Santa's Slay (2005)
WRITER: David Steiman
DIRECTOR: David Steiman
STARRING: Bill Goldberg as Santa
Douglas Smith as Nicolas Yuleson
Emilie de Ravin as Mary "Mac" Mackenzie
Robert Culp as Grandpa
Dave Thomas as Pastor Timmons
Saul Rubinek as Mr. Green
QUICK CUT: An old man from up North heads down to meet an old friend and settle a score for the holidays.
Nicolas - A young man stuck in Hell, and I'm sure we can relate. He was raised more or less without Christmas in his life, and he's always longed for a more normal holiday season. He's a bit of a doof, to boot.
Mac - The girl who works with Nick at the local deli. She comes from a very gun-happy family, and can take care of herself a lot better than Nicolas can.
Grandpa - Nick's, well, grandfather. He's an old kook, an inventor, and has a thing against Christmas.
Santa Claus - And when it's THIS guy climbing down your chimney, it's no wonder! Forget everything you ever knew about Santa, because THIS Christmas, he's coming to kick some ass and take some cookies.
THE GUTS: Merry Triskmas, Santaheads! Here we are, the holidays are upon us, and I am here with an actual Christmas movie, with another murderous Santa. It's a Triskmas miracle! And it's a great way to end the year. It's surprising how many of these there are, considering how controversial the mere idea once was seen. This is a bit of a break from the norm, and is more of a horror comedy, because do I ever need something lighter to review. So let's see what's under the tree and unwrap Santa's Slay.
Things get underway with Christmas dinner with a horrible family, of spoiled narcissists, unfaithful husbands, and annoying actors. Santa then pays them a visit and...and uh...slaughters them all. I guess they were on the naughty list. But hey, that is one way to tell the audience what the movie is, give us a nice pile of bodies to whet our appetite, and having it be some actors a few people wouldn't mind seeing horribly murdered in a movie...well, it's a solid opening.
With the cold open out of the way, and the credits, we jump over to the actual cast for the movie, and we're in Hell township. I just got *out* of Hell, damnit. I do not want to go back! We meet Nick and Mac, working at the local deli run by Artie in the off season from Warehouse 13. I guess he made it off the Death Ship intact. They deal with one of your typical people who can't handle being told 'happy holidays' and send her on her way with her sandwich.
On the drive home, Mrs. Horrible hogs the road, and that wouldn't be a problem, but the only other person on the road is Santa. He's got places to kill and people to maim. Fortunately, he has no problem running the old woman off the road and killing her too. Just one more name off the list.
I would normally skip ahead here, but Artie gives the kids some Christmas presents before they head home, and one of them is giving Nick a clock. This is actually a plot point, even in its absurdity. It's somewhat important, so I'll come back to that later.
Nick heads home and we hear how he's not a big fan of Christmas thanks to his grandfather, who is an old kook with too many locks on the door and oh yeah, he's installed a bunker in the basement. Someone's a little paranoid!
And that's when the movie decides to do the ritual sprinkling of death scenes during the plot, when a mugger jumps Santa, and pays for it by getting a sharpened candy cane in the face.
But it's time for some exposition, as Nick's gramps digs out a giant book, the Book of Klaus, and we learn that Santa was a virgin birth, just like Jesus. ...Okay then. Trust me, if that's a tough buy for you, the rest of the plot doesn't get much better. Now, Robert Culp is supposed to be Norse here, or closely related to it, but his accent keeps slipping into something rather Irish, I think. (Oh, and if you're wondering, Santa's mom is named Erica!)
Mac swings by to interrupt Exposition Claus, and deliver some stuff to the Yulesons. Including the worst attempt at a Megatron knockoff to Nick. And yes, his last name is YULEson.
Let's get back to Santa's antics! We meet a local pastor, and because religious people are horrible, he immediately heads to a strip club, where Santa also decides to visit.
After that little massacre, it's back to the infodump under the tree, while Nick reads some more from his grandfather's book. We get treated to, of all things, stop motion animation to illustrate the story.
To stop Santa's rampaging ways, an angel came down to stop him, challenged him to a wager, and whichever one could slide a stone across the ice and come the closest to the fishing hole, would win.
Yes, that's right. Not only is this the origins of Santa and Christmas, but of curling as well. In short, the old man/angel wins, and Santa has to be a nice guy for a thousand years, and not until the castle rose above the clouds, would the gargoyles become flesh aga...wait, no, wrong series.
Santa decides he's feeling peckish on Christmas day, so he swings by Artie's deli, and smashes his way in, killing Mr. Grumpy. Fortunately, he had the phoenix artifact with him, I guess.
Nick hears about the murder, and rushes over to try and pluck his employer off the wall, but the police arrive to take him in for questioning.
At this point, the movie, which has already been on the silly side, really starts laying on the puns, in increasingly forced ways. One of the cops shows up at the deli, "What in Hell do we have here?" Okay, that's not too terrible. "Something here isn't kosher." That's a little worse. But just wait...then we meet the police captain, Captain Caulk. And they sneak in a few penis jokes, fortunately removing a long string of them that's in the deleted scenes.
The captain questions Nick, and Nick pulls out his clock. See, told you we'd get back to it. The clock shows all the time zones, and Nick uses it to explain that this should all be over at 7pm, which is midnight in Greenwich and at the North Pole, so Christmas will be over. This may be the *weakest* justification for this plot point I have ever seen.
Not surprisingly, the cops don't believe him, and Nick heads out. Shortly afterwards, Santa shows up to tear through the police station because...well, because!
Meanwhile, Nick is trying to convince Mac that he's not out of his mind, and Santa has really come to Hell to murder everyone in his path.
As an aside, I know he's gone evil, but Santa sure didn't get much in the way of Christmas duties done, since he's been in Hell all day long, huh? Did anyone notice?
The kids get pulled over by the cops, but it's Satan Claus that actually exits the car and comes looking for them. Mac floors it, and Nick tries to shoot his not so saintly namesake, but he's clueless about guns.
After Nick's unbelievable level of cluelessness about guns, he finally gets a shot off, and shoots Santa off the truck. But the jolly old elf calls down his helldeer to follow the kids to the Yuleson home.
Before Santa can arrive though, some handy caroler fodder shows up first, giving him some unknown victims to crash through and add to the already hefty pile before he tries smashing his way into the bunker.
Santa makes tinfoil of the door, but fortunately there was an escape hatch that leads to the garage, and some escape snowmobiles.
They don't quite escape fast enough, and Santa shows up to have a chat with Gramps. And during that, he mentions Mrs. Claus, which actually raises a bunch more questions, like how Mr. Evil got married, who she is, etc, but never mind. I could fall down that chimney for days.
Before there can be any big confrontation, the sleigh comes by and tramples over Grampa, to which Santa blurts out, "Grampa got run over by a reindeer!" NO. No movie, no. This is where I draw the line. That silliness is one line too far, no.
On the chase through the town, Santa randomly grabs the stripper loving pastor, and chases the kids to the nearby school, where they break in. Well, Mac breaks in. Nick's pretty ineffectual. Honestly, Mac is almost the hero of this movie.
They bring out the clock again, see they just have to kill 58 minutes, and fortunately there's only 20 left to the movie. And this plot point really doesn't make sense, at least as far as they take it. Sure, Christmas is over in Greenwich, but do they not realise it's only *7PM* right where they are? Shouldn't that logically mean they have at LEAST five more hours, if Santa can wreak havoc on Christmas? And can he move on to another time zone, until there's no Christmas left?
After a chase through the school and a few more bad puns, they find their way to the hockey rink to hopefully wrap things up. Because after Santa gratuitously picks up "A Christmas Carol" in the library so he can say Christmas scares the Dickens out of people, I am just so done.
Santa shows up to chase them with a Zamboni, but has difficulty with corners. And that's when Gramps shows back up with no hoofprints on his back, but a nice healthy glow. And a halo.
Oh yeah, in case you didn't figure it out by now, Grampa is the same angel that beat Santa 1000 years ago, when superstition and the sword ru...Sorry, sorry, that's Gargoyles again...
Santa reveals he was all about finding the Yulesons for his revenge, and it was easy to find them, because he had little Nick's Christmas letters and an address. Which begs the question what was with all the chaos, and why they had Santa following breadcrumbs to try and find their house, when he had the address right in his pocket this whole time.
And so it all comes down to another game of curling. Yes, the fate of Nick, his grandfather, Christmas, and nay the WORLD...comes down to *curling*.
Now, I'm no curling expert, but I'm pretty sure that sliding a stone right against the target does not give you one point. And I am *positive* that throwing an old man down into the pits of hell doesn't give you six. It's ignoring basic rules and scoring for ANY game, just so they can have a scoreboard behind Santa showing 666.
But wait! That's when midnight strikes at the North Pole! Christmas is officially over for him! Exceptit'sactuallystill7pm. But they still feel a need to write their way out of this, and say that the poles are actually where all the time zones intersect, so it's whatever time Santa says it is! He knows if you've been sleeping, he knows if you're awake! He knows if you've been bad or good, and what time it is doesn't matter because Santa decides the time!!
Really? Did we really have to bend over backwards to get out of this? Why is it even a plot point in the first place?
Anyways, Santa thinks he's won, but Nick whips out his grandfather's nutcracker gun they've established all movie long, and shoots Santa in the chest.
But, and all together now for the holidays, Santa's Not Really Dead, and Zambonis his way out of the rink, while the kids save Grandpa from the pit.
Oh, and for some reason, Gramps can't leave the rink, so he poofs back up to Heaven, and the kids have to solve the problem on their own. You know, I'm not sure if this is a step up or down for Culp, from Silent Night Deadly Night #3. Anyways, Mac leads the charge to her family and friends and all their guns to shoot Santa repeatedly.
Nick uses the call to summon Santa's helldeer, and you would think he'd be able to control his ride, but I guess he just wants to stomp all over the final Yuleson.
Also, these guys seem pretty chill about shooting down a flying reindeer pulling a sleigh. Not a one of them balks and goes, "But I can't shoot down Santa!!" Even the Tick couldn't punch an evil Santa.
Mac's dad shoots the thing down with a rocket launcher he just happened to have and, this. This is why we need gun control laws. Or at least Rocket Control laws.
Pastor Timmins falls from the sleigh, gets impaled on a flagpole, and everyone just assumes he was the Santa going around killing everyone. And Nick decides to not correct them, because why?
Yes, why? Why let everyone assume an evil murderous Santa who IS STILL OUT THERE KILLING, is dead and buried? Why let them get on with their lives, when it could be ended any second? Will he go back to being jolly Santa at midnight or whatever time wraps up CHristmas? Why let this movie have ANY conclusion whatsoever??
Instead, let's have zero wrap up, and after 80 minutes of murderous rampaging, let's just shrug and let the villain get away, and go celebrate Christmas!
Video: Solid enough for this kind of thing. Not quite big budget, but big enough, and recent enough, that it's given some respect on its release.
Audio: Solid again.
Sound Bite: "We're trapped in a closet on Christmas with Santa trying to kill us!"
Body Count: WHAT A WAY TO END THE YEAR! Look! Look at all these bodies Santa left under the tree! All for me! I don't know which one to open first!
1 - Just short of three minutes in, Santa makes a girl swoon off her chair and onto a spike...which is terrible convenient.
2 - I don't care what happened to Chris Kattan. He deserved it for Night at the Roxbury. At the least.
3 - Virginia gets her head set on fire, and then drowned in eggnog.
4 - Gwen gets bludgeoned with a chair leg.
5 - Santa takes out Beth by marking her in the back with a star off the top of the Christmas tree.
6 - The patriarch of the horrible family gets fed a turkey leg until he chokes.
7 - Horrid old woman gets driven off the road and crashes into a fiery wreck.
8 - Poor mugger tries to get Santa's wallet, and gets a candy cane in the brain instead.
9 - Santa snaps the neck of the bouncer at the local strip club.
10 - One of the bouncers inside gets sliced and diced.
11 - Another member of the staff gets an axe to the head.
12 - One of the club's patrons gets electrocuted with a stripper pole.
13 - Santa's helldeer ate the valet that tried to park the sleigh. And probably a bunch of strippers get fried in the club fire, but we don;t see it.
14 - Exploding gift #1!
15 - Exploding gift #2!
16 - Poor Mr. Green gets a mennorah through the neck.
17 - Captain Caulk gets tasered in his caulk,
18 - One of the cops gets his PA microphone shoved down his throat.
19 - Another cop is pinned to the city map.
20 - Cop #3 is just dead on the ground.
21 - And cop #4 is dead by another exploding gift.
22 - Caroler #1 is tossed aside
23 - Caroler #2 gets shoveled to the face.
24 - A third caroler gets body slammed and neck snapped. And really, he probably tears through the rest of them.
25 - Grampa gets run over by a reindeer.
26 - Pastor Timmins gets clobbered on the head, and if that doesn't kill him, getting rocketed and impaled does.
27 - Poor helldeer gets blowed up.
Best Corpse: Sweet Christmas, so many to choose from. I love the exploding gifts making kids heads go boom, and I'm partial to the use of the location that gets a guy electrocuted via a stripper pole, but the mugger getting a sharpened candy cane is simply wish fulfillment.
Blood Type - C+: A solid effort, and appropriate level at times, but it's basically just serves its purpose, and the makeup effects are adequate.
Sex Appeal: There is a nicely gratuitous scene in a strip club to cover that base in one fell swoop.
Drink Up! Whenever someone makes a bad pun.
Video Nasties: I enjoyed that candy cane death, I decided to make it my video pick for this review!
Movie Review: This movie is...different. Horror comedies are notoriously difficult. They are always trying to strike a balance between the two, and that's a tough line to manage. And this movie tips a bit too much on the humour. If they dialed it back just a bit, mostly with the obvious puns, and silly names, this would have been improved by leaps and bounds. It's still pretty enjoyable though, even if the plot logic is very, very dodgy. I can see what they were going for in the broad strokes, but it looks like they went more for jokes rather than sense. The acting is...eehh. Culp gives his best, Mac and Nick aren't bad, and Goldberg as the evil Santa is actually *amazing*. He knows what he's doing, he's chewing that scenery right up, and he brings just the right amount of menace to the fun. But trying to make up the holiday Freddy Krueger doesn't work. I almost wish he pulled it back juuust a hair. He may not be a great actor, but he's better than you would expect him to be here, and he is well utilised for his skills in multiple areas. Super smart casting. The plot is dodgy, the balance is off, but the fun they have, and you have watching it, actually manages to score a three out of five exploding gifts.
Entertainment Value: Well, I already talked about Goldberg. Seriously, he is worth the price of admission alone. He is the perfect evil Santa. Every moment he's on screen is a blast. The silliness tends more towards being eye-roll worthy, but there's plenty of charm to get you through. If they had worked harder on the jokes, maybe worked out another draft with a few less bad puns, this would be a blast. It still has a lot of great moments though, and sometimes those eyerolling moments are fun in themselves. I really want to give it a higher entertainment value than three out of five helldeer, but those wince worthy moments stop me from nudging the score higher. A 3.5 might actually be fair.