DON'T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS DVD Review

J Hurtado, Contributing Writer
Mondo Macabro makes their return from a long silence with the Christmas themed UK slasher Don't Open Till Christmas.  This somewhat obscure film is directed by and stars Edmund Purdom, and features several relative unknowns in the story of a maniac killing Santa Clauses around London in particularly nasty ways.  The film itself isn't anything outstanding, but it is nice to have an excellent DVD edition from Mondo Macabro.  They've prepared a perfectly watchable new anamorphic transfer from the negative and the include several very cool bonus features to sweeten the pot.  If you like slashers, I'd definitely pick this one up, for both the film and the extras.
"DON'T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS," directed by and starring Edmund Purdom, celebrates Christmas time in London - a season of good will to all men and full of joyous celebrations, quality family time and luxurious  presents. This year, it's also time for a masked maniac to be let loose on the streets. His intended victims are chosen at random but they all have one thing in common: they are dressed in the flowing white beard and bright red robes of Santa Claus! With fourteen Santa Clauses already dead and only three killing days left until Christmas, the police are baffled as the horrific death toll continues to rise. From the producers of "Pieces" and "Slaughter High," this rarely-seen flick features very graphic and disturbing violence - including castration, mutilation - and some phenomenal nudity, courtesy of Pat Astley (Mr. Grace's nurse from "Are You Being Served?"). Suffice it to say, your holidays will never be the same again!
Don't Open Till Christmas' hook is the idea of a serial killer who targets people dressed as Santa for the holidays.  This is an interesting take since there are already at least a couple of films about serial killers who dress as Santa Claus while performing their nefarious deeds. That being said, the film does meander a bit on it's way to a climax, though slashers were never renowned for their ability to tell a story, the focus is usually on the blood, and in that department, Don't Open Till Christmas does deliver.

The various and sundry Fathers Christmas in the film meet their ends in increasingly nasty ways.  I won't detail them all to you, as watching the action unfold on screen is a great part of the fun, but suffice it to say that the gore is very fun to watch and the director gets some points for creativity.  Another particularly enjoyable sequence happens as one St. Nick attempts to escape his fate, a futile game, in the London Dungeon.  He stumbles through the many Grand Guignol styled tableaux, each depicting some form of torture or murder all on the way to his own demise.  The sequence is a few minutes long, and probably the most elaborate of the film, it reportedly was the reason for the Dungeon closing itself off from film productions.

Don't Open Till Christmas is a fun little movie, if a little bit confusing.  While I do admire the attempt to get right down to business, some attempt at exposition or explanation can go a long way toward securing engagement on the part of the audience.  I had to work pretty hard to understand what was going on, but once the blood started flowing, I was able to lay back and enjoy.  This is another winner for Mondo Macabro.

The Disc:

As I mentioned in the opening, Mondo Macabro have delivered a new transfer from the negative.  This new anamorphic transfer, while not exactly what you'd call stunning, is very watchable, and better than most rare slashers from that period (1984). There is plenty of detail, and the colors have a nice punch. The audio is pretty standard Dolby Stereo with very clear dialogue and effects on the track, no hiss or notable damage at all.

The disc really scores with the extra features.  The most impressive value-added feature on this disc is a 52 minute vintage "making of" documentary, The Making of a Horror Film.  This 1984 production is far more creative than most current EPK styled BTS videos.  The doc features producer Dick Randall leading a fellow producer through the ins and outs of making a horror picture.  This tongue in cheek video is very entertaining while still managing to enlighten all about the behind the scenes goings on in a low budget horror film.  Very much recommended. In addition to that there is a 30 minute documentary on Producer extraordinaire Dick Randall.  This feature has been included on other Mondo Macabro discs, if I'm not mistaken, but is is well worth watching.  Dick Randall is one of the unsung heroes of exploitation filmmaking.  Where ever there was a dollar to be made, you would find Randall chasing it.  Very entertaining stuff.

Mondo Macabro scores again with this little seen '80s slasher.  Let's hope this opens the flood gates for this paragon of exploitation home video.
Special Features:
- Brand new anamorphic transfer from negative
- 52 minute "Making Of"
- Documentary about producer Dick Randall
- Trailers
- Extensive production notes
- Mondo Macabro Trailers
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