TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT (1980)
Director David Hess. Stars Jennifer Runyon, Forrest Swanson, Jennifer Gentile.
Sorority girls smuggle in boys in their finishing school for a night of debauchery and are quickly put on the naughty list as a psycho Santa administers their lumps of coal dispensing with the bad kids in various ways such as a helicopter propeller, skull cracking and an axe me no questions delivery that includes a twist ending. Script by the star of The Incredible Melting Man, Alex Rebar.
THE LEMON DROP KID (1951)
Director Sidney Lanfield and Frank Tashlin. Stars Bob Hope, Marilyn Maxwell, Fred Clark.
When con man, the Lemon Drop Kid (Hope) makes the wrong choice on a horse race bet with the girlfriend (Maxwell) of a gangster (Clark), he has until Christmas Day to come up with $10,000 or meet a grisly end. Figuring that people will spread their Christmas cheer, he cons charity organisations dressing thugs up like Santa to swindle them out of their money while poking jabs at Orson Welles and Bing Crosby. Hope is at his funniest in this and the duet with Maxwell singing Silver Bells is terrific. A little trivia here; Silver Bells was originally written as ‘Tinkle Bells,’ but, when the wife of the songwriter told her husband what ‘tinkle’ actually meant, she suggested him to change the first word to ‘silver’ and that’s what we know today. A Christmas classic!
THE CHEATERS AKA THE CASTAWAY (1945)
Directed by Joseph Kane. Stars Joseph Schildkraut, Billie Burke (Glinda the Good Witch), Eugene Pallette.
An ultra-rare movie, but worth seeking out. When a greedy, snobbish, rich family adopts an out-of-work actor at Christmas who tried to commit suicide, they believe they can impress their other shallow friends in doing a good deed. Through his unpredictable actions and sage advice, the ubiquitous, Mr. M (Schildkraut) teaches them a lesson in morality in his amazing performance.
‘R XMAS (2001)
Director Abel Ferrara. Stars Drea de Matteo (The Sopranos), Lillo Brancato, Ice-T.
When a New York drug dealer is kidnapped (Brancato) his wife (Matteo) his wife must come up with the money and drugs to free him before Christmas or he sleeps with the fishes. This is one dark movie where everyone, including the cops are bad guys.
It’s a Christmas version of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet meets Italian Giallo. Director Ferrara captures the hidden, underbelly of crime and grittiness against the holiday season and delivers the goods.
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 1-5
Various directors. Stars Linnea Quigley, Charles Dierkop,
Richard Beemer, Bill Mosley, Mickey Rooney.
“Santa’s watching. Santa’s creeping. Now you’re nodding. Now you’re sleeping. Were you good for mom and dad? Santa knows if you’ve been bad!” What can one say about a psychotic Santa Clause that strangles people with Christmas tree lights, decapitates ones on the naughty list and slices and dices his way through people’s hearts, so-to-speak. Creepy and scary at times, this is the only serial killer Santa series ever made though the final instalment veers away from the first
four with Rooney as Joe Petto and his son, Pino who make killer toys to do their evil bidding. File this one under ‘strange-o.’