As far as Christmas horror movies are concerned, I think the best and most frightening is 1980’s Christmas Evil. It’s been compared to as the Taxi Driver at Christmas and I pretty much agree with that comparison. It’s much more of a character piece than a body count movie as you watch a man slip into insanity after becoming sick of it all and it’s really lead actor Brandon Maggart’s performance that brings it to life. He’s really intense while being both sympathetic and terrifying. But there’s something about it fans can’t seem to agree on; the ending. A friend and I were discussing it recently and we just couldn’t come to an agreement (rather than how awesome the film is) and it got me thinking and I’d love to hear what you all think, but first, let’s talk a little about the movie. Now, obviously there is going to be spoilers as we discuss this nearly 40 year old movie, but being the internet and all, I have to give a SPOILER WARNING. There. You have been warned.
To sum it up briefly, it’s about a man named Harry who was traumatized as a child and by that I mean that he saw Santa going down on his mommy, so he grows up and has become completely obsessed with Santa and idolizes the jolly ol’ elf. So much to the point where it’s rather unhealthy. Harry now works at a toy factory that’s more interested in profits than donating toys to a children’s home. All of his peers and bosses think of him as a schmuck and take advantage of his kindness. Harry also keeps tabs on the neighborhood kids, watching them and judging who’s being naughty and who’s being nice which he keeps track of in separate naughty or nice books. As the movie progresses, Harry becomes more mentally unstable, even making himself a Santa suit that he wears when he delivers the toys he stole from work in a van with a sleigh painted on it (this is actually important to remember) to a children’s home and all of the good boys and girls in his neighborhood. And then there is the part of Christmas Evil that sort of takes a turn into slasher territory as Harry gets revenge on those that have been naughty to him until he’s eventually chased down by a mob carrying torches (apparently, this town believes in hunting down criminals like they would Frankenstein’s monster) and drives off a bridge to his death.
Or was it?
Believe it or not, some say that Harry didn’t die at the end of Christmas Evil, but rather actually flew off into the night sky as Santa Claus, because the crazy ol’ cook believed so much! This is something that has divided fans of the movie for a long time. Personally, I’m on the side that believes Harry died. After you see the van begin to go off the bridge, it cuts to Harry’s brother (Jeffrey DeMunn for you Walking Dead fans) rolling down a hill and you can hear the van crashing. Now, those that believe Harry lived and became Santa will say that’s the sound of the garbage Harry’s brother is crashing into and they also will point out that as the scene carries on, you will see him look up into the sky, almost in disbelief. However, I could argue that he’s looking at the crash site, but I suppose there’s not that much Christmas whimsy in that. Take a look at the ending in the video below…
So what do you think? Do you think Harry was driven off the side of the bridge, and his sanity, to his own death or flew off that Christmas night, becoming Santa Claus? Both sides have a pretty good argument, so it really comes down to if you want a dark, but realistic ending or something a little magical, yet fits in tone with the film. I think both outcomes could work, but I guess it matters if you’re a glass is half full or empty kind of person.