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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There's a new Santa in town
Christmas Evil holds a unique spot in the genre of Christmas slasher films. While a few individuals are murdered, there so little blood that I would not classify this as a slasher film at all. This is more of a psychological treatment that transcends horror of a primal nature. In its own special twisted way, Christmas Evil is really sort of touching, and I would argue...
Published on May 3, 2003 by Daniel Jolley

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars CHRISTMAS EVIL: Naughty or Nice?
Originally titled YOU BETTER WATCH OUT (and a.k.a. TERROR IN TOYLAND), 1980's CHRISTMAS EVIL amounts to little more than a crass attempt to hitch onto the holiday-horror gravy train initiated by John Carpenter's universally better HALLOWEEN in 1978. It's only notable for the fact that it was the first of the HALLOWEEN rip-offs to feature a Killer Kris Kringle...
Published on February 25, 2004 by Michael R Gates


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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There's a new Santa in town, May 3, 2003
This review is from: Christmas Evil (DVD)
Christmas Evil holds a unique spot in the genre of Christmas slasher films. While a few individuals are murdered, there so little blood that I would not classify this as a slasher film at all. This is more of a psychological treatment that transcends horror of a primal nature. In its own special twisted way, Christmas Evil is really sort of touching, and I would argue that it actually does possess a measure of real Christmas spirit. Harry isn't a bad guy; his heart is in the right place - it's just a few of his toys of death that end up in wrong places such as someone else's neck. As a young child, Harry sees disturbing evidence before his very eyes that Santa Claus is not real, and this experience scars him for life. He does not let the Christmas spirit die in him, however; the spirit actually grows to the point that, as a forty-something year old man, he tries to become Santa Claus and spread joy to good little children. He spies on the neighborhood kids, writing down notes in his books of naught boys and girls. As a newly-promoted manager at a toy factory, he is dismayed to see inferior-quality toys rolling off the assembly line, his co-workers speak badly of the holidays, and a new hotshot executive puts forth a promotional campaign to send toys to a children's hospital without knowing or caring if there will be enough for the kids. Eventually, poor Harry snaps, dons a Santa suit, and goes out to spread Christmas spirit all around. Of course, a few adults have been very bad in his eyes, and a few of them end up dead.
Brandon Maggart is really quite good in the role of Harry. Some of his laughing fits early on are rather annoying, but his face really shows a lot of emotion and complexity, especially on those occasions when he is doing something that will make children happy and when he finally comes to grip with the idea that his plan to give everyone a real Santa has failed. Take away Harry's obvious mental unbalance and you are left with a weird sort of inspirational story, one that actually fits in to some degree with classic Christmas tales such as A Christmas Carol. I'm not saying this is a movie every family needs to watch every Christmas Eve - that is clearly not the case. However, Harry, in his own tragically disastrous way, does have the Christmas spirit and tries to keep it in his heart every single day, and that is what I will remember about him the most.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Christmas Classic!, July 17, 2001
This review is from: Christmas Evil (DVD)
Greetings from Tromaville!
Aside from being John Waters's favorite Christmas movie, this film is known as the best of the Holiday Horror genre. Originally titled "You better watch out.....", and also known as "Terror in Toyland", the film was re-released with the title "Christmas Evil" to cash in on the success of "Silent Night, Deadly Night".
But "Christmas Evil" is a much different film. Contrary to the cover art, "Christmas Evil" is a psychological horror film that digs deep into the mind of a person who loves Santa, and hates the greedy.
He always brings presents to the "nice", such as numerous toys for the children's hospital. What makes it a horror film is that he treats those who have been "Naughty" with death.
There are two things commonly misinterpreted about the film. First of all, it is not anti-Christmas. If anything, it's against the commercialization of Christmas.
Second, it's not completely a psychological horror film. It's mostly a dark-comedy in the vein of "Jack Frost" (not the conglomerate crappy Keaton one, but the horror/comedy distributed by A-Pix Entertainment.) that will leave you mesmorised.
It also contains running commontary with the director, and the star, Brandon Maggart, who is the father of pop princess Fiona Apple, as well as a special holiday introduction with Troma President Lloyd Kaufman.
In conclusion, see "Christmas Evil". It will do for Christmas what Charles Kaufman's "Mother's Day" did for Mother's Day
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CLASSIC HOLIDAY THRILLER IS VERY EFFECTIVE, November 22, 2001
By 
Jerry Beaudin (Tecumseh, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: You Better Watch Out (DVD)
CHRISTMAS EVIL is one of those little classics that has gained a cult following and has managed to keep a low profile through the years. Sometimes confused with other movies like BLACK CHRISTMAS or SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT (and for the record all 3 movies are very different) CHRISTMAS EVIL is not so much a horror movie as it is a dark comedy about a man's journey into insanity. I don't want you to get the wrong impression since CHRSITMAS EVIL isn't a comedy, but it is light hearted in the way it shows and depicts the main character believing he is Santa Clause. Which brings us to the story. A man, who was traumatized as a boy by seeing his mother getting laid by old st. Nick, grows up into believing he is the real, better Santa Clause and can bring good to the world. Its almost hard to describe exactly what makes this movie so good or what makes this movie so scary. You really have to see it to believe it. It takes you on a journey into the mind of a mentally disturbed individual while showing us violence and comedy all in the happy holiday setting. And as for the ending which many people say is confusing.....it's not confusing if you think it over and have a little faith.
CHRISTMAS EVIL is a christmas classic indeed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars CHRISTMAS EVIL: Naughty or Nice?, February 25, 2004
By 
Michael R Gates (Nampa, ID United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Christmas Evil (DVD)
Originally titled YOU BETTER WATCH OUT (and a.k.a. TERROR IN TOYLAND), 1980's CHRISTMAS EVIL amounts to little more than a crass attempt to hitch onto the holiday-horror gravy train initiated by John Carpenter's universally better HALLOWEEN in 1978. It's only notable for the fact that it was the first of the HALLOWEEN rip-offs to feature a Killer Kris Kringle (fortunately, it wasn't the last!).

Character actor Brandon Maggart--who, by the way, was a member of the original cast of TV's SESAME STREET and is the father of pop singer Fiona Apple--portrays Harry Stadling, a sexually repressed middle-manager at the Jolly Dream Toy Factory who is haunted by a childhood incident in which he saw Ol' Saint Nick joyfully boffing mommy amidst the presents under the tree on Christmas Eve. One nasty Noël, the blatant commercialistic attitudes exuded by his family and coworkers burns at his psyche until his subconscious finally boils over, and Harry then blithely dons the red and white and hunts down both the naughty and the nice to mete out their just deserts. To the innocents and the kiddies, he delivers dreamy delights; to the cruel and calloused, he doles out death!

Now, a story with a serial-killer Santa is a delightfully twisted concept that offers lots of opportunity for dark humor and satirical subtext. Alas, CHRISTMAS EVIL simply falls flat. The ineptly handled schizophrenic shifting between chills and chuckles makes for confusing viewing, leaving one tempted to conclude that the screenwriter is just as loony as Harry Standling himself. And to top it all off, the film's feel-good surprise-ending is glaringly out of sync with the overall tone of the rest of the film.

To be fair, it must be said that CHRISTMAS EVIL does contain a few items of merit. In spite of the mediocre material he has to work with, Brandon Maggart does a great job as psychotic Harry Stadling. Maggart is an offbeat but interesting actor who adds a little consistency to an otherwise arrhythmic flick. And one of the few really good scenes in CHRISTMAS EVIL is a delightful homage to James Whale's FRANKENSTEIN (1931) in which Harry--in full Santa regalia--is chased through the streets by angry citizens carrying fiery torches. For genre fans with a good sense of humor, this scene is a real knee-slapper that just begs to have a better movie built around it.

And the DVD from Troma? Well, the digital transfer isn't of the greatest quality, sometimes displaying the type of jittery edges and ghost-like artifacts that leaves one wondering if the much-lauded re-mastering of CHRISTMAS EVIL was done on VHS video tape. However, the extras on the disc are actually better than the movie itself. There is an optional feature commentary with star Brandon Maggart and director Lewis Jackson, as well as individual video interviews with each. A nifty storyboard-to-film utility allows you to first view the director's hand-drawn concept for each scene, then it lets you jump over to view the scene as filmed. Another cool feature allows you to "flip" through the comment cards that members of the audience filled out after a test-screening of the flick. And best of all, each time you select an option at the main menu, a close-up of Santa's face fills the screen as he wickedly utters "Ho-Ho-Ho" before engaging your selection. Fun stuff!

CHRISTMAS EVIL review in short: Frankly, the film itself deserves only two stars, while the fun-packed Troma DVD is a four-star product. The average score, then, is three stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Christmas Tradition, January 20, 2011
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Christmas Evil is truly a one of a kind classic (In my Eyes) I first saw this gem a few years back on one of those multi horror movie packs, enjoyed it to the fullest. Then in 2006 I heard about the 30th anniversary special edition release, In widescreen, I was happy to hear this. Although the original fullscreen VHS to DVD version does add to the low budget charm of this film, the new DVD transfer is in its original uncut glory, and titled "You Better Watch Out" the original title for the movie, (it does say Christmas Evil on DVD box, but title does read You Better Watch Out as this is the original way the Director intended it to be seen) And there are some cool special features to check out on this release as well, all & all I say this is a great way to kick off the holiday season, and maybe even a watching or two after as well!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terribly beautiful film, January 30, 2006
By 
Duncan C. White (Austin, TX United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Christmas Evil (DVD)
Ok so this is a Troma film and you can feel managements influence in the film. We have an outrageous sex scene that feels a bit tacked on. We have a few gory bits to get press in Fangoria that also feel a bit unneccessary. The film is not high budget but if you look past that you are rewarded.

I find this film to be a true gem. The horror of this movie doesnt come from cheap gags and gore it comes from the fact that this film forces you to ask yourself questions and reevaluate yourself and what you hold to be true.

Far from being a 'insane maniac' as some have described him, I find the lead to be a fairly sympathetic character, the role is brilliantly played by Brandon Maggart btw. He feels deeply the drudgery of everyday life, he sees the greed and self-serving nature of most people, he feels the crushing weight of family expectations. Fairly common problems in modern life, so as you follow the character when he snaps the horror in this film comes from the fact that you cant really hold some of the bad things character does against him too much.

There are magic moments in the film too, the myth of Saint Nicholas is explored and believably explained, its magical to see. Really a great film, one I highly recommend, dont expect to be coddled though this film is quite raw. The only guarantee is that if you watch this film you will feel something, you may like it or you may not.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Evil Santa, September 11, 2007
This review is from: Christmas Evil (DVD)
I Thought Christmas Evil Was A Very Good Horror Movie.The Movie Starts Off Pretty Slow.But Once It Got Going It Turned Into A Great Slasher! The Only Thing The Movie Needed Was A Little More Gore And It Be A 5* Movie!
And If Decide To Buy This Dvd Get The Troma One Because You Get The Original Cover!Which Is Awesome Looking.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than One Hour Photo, December 23, 2006
I've probably seen quite a few movies involving a loner with psychological issues that seeks to punish those who don't adhere to his idealized world view. Taxi Driver is easily my favorite of this type of film, maybe because the Travis Bickle character resonates with me in some deep, dark way. There are others that I find irritating, such as One Hour Photo, because they lack any real complexity or willingness to really go for the gusto. In One Hour Photo, for example, Robin Williams' character is obsessed with developing pictures because they represent happy memories that he can never have. He is no Travis Bickle, that's for sure. Travis doesn't have a cut and dry source of meaning to focus on, he's just vaguely disgusted. Maybe he'll assassinate a politician, or maybe he'll rescue a young girl from prostitution. And then catch a matinee at the porno theatre. All I know is, Taxi Driver isn't one-dimensional and safe like One Hour Photo. Taxi Driver is how all psychological suspense descent into madness character study movies should be, in my opinion.

Christmas Evil probably leans more toward One Hour Photo in that the main character is obsessed with Christmas because the holiday represents the happy memories that he can never have. His house is filled with toys, he sleeps in Santa Claus pajamas and he spies on children to see if they're misbehaving (keeping records in his good and bad children books). He even works in a toy factory. From what I could tell, his issues stem from his witnessing Santa Claus (who was actually his father) undressing his mother in the living room as a child. Not much of a reason to become a wacko adult, but I guess he was a really sensitive soul.

The violence in Christmas Evil is suprisingly subdued, and I can't really understand why anyone would classify it as a slasher film. It's not really as campy as I though it would be, either. In fact, most of the movie is pretty low key and decently acted. Nothing about is particularly gratuitous or obnoxious. It's just about a guy who wants to be Santa Claus and spread good holiday cheer, even if a few people have to get killed.

What sets it apart from One Hour Photo is that it's not as sterile (i.e. dull) and the ending is way better than the cop-out conclusion of the Robin Williams movie. Christmas Evil is certainly no Taxi Driver, but it doesn't try to wrap up everything so nice and neat. And, of course, a crazy Santa is way more interesting than a crazy guy who develops photographs.

John Waters is a big fan fan of Christmas Evil, and I can understand why during certain parts, but it is nowhere near as outrageous as most John Waters movies. It's not really outrageous at all, but, instead, quietly twisted. It's difficult to determine what sort of film watcher to recommend this movie to, because it doesn't go far enough into horror or campiness to satisfy those who enjoy that sort of thing. Nor is it as gritty as Taxi Driver or as slick as One Hour Photo.

Christmas Evil might just work as a mildly dark alternative to tradional holiday fare, but I don't know that it will blow most people away.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Bother With ANY Other DVD Of This Excellent Movie, November 26, 2009
By 
S. Nyland "Squonkamatic" (Six Feet Of Earth & All That It Contains) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
There really is no reason to bother with ANY other DVD of Lewis Jackson's CHRISTMAS EVIL than Synapse's "Special Edition" pressing from 2006. This DVD actually shows his original assembly print titled YOU'D BETTER WATCH OUT, and not only is it the same film it's a brand new (well, 2006) restored widescreen print shown in the original 1:78:1 theatrical ratio which Jackson personally supervised. Then there are the bonus materials: Audio commentaries with Lewis Jackson and John Waters, the original storyboard designs for the sequences (this was a VERY well planned out film, right down to the shot compositions which must be seen in widescreen for the full effect) audition reels of the cast talents and some VERY interesting "deleted scenes" that were removed during the editing process ... One of which shows the extent to which Harry was really being screwed by his co-workers & boss, which finally pushes him over the brink. Interesting!

The bargain bin DVDs all show recycled fullscreen home video prints transferred from analog tapes made back in the 80s. They may have a bonus trailer but according to Mr. Jackson they are all bootlegs, and that includes the now discontinued DVD by Troma. They all do the film a dis-service, and even though they only cost a dollar or two should be avoided. Or rather if you've ended up with one and have found the movie intriguing, time for an upgrade! THIS is the DVD you want, the highest recommendation being that it's a movie you'll watch more than once. I watch it every year around the holidays, usually a couple of times. Fascinating movie and it deserves the best treatment possible. And while he has enthusiastically embraced the film its not a John Waters movie, its a Lewis Jackson movie. Quite a good one too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good movie!, December 17, 2013
By 
M. Bell "shehulk" (Scottsdale, AZ USA) - See all my reviews
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Wow i was just expecting another slasher but this movie has something extra. You do have to look beyond the low budget but after that 5 stars
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You Better Watch Out [VHS]
You Better Watch Out [VHS] by Lewis Jackson (VHS Tape)
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