DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
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SATAN CLAUS (director: Massimiliano Cerchi; screenwriter: Simonetta Mostarda; cinematographer: John Gilgar; editor: Redd Rexx; music: Mark Semsel; cast: Robert Cummins (Santa Claus), Robert Hector (Steve), Jodie Rafty (Sandra), Daisy Vel (Lisa), Lauretta Ali (Maman), Barie Snider (Captain George Ardison), Roy Ashton (Ken); Runtime: 60; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Massimiliano Cerchi/Kenneth Greenblatt; Sub Rosa Studios; 1996)

 
"For those who crave bad films."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

For those who crave bad films with an anti-Christmas theme. First-time director Max Cerchi's shot-on-video feature keeps the film blurred throughout, either through incompetence or for artistic reasons--take your pick. It's an amateurish sad-assed voodoo story about a serial killer roaming NYC during the Christmas season. A woman is about to enter her house and is approached by a laughing Santa who is flailing away at her with an ax and singing Jingle Bells. He then departs with her head in a sack, while still singing the carol. The sicko Santa uses the decapitated head as part of a Christmas tree decoration, as what goes for the head is really a plastic looking head that is placed on top of the tree. 

In the police station the three officers getting ready to work the Christmas Eve shift receive a call that the victim was the wife of their police captain, George Ardison. Soon afterwards the captain receives a taunting call from the psycho in a doctored voice warning about more killings in the future.

The scene shifts to a conversation between a black mother (Lauretta Ali) and her seemingly white son named Steve, who is an aspiring actor and is wearing a Santa costume because he's volunteered to collect donations for St. Mary's orphanage. Apparently Maman as he calls her is a witch from New Orleans and she has powerful visions that great danger and evil is in the air in the form of a Beast, as she warns her son to be careful as he rushes out to join his friend Ken bell-ringing and collecting in the park.

In the park at night, Sandra Logan drops by with her longtime boyfriend Jeff to donate to the cause and say hi to her client and good friend Steve. Sandra's a showbiz photographer, who rejected Steve's advances because she's in love. Soon after leaving the charity Santa, we hear screams and learn when Steve and Ken rush to the scene that Jeff was chopped to pieces with an ax by a crazed Santa Claus but he left her unharmed. Steve spots that Santa but loses him as he gives chase through the park.

The serial killings continue with the ax slaughter of a buxom blonde in an abandoned waterfront area apartment, who shows some nice tit in the shower before luckily departing this picture. When Steve brings his police lieutenant girlfriend Lisa home for some of Maman's home cooking, she's seriously questioned by the concerned Maman on the serial-killer case she's working on. Later upon looking at a photograph of Captain Ardison with blood smeared over it, that Steve finds in Sandra's pad, Maman goes all big-eyed and has a psychic vision of the Devil nearby and being responsible for these killings. So she gives her son a talisman in the form of two giant rings to act as a protection shield, and lays on her son the address where Satan Claus keeps the dead body parts. In a film like this you can be sure Steve is home free from now on with that kind of magical protection, as he rushes off to that address because he's sure the police are not going to buy into all this supernatural stuff as easily as the audience is supposed to.

Warning: spoiler to follow in the next paragraph.

This sicko one-joke movie goes through with a few more gratuitous street killing mutations, as different body parts are used for the Christmas tree decorations. Of interest probably only to me, is that one of the killings took place in front of a respected Manhattan steakhouse, the Old Homestead, where I dined on a bloody good steak when I recently visited the Big Apple. Soon afterwards the twisted tale limply winds down to a deceptive psycho serial-killer Santa tale. The explanation given to the puzzled Steve, while he is standing in the apartment with the unique tree ornaments, by the killer pointing a gun at him, is that black magic was used to control an innocent person to don a Santa costume and kill the main person targeted. It turns out to be a revenge double-killing over jealousy and the other murders were only random acts to cover up the true motive and lead the police on the false trail of a psycho Satan Claus. Nothing made sense storywise; the acting is even below Ed Wood Jr. low standards; and, this grim story wasn't even laced with some intentional humor. But if you're looking for the unintentional kind of humor, then this might be your kind of film.

This was part of a double feature DVD with Psycho Santa.

REVIEWED ON 12/17/2003     GRADE: C-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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