DVD Review: Don’t Open Till Christmas

Released in 1984, Don’t Open Till Christmas isn’t quite the classic horror slasher film one might hope for, but it’s still pretty darn entertaining.

It’s days before Christmas in London and a madman is running around brutally murdering anyone (well just about anyone) in a Santa outfit. From stabbings and throat slitting to burning and castration, this serial killer will do whatever it takes to wipe every Santa Claus of the streets of London and Scotland Yard is clueless as to whom it might be (though most the audience will figure it out pretty quick).

What’s really great about this film is that it plays like a dull BBC mystery thriller, but instead of witty dialog you get really violent gory death scenes. The acting is okay for the most part with a few laughably bad moments, but more often than not it’s good enough to be believable.

The story is a bit jumbled but what would you expect from a film that went through four different directors? Emund Purdom agree to act in the film only if he could direct it as well, but he was terrible and was fired. He was replaced by script writer Derek Ford who turned out to be a drunk and was also fired. Finally two more guys were brought in to finish the film and amp up the gore, Ray Selfe and Alan Berkinshaw. And it’s a good thing they did because without the shocking moments of gore, this film would be very ,very boring.

You don’t get much in the way of character development, but then when have slasher films ever offered much in this department? I will say this, the film gives a pretty acceptable explanation as to why the killer hates Christmas and Santa so much. If you think too much about it, it doesn’t work, but then again, that goes everything in this film.

Don’t Open Till Christmas is pretty much only for aficionados of the ’80s slasher film genre, but for those fans they’re sure to get into the spirit of the season.

The film is presented in 1.66:1 widescreen and Dolby Digital stereo. The DVD box states that this is a “brand new anamorphic transfer from negative” and looks really good. Most low budget ’80s horror films I watch are very muddy both in visual and in sound and this one is much more crisp than the other’s I’ve seen.

The Making of a Horror Film: (52 min.) This vintage making of is very dated, but pretty entertaining because of it. The best moment is when the special effects girl goes into a sex shop to buy a dildo. You don’t see that very often in making ofs. The Wild, Wild World of Dick Randall (32 min.) Dick Randall was your classic sleazy producer with a heart of gold and this is a very interesting short documentary about him. Looking at his IMDb I was surprised to see how many of his films I’ve seen and excited by all the ones I haven’t.

It’s not as good as Christmas Evil, but as far as Christmas themed horror films go, Don’t Open Till Christmas is a gory good time. Slasher fans are sure to get a kick out if it. Oh yeah, and there is a good chunk of nudity in it too.

Mondo Macabro presents Don’t Open Till Christmas. Directed by: Edmund Purdom. Written by: Derek Ford. Starring: Edmund Purdom, Alan Lake, Belinda Mayne, Gerry Sundquist, Kelly Baker and Caroline Munro. Running time: 86 min. Rating: Unrated but contains violent gore, nudity and adult language. Released on DVD: December 6, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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