giles lures him to his doom, as he electrocutes him in a junkyard.

Sherry escapes and Giles chases after her. She knocks him over a railing and he has a flashback of when he went insane: he caught his father, dressed as Santa, having sex with another woman. When his mother found out, Santa shoved her over a railing. But it’s too late for Sherry, as Giles has survived.

Finally, Harris wakes from a bad dream and unwraps his gift, complete with a card from his loving brother. It explodes, killing him and ending the film.

What I have just done is written about this film in a way that will probably make you want to watch it. It’s a slasher that even references Halloween in its opening credits. But it’s no Halloween.

According to tvtropes.com, “this utter sleazefest of a film is quite a jumbled and confused mess, and for good reason. While production began in 1982, the film remained in Development Hell for two years, due to the title of director continually changing hands; first up was Edmund Purdom (who also portrayed Inspector Harris) who walked off the set, prompting at least three or four others to fill in for him, with one only holding Purdom’s former position for a mere two days before being fired.”

Whew. You got better things to do this Christmas. Trust me.

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