What if David DeCoteau — yes, the director of A Talking Cat!?!, Prey of the Jaguar, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama and the utterly baffling Bigfoot vs. D.B. Cooper directed a family-friendly holiday movie? Alright, I have no idea what that’d be like, but sure. Let’s do that.
What if Chris Mitchum played Santa? Yes, Chris Mitchum from Aftershock, The Day That Time Ended, Faceless, Bigfoot and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Tusk. I see you starting to get a bit weirded out, but let’s press on.
So who do we get for Mrs. Claus? Well, Cynthia Rothrock, of course. Yes, the hard fighting star of China O’Brien, Honor and Glory, Rage and Honor and plenty more straight to video karate epics.
Honestly, what the fuck am I about to watch?
Let’s go one better. This movie was made in the exact same house as A Talking Cat!?!
They may have also shared the same budget, which was probably catering. Which was probably Jack in the Box.
Yeah, Mary Crawford may be the name in the credits, but this Santa movie is all the work of David DeCoteau. It feels the most porn holiday film I’ve ever seen without actual penetration. I mean, that wouldn’t do for this, a movie that’s trying to be kid friendly and feels holiday destroying.
And is that Gary Daniels I spy? Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star? In a Christmas movie? Wait! Martial artist Daniel Bernhardt, who was Alex Cardo in the second and third Bloodsport films? Surely we’re going to see fisticuffs and people go mano y mano, right?
Nope. They’re going to play croquet.
This is a Christmas movie not set at Christmas, replete with public domain holiday songs and Lucas-like wipes that use Google Images clip art. It’s as if it were edited in iMovie — I know it surely isn’t, it couldn’t be — but almost as if a family made this movie and sent it my way to drive me insane before the holidays and seasonal depression have their way with me in a threeway so rough that it had to be shot by Max Hardcore.
Gary (Daniels) is a workaholic married to another workaholic named Sadie, who is stranger still played by another world class asskicker, five-time would kickboxing champion Kathy Long. I mean, she’s known as The Punisher and the Queen of Mean. She played Fros-T in the aforementioned Rage and Honor. And why is she and her husband and their kids getting in a van and driving through some magical fog on their way to discover Santa’s Summer House?
Then there’s a caterer named Constance — what is it with DeCoteau and catering characters!?! — who bullies an orphan named Molly into giving up being a photographer.
Somehow, Robert Mitchum, the man who made The Night of the Hunter, one of my all-time favorite films, gave birth to the man who would play Santa here. Santa, who sits in a hot tub and just drops hints about what he does and none of the martial artists can pick up the sledgehammer obviou clues because they’re all too busy playing a game of croquet that may still be going on now, nearly eight years after this movie supposedly stopped filming.
As for Santa, all he wants to do is chill. He has like a month he works a year and it’s so much effort that he spends eleven months watching TV and just schvitzing in the hot tub. Chill, out Santa. Run, run Rudolph. And hey — for all the cookies Mrs. Claus cooks, she seems to be keeping in pretty decent shape. Must be all the times she kicks dudes in the head.
Every holiday season, I discover one movie that makes me at once fall in love and desperately hate the holiday. This year, Santa’s Summer House is that movie. Watch it at your own peril, because trust me, this one will fucking own you.
DeCoteau also directed Christmas Spirit and The Great Halloween Puppy Adventure, two more holiday films. If you don’t think I’m going to hunt those down right now, you may have never been to our site before. I mean, Eric Roberts and a Halloween puppy? Come on. I’m not made of stone.
True story #1: I once had the wild idea of writing a Dukes of Hazzard script where Japanese businessmen try to buy out Hazzard County from Boss Hogg, who of course gets swindled himself. Ninjas would get invovled — of course — and Cynthia Rothrock would play a new Duke cousin who was in the army and had learned how to fight overseas. Obviously, I went to art school. Anyways, imagine my surprise when Ms. Rothrock showed up in 1997’s The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! The moral: Sometimes, the universe listens to you.
True story #2: Cynthia used to be married to her kung fu instructor Ernest Rothrock. The guy owns schools all over Pittsburgh, including one I drive past every single day. When I was a kid, I dreamed that Cynthia was really at these schools and would teach me the ass kicking powers I needed to decimate the bullies who made my life hell. The moral: Instead of dreaming, I turned to Satan and got my revenge Trick or Treat style. Thanks, Sammi Curr!
You can watch this — with help from Rifftrax — on Tubi. It’s also on Amazon Prime without any such assistance.