Shaun vs. Don’t Open Till Christmas (1985)


Directed by Edmund Purmond

Starring Edmund Purmond, Alan Lake and Belinda Mayne

There’s a killer on the loose and he’s targeting anyone dressed like Santa Claus and he dispatches them in increasingly violent ways.  I’m sure there’s a story explaining why he does this somewhere in this film…right?


After a couple is killed in the standard pre-credit opening, the real plot begins with a Santa getting killed while entertaining at a party.  His daughter, one of the witnesses as the party, and her boyfriend work with Scotland Yard in trying to find the bastard who killed her father.  A man named Giles (Lake) who works for the newspaper is trying to worm his way closer to the inspector in charge (Purmond) trying to get a bigger part of the story.  Someone has to find a story in this movie!


He was only prepared for cookies and milk.

Coming all the way from jolly old England, “Don’t Open Till Christmas” is an interesting bit of sleaze.  It was released in its native country just a month after North America went through a huge controversy with “Silent Night, Deadly Night” which was bashed and panned by critics and protested by parents until it was taken out of theatres.  I’m not sure DOTC went through the same controversy though I can’t imagine the outrage that would be unleashed had this movie been released in the same time period. 

While SNDN’s violence came from a man dressed as Santa, the focal point for the killer in this movie is Kris Kringle himself.  Any poor guy dressed as the jolly elf gets offed in some crazy ways that only a dirty exploitation flick can deliver.  One gets a spear in the back of the head, there’s a face in a roaster then he gets lit on fire, one guy gets the back of his head blown off with a gun, there’s a broken bottle in the face, machete in the face, cuts a peeing Santa’s wee-wee off and, of course, plenty of stabbings all around. The effects are well done, and the camera never shies away from the gory aftermaths.  If you want blood, you’ll get it in spades and if you want a good story, well…


Oh, Santa, you should’ve known this was a naughty house.

Between the brutal interludes, the police detectives do their worst to figure out who the killer is.  They go after their first choice of suspect, though their choice isn’t the most obvious.  They ask the least amount of questions possible, touch all the evidence at the crime scenes.  They really need music like this playing in the background. 

Trying to fill out the rest of the movie, there are more than a few odd scenes that seem to just be created to get to the next death scene.  For example drunk Santa is biking down a road and is chased by what I assume are stereotypical British punks.  Santa ditches the bike, and therefore the punks who just wanted a crummy bike, but winds up wandering into a sudden house of horrors where the killer is already inside, just waiting for the next Santa to walk by.  It’s an incredibly stalk scene (for this movie anyway) and it just ends in a few quick stabs and it’s onto the next scene.  It’s a weak pay off for such a long build up; it’s not even the best kill of the movie. 


It’s a little nipply out, isn’t it?

So in short, the movie is about a guy who kills Santas because…he really had a rotten Christmas as a kid once, I guess.  He kills off, not just a lot of Saint Nicks, but pretty much every main character you’d think was the “hero” in the movie, and only gets his comeuppance in a freak accident from a secondary character since no one else is left alive.  It’s a very nonsensical plot, I can see why there were so many death scenes filmed, it’s because there wasn’t much plot to begin with.  Welcome to the exploitation genre!


Story: 3 – Definitely not the highlight of the film, we eventually get the reason as to why this maniac does what he does, but it’s presented in such a flimsy way, there’s no reason to care.  Except for those poor Santa Clauses.

Blood: 9 – See that list up there of all the grisly ways old Santa Claus eats it?  Crazy, over-the-top, the only reason to watch the movie.

Nudity: 7 – One nude model being photographed and just hanging out for a while.  And although she’s not naked, there’s a cameo from Caroline Munro in a tight outfit as she performs a song on stage.  I’ll take it!

Overall: 5 – If you’re a gore hound, add an extra point, you’ll enjoy what’s on display.  It’s certainly the only thing that you can see effort put into.


-Edmund Purdom only agreed to do the film only if he were allowed to direct.  The movie took almost two years to finish after Purdom quit and was replaced by another director who was fired just a few days later.  Another director, Ray Selfe, was chosen as well as a new writer to rewrite some of the movie but they filmed extra scenes not in the original script and wound up re-filming original footage as well.  No wonder nothing made sense.

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