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Film / Christmas Evil

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I'll be the perfect Santa!

Better watch out... better not cry... or you may die!
— One of the taglines for the film

Christmas Evil (aka Terror in Toyland and You Better Watch Out) is a 1980 American horror film written and directed by Lewis Jackson, starring Brandon Maggart, Dianne Hull, and Jeffrey DeMunn.

As a young boy, Harry Stadling was mentally scarred when he found out that Santa Claus wasn't real. Years later, he's grown up to become a Christmas-obsessed Manchild who works at a toy factory, surrounds himself with holiday decorations and songs all year long, and even keeps his own private list of "nice" and "naughty" children in his neighborhood. He eventually decides to take on the role of Santa, giving presents to children and hurting the naughty.


This film has the examples of:

  • Alternate DVD Commentary: One DVD release of the film has a commentary track by none other than John Waters, who claims this to be the "greatest Christmas movie ever made."
  • Ambiguous Ending: What exactly does happen at the end? Does Harry really fly off into the air in his van or does he drive off the bridge and die with the flying only happening in his mind?
  • Bad Santa: After he dons the Santa costume, Harry takes an extreme approach to the role, as he rewards the nice and punishes those who mock the spirit of Christmas.
  • Bookends: The film opens and ends with reading of lines from 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The role of Santa goes well for Harry until he tries to go down a chimney, and he gets stuck.
  • Eye Scream: Harry stabs a smartass churchgoer to the eye with a toy soldier, followed by a death by a toy axe to him and his two companions.
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  • Harmful to Minors: Harry's slow spiral to madness starts when he witnesses his father, dressed as Santa Claus, having sex with his mother.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Harry starts his Santa business on Christmas eve.
  • Offscreen Crash: Harry dies from a offscreen crash when he drives his van off from a bridge. Use of this trope had some unforeseen consequences as it confused many viewers to view the Dying Dream ending as a real deal, and chalking it to be a Gainax Ending.
  • Police Lineup: One is organized for men dressed as Santa Claus after Harry's murders at the front of a church.
  • Protected by a Child: Bunch of children surround Harry to protect him from their parents who realize that he is the killer Santa responsible for the deaths at the church.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Harry, albeit with more emphasis on the "manchild" half. He gets extremely hung up on children's toys, and his Sanity Slippage was all over his discovery that Santa Claus isn't real. Of course, he lives up to the "psychopath" half in the climax, where he brutally murders four people.
  • Slashed Throat: When his attempt to suffocate Frank doesn't work out fast enough, Harry cuts his throat with a Christmas decoration.
  • Stuck in a Chimney: Harry, a Serial Killer dressed as Santa Claus, gets stuck in a chimney when breaking into the home of Frank, a co-worker he feels betrayed him. However, he manages to free himself and murder Frank.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Harry. He is not malicious, just seriously off his rocker.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Harry's actions causes the people arm themselves and go look for him. And yes, they do carry torches.