Or, I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus and it turned me into a raving psychopath.
’s sole outing as writer-director – also known by its original 1980 US release title ‘You Better Watch Out’ – looks on the surface like just another festive slasher in the ‘Black Christmas’ mold. But this genuine oddity, named by John Waters as ‘the best seasonal film of all time’ (he also delivers a commentary on this new DVD), is a much more compelling and subversive beast. Yes, it’s about a guy in a Santa suit who kills people, but the complex reasons behind his violent spree, and the level of sympathy Jackson and his star
engender for their hapless anti-hero, mark the film out as something weirdly special.
In contrast to most slasher flicks, this isn’t about anything as simple as revenge. Jackson’s concerns are bigger: social responsibility, personal morality, and the gaping gulf between society’s stated aims at Christmastime – charity, hope, goodwill to all men – and the plight of those left on the outside: the children, the mentally ill, the ones who don’t fit in. It’s a great looking film, too: one shot of a suburban street lined with glowing reindeer looks more like Spielbergian sci-fi than low-budget horror. Bizarre, fascinating, thoughtful, and well worth a look.