The presents are wrapped; everyone’s asleep. Is there a better way to celebrate the embers of Christmas Eve than a mince pie, a weird black forest gateaux-flavoured liqueur, and an ’80s throwback titspoitation slasher? If there is, fuck you, because it’s too late to come up with an alternative.
It’s only just dawned on me that I might prefer indie and interwebz-hyped horror to the classics that my fellow ghouls have shamed me for not having watched yet. Well they haven’t watched Todd Nunes‘s All Through the House, either, and also, they’re not molesting their taste buds with this Gripe Water excuse for a Christmas tipple. Jesus, is this supposed to make your throat shudder? Jesus would know, it’s his unbirthday.
Speaking of seasonal guest appearances, our killer in this for-once-not-synth-soundtracked retro gorefest is Santa himself! Sort of. It’s tall, lanky, wears a metallic grey Santa mask, and brandishes a pair of secateurs. Kind of like if GWAR went paleo.
Secateurs, apart from being the first word I correctly spelled without being able to define it, have always occupied a fearful spot in my mind usually reserved for non-human-powered blades (garbage disposals, food processors, chainsaws). They’re scarier than just a knife. They’re huge. They have that springy hinge thing in the middle to give it some extra oomph. And, apparently, they can go through bathroom doors, tits, a lot of penises, and coil mattresses.
[As an aside, I’d like to take a moment to point out how modernly realistic many of the tit scenes are: we’ve got interracial couples, lesbians, and TWO scenes in which someone actually uses one of those shower puffs. They exist! Why can’t you show one, filmmakers??]
While we get to see Secateurs Claus really enjoys its toy, it’s clear pretty fast that this is a straight-up slasher with some warmly welcome hints of urban legend, rather than a supernatural shit-fest like Jack Frost. Or that other Jack Frost. We sleigh-ride from kill to kill to kill, some of them just nameless slutsploitation fodder to keep the pace up.
Which you kinda need when everything else is a bit amateur. Succeeding in staying just on the right side of cringingly bad, you can tell it’s first-time actors, a first-time director, a first-time photographer (you’ve set up that shot for so long there’s no fucking tension), and ‘just get it done’ dialogue.
But it’s mitigated by the cast’s good chemistry, a shit-ton of bright, festive colours, some knowing visual gags and scene-stealing performances from Melynda Kiring (as a neurotic neighbour) and Cathy Garrett (as a gutter-mouthed wheelchair grandma), And, of course, floods of eye-poppingly, inventive, sickening gore. It may be just shy of a modern classic, but it apes less than it invents, and it can double up as a fun holiday horror to replace The Nightmare Before Christmas. God, this liqueur is disgusting. I knew I should have just gotten Bailey’s.