21. Christmas Evil (You Better Watch Out)

It's your Horror Review Advent Calendar.
25 Christmas themed movies.
Ho, ho, ho.

Director: Lewis Jackson (1980)
Starring: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull
Find it: IMDB

Yet another synopsis which sports the phrase "psycho in a Santa suit". This being the twenty-first Christmas horror movie I have watched in as many days (yeah, I reposted one review, but then I watched Bad Santa again tonight, so 21 still stands), I'd be quite happy to never have to read the words "psycho in a Santa suit" ever again. That said, Christmas Evil (or You Better Watch Out) is probably one of the best Evil Santa movies out there. 

One miserable Christmas Eve (or Christmas Evil, geddit) little Harry finds out the hard way that there's no such thing as Santa Claus. If you're a child reading this, ignore that last sentence. Harry sees momma kissing Santa Claus (and then some)  and winds up traumatised. Adult Harry (Maggart) devotes his life to becoming the One True Santa Claus, living in an apartment full of Christmas tat and keeping a book in which he records the "naughty and nice" children in his neighbourhood. Naughty Moss Garcia, cutting nuddy pictures from a magazine (and also for his "negative odours"). He works in a toy factory and is generally regarded as a schmuck by his co-workers.

The movie offers one of the best psycho unravellings available. I do so enjoy an unravelling psycho horror movie. As Harry notices more and more naughtiness around him and realises that people think he's a bit of a tit, he unravels in style. Christmas Evil might be my favourite Christmas horror movie. 

It's very peculiar to Christmas horror films - you can't help but sympathise with the killer, whoever he may be. Christmas is prime time for losing your shit, whether it be at the works' Christmas party, whilst shopping or during an awkward family gathering. Never have I felt so maddened and nearly insane as wandering around busy shops during the Christmas period. I wish it could be Christmas every day? Yes, because I can drink whiskey from nine in the morning and not sober up until Boxing Day. Abolish Christmas and you'd probably cut the crime rate by 90% (statistics completely accurate and only slightly made up). Well with a whole month devoted to shitty music and shitty TV and spoiling your shitty children, a little murder seems like the very sanest thing to do. And Harry, as it goes, is a lovely lunatic. He tells kids to respect their parents, which is always a nice message.

When Harry's inevitable rampage does come, it's very well done. After bragging that he has "superlative taste" a man gets stabbed in the face with a toy. Which is what you deserve for talking like a prick. Harry does so outside a Church whilst music which sounds remarkably like the Psycho score twitters away. The background music is fantastic. I think Christmas slasher movies tend to sound amongst the best in the genre, whether it be inappropriately timed Carols or just the dodgy score. There's plenty to enjoy in Christmas Evil, most notably its use of 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus'.

Christmas Evil is a fantastic bit of seasonal horror. It has a fun story, great kill scenes and a villain who's at once sympathetic and scary. If you have superlative taste, you should be watching Christmas Evil. Also, watch your eye.


  1. Great review. I watched this film for the first time last year and really enjoyed it even though I didn't think I would as the beginning unfolded. It was one of those movies that just really grows on you as it progresses. It has such an interesting Christmas feel to it, and, like you said, a killer that you really grow fond of and almost feel sorry for.

  2. Thank you. Yeah, it's a slow-burner to be sure. I didn't expect to enjoy it much either, but its characterisation of Harry is a cut above a lot of schlock horror. That really helps the film out.