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Monday, December 23, 2013

Satan Claus (1996) Horror Killer Santa

Satan Claus (1996) - Straight to video and with good reason for this poorly done meaningless kill fest from the 90s. Listen, I try to give every film I write about the benefit of the doubt. I figure someone wrote, organized and made the film and that takes effort. You just don't wake up and make a film you have to work at it. I just wish the makers of this film had tried a bit harder. Mostly I wish they had hired someone to do lighting; someone who appreciated that the audience will need to see the picture to enjoy it. I know a lot of transfers to DVD loose some of their brightness but it is damn near impossible to see things filmed at night in this movie and it almost all set in the night.
Its a story of a serial killer dressed as Santa Claus who is decorating his Christmas tree with the body parts of  the victims. All the while calling and taunting the police who sit around in the dark waiting for calls instead of actually doing anything. It sort of like the set of Barney Miller, where people come in and there are conversations and then they leave again, but the cops never do much just talk and talk. Except in this film the conversation is not funny and poorly delivered for the most part. I think what the writer Simonetta Mastarda was going for was something like this: " A cop driven to the edge by a maniacal killer struggles through his personal grief to avenge the murder of his wife before more victims pile up." Its not what was delivered but at least there is some basic plot beyond the laughing killer Santa.
  The film starts with a woman doing some sort of ceremony to Satan. I say woman because the only thing you can see in the shot is just the smallest bit of outline on her arms as she waves them around, other wise being fully robed it would be difficult to know. Director Massimiliano Cerchi masks the voice so it sounds like a man. From there we get right into the killing. A woman is walking home at night and a bit nervous looking around as she goes. Santa (Robert Cummings) come up fast and talks to her, she is nervous but answers his pleasantries with confusion. He pulls out an hatchet and chops her head off, off screen. A neighbor screams, then we hear Santa singing Jingle Bells as he leaving. The next scene we get introduced to the three cops who sit in their dark office, Captain Ardison (Barie Snider), Lt. Lisa Red (Daisy Vel) and Sgt. Todd miller (John Romanelli), the victim we learn is Ardison's wife and this starts the game of cat and mouse where the cops almost never leave the room and the killer runs amok on the streets to kill at least three more people.
The subplot concerns the second victim and tangentially connected characters. Steve (Robert Hector) is a nice guy who works doing charity work and lives with Maman (Lauretta Ali) a (possibly Haitian) woman who is psychic and feels something bad brewing. Steve while collecting money for charity sees the girl he has a crush on Sandra Logan (Jodie Rafty) and her boyfriend right before, off and away from him the boyfriend is killed by Santa. Running to the noise he comforts Sandra becomes a witness.Steve also happens to be good friends with Lisa so it ties him in more.
  There is more plot to this but at its heart it is Santa calling the Capt. and harassing him and then promising to kill again. With each kill the killer puts some more body parts onto a Christmas tree and upping the ante when not getting enough attention from the police. The big twist is out of no where and I guess that is really all you should watch this film for. There is really no predicting it and in the end it all feels about nothing. One of the strange things about this film is that to establish the police station they have this shot of two police cars on the street. Not strange in itself, establishing shots are common in movies, what is strange is that every time we are going to have a scene in the station we get that same shot. They must show it seven times in the film. The acting is very amateurish with the possible exception of Rafty who seemed to be trying. Still she and most everyone else in this film only have this as a credit on IMDB. Now I won't be recommending this film, in fact I had some thin places in my notes and thought I should take a second look for the details but could not bring myself to actually watch this again. So if you choose to see it, don't blame me.

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