Archive for Stephen Minasian

Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984) Review

Posted in Christmas Themed Horror Reviews, Don't Open Till Christmas with tags , , , , , on December 9, 2012 by Last Road Reviews



** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- T’was the Night before Christmas, and All Through the House, Not a Creature was Stirring, They Were All Dead

Release Date- December, 1984

Running Time- 86-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Derek Ford

Director- Edmund Purdom

Starring- Edmund Purdom, Alan Lake, Belinda Mayne, Mark Jones, Gerry Sundquist, Kelly Baker, Kevin Lloyd

The 80s was very much the decade of the slasher film and Don’t Open Till Christmas is yet another one trying to cash in on the success of Halloween and Friday the 13th. By 1984 the slasher flick was hitting a bit of decline and I suppose one can say after 1981 the slasher flick started to go down, but there were still enough good ones to keep these films going strong and even after 1984 there were still some good ones, but I think even the most loyal of fans could admit as a whole they just weren’t the same.

Don’t Open Till Christmas has a killer on the loose targeting people dressed as Santa Claus in London and while most of the victims are dressed in Santa suits, but not all. Oddly enough 1-month before this film opened Silent Night, Deadly Night was released and demonized by the public and critics for having a slasher set on Christmas and for having the killer dressed as Santa, but this was actually done before with the setting or killer in the Santa outfit with such films as To All a Goodnight and Christmas Evil, but yet Silent Night, Deadly Night is pulled after two weeks, but nobody batted an eye at the other slasher flicks with a similar idea and nobody commented on Don’t Open Till Christmas.

The film was produced by Stephen Minasian & Dick Randall best known for producing the cult favorite Pieces and Minasian was actually involved with Friday the 13th. With these two guys involved you should know what to expect, but this is one of their weaker efforts. Don’t Open Till Christmas had the right idea, but it’s such a hack job in the end and sometimes that can make the movie more enjoyable, but in this case at times it does have the so bad its good quality and other times it’s simply just so bad its bad.

The screenplay by Derek Ford is a total mess and this mixes the basic slasher flick with the Gialli and truth is there is a thin line between the two; the characters are boring and lifeless even by slasher movie standards and is so poorly plotted you really can’t make much sense out of anything.

Character actor Edmond Purdom who horror fans will know best from his role in Pieces not only has a role in Don’t Open Till Christmas, but he also makes his directorial debut and in a huge shocker he never made another movie. Don’t Open Till Christmas is poorly paced with poor production values; Purdom is unable to create any suspense or any atmosphere and the kill scenes are handled rather poorly with the killer just appearing and killing the victim with no set up and the couple of chase scenes are so boring that you’ll prefer the killer just showing up and dispatching of the victim quickly. However not everything is a total loss since Purdom crafts such a sloppy movie that it can at times be fun and the viewer will get a good laugh or two.

Don’t Open Till Christmas does boast a double digit body count, but the death scenes really aren’t anything special and the gore is at best average. Despite the high body count it really doesn’t feel like there were many since they’re so poorly staged and the pacing is so sloppy, but about 14 kill scenes in 86-minutes helps the movie a little bit. The highlight of the movie was the revelation on why the killer is hunting down people dressed as Santa; it just might be one of the worst motives of the 80s slasher flick.

Caroline Munro who starred in the cult classic Maniac appears in a cameo and one has to wonder how she got mixed up in this movie? My review sure isn’t glowing and my ** ½ star rating isn’t overly high, but as bad as the movie can be and there are times when its downright boring, but it can also be semi-entertaining in how poor it is. If anything it’s sort of fun laughing at the hack job the movie ended up being. The one interesting aspect to the film (yes this is a spoiler, but who really cares?) is the girl who we think will live ends up getting killed and the more promiscuous girl is the one who survives.

Don’t Open Till Christmas surly isn’t one of the better 80s slasher flicks, but it’s not the worst, but it would rate towards the bottom of the pack however. Slasher fans will wanna check this out and will mostly likely find a little something here, but overall everything is rather forgettable.