Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984)

Happy Thanksgiving, jerkwads!

With today being the official start to the mad dash to the finish line that is the Christmas shopping season, I figured I’d feature a Christmas themed movie to celebrate the occasion.  I will admit that I pretty much did not want to do anything Christmas themed for December because there are a LOT of bad Christmas movies out there – none of which I want to watch.

Enter Don’t Open Till Christmas, a curious little British slasher film from the producers of Pieces.  If you don’t know what Pieces is, it’s a badly acted, pretty gory, slasher film.  On the poster and the box art, it tells you that it is exactly what you think it is too – which is pretty brilliant because, at that point, no critic can bash you if you do it to yourself first.  Anyway, Don’t Open Till Christmas stars Edmund Purdom (who also directed the movie) and features Caroline Munro as herself in a cameo.

Being a James Bond fan, I’m looking forward to that Caroline Munro scene, personally.

From the Drive In Movie Classics 50 Pack Box Set, we’re told: “A deranged killer is stalking the streets of London murdering people dressed as Santa Claus, in a number of gruesome ways.  An inspector from Scotland Yard vows to solve the case before any other Santas are found brutally murdered.  Working on some leads brought to him by a reporter, the inspector desperately tries to track down the psychopathic killer.”

This seems like some pretty standard slasher fare.  I like that instead of teenagers and stuff like an American flick would have, the British go with the Jack the Ripper style killer and the inspector from Scotland Yard chasing him.  As if that’s any classier.  Let’s crack this bad boy open and see what’s inside.

The movie wastes no time to show us a shit alley in London where a guy and a girl meet each other.  They get into the back of a car and straight fuck.  Meanwhile, the camera gives us the point of view of our killer who circles the car and watches the couple.  We can hear him breathing heavily.  When the guy gets out of the car to tell the guy to fuck off, or bugger off, or whatever British people say to tell a crazy guy watching them get laid to tell them to scram, the killer stabs the guy and the girl, both in the gut, which kills them both instantly.

Then a weird little Santa Claus ornament that looks like Marlon Brando is set on fire during the opening credits.

Cut to a hip and happenin’ holiday party at a disco in which people have come in Halloween costumes.  A guy comes out dressed as Santa Claus and is introduced as coming “all the way from Greenland on his reindeer” because I guess in England, Santa doesn’t live in the North Pole like our Colonial legends state.  One of the guys at the party is dressed as a “shrunken head” and looks real gruesome.  He also is carrying around a sword, like shrunken heads do.  He sneaks back stage behind the Santa and stabs him through the head in front of everyone.  Being this is a British movie, I kind of expect someone to say “My word!” when he’s killed.

I will say that I’m impressed that our killer has offed three people in the first six minutes.  Take that, Jason Vorhees!

Klute, motherfucker.

Chief Inspector Ian Harris (Purdom) is investigating the “Santa Murders” for Scotland Yard.  He visits the daughter of the man who was killed at the party, Kate Briosky (Belinda Mayne), and her boyfriend, Cliff (Gerry Sundquist), and they talk about how they don’t have any clues because there were no fingerprints on anything.  I just want to say that the dialog in this scene is delivered like a high school production.  Seeing how Purdom directed this, he probably should have had about 27 more takes.  The problem is that Belinda Mayne is NOT good in this movie.  She looks like Jane Fonda, but, dear readers, she is not.

Aside from the bad line delivery, it is pretty offensive that while there were three murders the day before, they only want to talk to the daughter of the rich dude who died at the party because his family is well off and Harris says that Kate is quite pretty.  Fucking Scotland Yard is a buncha assholes.

So another Santa gets killed and the next day, Inspector Harris gets a mysterious package from an unknown source that has a tag on it that reads “Don’t Open Till Christmas”.  Like a good inspector, he doesn’t question the mysterious package and simply has his cleaning lady put it on his desk because he’s late for his inspectin’ gig at the Yard.  There, he answers a question from his buddy inspector on whether or not they are dealing with a psychopath.  Inspector Harris isn’t so sure.

Worst. Inspector. Ever.

Cliff asks Kate when she’s going to get back into the real world and stop mourning over her father’s murder.

Worst. Boyfriend. Ever.

A reporter named Giles calls Harris’ pal, Sergeant Powell, to see if he would be interested in solving the murders himself instead of Harris.  Giles then runs into Kate on the street and tries to ask her some questions about why Harris doesn’t want him to talk to anyone and so forth.  Before running into Giles, Kate was walking down the street to people shouting out “Happy Christmas!” to her and, even after talking to Giles, he wishes her a Merry Christmas.

Worst. Country. Ever.

Some more shit happens.  Like Cliff’s friend Gerry enters the movie.  He’s kind of a creep and Kate immediately doesn’t like him.  Probably because he asked if he’d seen her before and if she’s famous or not.  The answer was yes she is famous because her dad was fucking murdered at an upscale party and TV, Radio, and the papers have all been covering it.  He invites Cliff and Kate to tea.  When they arrive, he’s photographing a sexy lady wearing pretty much just a cape.  Methinks this is just an excuse to get some titties into this Christmas slasher flick.

Kate does not like this one bit.  She’s pretty but stuffy.  Predictably, British-ly, so.  The model says that Kate must be the other girl Gerry says they will do doubles together.  Cliff, the model, and Gerry try to convince Kate to do so, and Gerry shows her a Santa outfit one of the girls is supposed to wear.  Furious, Kate storms out.  Cliff says he suppose he should follow her but Gerry says that she’s not going to want to have sex with him tonight so just hang out with the model because she’s “ready to go”.

Worst. Friend. Ever.

Now, this is when things kinda goes goofy.  Cliff and the model go outside so Gerry can do some outside shots of the girl in this Santa robe thing.  She comes onto Cliff and tries to fuck him in the streets.  He sees two lady cops and worries they may think they are a couple gays – why that exact concern is beyond me, but okay.  He runs off leaving the girl to chase after him which also causes the cops to chase after her.  She hides from the cops who just seem to carry on like nothing happen.  She runs into the killer who takes his sweet as time with a blade to kill her while she screams and freaks out.  She doesn’t try to run.  The cops don’t come back to see what the screams are all about.  The killer even lets her go after checking out her body.  I guess she’s not dressed enough like Santa seeing how she has no clothes on under the robe.  Then the cops come back and arrest her for indecent exposure.  Harris comes and talks to her and says she was lucky she’s gotten to go home considering she was indecent in public and shit.  Hardly mind that she’s been attacked or nearly killed.  Fuck all that.  She was indecent!!!

Worst. Cops. Ever.

Since this movie is completely off the rails now, we follow a Santa to a peep show where he talks to a girl about how she’s working there filling in for her mother, etc.  She gives him a little show.  He talks about how he loves her and wants to get into her little booth so they can, you know… do it?  Well, the killer comes along and kills him right in front of the stripper.

Harris goes to visit Kate and try to squeeze Cliff for some info about where he was the night before.  Scotland Yard believes Cliff is either the killer or involved.  Kate asks Harris to meet in a less public place.  At Scotland Yard, Giles talks a little more about what information he has to Powell.  That night, Powell follows Harris to see what he’s getting up to thanks to some suspicion Giles has stirred up, but Powell eventually loses Harris.

Elsewhere, a drunk Santa is chased by some hooligans.  He’s able to get away, but ends up this weird dungeon like theme park and gets killed.  I’m also realizing that I’m about halfway through this movie and I’m not really caring anymore about what’s going on.  Just tell me who the fuck the Santa killer guy is and let me go about the rest of my day.  This dumb dungeon scene has broken me.

This is what a rich girl and her boyfriend do for money.

Okay, so now Cliff has become curious about Harris.  Kate and he went to an inquest that we don’t see, and Harris didn’t show.  So we’re told about how it is odd that Harris didn’t seem to be interested in information he already knew.  We’re also told that apparently Harris is in love with Kate…?  The fuck man.  Harris is also getting some stress from the commissioner of Scotland Yard about the murders, and rightfully fucking so!  They are no closer to finding the killer and people are fucking dropping.  He’s mad or something that the commish has put so much pressure on him and he’s really upset that he’s sending policemen out undercover as Santas.

Cliff and Kate are doing their normal gig at the market and see Harris.  Cliff believes Harris is having them followed.  We learn they make a living from him playing the goddamn fucking flute at the market.  Cliff is a fucking loser, man.  As is Harris because he says using Cliff’s “connections”, whatever they may be, will help him solve the murders before he can do it himself.  What kind of fucking cop is this?!?  On top of that, Harris says Kate should call him whenever she needs someone to talk to and she’s all like, “I’d like to do that I’d think.”  Is she hot for this old fuck?  Also, this old fuck is the goddamn director of the movie.  Seems pretty convenient to have the pretty girl fall in love with the old director who is also the lead actor.

Some more shit happens.  The stripper talks to the cops and gets followed by the killer to her little peep show joint.  When she realizes she’s now talking to the killer, he chases her and eventually captures her and chains her up in some basement.  Kate calls for Harris and is told he goes to this one place every month that I have no idea what it means, but he wouldn’t want anyone to know about that.  Kate doesn’t react to it because she barely reacts to anything so I don’t get why he’s not wanting people to know about this place he goes.  We then find out that he’s been taken off the case and Powell releases Cliff from custody.

Hey, this movie has Bond Girl Star Power.

Wait.  Cliff was arrested?  I haven’t mentioned that yet in the article.  Why?  BECAUSE THE MOVIE DID NOT SHOW HIM BEING ARRESTED.  The movie also says another murder happened while Cliff was in custody and that’s why he’s being released.  THEY DID NOT SHOW ANOTHER MURDER SO I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW.

I think the movie is also trying to clumsily reveal that Harris is the killer.  I’d go to Wikipedia to find out what the shit is happening but I don’t care anymore.  Life sucks right now.  I’m watching a shitty slasher flick and I don’t know what’s going on.  This movie is proposing a mystery about the killer but it is dumb and uninteresting.  At least we finally get to Caroline Munro scene.

How we got there is also clumsy as fuck.  A Santa stumbles into the little concert hall where she is performing.  Then, he leaves, sees the killer, then runs back in.  The killer stalks the Santa while shots of Caroline Munro wiggling around the stage singing her song.  I appreciate this.  She was in The Spy Who Loved Me, which is one of the best Bond movies.  She was the super sultry henchwoman of the main bad guy.  She is easily a top five Bond Girl.

I wish I was watching that instead.

And that’s for what you said about Vietnam!

Interesting fact about Ms. Munro.  She had a chance to be Ursa in Superman and Superman II but turned it down to be in The Spy Who Loved Me.  She was killed by Roger Moore’s Bond and Barbara Bach’s Agent XXX.  You see, she was sent after them by the main baddie, Stromberg.  She flies around in a chopper chasing Bond’s Lotus until he goes underwater and fires a missile up and kills her.  It was an awesome scene.

Also, there are some other awesome things about The Spy Who Loved Me.  It was the first of two movies to feature Richard Kiel’s Jaws character.  It has my favorite theme song, performed by Carly Simon.  It also has two of the very best Bond kills in it.  He kills one guy who is hanging onto his tie on the ledge of a building by getting some info from him and then straight slapping his hand away.  Then, he kills Stromberg by shooting down a long barrel and into his dick.  Amazing stuff.

Oh shit!  Harris has a crazy brother!  He’s killed Kate!  Fuck this movie!

Yes, this movie had the balls to kill its main leading lady, but it didn’t make any sense.  She went on a dinner date with Harris.  Cliff followed them, but that led nowhere.  She then was all of a sudden at home where Harris’ brother, who was posing as Giles, shows up out of the blue.  He stabs her when she answers the phone hoping it is Harris.  In the impending chase, Giles also electrocutes Powell.

Merry Christmas, boys and girls!

Whatever.  Anyway, that stripper girl escapes because we’re going back to that shit and Giles talks about how much he hates Christmas.  He catches her and starts swinging a chain at her  until he falls down the stairwell.  He’s not dead yet though.  He’s still alive because of course he is.  We get a flashback about him catching his dad, dressed as Santa, cheating on his mother.  Also his mother died that day too.  That’s why he hates Christmas.  Fuck you, movie.

Double fuck you, movie, when you opt to have Harris wake up from a nightmare to open that present that was left for him earlier.  Remember that shit?  Yeah, that’s still a thing.  The present has a card on it that reads “A Present from Your Loving Brother”.  He opens it to reveal a music box with a dancing Santa.  That blows up.  The end.

Worst. Movie. Ever.

I watch a lot of shitty movies.  I mean A LOT.  This is one of the worst I’ve ever done on this blog.  Even other movies that have pissed me off to no end like The Wild Women of Wongo, or King Kong Lives, or Avengers Grimm still had a coherent plot that carried through from the first scene to the last.  This one had a string of murders, then the editor just sneezed on all the fucking pieces of movie and just edited together whatever didn’t have too much snot on it.

Seriously, there were so many pieces missing from this movie that I don’t know who thought it was in any kind of condition to be released.  Cliff’s final few scenes make NO sense whatsoever.  He was arrested off camera.  Got really weird about Kate and Harris off camera and then simply disappeared.  The Giles character showed up early, kinda flitted into and out of the movie occasionally and came back to be revealed as the bad guy.  That felt like a rewrite more than an actual thing.  We never see the end of his story either.  Same goes for Cliff, but we know they survived because empirical evidence says as much.

Ugh, I am just glad to be done with this one, but sadly, I may not be done with our lead actress, Belinda Mayne.  Turns out she made a bunch of movies that are easy pickings for this goddamn, wretched blog.  She was in Krull – which fuck you, that movie is great!  She was in White Fire with Robert Ginty and Fred Williamson.  She was in an Alien knockoff called Alien 2: On Earth.  Then, she had a bunch of titles that seem to be exactly what would lead me directly to doing one day – The Tigress, Fatal Beauty, and Nightkill.

Oh I have a feeling I will be very, very familiar with her when it’s all said and done.

But speaking of being familiar with an actress… Next month, I opted to do something a little different.  December 19th marks the birthday of my very first celebrity crush, Alyssa Milano.  It’ll be an entire month of one of the most prolific actresses of the 90s.  Since she made a bunch of kinda sexy movies too, I figured it would be a perfect little marriage of my movie watching tendencies and her lovely… well…  Everything!

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