Wrestler Bill Goldberg is excellent & convincing as the immortal psycho Santa, & Robert Culp is great as the cute & crazy grampa. The film overall is not as good as these two performances, & gives too much time to the young stars playing teenagers, who're boring as all get out.
Santa's Slay (2005) comes off as an especially daring Saturday Night Live or more likely Mad TV sketch or series of sketches, not easily stretched to feature film length.
Santa's sled is drawn by a bison (or "buffalo hell-deer") named Berserker, & Santa himself is a pillaging murdering supernatural Viking. One thousand years ago he'd had a curling contest with an angel disguised as an old man, & had gambled & lost, so that for the following thousand years he had to give up his true nature & bring happiness to children the world round.
It's now Christmas Eve in a place called Hell Township, a thousand years after Santa lost that game. He's about to reveal his true nature.
There's enough gore for the gore-hounds & anyone attracted to the poster or dvd box depicting such a scary Santa will get exactly what they were after in this entertaining gore comedy. Some familiar faces appear in the film, lie Rebecca Gayheart, Chris Kattan, & Fran Drescher, but thank heavens none of them last long.
The script tried extra hard to be rebellions, having the town minister (Dave Thomas) messing around with strippers (to whom Santa will call out "Ho', Ho', Ho'," before wacking 'em, which gives you an idea of the level of humor), or impaling a Jew (Saul Rubinek) on a menhora (which was only funny in the deleted bit seen in the outtakes among the dvd extras).
Kill the hookers; kill the Jew; kill the cops -- it's about as rebellious as cutting a fart at the table during the family christmas dinner.
The medieval story of Satanic Santa & the Old Angel's curling contest is told in the form of a "puppetoon" & is a delightful interlude. The action-packed climax of Santa rampaging & killing then meeting up with his old nemesis for a curling rematch is totally effective.
Everything about the film is obvious from the start, but, to trump up a crappily quotable quote, "Santa's Slay works more betterly than most recent gore flicks." It's done with a freshness & skill not often seen in gore films; it is low-budget without looking cheap. it's easily recommended to fans of horror comedies & gore, & all others can judge pretty much by the box whether or not they'd be apt to enjoy it.
The idea of the Psycho Santa is old-hat in horror cinema, but rarely is he a supernatural being as in Santa's Slay, & for that reason I think Santa's Slay delivers enough "extra" to go the head of the pack. Among the also-rans from out of the past we may count Satan Claus (1996) about a psycho in a Santa suit who is on a killing spree collecting body parts to use as Christmas tree ornaments.
Bad as the premise sounds, the development is not even good enough to please fans of shlock. He's supposed to be an actual demon but there's very little reason to suppose he is supernatural.
It's tempting to pick on the worse-than-bad acting, worse-than-bad editing, worse-than-bad direction, & wayyyyy worse-than-bad dialogue, but none of that matters when the worse-than-bad-lighting makes it impossible to see what's going on. Less than an hour in length, it seems much, much longer.
Hard to think of a psycho-santa movie as bad as that one but in the running is the similarly punning Santa Claws aka 'Tis the Season (1996). Once more a psycho (Grant Kramer) who thinks he's Santa is abroad. He's stalking a shlocky pornstar (Debbie Rochon) currently filming A Scream Queen Christmas.
Although Russo is famous for assisting George Romero on Night of the Living Dead (1968) you'd think from this film he'd never directed anything but the worst porn & was trying for the first time to make a "breakthrough" film into the higher sphere of slasher movies.
Then there's the ultra-shlocky anthology film uncleverly titled Psycho Santa (2003), available separately or on a doublebill dvd with Satan Claus. Presumedly getting two really awful killer santa movies for the price of one makes up for neither one of them being any good, but for most viewers it would only be Double the Dull.
In Tale the First, a boring young husband is telling stories to his wife while on a drive to a Christmas party somehwere. The first flashback begins as he tells the story of Psycho Santa hanging out on Christmas Eve near a cabin where there are three babes in lingerie. There's a joke "surprise" in the end but very little is actually seen to happen.
Tale the Second features two cat-burglars creeping around in the home of a deaf mute babe whose retarded & burn-disfigured son, locked up in one of the rooms, turns out to be Psycho Santa. Once again, there 's scarsely any other climax.
There are several more victims mentioned by the tale-spinning husband in the car & seen in flashbacks but none of them amount to whole stories. Where one story ends & another begins is murky at this point, it could all be an extension of Tale the Second.
Tale the Third (or fifth or sixth depending on how one counts them) regards Psycho Santa vs a brother & sister lost in the woods, eventually finding the cabin in the woods where Tale the First is in progress, so it's all come full circle, har har, ain't it clever.
The film just sort of peters out with no resolution of the story of the man & wife on the way to a Christmas party. There are intimations that this story was supposed to conclude with them getting killed too, but the film had already broken the seventy-minute mark, & they ran out of funds or something, so the film just ends.
Even condensing bad ideas for killer santa movies into small semi-independent bites to form an anthology, all three tales feel like they're mostly just padding that ramble on & on. With the mounting body-count, you'd think it would at least have a full measure of gore in its favor. But there are bewilderingly few gore FX, so even as the downest down-market sort of movie, it fails.
The best you can say of any of these several films about killer santas is they tend to make Santa's Slay stand out as an achievement.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl