APRIL MOVIE THON 2: Santa Claws (1996)

April 22: Terror Vision — Write about a movie released by Terror Vision. Here’s the list.

These movies were first on the site on April 12, 2022 and December 8, 2022.

Santa Claws (1996):John Russo lives in Glassport, which I can see from my house, and he wrote the idea that became Night of the Living Dead, which would probably be enough, but he also helped make Return of the Living Dead happen. And he also made Midnight and The Majorettes, two movies that fall into that strange genre that can only come from Pittsburgh, the yinzer giallo. He also was the publisher and managing editor of Scream Queens Illustrated, which figures into this movie.

Raven Quinn (Debbie Rochon) used to be a scream queen but ever since she had two children with a scream queen magazine publisher who would rather take nude photos of models than work on his marriage. Luckily, she has Wayne (Grant Cramer), a neighbor who once watched his mommy do more than kiss Santa Claus, lost his mind and killed them both. So perhaps she is not quite so fortunate.

Beyond getting to see Night stars like Marilyn Eastman, who played Helen Cooper, Karl Hardman, who played her husband Harry, and first zombie — and the director of The Majorettes and FleshEater — S. William Hinzman, you can pretty much see this as an American Night Killer. They’re both set at Christmas, they both deal with broken marriages and they’re both absolutely berserk movies seemingly made by maniacs.

Waste not, want not, as Russo edited this into Scream Queens Naked Christmas.

Yinzer bonus: Numerous scenes of characters wandering Market Square before anyone went there, back when George Aiken was still making the best-fried chicken ever, when National Record Mart still had that huge store and G.W. Murphy’s was still open. I mean, the killer runs into the Oyster House for a second and I was awash with 90s dahntahn memories, like Honus Wagner, the smell of Hare Krishna’s t-shirts, Candyrama and so much more.

In short, a killer that uses a garden cultivator as a weapon, like a total South Hills Blood and Black Lace, all with softcore dancing that makes me wistful for dollar pizza at Anthony’s and the old sign that was painted on the wall at the Cricket and hey, John Russo wrote two songs for this, “Christmas by Myself” and “Brand New Christmas.”

If you remember that old store Novelties in Market Square that never seemed to sell anything and was put out of business for a Dunkin’ Donuts, well, I want you to know that this movie has the killer buy his Santa Claus suit in that very store.

Welcome to the yinzer giallo list, Santa Claws. Meet us under the Kaufmann’s clock for your framed certificate.

Scream Queens Naked Christmas (1996): Available as an extra on the new Terror Vision blu ray of Santa ClawsScream Queens’ Naked Christmas is such an oddity in our overly saturated by pornography world of 2022. It’s dirty, kind of, but not really in any way as much as it’s women taking their clothes off which seems perfectly chaste today. It ends up here, a combination movie for this week of Pittsburgh movies and holiday classics — classics may be stretching things but it is the season of giving — directed by John Russo, who was also the publisher and managing editor of Scream Queens Illustrated, a magazine that chronicled horror movie actresses — and showed their boobs, let’s be frank — in a time when getting on the internet often involved needing to be at a university or the slowest dial up ever.

As a kid, I often fantasized about what it would be like going to the Edison Hotel and what was waiting for me inside. I should have been shown this film because the dancing in it is about as sexy as any so-called Pittsburgh adult club I’ve ever been in. At least the Tennyson Lounge used to let you get up on stage and sing, The Cricket was cheap to drink at and you could get dollar slices at Anthony’s when that was still a place. In fact, I’ve always liked the aura of sin in clubs of ill repute more than experiencing the sin because it’s just a transaction and the sooner you realize you’re just a mark, the quicker you can just hang back and soak it all up. The robotic dancing in this, the faraway eyes — just imagine it darker, smelling like more perfume and if you dumb glitter all over yourself and burn your money, you too can have an authentic experience.

With Wayne (Grant Kramer) from Santa Claws hosting, basically this video is John Russo and Bill Hinzman videotaping women and getting them naked for the yule season. Sue Ellen White only did this movie, but Lisa Delien (using the stage name Lisa Duvaul) was also in Eyes Are Upon You and Amanda Madison (using the name Christine Cavalier) appeared in other movies like Psycho DancePsycho VampireSlaughter Secretaries…yes, all Wave Productions. She’s also in Donald Farmer’s Red Lips.

The main star is, of course, Debbie Rochon, whose career took her everywhere from getting a scar on the streets of Vancouver at the age of 14 and being an extra in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains to buiding her legacy as a scream queen in movies like LurkersTromeo and Juliet and so many more, being picked as Draculina magazine’s Scream Queen of the Decade (1990–1999). She’s still making movies today, shrugging off setbacks like nearly losing four fingers of her right hand to a prop machete. She’s also one of those people who appear so perfect that you wonder if they’re some kind of android. I hope she never stops making movies ever.

This movie is ridiculous but I’m also strangely happy that it exists. If you saw Santa Claws, you’ve seen it already, but I respect that Russo is out to make money off you more than once for the same exact product.

You can get these movies together on the Terror Vision blu ray of Santa Claws.

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