Santa's Slay (2005)
By: Devon B. on June 22, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Lionsgate (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. English, Spanish Subtitles. 77 minutes
The Movie
Director: David Steiman
Starring: Bill Goldberg, Douglas Smith, Emilie de Ravin, Robert Culp, Dave Thomas, Saul Rubinek
Screenplay: David Steiman
Country: USA
Santa's Slay begins with a fun scene that's over the top and very silly. This was intended to set the pace for the whole film, and also to keep viewers guessing as to what could happen next. In both regards, that attempt was a failure. Once the main movie begins, you'll know exactly what's going to happen, and often when. Aside from the one completely implausible, impossible (even within the movie's convoluted reality) twist, that is.

Santa's Slay is the story of Santa. No, not the loveable bowl full of jelly we've all come to know and…know. Rather, it seems, Santa is the son of Satan, hence the similar letters. Santa has been distributing gifts for the last millenium because he lost a bet, but now the bet is off, and he's back. It's up to a young, very annoying, man (Douglas Smith), his would be girlfriend (Australian Emilie de Ravin), and his eccentric grandfather (Robert Culp) to save the day. For some reason Culp doesn't think to ask his special red-suited buddy William Katt to just come and kick Santa's ass.

Santa's Slay was written and directed by David Steiman, who oddly seems to only have realised the alphabetical similarity of 'Santa' and 'Satan' recently. I recall noticing that when I was, oh, I dunno, eight. Not only that, he claims to be a huge fan of Saturday Night Live, and there was a very popular sketch featuring Dana Carvey as The Church Lady where she pointed out this similarity as well. Steiman is also friends with Brett Ratner. When I saw Ratner's association with the film, I did get a bit worried that the film would not be all that it could, and my fear was valid. Ratner's former fiancée Rebecca Gayheart puts in an appearance, but fortunately managed to avoid driving over and killing any 9-year old children while on set. Gayheart isn't the only familiar face; there're quite a few cameos to be found.

Santa's Slay is different from most Santa slashers in that the 'real' Santa is the slasher; it's not just some guy who's pinched a red suit and run amok. Santa has obviously been hitting the gym, as here he's played by the rather large Bill Goldberg. Santa also appears to have been watching wrestling while in the North Pole, because a lot of his fight moves look like they originated in the ring. There is some poor continuity in the fight scenes, but I don't think that's Goldberg's fault.

Santa's Slay seems to have been influenced by the exceptionally tame and punch-pulling Bad Santa, whereas everyone knows that the best Christmas movie to be influenced by is the utterly brilliant The Ref. There are also obvious influences from the Xmas Futurama episodes, but the film is rarely as funny. No, Santa's Slay has lots of bad jokes and terrible puns. The movie IS funny, but it's a tough call whether the humour is intentional or not. Often, you just have to go with 'so-bad-it's-funny,' but there is some actual cleverness like the nod to Rankin/Bass Productions.

The plot is really silly. The annoying (supposedly cynical) lead instantly believes, with little 'proof,' not just in Santa, but that he's evil. The movie also breaks rule number one for any good horror film: Kill the worst actor FIRST. No, our atrocious lead wanders around the whole film, fucking up some good one-liners and just giving the whole movie an air of suckiness. The movie has odd ideas about screen time versus real time, with several hours passing within minutes of uninterrupted action. The whole thing culminates with a curling finale so ridiculous, groan inducing, and plot-hole making, I just hope it was done for laughs.
Santa's Slay is presented at 1.85:1 in an anamorphic print. It's a new movie, so the print is sharp and clean, though there is some minor grain.
Audio is available in 5.1 and 2 channel mixes. Again, this is a new movie, so the audio is clear and crisp, with the 5.1 track giving a greater range and depth of sound.
Extra Features
A few of the extras pop up on the menus like Easter eggs (highly inappropriate for a Christmas movie), but they're listed on the sleeve and virtually impossible to miss, so I'll treat them like normal extras.

There are three featurettes, roughly five minutes in length each, covering the 'reindeer' and sleigh, the fact that Santa's Slay was Steiman's first movie, and the casting. Ratner puts in an appearance in these, and is still a knob-head. The only really interesting one was the casting featurette.

The bloopers reel is actually an alternate version of the credits, featuring an Animal House type epilogue and then the bloopers amidst the credits. There are also deleted scenes, which actually feature a few gags that should've been left in, and the deleted scenes also have the Animal House styled epilogue, minus the bloopers.

Trailers for other Lions Gate Films are included.

The main extra is a commentary track, featuring Steiman and producer Matthew Leonetti, Jr. The track pats the cast's collective back, and remains unengaging. The pair explains simple scenes yet ignore plot holes, and I found the track rather annoying at times.
The Verdict
Santa's Slay never tops its opening scene, which is a shame. Whoever was compiling the soundtrack also missed out on a few perfect songs for the film, The Vandal's 'A Gun For Christmas' and 'Nothing's Going To Ruin My Holiday,' both from their brilliant Oi To The World! release. The film will make it on to my regular Christmas movie rotation, but I still wish it had lived up to the potential set in the opening sequence.
Movie Score
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