Who doesn’t love an advent calendar? Around the Daily Grindhouse virtual offices, we decided the only way to make the advent calendar better is to replace what you might traditionally find behind the door with Christmas horror movies! So everyday from December 1st through to Christmas, we will be highlighting a different movie for our horror-loving readers to celebrate the season. Our film for Day Seventeen is SANTA’S SLAY!
The ludicrous idea that there is a war on Christmas is one of the most laughable conspiracy theories that the the religious right has come up with. As insane as this concept is, if there was one movie that would work as a how-to video, it would be SANTA’S SLAY. It’s so subversive. Taking all the traditions of an established Christmas story and turning them on their head fills my heart with joyous glee!
In this horror, comedy, slasher movie, Santa Claus (Bill Goldberg) is actually a demon, more specifically the devil’s son, who innumerable years ago gambled with an angel and lost. Since he lost the bet, Santa has had to be the giver of joy and good tidings for the past 1000 years. When the time frame for the wager has run out, Santa isn’t very joyful anymore. To make up for lost time, Santa goes on a gore-filled killing spree that combines the brutality of Jason Voorhees and the humor of Freddy Krueger from the later A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET movies.
Who is to stop the madness from destroying the township of Hell (yes the movie takes place in Hell Township)? Teenager Nicholas Yuleson (Douglas Smith) figures out that his grandfather, only billed as “Grandpa” (Robert Culp), is actually the angel that had tricked Santa into being icon of joy and giving that is loved by humanity. It’s up to Nicholas and his girlfriend Mary Mackenzie (Emilie de Ravin) to rid their once quiet town of the evil demon Santa Claus.
The opening scene of SANTA’S SLAY sets the tone for the rest of the movie. It’s a gore-filled laugh riot. Seeing the likes of Fran Drescher, Chris Kattan, Rebecca Gayheart, and others who are all Jewish in real life, sitting around the table on Christmas Eve like a good, but dysfunctional, Christian family is seditious in itself. Then add professional wrestler Goldberg, who is also Jewish, sliding down the chimney as the biggest, buffest, meanest Santa Claus there is spewing one-liners and massacring this family in the most hilarious way, makes this one of the greatest scenes in any holiday horror movie ever. I just love how that the kills are a punchline to a joke, it’s all very Herschell Gordon Lewis (2,000 MANIACS).
As raunchy and gory as SANTA’S SLAY is, it still maintains a sense of whimsy. I love it as an R-rated slasher romp, but if they had toned it down just a bit to a PG-13 rating, I could see it being held in the same regards as Michael Dougherty’s 2015 holiday favorite, KRAMPUS. How is SANTA’S SLAY fanciful? The fact that the origin story of Santa Claus is played out in a flashback through Rankin and Bass (RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER) style stop motion animation, is about as good as it gets. Besides that, having the teenagers facing off against the demon Santa gives SANTA’S SLAY a MONSTER SQUAD vibe to it.
Honestly, I had passed by SANTA’S SLAY so many times when I originally saw it in the stores. The cover art looked hokey, and I was a horror snob. I’m glad curiosity got the best of me, because now I can’t go the holiday season without watching SANTA’S SLAY at least once. It’s a holiday tradition in my house! Subvert the holidays and do your part to help fight the war on Christmas!
–Jeremy Lowe (@rottengerm77)
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Tags: Alicia Lorén, America, Annie Sorell, Bill Goldberg, Canada, Dave Thomas, David Steiman, Douglas Smith, Emilie de Ravin, Fran Drescher, Guns, Horror Advent Calendar 2018, James Caan, Matthew F. Leonetti, Rebecca Gayheart, Robert Culp, Santa Claus, Saul Rubinek, Tommy “Tiny” Lister, Zamboni