Psycho Santa/Satan Claus
By: Devon B. on December 22, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Sub Rosa (USA). All Regions, NTSC. Psycho Santa: 1,85:1 Non-anamorphic; Satan Claus: 4:3. English DD 2.0. 142 minutes
The Movie
Director: Peter Keir/ Massimiliano Cerchi
Starring: Jeff Samford, Michelle Samford, Lucien Eisenbach, Eric Spudic, Krystal Stevenson / Robert Cummins, Jodie Rafty, Robert Hector
Screenplay: Peter Keir/Simonetta Mostarda
Country: USA
Year 2003/1996
I enjoy slasher movies. I even enjoy bad slasher movies. So, when I saw this DVD that had two holiday slashers, I didn't think either one would be good, but I thought one might be decent enough to make it into the standard Christmas movie rotation. Good God, was I wrong.

Psycho Santa is technically about a bickering couple on their way to a Christmas party. The male doesn't want to go, so to humbug the trip he tells his wife about a deranged guy prone to wearing a Santa suit. The stories the husband tells are all shown via flashback, making this film more of an anthology. How the guy knows any of the little details revealed is a mystery, but I'm guessing they're supposed to be accurate retellings, as the crazy Santa is real. Ignore the synopsis on the back; this is what the movie's really like:

In the first story, two women are driving (what is it with shot-on-video movies and driving scenes?) on their way to an annual Christmas sleep over where they traditionally tell ghost stories. One goes out to pick up some rocks while the other showers. The girl walking walks and walks, and the girl showering showers and showers. Padding has never felt so padded; you know it's bad when you're saying, "Oh, get on with it!" during a shower scene. The two friends are waiting for another friend who hasn't shown up, so one decides to do a negligee dance. Well, dance in that if you put the movie on fast forward, it looks like she's moving. This dance is right up there with the climactic one in The Gore Gore Girls. Anyway, eventually our psycho Santa shows up, though he'd actually been there a bit earlier, too. What should've been a MAYBE five-minute flashback goes on forever, but eventually we get back to the present day. I was relieved…but lo…another flashback. This time it was about some burglars, who also just walk around for most of the time. Then there's a flashback within a flashback, and the whole thing gets so patchwork I began to wonder if heaps of footage was lost or damaged. The third story is about two siblings on an expedition somewhat similar in tone to that which begins Night of the Living Dead, but when their car breaks down, we get even more walk, walk, walk. This movie really should've been called Walking Around Until A Murderous Santa Turns Up.

To be fair, Walking Around Until A Murderous Santa Turns Up has some amusing lines, but many of these are hampered by the inexperienced thespians. While I'm all for a movie about an insane Santa who likes to dismember people and wrap up their body parts, this movie is mostly dialogless, dull nonsense…with people walking around. At least the filmmakers must've realised the film was padded enough, as the end credits are really short.

After that rank turd of motion picture experience, I expected Satan Claus would have to be better. I'm not sure that it is.

Satan Claus has a Santa going around collecting body parts to be used as decorations, perhaps inspired by "Deck the Halls with Parts of Charlie" from the Tales From the Crypt Christmas album. A failed actor tries to help his cop girlfriend catch the killer, along with the help of some witch doctoress. The police very slowly build up some, well, not clues. They mostly just sit around until the killer calls. At which point the head detective instantly believes the caller is the killer, but doesn't bother to trace the line. I understand this is a low budget effort, but for fuck's sake couldn't the police have been even remotely efficient?

It's always a bad idea to have someone playing an actor in these cheap movies, because when they say things like "I'm no good," you're like, "No, you're not." The acting is atrocious, and there're even flubbed lines. It's video, re-fucking-shoot! The acting is just bad enough to be annoying in a straightforward flick like this, so the only merit the film has is some unintentional humour.
Both movies are shot-on-video. Psycho Santa is letterboxed at an approximately 1.85:1 ratio, but is not 16x9 enhanced. The print is a bit murky, and there are some glitches, but it's okay. Satan Claus, however, is all but unwatchable. The print is murky, and the film is so dark it's very hard to see anything. This makes even the all too brief shower scene worthless. There's also video grain, and some glitches.
Psycho Santa has a two-channel mix. The levels fluctuate, there are some pops on the track, and there's background noise. What dialogue there is can be deciphered, though. Satan Claus also sports a two-channel mix, and has all the same flaws of Psycho Santa, but is also a bit quiet and dialogue can get lost in the score.
Extra Features
No amount of extras would save these travesties, but the utter lack of extras also makes this package completely untempting. Some brief notes on Sub Rosa, and a few trailers are all you get. Walking Around Until A Murderous Santa Turns Up's trailer is included, as is Sub Rosa's other Yule time slasher The Christmas Season Massacre. If you're really bored, you can also watch the trailers for I Spit On Your Corpse, I Piss On Your Grave; China White Serpentine; and Insaniac.
The Verdict
If you find this under the tree, beat the crap out of whoever gave it to you.
Movie Score
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