Zombos Says: Are You Kidding Me?
Disclaimer: Zombos' Closet cannot be held libel for the loss of precious holiday time or mirth should any reader decide to ignore the numerous warning signs in this review and purchase, open, and view Santa Claws alone and/or sober. By reading this review, said reader releases Zombos' Closet and its heirs, in perpetuity, from fault, risk, and all future liability or damage that may occur from such viewing.
"How long has he been like this?" I asked.
"For the past half-hour," Glenor Glenda said.
"You should have called me sooner?" I felt Zombos' faint pulse.
"He said he wanted to watch something different," said Glenor. "I didn't know."
"How can you not know?" I held up the offending DVD, Santa Claws, while admonishing her.
"But Paul Hollstenwall said Zombos asked for it specifically—"
"Paul! So he's the one to blame for this. The last time he was here he wasted our time with Neon Maniacs. I can't believe he'd stooped this low. The man is incorrigible; a menace to decent horror fans everywhere."
"I told Paul he shouldn't. I told Zombos he should have gone to you first," Glenor said with tears in her eyes. "But Zombos said it didn't matter, that he wanted something new, something totally different to watch. He said he was too old to play it safe anymore. He's been that way ever since his birthday."
"Well, the damage is done. I hope you've learned your lesson," I said, lifting a brandy snifter to Zombos' lips. The color was gone from his cheeks. "At least with Paul Naschy movies I have a chance, but this? I'm not sure how to bring him back to sanity."
Zombos was grayer than usual and his breathing was short and shallow.
"What was that?" I asked. I leaned closer. Zombos' lips had moved, and a faint whisper caught my ear. "Say again?"
"Nudie-cutie," he managed to whisper. "I just...wanted...to see...nudie-cuties. My god, it was beyond horrible." He took the brandy snifter from me and held it in his trembling hands.
"Nudie cu—" Glenor started to say.
"That will be all, Glenor," I said, interrupting her. "I can take it from here. Thanks!"
She left the room. Zombos slowly recovered in-between sips of brandy.
Nudie-cuties, scream queens, bodacious tatas—none of this can save Santa Claws. It’s a movie not to see alone or sober. It stands as the perfect equivalent to bituminous coal: sufficient punishment for any horror fan on your Naughty Horror Fan holiday list. Sleazy synthesized background music, ear-numbing dialog delivered through cereal box acting, and sloppy camerawork all bump and grind together, along with the T and A, in this one shoestring-budgeted movie.
The cinema-train wrecks in the first five minutes when dubious horror overwhelms the night before Christmas cheer, and another young soul is damned and primed for future killing. Director John A. Russo (yes, that guy of Night of the Living Dead fame) mires blue-tinted, mismatched close-ups with a wobbly pan to find little Wayne (Christopher Boyle) sleeping on the couch in the living room. In the bedroom, his mom is frolicking with a naughty man. The man wants to open his present early, but she's afraid Wayne will wake up. He tells her he spiked Wayne's hot chocolate with two sleeping pills to knock him out. She smiles and quickly displays her ample stocking-stuffers. Wayne, who apparently dislikes hot chocolate, wakes up and interrupts their sleigh ride. The boy is so upset—though you can’t tell by his acting—easily pulls a loaded gun from a dresser drawer. They plead with him using dialog so bad I also wanted Wayne to shoot them.
He does, they scream, and the years and holidays fly by.
Now free from prison, grown-up Wayne (Grant Cramer) is working publicly as a teacher's aide and acting privately as a weirdo. When he receives his very own Raven Quinn (Debbie Rochon) life-size—but armless—mannequin from Scream Queen Magazine (a dubious promotional tie-in to be sure), he starts getting all dreamy-eyed as he admires its certificate of authenticity. Now there's a true collector: I would have been happy with the 12-inch doll.
The mannequin looks nothing like Debbie Rochon, the real-life scream queen who plays the fictional Raven Quinn scream queen. Rochon has arms, killer legs, and a beautiful smile. Apparently the props department did not have enough money for doing a life mold of her, so they used a commercial mannequin's torso instead, cutting off its arms and adding a black wig. One clever and creepy touch—actually the only clever and creepy touch—has Wayne dropping packing peanuts over the mannequin's head as they dance. This is as artistic as it gets.
While Wayne admires and listens to his mannequin, the real Raven Quinn picks up her two children from her in-laws—her gallivanting husband's mother and sister—who chide Quinn on her chosen profession. We learn Wayne lives next door to Quinn and acts like an uncle to her kids. As the kids run off to play, she and Wayne spend the next three hours sitting on the sofa—wait, I’m wrong, it only seems like three hours—proving why movie-making is a visual medium by boring us to death with their inactivity and mindless chit-chat.
For a psycho-teacher's-aide-horror-memorabilia-collector (no insult intended to any teacher aides who are horror memorabilia collectors), who has the ‘real’ object of his obsession this close, not much heat or psychosis is shown. When Quinn comes on to him, he still doesn't do anything. No, wait, he does: he goes back to express his love to the armless mannequin.
Then he decides to start killing people.
Just like that.
He goes to Scream Studios and kills a nudie-cutie, but not before she gyrates and completes her important shower scene acting moment; then he goes after the producer, who shoots Wayne at point-blank range. This being a no-budget movie, the blanks do no harm.
Scratch one producer.
Now let me reveal the spoiler. Are you ready?
To kill his victims, Wayne uses a prop from one of Quinn's horror movies on gardening. I think it the documentary called Fertilizer of the Damned, or Weed Be Gone to Hell, maybe. Anyway, the gardening tool is a puny three-pronged weed-puller. We never actually see Wayne use it. He waves it around, and then there are a few drops of blood followed by a body slumped on the ground.
Let’s move on.
Wayne complains to his stoic mannequin how everyone needs to pay. It’s not clear for what, but he’s certain everyone needs to pay. Meanwhile Quinn tries to get back with her husband, but he’s bedding down with another nudie-cutie, providing ample opportunity for more T and A. With no one noticing the producer is missing, more nudie close-ups fill screen time while "Uncle" Wayne drugs Quinn's two little girls' hot chocolates and goes shopping for a Santa Claus suit. Right! That’s the tie in to the movie title. It’s the only tie-in.
More nudie-cutie shower scenes ensue with another potential victim; she takes her shower, she answers the phone, she chats for a moment or two, then she goes back to take a bath.
But didn't she just take a shower? Who is she anyway?
We don’t find out.It’s just another randy, randomly inserted shower/bath scene with a well-endowed randomly inserted naked woman.
Wayne, dressed as Santa, shows up and kills her. I don’t know why and you wouldn’t, either. He just shows up and kills her. This is the only time he wears the red Santa Claus suit. He spray paints the suit black. Another inexplicable action left unexplained, but I thank god little kids everywhere are spared having a red-suited Santa slaying around without his sleigh.
In a flurry of scenes, it’s Quinn's turn to start flashing her T and A—but we cut back to Wayne doing?—Nothing, really, so we quickly cut to Quinn's errant husband returning home to find the kids knocked out on the sofa——And now we're back with Quinn being nicely naughty with a cuddly stuffed toy—No! Back to the house and a frantic call to the in-laws—Yes! Back to Quinn strutting her assets for the camera; she takes her top off and then—No! We’re back to her husband running over to crazy Wayne's house—Yes! Back to Quinn playing with her two big,unwrapped, Christmas presents.
So much for building tension (the dramatic kind I mean) as it’s killed during this inane scene and theme shifting. But like they say in those annoyingly loud infomercials, “Wait, there’s more!”
Black-suited Santa Wayne attacks Quinn's husband, then goes after her. In one last breathtaking struggle—I was excited the movie was almost over—Wayne and Quinn's husband go hand to hand (more like hand in hand the way the action was staged).Quinn grabs the weeder and plunges it into Wayne.
Finally, The End.
Bring Christmas cheer by leaving this one on the shelf.
Give a tie instead.
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