This time round it's Santa who gets it, in this British slasher movie where a masked murderer goes around London bumping off people wearing Santa outfits. Ho ho ho.
It's brought to us by the same producers as Slaughter High (1986) and Pieces (1982) and it certainly shows. All three are low budget horror films more likely to have you shaking with unintentional laughter rather than fear.
As an example of a significant scene early in the film, we have an 80s nightclub, where partygoers in half-arsed fancy dress are getting down to bland royalty-free synth music. When 'Santa' appears on stage and is promptly speared through the head in front of everyone, there's almost no reaction at all from the crowd, who seem to just stand there looking slightly bored. And that kind of sets the tone for the rest of the movie.
Overall the acting ranges from ok to bad. Caroline Munro makes a brief, slightly embarrassing cameo as a pop singer, who does little more than wear a tight glittery dress and wiggle her bottom at the camera. Another female character's main role appears to be getting her boobs out at every available opportunity, including when she's attacked by the killer.
The 'Santas' themselves are a mixed, unsympathetic bunch. There's the one who goes into a seedy peepshow dressed in his full festive gear. And a massively obese one. A black one. A female one. And a highly flammable one roasting and selling chestnuts in a deserted, dark back alley, for some unbusiness-like reason.
The killings are not particularly original. They range from the uninspired (stabbing with what looks like a retractable joke shop knife and a bit of stage blood) to the sounds-far-more-impressive-than-it-actually-looks (a castration, a face burning and an eyeball sort-of falling out). In one amusing sequence, filmed in The London Dungeon, we discover the exhibits have real, sharp, dangerous weapons just lying around rather than replicas, and the killer has the skill of changing outfits at lightning speed without being noticed.
The identity of the murderer is dealt with as a whodunnit, though the final reveal isn't a huge shock. The motive is flimsy, and the killer's final scene is pushing plausibility quite a bit. However none of this can top the hilariously unexpected closing scene of the movie. As a scary horror film, it fails. But as a nostalgic smirk at the 1980s, and at low budget horror, it's certainly entertaining. Dial-operated telephones; vinyl records; fashion; payphones; casual sexism and homophobic comments. It's all there. If you found Pieces a guilty pleasure, you'd probably enjoy this too. Especially after a few drinks. 3/5