DIAL CODE SANTA CLAUS aka GAME OVER (1989) Reviews and overview

 

Dial Code Santa Claus aka Game Over and Deadly Games – original title: 36.15 code Père Noël – is a 1989 French action horror film directed by René Manzor. The movie stars Brigitte Fossey, Louis Ducreux and Patrick Floersheim.

Plot:

Thomas is a typical 1980s kid: he loves computers, role-playing games, and his dog. While mom is away at the office on Christmas Eve, Thomas and his grandfather are left home alone — perfect timing for a disgruntled, sick, bloodthirsty Santa Claus to raid the home down the chimney. But Hell hath no fury like a ten-year-old with an arsenal of toys…

New release:

The film has been newly restored by AGFA (American Genre Film Archive). Here’s some of their press release:

“It pre-dated Home Alone, annihilating a generation of French kids weaned on action-packed Christmastime gems such as Gremlins and Die Hard. It disturbed critics and the moviegoing public with its uncompromising look beneath the surface of the beloved holiday. From there, the film went on to worldwide distribution… except for America, where it had yet to see an official release until now.

With the slick flair of a vintage MTV video, Dial Code Santa Claus blends holiday cheer with the audacious shock of a home-invasion thriller and 80s action classics like Rambo. Dial Code Santa Claus is a big-time “audience movie”, with dark surprises every few minutes along the way. Its crisp visuals and spooky atmosphere are catnip to horror fans, and its inventive fist-pumping set pieces are brand-new favourites for connoisseurs of cat-and-mouse thrillers.”

Reviews:

“Beautifully shot and crazed enough to keep you on your toes about exactly where the whole thing’s heading […] The presence of the grandfather (who can barely see due to his diabetes) is a smart decision to ups the stakes considerably, keeping this in far more intense territory than your average kids vs. robbers movie.” Mondo Digital

“This is not one of those movies you’re likely to parse as if it were Shakespeare, but it’s remarkably watchable nonetheless. Floersheim is quite special as a psycho who attracts our sympathy almost as much as he inspires our fear. Ducreux is superbly cast as the genial old man. Brigitte Fossey is always good value…” Noirish

“It is astonishing that it hasn’t been remade given how slick and entertaining it is. Then again, it is also a singular, personal experiment – the film fluctuates between goofy humor and grim horror in a manner that still feels dangerous and the overtly silly, kid-friendly first act feels like vicious bait for unsuspecting viewers.” Slash Film

“This might’ve been a fun short, but as it is, it just goes on way too long. Although the premise is kind of thin, it could’ve worked had director Rene Manzor not played all his cards so soon. While it often flirts with cutting loose, it always seems like it holds back just when it’s about to kick into gear. I don’t know if that had to do with having a child as a protagonist, or what, but it just never really goes for broke.” The Video Vacuum