Awfully Good: Santa Claws

Santa Claws (1996)

Director: John A. Russo
Stars:Debbie Rochon, Grant Cramer, John Mowod

Is there a plot?

A B-movie actress is stalked by a psycho fan during the filming of SCREAM QUEEN CHRISTMAS.

What's the damage?

Is there some deranged psychosexual connection to Christmas that I’m unaware of? First there was the song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," then CHRISTMAS EVIL, where a kid watches his mom neck with Kris Kringle and grows up a murderous St. Nick, and now this movie. SANTA CLAWS starts with a teenage boy once again finding his mommy in bed with her holiday-dressed boyfriend. As soon as the kid sees Santa Claus coming to town (on his mom) he pulls out a gun and shoots them in one of the least realistic murder scenes ever committed to film.

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But SANTA CLAWS is not really a killer Santa movie as much as it is a psycho stalker movie. Towards the end the bad guy does put on a Santa outfit for his final rampage, but for most of the film he exists as the Hooded Claw, a ripoff from a low budget horror movie that vaguely resembles a member of the Foot Clan. His weapon of choice is, in fact, a "claw" that looks like a less-threatening version of a garden hoe. (Hehe, hoe.)

So that's how elves are made!

Scream queen Debbie Rochon is the only good thing about this complete fail of a movie. She gets how unequivocally bad it is and acts accordingly. (She also does almost the entire finale with her boobs barely contained.) In the film Rochon plays Raven, a B-horror movie actress going through a messy divorce from her cheating sleazebag husband. Fortunately, to help her get through this terrible ordeal is her kind neighbor Wayne, who babysits her two young daughters and provides much needed emotional support. Unfortunately, Raven is not aware that Wayne is the grown up mommy murderer from the beginning of the movie, and he has set his psycho stalking sights on her. He talks to and frequently fondles a mannequin version of Raven (it comes with a certificate of authenticity!) which is the centerpiece of his incredibly creepy shrine to her. Oh, and Wayne also drugs her kids and murders anyone he thinks stands in her way. This would all be fine and dandy if the guy that played the stalker didn't give Tommy Wiseau a run for his money in the acting department. He's that bad.

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Also unbelievable is that SANTA CLAWS comes from writer/director John Russo, who penned the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. The script is predictably atrocious, but made even worse by the fact that it thinks it's clever with all sorts of meta-humor. Things like Debbie Rochon waxing nostalgically about horror movie fandom or the director of the movie-within-a-movie defending his work as more than smut and exploitation, while a naked model dances in the background. That brings up another good point—all the incredibly cheap and pointless nudity in this movie! As most of the film takes place on the set of SCREAM QUEEN CHRISTMAS, Russo uses this as an excuse to always have awkwardly long sequences of naked girls dancing or having sex in random holiday attire. It has absolutely nothing to do with the movie and is interspersed every few minutes to keep things "exciting." And aside from Rochon, most of the ladies aren't too attractive.

Even the Foot Clan deserves a little Christmas cheer every now and then.

Overall SANTA CLAWS is just an exercise in ridiculously bad filmmaking. It looks like it was shot on VHS and the audio—my God, the audio. This movie has worse dubbing than a Godzilla film. Without reason, anytime the killer has his mask on it goes back and forth from hilariously cheesy dubbed voice to incomprehensible sound of the actor talking through his mask. So you either can't understand what he's saying, or the dubbing is so bad that characters end up talking over each other. (See the Best Parts below!) I hate to invoke the name Wiseau twice in one article, but SANTA CLAWS is so inept it does feel Wiseauian in nature.

I don't think Mrs. Claus understands how the Naughty List works.

"Best" Line

Oh, meta humor! Enjoy how the actors essentially describe the own sleazy movie they're in.

"Best" Parts

This video is the best three minutes you'll spend all day. Things to look out for: bad acting, hilarious dubbing or sound editing, cheesy stunt work, and more!

Nudity Watch

Gratuitous nudity throughout…Merry Christmas!


Be a good boy or girl… Buy this movie here!

Play Along at Home!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • A girl undresses
  • Someone says the phrase "Scream Queen"
  • Someone talks to a mannequin

Double shot when:

  • A psycho murderer heals a broken marriage

Need some more Christmas cheer? Grab some spiked eggnog and get in the spirit of the season with the rest of our Awfully Good holiday movies:

Christmas Caper: Shannen Doherty's been a bad girl this year.
Bikini Bloodbath Christmas: 'Tis the season for some pleasin'!
Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie destroys a classic.
Reindeer Games: Ben Affleck bones Charlize Theron in the spirit of the season.
Fred Claus: Vince Vaughn is a dick to Christmas.
Santa Paws: St. Nick's dog scars children.
Puppetmaster vs. Demonic Toys: Corey Feldman vs. Farting Christmas Baby.
Ernest Saves Christmas: Jim Varney plays with Santa's sack.
Deck The Halls: Danny DeVito naked and incest jokes.
Christmas Evil: Mommy does more than kiss Santa Claus.
Santa Clause 3: Martin Short terrifies children.
Santa Claus Conquers The Martians: Santa battles cheap production values.
Jack Frost (1998): Michael Keaton is a dead snowman.
Jack Frost (1996): Frosty rapes Shannon Elizabeth.
Jingle All The Way: Arnold punches reindeer for toys.
Santa's Slay: St. Nick murders Fran Drescher.

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Source: Digital Dorm
Tags: awfully good



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