In the spirit of the season, I watched my VHS of Edmond Purdom's 1984 UK slasher Don't Open Till Christmas.
A killer targeting men dressed as Santa terrorizes London during the holiday season.
Damn this movie packs a lot into its eighty-six minutes. Being from across the pond, it is less known than some of the more infamous Xmas slashers like Silent Night, Deadly Night and Christmas Evil, but I feel this one just has as much to offer. As a movie, it's a schizophrenic mess that hops from protagonist to protagonist like an advent calendar, but if murder set pieces and high body counts are your game, then this one is for you.
Something that struck me right away was how similar the opening sequence was to the original Friday the 13th. If you were to put them side-by-side, I bet the beats line-up almost exactly. I wonder if it was intentional, or by 1984 just a by-product of an over-saturated subgenre. I was also reminded of Juan Simón's Pieces, as these two – in addition to sharing star Purdom – have like-minded structures and endings. While no one got their junk squeezed in the final frames, Don't Open ended just as abruptly. I will say that Purdom's picture was much more outwardly dour and nihilistic though.
|Director & Star Edmond Purdom in Don't Open Till Xmas.|
This slasher REALLY hated Santa Claus, as a whopping ten were dispatched in all manner of gruesome ways in this. You may wonder how they could pack that many into ninety minutes and still have some semblance of story. Well, the answer is... it doesn't, a coherent one anyway. Don't Open sure got access to a lot of cool locations though and they made the most of them, my favourite being The London Dungeon – probably within a year of when I'd have been there! Lastly, and perhaps most head scratching was the random cameo from Caroline Munro, as herself.
Don't Open was far from perfect, but I have to admire the effort to cram in as many beloved genre elements into one movie as possible. I imagine a lot of this was unintentional – rumour has it there were as many as four directors used and extensive reshoots – but the result still kept me more than entertained. By the end, I was just left to exclaim, “man, these guys just don't give a FUUUUCK!”