SANTA’S SLAY (2005) Review

Directed by David Steiman
Written by David Steiman
Starring Bill Goldberg, Douglas Smith, Emilie de Raven, Robert Culp, Dave Thomas, Saul Rubinek, Rebecca Gayheart, Chris Kattan, Fran Drescher, James Caan, & Tiny Lister

Look at that cast up there! Really? Having seen SANTA’S SLAY for the first time recently, I can’t believe all of those guys signed up for this film. James frikkin’ Caan? Robert Culp? But side from the guilty pleasure of watching Fran Drescher get her hair burned off and Chris Kattan violently kicked through a glass cabinet, SANTA’S SLAY isn’t all that great. Douglas Smith (best known as the kid who kissed Margene in last season’s BIG LOVE) plays Nicholas Yuleson, a sheepish teen sad because his eccentric grandpa (played by Robert Culp) always gets him inventions for Christmas instead of anything he really wants. Though he’s constantly down in the dumps, Smith has a lot to like, especially since his girlfriend is played by Emilie de Raven/Claire from LOST, so that makes the character pretty damn annoying if you ask me. Santa must think so too because he’s come to Yuleson’s town (called Hell Township) which is populated by many, many B-list celebrities, and sets his sites on Yuleson to let loose some unholy holiday cheer on him.

SANTA’S SLAY rewrites all of the classic Christmas stories by claiming that Santa is actually Satan’s son who lost a bet against an angel while playing a game of curling. Having lost the bet, Santa has to be merry and nice to the children of the world, but every thousand years he gets to wreak havoc again and guess when this film takes place. You guessed it, on the night Santa can go all Rowdy Roddy Piper on the world. Though I’m not the biggest wrestling fan, I know who Goldberg is, but a lot of the appeal of this film is seeing actors you like in roles they usually aren’t playing. Goldberg makes an imposing St. Nick and unleashes his wrestling moves numerous times in the film against random folks. Though many horror films using Santa as a killer have a normal sized person go nuts and kill, it’s sort of cool to see someone of Goldberg’s stature in the red suit.

Though some of the kills are inspired (Santa’s got an ox who eats people and the opening sequence where Santa slaughters an entire family of stars is probably the highlight of the film), there’s really no rhyme of reason to Santa’s killing spree. Him being the son of the Devil may be excuse enough for such a massacre and the randomness may be the point, but it would have been nice to see some method behind Santa’s madness. Naughty or nice, if you get in Santa’s way you’re likely to have a fireplace soot covered boot buried deep into one orifice or another.

Low on scares and gore, SANTA’S SLAY is entertaining. A lot of the one-liners Goldberg spews would make Arnie blush, but just seeing the wrestler kick ass in a strip joint and throw flaming lumps of coal at patrons whilst making out with strippers is something I haven’t seen before. For that, any holiday horror completist may want to check this film out. SANTA’S SLAY has fast and fun moments, but it tries too hard to grasp that holiday charm GREMLINS had, yet fails to get a firm grip despite the physical strength of it’s star.

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