DON'T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS

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Don't Open Till Christmas Cover Away in a manger, no crib for a bed. The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head. The stars in the night sky looked down where he lay. The little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay. And if he wasn't sleeping, well, maybe he was up watching the following 86-minute movie made in 1984. It was Directed by and Starred: Edmund Purdom; with Alan Lake, Pat Astley, and Belinda Mayne.


Don't Open Till Christmas


THE STORY:
I'm afraid to say I have something rather upsetting to tell you, Cliff, (Gerry Sundquist), and I'm not quite sure how you're going to take it.

You see, last night there was a mad man on the loose who went around town and started killing everyone he saw. First he stabbed to death an elderly gent dressed as Santa Claus. Then he ripped to pieces some chap who sold chestnuts from his stall. And after that he murdered a drunk and frightened the life out of a stripper called Sharon (Pat Astley).

Yet as luck would have it, Sharon was able to identify this killer when she spotted him again the very next day. And, to be perfectly honest with you, she did kind of insinuate that it could either be the Inspector investigating this case, Ian Harris (Edmund Purdom), a journalist assigned to cover this story, Giles (Alan Lake), or... or... or...

Or then again. That's most probably why what next transpires all rapes a reindeer when you grab me by my shoulders and say, 'Come on, Kate (Belinda Mayne). Come out with it. You think I'm a murderer, don't you?'. As suspicions are aroused - Father Christmas is re-housed - a hoe gets' up and go - and at the end of the day, the ending to this film is no ho-ho-ho.




THE REVIEW:
Now when I first came across 'Don't Open Till Christmas', I honestly thought it was going to be a pretty good film to review for this Yuletide period. Well, it felt fairly appropriate somehow. And seemed like a nice alternate slice of cinema for me to critique.

Don't Open Till Christmas German DVD Cover
However, before I get to that, please allow me to present you with the following filmic-facts. (1) 'Spectacular Trading International' first released this production in London, England, on the 19th of December, 1984. (2) The majority of this movie was shot on location throughout the English city of London. This includes: The Café Royal, Piccadilly; The London Dungeon, Tooley Street; Portobello Road Market, Notting Hill; South Kensington, West London; The Piccadilly Theater, Denman Street; plus Scotland Yard and Soho, Westminster. (3) It is with great regret to inform you that this film was distributed after the death of its lead actor, Alan Lake, who was married to the one-time Marilyn Monroe of England, Diana Dors. (4) It took over two years for this thriller to be made. Why? Well, when it's original director, Edmund Purdom, quit the project during production, he was then replaced by another director, Dereck Ford. However, when Dereck was fired two days later, it was down to Ray Selfe and Alan Birdinshow to rewrite the screenplay, and re-film some of the scenes again. Most notably, the 'London Dungeon' scene. (5) If you listen very closely I'm sure you'll notice two filmic references inserted into this film. One of them was a 'Flashdance' reference: relating to what the stripper said to the 'Santa' after she strutted her stuff. And the second one was a 'Silent Night, Deadly Night' reference: due to the fact that both 'movie serial-killers' suffered similar 'Santa related' childhood traumas. (6) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, was, 'The Gift of Terror That Just Won't Wait'. (7) Now is it a coincidence that this was Pat Astley's final time in front of a camera? Especially since this sexploitation starlet made her first screen appearance in an episode of the sitcom, 'Are You Being Served', entitled, 'The Father Christmas Affair'! (8) It has been implied that one of main reasons this movie was made, was so its financiers could 'cash in' on the 'video nasty' market rampant in England during the eighties.


A Sexy Santa In Don't Open Till Christmas


Now I hope you took in most of my trivia splurge, dear reader? Because in no uncertain terms these facts kind of explains why this movie turned out in the way it did.

Don't Open Till Christmas English DVD CoverIt turned out lame. Bloody lame.

You see, even though I thoroughly enjoyed the grizzly idea behind its conceit -- one of a man murdering a number of Santa Clause's over the Christmas period -- in the same breath I wouldn't really call it a very 'splatter house' type production. In actual fact I would call it a 'smudgy bungalow' production rather than a 'splatter house' production. And the reason why I say this, dear reader, largely relies heavily on two key factors. Firstly, I'd say most of the 'murder scenes' felt fairly flat in execution, plus they had a somewhat exploitative tone where the nudity was concerted. And secondly, on screen the whole thing came across rather nth rate, especially the quality of the acting, the sets, and the overall ambiance.

What's more I wasn't overtly keen with it's fractured conclusion either. One minute the murderer was revealed. The next minute a chase sequence ensued. Then someone kicked the bucket. And finally the whole thing ended with a flashback and an explosion. No! This just wasn't my own cup of tea. It was too pat. It was too tedious. And it was too formulaic by default.

Also, on very similar lines there was this one scene in particular that I just couldn't understand. In it, the boyfriend character -- as played by Gerry Sundquist -- asks the girlfriend character -- as played by Belinda Mayne -- to pose nude for a cameraman, the day after her father was killed. I mean, what the f*ck was that all about? Was this boyfriend meant to be mentally deficient or something? No. Did it help the plot in any way shape or form? No.  Heck, the only thing it did do was to flash some flesh and leave a horrible taste in my mouth.


Evil Santa In Don't Open Till Christmas


But, on the flip side of things, dear reader, the one thing I did like about this flick -- and I do mean one thing -- is that it did allow me the chance to have a second look at London in the eighties again. I was too young to remember it the first time you see. And, to be honest, I did enjoy seeing how things were, back in the day.

So overall I'd say 'Don't Open Till Christmas' was a very hit and miss affair. Personally speaking, I like to look at it as one of those movies you'd watch on New Years day, whilst nursing a hangover with your kin. Although its fine in places, in some others, ouch! It reminds me of a mess on the carpet.

Nuff said.

THE RATING: C