If I were to quiz horror fans, similar to the style in Scream  and stated name the movie that someone killing in revenge of a child dying and it included a doomsayer named Ralph, the answer is easy Friday the 13th – except once again you are wrong, it’s this movie. According the trivia on this production it borrows from the Sean Cunningham, which is actually incorrect, how so, simply look at the release dates, Friday the 13th came out on May 9th, 1980 and To All a Goodnight January 30, 1980. Recalling that after John Carpenter’s Halloween , the slasher subgenre started generating interest, it existed beforehand but not in a saturated mode; in 1979 there was Silent Scream, Tourist Trap, Bloodrage, and The Driller Killer then in 1980 it was the equivalent of little children amped on a sugar rush. As for the reason that movie doesn’t ring relevant with many people, well that lays at the hands of the director David Hess with his only film credit in this position. No one can deny Hess most colorful career choices and his legendary character in Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left ; which incorporated a tiny element from placing it in the final act. His movie was filmed on a scant $70,000, in 10-days and with a very weak script and insufficient glorious gore in setting of killer Santa Claus with non-scenic aside from a few color lights and a tree in a California sorority house. Yet somehow it succeeded in achieving distribution from Intercontinental Releasing Corporation and for the longest time had a long-lost VHS tape before earning a Blu-ray release.
It opens with a cloudy imagery obviously reference something from in the past at Calvin Finishing School for Girls, in 1978, where one of the students found herself being chased in a hazing activity and accidentally pushed from a balcony to her death. Then transition to the bright and sunny skies 2-years later and Christmas break upon the campus, however not all get to venture home such as Nancy (Jennifer Runyon (Silent Night, Bloody Night 2: Revival )) who discovers that sorority sisters plan for a jolly good time with their rich boyfriends. They learn their housemother had an emergency and coax Nancy into delivering a trusted supervisor Mrs. Jensen (Kiva Lawrence (Schizoid )) some drugged warm milk, so they sneak their lovers into the house who flew in on a private plane. Meanwhile, a doomsayer named Ralph (Buck West (Ring of Darkness )) warns only Nancy of the evil stalking the building, noting his bible for protection. One should realize that most of the storyline focuses on the young women stripping down and pairing off with their lovers only to end up slaughtered in some manner, while Nancy only needs to flee out the door and is out in public, this place isn’t a remote location. Hess tries to develop an eerie atmosphere but either lacks experience or financial constraints limited all options and thereby basic stalking scenarios. The villain dressed as a Santa Killer dispatches the victim pool quickly, soon enough the police arrive headed by detective Polonsky (Sam Shamshak) tries to figure out what’s happening and curiously gives Mrs. Jensen a knowing glance; when Nancy inquires you don’t think it’s one of us, he announces “Everyone is a Suspect.” Remember the character Randy in Scream states the same thing, noting it’s a simple formula.
When watching this film, the average viewer might realize there’s something not quite right, not referencing the deranged killer or even the heavy body count, rather the overall conceptual design, nothing truly prevents anyone from fleeing during the daylight hours, they are in a city area. Let’s dismiss that logic, they need to stay as they are suspects, Runyon conveys her innocence very well and Lawrence is able to express a lot with her facial expressions. The rest of the cast make minor mistakes with flubbed lines, and mispronunciations as if English wasn’t their first language, hence Hess was unconcerned, unaware or with strict budget concerns no time for both rehearsals and redos. The special effects lacked when one character is killed by an airplane propeller what appears a red paper as a form of sliced body parts is blown easily around – it’s a joke.
Simply stated the movie was made to cash in on the slasher market, it contains too many amateurish moments, and a bizarre ending that leaves Leia (Judith Bridges) dancing on a balcony, I suppose she went insane for being on the set. As one likely notes I don’t mention much of the cast, as they only have this film as the acting credits, and they are frankly quite bland in the executions of the roles though it doesn’t help with a dull movie lacking proper pacing or any suspense. This likely is a film only for those in need of fresh Christmas Horror there’s Mrs. Claus  or even Red Christmas  though a test slasher of the holiday is Black Christmas ; however, I would say fans of David Hess will seek this out and the slasher completists. Lastly, it’s curious how many things in the film were brought together that many have seen in Friday the 13th and Scream; and I am not just stating the suspect line reference, there’s something less which again if you know your horror movies was in Last House on the Left.
Therefore, if you would like to unwrap a gift look for something much better.
- You’ll scream till dawn!
IMDb rating: 4.7/10
Baron’s rating; 4.0/10
Enjoy the YouTube link to movie: