Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984) is a largely forgotten UK slasher film from minor schlockmeister Dick Randall (For Your Height Only, French Sex Murders). A serial killer stalks Santa Clauses throughout the streets of London just days prior to Christmas. The paths of a daughter of a slayed Santa, her street flutist boyfriend, and a doggedly determined detective (director Edmund Purdom) converge as they rush to put an end to the killer’s reign before the close of the holiday season. The killer’s motives are revealed in a bizarre Sleepaway Camp-like flashback that feels like it’s from an entirely different movie, which is appropriate because…
EXTRAS: It’s revealed in the film’s liner notes that it actually took four people to direct this film as is evident in its patchwork structure: standard slasher suspense gives way to bloody, over-the-top death scenes that are interspersed with low-grade exposition and an extended musical sequence featuring genre mainstay Caroline Munro (Starcrash, Maniac). A 52 minute “Making of” from back in the day alternates between dull set footage and staged commentary-like conversations with Randall set in a screening room, Trapped in the Closet-style. Interesting bits include Randall’s comments about filmmaking during the age of the Video Nasties as well as his awkwardly campy comedy routines. The Wild, Wild World of Dick Randall is a typically admirable Mondo Macabro-produced mini-documentary that provides more than you’ll ever need to know about the director of Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks.
It’s easy to see why the prestigious purveyors of pop cinema chose to restore the film and add it to their catalog: charmingly incompetent filmmaking, off-kilter characters and one-liners (“They’ll think we’re a couple of gays!”), and an interesting time capsule of mid-80s London complete with local street punks (yes, the film is listed in Destroy All Movies). A must-have for your holiday horror collection.
Don’t Open Till Christmas hits the virtual shelves this Tuesday (12/6). Buy it here.
Author: Eric Bresler
Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of Cinedelphia.com whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.