Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published December 7th 2019
Christmas isn't the same without some death and mayhem
Christmas movies, in general, are tedious. They always have that happy little ending where the bad character (or suicidal character in the case of It's A Wonderful Life and its rip-offs) comes to some sort of feel-good redemption. I mean, that's fine, sure, but it's all the same. When it comes down to it, it's all based on that perennial classic A Christmas Carol, which is actually a good story and has led to some wonderful films.
Anyway, on a slightly different topic, I have a love for what are considered bad movies. I am the sort of person who owns all 6 Sharknado films. I own several books detailing the worst movies of all time, a total over the books of almost 250 films. I have seen 215 of them. A bad film will attract more attention from me than one that won a swag of Oscars. It it's got less than 20% on Rotten Tomatoes, I am so there.
So what? I can hear you ask, interrupting me.
Well, let's put the two of them together! Okay, not quite (as you shall see), but still, I give you Sanata's Slay (2005), written and directed by David Steiman.
This is a Christmas horror film. Yes, Christmas horror! Look at Eerie Christmas and my list of strange Christmas books to see how much I enjoy Christmas horror. But, truth be told, there was one reason and one reason only that I bought this film on DVD (as opposed to just hiring it yes, that was still a "thing" back then): It stars Bill Goldberg.
This time I am sensing blank faces.
All right, Bill Goldberg is a professional wrestler, one I am a huge fan of. And, as regular readers will know, I am a fan of professional wrestling in general. In fact, the worst film I have ever seen stars wrestler Hulk Hogan. And it is also a Christmas-themed movie. I mean, it is worse than anything ever but that's a story for a different day. The simple fact is one of the few bright points of the WCW wrestling promotion in the late-1990s was in this film, so I knew I had to own it. I bought the first release DVD. It has 2 trailers as extras and that's it. No commentary, no 'making of', no stills, nothing. Just the film and two trailers (and the opportunity to have Spanish subtitles).
Goldberg the wrestler
Okay, so a quick synopsis, as spoiler-free as I can. Goldberg plays Santa. (Yay!) He's a demon. (Huh?) He's been sentenced to 1000 years on Earth being the Santa we know and love, all because an angel defeated him. Guess what? 1000 years is up! Anyway, Santa is shown going through Hell Township in his sleigh drawn by his hell-deer and kills people in a variety of really grisly and actually strangely amusing ways. This includes killing a delicatessen owner Mr Green. But does not include killing the local pastor, who is not a nice person at all, when he burns down a strip club. (For real wrestling nerds Vince Russo appears as a patron in the strip club!)
While all this is going on, a kid named Nicholas and his grandfather (played by Robert Culp) who is apparently crazy, live in Hell Township. Grandpa, who hates Christmas, explains to Nicholas that Santa is to Satan what Jesus was to God. (No, seriously, stick with me on this.) Anyway, Nicholas is accused of killing Mr Green, is bailed out by his girlfriend and then we discover Grandpa was the angel who defeated Santa and had him sentenced to deliver presents. And
Look, it actually gets stranger from here. Curling is involved. The sport, not the hair style. Lots of curling. The pastor gets his come-uppance. And it leaves itself open for a sequel.
Goldberg the Santa
This is a film that does not take itself seriously at all. There are a lot of Jewish actors playing roles (including Goldberg himself). I mean, the opening scene is a family made up of Jewish actors having a traditional terrible Christmas dinner before Santa comes and kills them all. This includes, by the way, Fran Drescher, who is drowned in punch, and James Caan who is force-fed a turkey leg. That opening scene is when you realise this is not a serious film. If they had gone for a straight-out horror/slasher film, this would have verged on unwatchable. Despite the obvious comedy, at the time it came out, I remember reading a review that complained about the lack of slasher film tropes, slamming it mercilessly, and giving it a shockingly low rating. I rented it as soon as I could (I don't think it had a theatre run in Australia), hoping for a terrible film.
Well, guess what? It's a decent horror-comedy! There are enough jokes and little things (and some of the deaths are gruesomely funny) to make it quite an enjoyable film. And for wrestling fans, the last words on the film are Santa spouting Goldberg's own wrestling catch-phrase. So, this is not one of my "bad films" this is a fun film. And, yes, I bought the DVD as soon as I could as well.
This is a strange, gross, funny and completely enjoyable film. Turn your mind off for 100 minutes or so and let death and mayhem and curling and humour fill your mind.