Don’t Open Till Christmas is a 1984 British horror film about a killer who is murdering people dressed as Santa Claus.
The film took almost two years to complete after original director Edmund Purdom quit the job and Derek Ford (Corruption; The Urge to Kill) took over but was fired after two days. The distributors then hired Ray Selfe to complete the direction and Alan Birkinshaw (Killer’s Moon) to rewrite parts of the script, including the original ending and the London Dungeon sequence, and much of the footage was completely re-filmed.
The movie stars Edmund Purdom, Alan Lake, Belinda Mayne, Mark Jones, Gerry Sundquist and a cameo appearance by Caroline Munro. Derek Ford was one of the Santa victims.
Slasher-whodunit with an awful synth soundtrack, mostly a why-bother-dunit? An ugly mess from the career of colourful exploitation producer Dick Randall, this was originally directed by its star, actor Edmund Purdom, but cinematic chores, such as they are, were taken over by smut film auteur Derek Ford (allegedly fired after two days’ work), then completed by Ray Selfe with last-minute script reworking.
Looking much like the locomotive wreck all this suggests, the plot concerns a madman (or madwoman) in a smiling-face mask who stalks London at Christmas time, killing any male dressed as Santa Claus by horrific means. One is roasted on his open fire with the chestnuts, another stabbed clean through, and another viciously unmanned while using a public urinal (the one Santa who turns out to be a vapid female model attired as Father Christmas gets away alive, with just some nude exposure).
New Scotland Yard is on the case with stalwart Inspector Harris (Edmund Purdom) making no progress whatsoever finding the culprit; at one point the squad decides to flood the streets with plainclothesmen dressed as Santa, a Goon Show-esque twist if there was one, but nothing memorable transpires, and the identity and motive of the anti-Santa Scrooge is pathetic basic-maniac stuff. Caroline Munro plays a torrid pop starlet in a single-scene cameo, and one killing occurs (rather poorly filmed) in the longtime chamber-of-horrors exhibit The London Dungeon.
Charles Cassady Jr., MOVIES and MANIA
“It’s truly a gruesome bit of nastiness. Randall was one of the true kings of exploitation and here, in one of his final productions, he lets it all hang out. By no means does that make the film good; indeed, it’s barely watchable.” DVD Verdict
” …essentially a string of stalk and slash sequences, with guys in Santa outfits (and sometimes their attractive female companions) getting offed via a skull-piercing spear, wire strangulation, a knifing in a p*rno booth, a knife shoe swiped out of From Russia with Love, and an infamous bloody-spraying scene at a urinal you have to see for yourself.” Mondo Digital