The F*ckin Black Sheep: Don't Open Till Christmas (1984)

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984)
Directed by Edmund Purdom

“It somehow ends up a terribly entertaining movie.”

Everyone has their Christmas movie traditions. Some folks love watching A CHRISTMAS STORY over and over and over again. Some love themselves some DIE HARD (yes). Some might go for SCROOGED or that old one with Jimmy Stewart. I doubt too many families gather around the boob tube to watch a holiday horror movie, but maybe they should.

After all, we all know the holiday season is a bit stressful. Too many things to do, too much family, too much booze. We need to relieve that tension. So what’s better than a little murder and mayhem to combat all that wonderful cheer and spirit? There isn’t a plethora of Christmas themed horror movies out there, but if you’re sick of Santa, then it’s time to check out DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS where many Santa Clauses die in many, many horrible ways.

Now let’s get this out there right away. DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS isn’t a good movie. It’s poorly directed, the plot ends up as thin as John Waters’ mustache, and the film quality is just shit (it’s in dire need of a major remaster...I know one is offered on DVD, but who knows.). The movie has plenty of murder, but even those look amateurish at best (even the stabbings, while visually effective, aren’t elaborate).

The sad part is that it’s obvious that writer Derek Ford and first and only time director (and star) Edmund Purdom wanted DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS to be much more as it avoids doing the expected. Set in London right before Christmas, it’s more of an ode to Jack the Ripper than any of the American slasher films that reinvented the genre in the early 1980s. It borrows a lot of the same elements, like a killer (duh), a good variety of deaths, hot women, and lots of dead Santas.

But then DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS also wants to be a detective film. Now we’ve all seen cops in horror movies before, but it’s not very often a director attempts to squeeze in a police procedural. And there’s a good reason not to because here at least, it’s just silly. It’s like Purdom and Ford watched some B cop movies from the 1950s for their research. We never see any actual detective work, just blokes sitting around their office or talking to the victims as they describe the killer as “smiling with his eyes.” They really are terrible at their job and can’t seem to keep anyone alive.

The film attempts to keep our killer a secret until the third act, but it’s like an episode of Scooby Doo with the most obvious individual being the killer. I won’t spoil, but the guy not only looks like a creep, but he acts like a creep, popping up in random places with that “killer” look in his eyes. Come on, buddy, at least try to fake it.

But then again that’s part of the appeal of DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS as it somehow ends up a terribly entertaining movie. It’s all done simple, but that’s ok. This flick will never become a cult classic, but maybe it should. It has all the goods to place it in the so-bad-its-good category. And I'm down with that. 





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