After creating the motion picture camera back in 1894, the Lumière Brothers had no idea their invention would go on to become the most important art form in history. More culturally significant than novels, paintings or songs, the motion picture is a indispensable cultural artifact that documents not only the culture and times in which it was made, making it the world’s greatest time capsule, it’s the only thing that unites us all as a people. Music comes close but music has lyrics and with that comes an instant wall that separates people. You can’t connect everyone if not everyone understands the meaning.
Silent films don’t have that problem. A well made silent comedy will give you all the information you need from visuals alone. Now, the motion picture has evolved far beyond the old black and white flicker shows of old but the sentiment is still there. A well made film can be understood purely on visuals alone and that’s why it’s the most important art form there is. It connects us all through magic. Because at the end of the day, films are, at their very core, illusions. They’re a series of pictures that, if played in rapid succession, create the illusion of motion.
They’re magic tricks.
Magic tricks that have been capturing audiences imaginations for over 100 years. Let’s honor that magic by highlighting some less than famous magicians that have sadly been forgotten by time.
This will be part of an on going segment that aims to shine a light on the forgotten and the obscure.
Day 7 Of The 12 Days Of Xmas: Christmas Evil
Christmas Evil (also known as You Better Watch Out and Terror in Toyland) is a 1980 psychological slasher film, directed by Lewis Jackson and starring Brandon Maggart. It is considered an obscure film but has gained a cult following which includes film director John Waters.
It was originally released as You Better Watch Out. Though lesser known, it predates the horror film Silent Night, Deadly Night, in which a deranged man goes on a murderous rampage dressed in Santa Claus clothing.
While not prosecuted for obscenity, the film was seized and confiscated in the UK under Section 3 of the Obscene Publications Act of 1959 during the video nasty panic.
This film is the embodiment of why I resent this generation. Because everyone has access to literally all the information at all times, there’s no more mystery anymore. Back in the day, the determining factor on whether or not you rented a movie was:
- Did it have a cool cover.
- Did it have some cool images on the back.
That’s it. That’s all we had to go by.
Now, you can go to the films IMDB page, Google it’s Rotten Tomatoes/Metacritic score, look up it’s trailer and determine whether or not the film is worthy of your time in less than a minute. Rolling the dice on something that looks “cool” doesn’t exist anymore.
I bring this up because based on this films poster, you’d be forgiven to think it’s in anyway similar to Silent Night, Deadly Night and that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The only thing they have in common is the fact that there’s a killer Santa in both. Christmas Evil is the type of film that a young me would’ve definitely rolled the dice on and I would’ve gotten the hardest pair of snake eyes imaginable.
This is a horror film in the loosest definition possible.
There’s only four murders and they feel like they were added last minute by a producer mandate. What this film actually is, is a dark drama about a crazy guy who thinks he’s Santa and how that effects everyone around him. It’s far better than It’s reputation would suggest.
It’s basically it’s Santa With Muscles but with a less deranged Joe Spinell. And now that I typed that sentence, I’m depressed that I live in a world where that’s not a thing that exists.