1 and a half stars    100% King Cheese!

"...t'was the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature was stirring...they were all dead!"
"The gift of terror that just won't wait."

directed by: Edmund Purdom
starring:Edmund Purdom, Caroline Munro, Belinda Mayne, Gerry Sundquist, Mark Jones, Kevin Lloyd, Robin Parkinson

(back of video blurb):
       "From the makers of 'Friday the 13th' comes the film that shatters all barriers of horror. DON'T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS is the thrilling and bizzare murder mystery where nothing is sacred- even Santa Claus!

       A killer is loose in London and his sights are set on one target- Santa Claus -dozens of them. Jolly old Saint Nick is stabbed ,beaten and electrocuted in department stores, at parties and even on crowded street corners. What sort of twisted mind is behind these barbarous acts of violence? Scotland Yard is on the trail but every clue points them in a different direction. The culprit is right under their nose but will they come to this climatic conclusion in time?

       DON'T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS- the gift of terror that just won't wait!"

choice dialogue:

"Only three more killing days till Christmas!"

slash with panache?

        Words can hardly begin to say how truly bad this movie is! It is a Christmas turkey (with side trimming of cheese natch), par excellence! They sure don’t make them like this in old Blighty anymore and, to be honest, I can’t believe they ever did!

       In a plot to rival that other Xmas bad taste extravaganza from the same year- SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, some-one is hacking and slashing to death anyone dressed as dear old Santa .... "Tonight in London the festive atmosphere has a distinct chill about it. As yet another Santa Claus is slain!"- blurts out a typically sensationalist British radio news report. Santa’s are falling like portly flies- the film opens with a randy St. Nick being stabbed in the gut whilst he fumbles with a lady friend in the back of a car. This is followed by a quick ..there's more than just chestnuts roasting in an open fire!succession of ‘inventive kills’, most with a perversely misanthropic take on the festive season, one Santa (who is selling roast chestnuts) is strangled then has his face pushed against a red hot grate before bursting into flames. Another gets a machete in the face and one, (in the films’ arguably sleazy high-light) has his knob hacked off with a cut-throat razor whilst he relieves himself in a urinal!....The plot, if you can call it that, involves a particularly inept police man hunt for the psychotic killer- and I know , by God, the police are usually inept in these things but here...Jeez! One of the officers on the case says to another- "Do you think we might have a psychopath on our hands?", the other replies- "Its early days yet for a pattern". And this is after three dead Santas have turned up!!! They are ‘aided’ by the daughter of one of the dead men- a Santa who was killed with a spear during a fancy-dress disco scene (I just knew this film would have a disco scene!), by the murderer who dodders around the dance floor dressed as a ‘shrunken head’ (true!) accompanied by ‘spooky’ bursts of music. The film steam rolls over any Christmas sense of good will, with impressive mean-spiritedness, until finally the identity and motive of the Santa hater is revealed.

       DON’T OPEN UNTIL CHRISTMAS is just SO bad! It lurches from hilarious ineptitude (a drunk, cycling Santa giving the finger to some punks who pursue him, almost Benny Hill style, down a street), to delirious incoherence (the killer approaches a police decoy who is dressed as Santa, a blade pings out from his shoe, just like a Bond villain, and then we see him stab him with a hand held knife!)....(At this point I must apologise at the rambling incoherence of this review!)....Where was I?...Oh yes, ‘Cheese’. It is laid on by the spadeful. If you have ever seen the clips from the spoof Brit porno-flick that was playing in the sex cinema in John Landis’ AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981),Hilariously trashy US video cover for DON'T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS you may know where I am coming from.... There is a cheesy ‘t&a’ scene in this movie to die for. The ‘final-girl’ and her busking boyfriend end up at a seedy Soho photo shoot (don’t ask!), where a busty-blonde-page-three-stunna-Essex-girl type is modelling a natty gold cape (and very little else). After some incredibly bad and stilted dialogue, the sleazy photographer (played by a once regular cast member of UK police drama THE BILL!) suggests the girls get down to some lesbian action. The ‘final girl’ balks at the idea and storms out when he produces a Santa costume- her Father had just been butchered after all! Not to let a good photo opportunity get away, the model swaps her cape for a Santa one- needless to say she still has very little on underneath. Inexplicably, she and the boyfriend end up on the street where she precedes to try and seduce him by fondling her nipples. They are then spotted by a couple of police officers. Worried that the coppers might think they are "A couple of gays", he tells the busty Santa to leg it- which she does in true Babs Windsor style, cape flying akimbo..... I haven’t laughed so much in ages!

        Don’t be fooled by Caroline Munro’s star billing, she is in it for five minutes tops. Admittedly her cameo consists of her playing herself, singing an ear-numbing disco atrocity, whilst sporting a little sequinned number that even Lily Savage would gag at the sight of....In other words- worth the rental price alone!...The film also promotes itself as being from the makers of FRIDAY 13TH (1980)- that’s a half-truth Steve Minasian did have some involvement in Sean Cunningham’s film, but was hardly the driving ‘creative’ force behind it. Minasian was also responsible for that other cheesy gore ‘classic’ PIECES (1981)- something that the video box (wisely) makes no similar claim to! ..a different type of Christmas illuminations!DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS does have a certain amount of gory thrills and sports an impressively heavy body-count (14 in all), just how gory it was I don’t know. The version I’ve seen was a BBFC approved one and I hear that a fair bit was cut out- there’s a lot of ropy and jerky editing going on during the death scenes. Mind you, there is a lot of ropy and jerky editing going on during the whole film! Director Purdom (who also stars as a police inspector), certainly is no Hitchcock- the film has all the dramatic tension of testcard, but there is enough oddity, sleaziness and mirth inducing badness to tickle the fancy of any 80’s slasher aficionado.

       All in all....they just don’t make ‘em like this anymore!

BODYCOUNT 14  bodycount!   female:3 / male:11

       1) Male (Santa) stabbed to death
       2) Female stabbed to death
       3) Male (Santa) impaled, through neck, with spear
       4) Male (Santa) strangled, face burnt off and then set on fire!
       5) Male (Santa) has brains blown out with gun
       6) Male (Santa) stabbed in neck at peep show!
       7) Male (Santa) stabbed in gut
       8) Male (Santa) stabbed in neck
       9) Male (Santa) gets a machete in his face
      10) Male (Santa) castrated with cut-thraot razor in urinal!
      11) Female strangled- but when she falls over is covered in blood !?
      12) Male electrocuted
      13) Female dies in a fall (flashback)
      14) Male dies in bomb blast