December 2nd, 2009

SANTA’S SLAY (2005) **

A thousand years ago, Santa Claus (Bill Goldberg) was a mean bastard that beat up elves.  One day an angel came down from heaven and challenged Saint Nick to a game of curling.  Santa lost the game and as a result, he had to be nice to girls and boys for a thousand years.  Now the millennium is up and Santa can be as naughty as he wants to be; which means he’s free to murder and mutilate everyone in a small town. 


Santa’s Slay is sorta like a slightly more respectable version of Jack Frost or The Gingerdead Man.  While I admire the way the flick is content on being nothing more than a stupid B movie, I really wish it had been funnier and more inventive.  Because of the decided lack of inspiration, it’s not nearly as much fun as either of those movies.


A lot of the Santa’s Slay’s problem is that it shoots it’s wad early on.  Nothing in the film comes close to matching the opening star-studded dinner table massacre featuring James Caan, Fran Dresher, Rebecca Gayheart, and Chris Kattan.  After a couple of funny kills (death by turkey drumstick, candy cane in the eye, strangling with garland, pick axe to the head, electrocution with a stripper pole, impalement on a menorah, tazer to the nuts, etc.), the fun quickly dries up once Santa sets his sights on stalking the teenage heroes.  The Rankin-Bass inspired animated flashback was a nice touch though and the mercifully short 77 minute running time is a blessing.


Wrestler-turned-actor Bill Goldberg is A-OK in the lead role and makes for a fairly intimidating killer Santa.  He tries really hard to make up for the enormously shitty Universal Soldier:  The Return and comes THIS close to succeeding.  Maybe next time, Bill.  I have to admit that it made me smile when he did The Spear one of his victims.  Goldberg also does a good job delivering hammy lines like “I’m just trying to spread a little yuletide fear!” in a manner that still manages to be semi-imposing.  It’s the stupid teen protagonist who gets the best line of the flick when he says, “I’m as happy as a Make-a-Wish kid!”


A doctor almost gets gunned down while staying in a ritzy hotel.  Luckily, his detective buddy just happens to be there and helps him find the trigger happy lunatic that tried to rub him out.  What they uncover instead is an elaborate conspiracy by the hotel’s shareholders. 


Midnight Warning is a rather ho-hum murder mystery movie until the bat shit insane ending.  You see (SPOILER ALERT); the shareholders were just trying to hush up an incident involving one of their guests who died in his hotel room of bubonic plague.  They didn’t want anyone else in the city to get the disease so they burned the poor schmo's body in the fireplace.  Incredibly, the detective buys this load of bull and lets them off with a slap on the wrist.  (END OF SPOILERS)


The ending is certainly bizarre enough for me to not completely hate this movie but everything up to that point is strictly by-the-numbers.  On top of that, the pacing is lethargic and the actors are bland.  I think the thing that really irritated me the most about Midnight Warning is that literally ¾ of the movie takes place in a hotel room.  What am I watching here, HoJo The Movie?  On the other hand, this is one of those rare Pre-Code movies in which the bad guys actually get away in the end; so it’s got that going for it.


AKA:  Eyes of Mystery.