‘Santa’s Slay’ – 2005
Director: David Steinman
Writer: David Steinman
Staring: Bill Goldberg, Douglas Smith, Emilie de Ravin, Robert Culp
Runtime: 78 minutes
Tagline: “He’s making a list… pray you’re not on it!”
There are a variety of Christmas horror films to choose from for the B Movie Brigade to review for this year; Black Christmas (both original and remake), Christmas Evil, Silent Night Deadly Night, and probably a few others. But there wasn’t really that much of a competition really, because the prize for most ridiculous has to go to Santa’s Slay. And the Brigadiers are all about ridiculous.
Santa’s Slay starts out the way every Christmas movie should; with a family eating around a table. The mother, or stepmother as this case may be, brings out the turkey to a dining room filled with family and in-laws. It’s a little surprising that the family consists of James Caan, Fran Drescher, Rebecca Gayheart, Chris Kattan, and two nubile young women who I’ve never seen before, but it only adds to the initial awesome. Quite quickly we realize, as they berate and cheat on each other, that his family is probably on the naughty list. Especially when Santa bursts through the chimney and proceeds to kill them in a variety of creative ways. Drescher is drown in a eggnog, after her hair catches on fire due to Santa’s spitting whiskey through a lighted torch at her, Caan’s choked with a turkey leg, others are impaled, and I’m pretty sure the star at the top of the tree is used as a ninja star at some point. This opening scene is in the grand tradition of horror films. In nearly all of them there is an opening death scene. In some it’s to create the sense of real danger, in some it’s to deliver some back story, and in others, such as Santa’s Slay, it’s to set the tone for the rest of the movie. We realize at this point, as if there was a doubt, what we’re in for; the most outrageous Christmas movie that’s ever been made.
But this story is about Nicolas Yuleson, an average young man who works in a Jewish deli, has an understood crush on his friend Mary (Mac) McKenzie, and lives with his Grandpa who’s more than a little eccentric. Mac is Nick’s constant companion throughout the terror that’s inflicted. She’s played by the chick who played Claire on Lost, and Tess on Roswell, and is probably the only reason I knew this movie existed in the first place. She also has a penchant for bringing over rank wolverine meat her father shot earlier that day (so fresh you can smell it’s breath). Grandpa isn’t the biggest fan of Christmas, so Nick generally isn’t either since he never got the toys he desperately wanted when he was little. Instead Gramps spends the time surrounding the holiday constructing a fallout shelter style hideway in the basement, complete with video comms and a hidden escape route. And it’s probably a good thing he did so because this year Santa is coming to town with a vengeance.
This year Nick gets a few answers when Gramps pulls out the Book of Claus that tells the real story of Christmas. It seems that all that stuff about Jesus and stuff happened in a time other than December (which… not a revelation) and Christmas is really the birthday of Santa Claus, the son of Satan and the Virgin Erica. Every year on his birthday he would go on a rampage of sorts, destroying and killing all for good fun. The citizens of the world would have a Christ mass to protect themselves from Santa’s evil, hence the name. Finally an angel was dispatched to stop him. The angel disguised himself as an old man and challenged Santa to a game. Both would throw a rock towards a hole in some ice and whoever got closest without going into the water would win the challenge. If the old man lost he would be damned to hell, and if Santa lost he would stop his killing and become jolly for one thousand years. Santa didn’t believe an old man could possible beat him so he accepted the challenge. Of course, the old man (not being just an old man) won and Santa was forced to become the Santa Claus we all know and love. But as Nick soon discovers that challenge took place one thousand years ago, the true Santa is back and he’s making up for lost time.
I need to take a moment out here to talk, briefly, about Santa’s hell-deer. That’s the name we’re given for the beast, although I’m pretty damned sure it’s no deer at all. It’s a buffalo. I have done picture comparisons and research. And while I’m pretty sure that the “woman who worked on set” on the message boards at the Internet Movie Database isn’t really conclusive evidence, I’m trusting my own eyes. That’s not a caribou, deer, or yak, it’s a god damned buffalo. Painted white. And not disguised in any other way. Buffalo. It’s Santa’s sole mode of transportation, pulling his sleigh, flying, and devouring poor unsuspecting valets. It’s probably my favorite character and I got a little teared up at the end when it gets blown out of the sky.
But, the majority of the movie pretty much consists of Santa going around and slaying people, which is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from the title, should you see it printed. The grumpy old woman who swears her way through purchasing a sandwich from the guy who plays Artie on Warehouse 13? She gets run off the road by the man in red. The priest who uses Church movie at the local strip club? The whole club goes up in flames. Artie himself is impaled with his Menorah. And, sadly (without too much spoilage), grandpa got run over by a reindeer.
But in the end it’s clear that Santa’s too strong for a mere mortal and he’s going to have to be tricked again. Or… a bazooka, whichever is on hand.
Would I recommend this film? Absolutely. If only for the buffalo.