Up next on our 12 Days of Holiday Horror list is a lesser known film that was released in 1980. Had a less sympathetic actor been cast in the role of Harry Stadling, Christmas Evil would probably have just faded into oblivion, but there is just something about Brandon Maggart’s performance that gives me all the feels.
As a child, little Harry spotted Santa (Dad in a Santa suit) and Mommy in a compromising position, and it traumatized the poor boy for life. Thirty-three years later, Harry is working at the Jolly Dreams toy factory, and is obsessed with Santa. His apartment is heavily decorated for the holidays, he dresses as Santa each night…these things are a little strange, but harmless, right? Don’t be too sure about that, because Harry has also taken it upon himself to spy on the neighborhood children, and keeps thorough records as to whether they are naughty or nice.
In the meantime, he is being bullied and made fun of at work. When a co-worker asks Harry to cover a shift for him so he can be with his family, Harry does so, but then sees the co-worker out at a bar that evening. We can see the cracks beginning to show, and after the Jolly Dreams owner announces that the company will donate toys to children in need, but only if production increases and the employees contribute their own cash, Harry starts to really lose it.
Poor Harry now believes that he is actually Santa Claus, and begins to punish the naughty in deadly serious ways. Although, to give him credit, everyone he attacks/kills is actually a bad person, so it’s not like he is out there killing innocents.
Driving around in a van painted to look like Santa’s sleigh, this killer Santa is someone we actually feel for. Delusional Harry kills a group of bullying adults leaving church, but he also drops off toys at the local hospital, and entertains some children at a party.
All of this bloodshed and kind deeds leads to a truly jaw-dropping ending. As I stated earlier, Brandon Maggart sells this film 100%. I don’t know when I have ever rooted for a killer as hard as I did for Harry, and Christmas Evil is one holiday horror film that left an impression on me. You can watch it on Shudder or Tubi this holiday season.
We are counting down the 12 days of holiday horror, but we want to know YOUR favorites. Drop your list in the comments section.