YOU BETTER WATCH OUT
This was originally released as You Better Watch Out, although does not appear to have been seen by many people under the title. In very short course, it re-released under the title Christmas Evil to take advantage of the spate of holiday-themed slasher films that were all the rage following the massive success of Halloween (1978) and the same years Friday the 13th (1980). For all that, You Better Watch Out/Christmas Evil doesnt sit easily as a slasher film at least in the same way that Silent Night, Deadly Night or the same years To All a Good Night does. Rather than a film about a deranged killer slaughtering teens, it is more a film that draws an audience into an individuals disturbed headspace. Certainly, coming to You Better Watch Out/Christmas Evil with the expectation of it being another Christmas slasher film offsets your watching it. There is the 1947 flashback opening that gives the cod psychological motivation typical of the slasher but the film never seems to follow up on any of this for a long time it is not until well over two-thirds of the way through that the psycho Santa starts to kill victims, for instance. You sit watching and wondering where it is all going.
Of course, this does become the opportunity for director Lewis Jackson, aided considerably by a weirdly atonal score, to draw us into the protagonists progressively more disturbed headspace. The film becomes something of a very strange fairytale it is fascinating as we watch Brandon Maggart enacting the weird sense of Christmas morality the film holds up, giving presents to the deserving and punishing those on the naughty list. It is really quite something when we get to the scene where Brandon Maggart dances with the children among a group of Christmas revellers and then delivers a stern warning to be good or next Christmas he will deliver something bad. There is an equally remarkable scene where Brandon Maggart is pursued through the streets by a lynch mob, only for the children to gather around to protect him as one of the fathers wields a switchblade. This does lead to a uniquely weird and completely off the wall ending that hits the films sense of being a surreal fairytale on the head perfectly.
Full film available online here:-