Featuring: Bill “Half Past Dead 2” Goldberg , Douglas “Stage Fright (2014)” Smith , Emilie “The Hills Have Eyes (2007)” de Ravin
Director & Writer: David Steiman
Also Known As: Very Bad Santa
Merciful Cthulhumas to you, my fellow cinemasochists! May Our Dark Lord from the hoary nether realm spare you and your loved ones for another year! Today (well, 3 days ago) is the day of the Gregorian calender we set aside to honor our eternally dark Lord Cthulhu by paying tribute to the important persons of our lives: generally through thoughtfully chosen presents, sacrifices of personal wealth, oaths of fealty…or gift cards to Red Lobster. This year, I continue my vow to sacrifice my sanity in the name of your entertainment by shutting myself into the iron maiden that is today’s holiday themed episode. You owe me.
David Steiman’s IMDB profile credits him with four production assistant jobs from 1999-2000, before becoming personal assistant to director Bret Ratner for three consecutive movies: starting with 2000’s The Family Man (I’ll have to excerebrate my gray matter with a nasal hook just to literally get Hall & Oates out of my head now), continuing through Rush Hour 2 and ending with Red Dragon in 2002. Three years later, Ratner himself would end up with a mysterious producer’s credit on this celebration of yuletide retardation: Santa’s Slay. Not only would SS (yep, that’s how I’m referring to it!) be the first-and-only writer-director credit for Mr. Steiman, but it’s also the last industry credit the guy can lay claim to of any kind for the decade since…
So, Bret Ratner produces his ex-assistant’s solo-project? Looks to me like Mr. Steiman really put the “ass” into “assistant” during his time working under The Rat, blackmailed Bret into lending his name and credibility (I use the term loosely… possibly sarcastically) to SS, then exiled himself into oblivion after being confronted with the product of his manipulations, having lost any future he may have held for himself after giving up said blackmail material to BR as part of their arrangement. Oh well, sometimes you gotta swallow a few loads to make your dreams cum true…Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, you, you, you, you! Fuck…the H&O earworm only grows fatter. Somebody get me 666 cc of “Super Charger Heaven”, stat!
Our movie cold opens on a Christmas gathering of the Mason family (no, not the Manson family) as they gather for dinner, bickering and implied adultery. They’re your typical horribly WASPy family of well-off shitholes to whom the concept of love died long ago, like a starving polio-ridden Great Depression-era orphan child in a snowstorm. They’re thankful to their god for not making them “poor or Samoan”. Just when the dad (James Caan) is about to stab the son-in-law (Chris Kattan) for fingering the mom (Fran Drescher) under the dinner table, a pissed off mountain of a man dressed like Santa (Bill Goldberg) explodes from their chimney and proceeds to brutally slaughter the whole useless clan till they’re Feliz NaviDEAD! Bludgeoning, immolation, impalement, drowning in egg nog, and finally, James Caan getting a turkey leg jammed down his throat pipe. (Death) God bless them, every one.
Who is this Herculean icon of holiday cheer-turned-brain smashing behemoth (this line to be spoken like the narrator from the Adam West “Batman”)? I’ll spare you the wait and express pass your ass to the head of the class. It’s almost a decade old at this point, so the grace period for plot spoiling is long gone! You know how Jesus Christ was supposedly the result of immaculate conception between an angel and his “virgin” mother Mary? Turns out there was another such birth some time ago, as Satan himself spawned his own offspring from another mortal woman (named Erica)’s baby maker. That child’s name? Santa. What, you though it was a coincidence their names are so similar? The SNL Church Lady knew the score!
Anyway, every year on his birthday Santa would go out and slaughter random people. These annual bouts of unsolved murders were dubbed “The Day of Slayings” (YesVirginia, we have a title), also known as Kerry King’s birthday. As Christianity spread like a plague over the Nordic lands, the people would gather every year for a Christ mass, where they’d beg their new god to save them from Santa’s traditional birthday bash(ing of their skulls). Sometime around the year 1000, Big G finally answered their whining by sending down an archangel to do a BTO job (i.e. take care of business). Disguising himself as just another jobber, the angel challenged the big bully to a winner-take-all round of curling. Curling?! Yep, this movie is definitely a product of Canada. Blart.
If Santa won his challenger would be condemned to an eternity in Hell, while a loss would result in Santa becoming a harbinger of charity and good cheer for the extent of the following millennium. The winged deceiver triumphed and the rest is history…until now: exactly 1000 years later (to the day, since this is a movie), when Santa’s personality inversion has expired! Now he and his reindeerish beast the Helldeer (it’s just a white buffalo…someone call Charles Bronson!) are on the hunt for the heavenly body that pulled the holy wool over his soulless black eyes and permanently scratching a few names off of his Naughty List along the way. Where’s this angel now? He resides in a little middle-of-nowhere hamlet in the wilds of Canada known as…Hell.
And yes, the township’s moniker is abused to full pun effect throughout the next 75 minutes, so gird your laughter loins (or your groan groin), lest ye suffer a pulled muscle from all of the agonizing efforts of fifth grade humor you’re in store for.
Also residing in Hell is a disgustingly mild mannered teen by the moniker of Nicholas Yuleson (Douglas Smith looking like the son of Bud Bundy), whose possession of the Christmasiest sounding name since Santa’s Little Helper (or “Santos L. Halper” if you work in customer service) is guaranteed to get him involved in the coming blizzard of bloody battery. In fact, if I just outright told you now that the elusive angel is his grandpa (Robert Culp) and young Nick was oblivious of the fact until now as Santa Claus is comin’ to town, your shock level would register somewhere around a “minor static shock from touching a doorknob after crossing a carpet in socks” level, right? I thought as much.
Nick works at a Jewish owned deli (is there any other kind?) along with his friend/co-worker/scripted love interest Mary “Mac” MacKenzie (Emilie de Ravin). Mary’s obviously got a girl boner for the gawky weirdo, and if she has her way, she won’t be going the way of the Biblical Mary…by which I mean she’s looking to get her factory seal ruptured for Christmas…by which I mean she wants the Nick dick. As for deli owner Mr. Green (Saul Rubinek), I don’t know his intentions for “the Nick dick”, but I will say that he looks like the bastard love child of Elliott Gould and Adam Carolla. He winds up pinned to the back wall of his establishment by a menorah jammed through his windpipe later on, courtesy of Claus. Does this count as a hate crime? Shouldn’t Santa be down with the Chosen People given their mutual hatred of Jesus anyway? Also, if you say “hatred of Jesus” using the Spanish pronunciation, it rolls off the proverbial tongue nicely. Very lyrical.
Here’s the rundown on Nick’s grandpa (simply credited as “Grandpa”): in his current form, he’s considered the town nutso. He’s a bit of a recluse who refuses to celebrate Christmas, spends his time in his basement bunker watching his oddly extensive surveillance equipment and making weird inventions like a weaponized nutcracker that shoots exploding chesnuts out of its hideous grinning maw. Before all of this, back when he tricked Santa into a thousand years of slavery in the shackles of holiday cheer, the angel gave up his halo and wings to start a life with a mortal Norse woman (little to nothing of which is covered beyond “I fell in love with a human woman”) who we’re presumed to believe became Nick’s grandma. I guess giving up your angelic status doesn’t make you “mortal” though, because the old man’s still spry after ten centuries. That’s just the tip of the WTF iceberg, because there’s no mention of what happened to Nick’s parents, or just how shallow the roots are on his family tree. Did Gramps fall in love, spend a lifetime with the woman, then just kinda live and love for the next 900 years or so until he met Nick’s actual grandma before settling down and raising a family? Did he sire another family, or possibly multiple other families, before spawning the bloodline that would lead to young master Yuleson? It’s never addressed, let alone made clear, and just leaves gaping-like-a-size-queen plot holes big enough to fly a team of reindeer through. Thought I’d stuff your stockings with a little holiday twist to an old reviewer’s cliché.
While all of this is going on, we’re introduced to Hell’s resident representative of the Christian faith, Pastor Timmons (Dave Thomas!). PT is your standard issue “Don’t be a sinner – give money to me! Errr, the church!” man of the cloth, and regularly holds mass…by which I mean the mass of the big fake titties hanging off of the pole jockettes sluttin’ it up at the town gentlemen’s club. Yep, the contents of the collection plate are destined for the g-strings of Hell’s single mothers and “working girls”. In no way surprising, but makes the Pastor’s statement in a prior scene telling his congregation to not donate loose change and keep it to bills incrimentally funnier in retrospect.
Juggernaut Claus runs (unstoppably so, “bitch”!) through the club and murders a handful of denizens while casually sexually harassing and/or assaulting several of the employees before just burning the STD hole to the ground via a flaming hot coal grenade that leaves the place looking like a Vietnamese orphanage after one of Uncle Sam’s anti-communism napalm showers. Timmons eludes paying the proverbial piper (only to be corpsed up while dressed as Santa later on, in the moments before the closing credits roll), but professional wrestling nerds should take note – infamous pro-wrestling writer cum onscreen character Vince “Vic Venom” Russo cameos as one of the victims of Santa’s rampage! Funny from a geek standpoint since many fans blame Russo for the murdering of former “sports entertainment” titan and builders of Bill Goldberg’s career World Championship Wrestling. The only true WCW, by the way, for all the those “woman crush Wednesdays” social media she-wankers. 😛
Eventually Santa gets around to hunting Nick and Grandpa so as to wipe their lineage from the face of the Earth in revenge for being reduced to “a bowl full of jelly” with “dimples so merry” for most of his existence. He managed to locate the duo thanks to a letter Nick sent to him years ago (where did you think those letters to Santa wound up?!), asking for an Easy Bake Oven. Mary tags along for the adventure (gotta have those “Don’t you realize yet that I want the Nick dick!?” moments) and Nick somehow comes to the conclusion that they’ll be okay so long as they can survive until 7PM their time, because that would make it midnight at the North Pole, thus Christmas would officially be over. I hate it when the protagonists just make up their own rules to shit like this! Not since Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives!, when Tommy randomly decides that the only way to stop super zombie Jason Vorhees is to chain a boulder around his neck and trap him in Crystal Lake amid a ring of fire just BECAUSE, have I screamed “Who gave you creative control of the script?!” at my TV screen. Horse. Shit.
Almost as annoying is Nick’s insistence on putting his dick in the fourth wall glory hole by reminding everybody several times about how absurd the whole scenario is. Christ’s nipple clamps! If you’re gonna have a character riff on how stupid your own movie is, just go all out with it. He comes within inches of just saying “It’s like we’re in some bad horror movie!” before looking straight into the camera and winking anyway, so take a fucking cue from Nike and JUST DO IT!
Santa follows Nick back to Grandpa’s, but while our teen heroes try to escape the brutal bearded beefcake, Grandpa gets run over by the Helldeer…and yes, they make the obvious joke, in case you were wondering. The rest of the movie is basically the Degrassi dropouts running away from Santa until they wind up at the local high school, where Santa pulls out a glowing green candy cane (like one of those throwaway glow sticks spelunkers use) to light up his face for dramatic effect…then immediately throws it down…because he only needed it for that one second…oy. He chases them onto the school hockey rink, but just as the homicidal holiday icon is about to run down the soory pair under a hungry Zamboni, he’s stopped by a glowing golden curling stone…
Yes, apparently when an angel gives up their angelic status to become a seemingly un-aging human (is this where Highlanders come from?), once they’re killed they’re allowed to get their old jobs back. If that’s the case, then why don’t ALL angels do this?! Shit, it’d be worth it just to experience the blowjobs and cheeseburger pizza alone! You get to just become an angel again when you die anyway!
Grandpa tries to trick the sadistic behemoth into another curling match, this time demanding Claus becomes a good guy forever (why wasn’t that the stipulation for the original face-off?!) if the golden geezer triumphs once more, once again offering himself up to eternal damnation in Hell if he loses… except that angels aren’t human and thus do not have souls to damn, so the bet’s already bullshit to begin with! Anyway, Santa agrees to the wager, but this time demands that Gramps shoots first. Star Wars geeks, please save your Han-Greedo arguments (and slash fiction) for the appropriate message boards and Facebook groups. Thank you.
Santa pulls a shitlord move (he is Beelzebub Jr. after all), and rather than taking his turn at slide ‘n sweep, just grabs Gramps and tosses him into a literal hell hole! Nick’s completely meritless deadline finally expires, to which Claus pleasingly tells Nick to go fuck himself with that bullshit. He’s Santa Claus. HE decides when Christmas is over! He then tries to blow up Nick and (There’s Something About) Mary with a Megalon napalm loogie (why did he even need the coal bomb at the strip club?!), but it’s deflected by Nick who uses the nutcracker weapon from earlier in one of the most gob smackingly dumb-fuck moments in a movie infested with dumb-fuck moments. Santa takes a chestful of chestnut shrapnel (yeah, they make THAT pun too) in the exchange and escapes into the night on his Zamboni while the kids help Grandpa, who’s been hanging onto the edge of the Hell portal for longer than an old man should be able to hold his own body weight. Grandpa can’t leave the boundaries of the hockey rink (huh?!), so Nick and Mary set off to finish the job on Santa on their own. Rather than find him and defeat him, they opt instead to get Mary’s family of Canadian rednecks to shoot down the Helldeer (with a rocket launcher, because Canada’s seemingly littered with live military armaments), blowing it into scattered meat and guts…until it’s shown again two minutes later as a complete carcass tied to the top of someone’s truck! I can only wish that I regenerate the brain cells killed from watching SS as fast.
The movie ends threatening us with the possibility of a sequel as Nick takes up Grandpa’s Santa grimoire (which I’ll call the Navidadicon) and bukkakes the screen with Velveeta as he declares “my saga’s just beginning”. BLAAAAART! Meanwhile, Santa winds up at an airport with a plane ticket to the North Pole…and that’s it. It’s over. Roll the really shitty end credits theme “Bye Bye Santa”, as done by a sad excuse for a Ramones cover band called Jim Diamond’s Pop Monsoon, a half-hearted hardcore version Deck the Halls, and some more JDPM shit called Christmas In Detroit…for this movie that was filmed entirely in Canada. May that threat of a sequel be an empty one, and let us thank Cthulhu that Dave Steiman’s resume has since been trapped in magical Christmas ice, from which we can only pray it is never thawed and is freezer burned beyond recognition.
I’ve been shitting on the writing enough by this point, so you already know how I feel about that. What I’d like to do now, is drop a few Cleveland Steamers on the friggin’ editing hack job. It wasn’t horrible for the most part, but during the last chunk of this hour and fifteen it read like a clusterfuck. It came off like someone with a meat cleaver and high on airplane glue was told to chop off 20 minutes or so of footage and this is what was left. Ever seen Evil Ed? That. The entire non-ending was awful, and any movie that sets itself up for a sequel doesn’t deserve one. Every movie should be made under the idea of “THIS IS OUR ONLY CHANCE TO MAKE SOMETHING, SO LET’S NOT DO IT HALF-ASSED! WE USE OUR WHOLE ASS, DAMN IT!” because you don’t wanna be a one-termer asshole like Carter or Bush Sr. who didn’t get to live up to their first term promises.
Creative now properly crucified, how about this cast? Douglas Smith? Simply put, he sucks. Remember how I said he had this next-gen David Faustino/Bud Bundy thing going on? I would’ve preferred a time traveling David Faustino circa 1992 playing Nick. Robert Culp’s okay, but his Nordic accent sometimes dips into “I didn’t know the Nords were from Ireland” territory. Emilie de Ravin is passable, but delivers lines at times that give me the impression she’d just put her retainer in between scenes. Take this how you will, but she also looks like a barely legal Patricia Arquette. If I were 10 years younger…I’d still feel like a dirty old man for wanting to see what she looks like with my balls on her chin and my pubes making time with her nose hairs. Shit. Onto a less damning statement, Dave Thomas (the Strange Brew guy, not the dead guy from the Wendy’s commercials) is… well…there. He showed up for work and read his lines. He wasn’t very funny, but the material wasn’t exactly Mel Brooks. Tommy “Tiny (but I’ll always know him as Zeus)” Lister gets a paycheck for a short cameo as a gas station attendant (AKA the only black guy in rural Canada) who’s moved to Hell to get away from all the violence in “the hood”…Canada has a “hood”?! I was really hoping Lister would reveal himself to be some kind of opposing force for Santa, but once Grandpa came back into the picture as a member of the haloed crowd, I knew my hopes were for naught and his appearance was just a nod to old school wrestling geeks like yours truly. Go watch No Holds Barred and weep at the smell of dookie.
The only worthwhile stand out from this movie is Goldberg, and that’s because Santa plays to his strengths: look like a big psychotic colossus, snarl and grin like a maniac a lot, and speak English clear enough that you can recite bad holiday themed one-liners. The one-liners themselves are crap, but Bill delivers them with enough aplomb to show that he was at least having some laughs behind his gigantic fake facial mane.
Everything started out great, with Santa handing out comically graphic violence to the jerk-off brood, followed by running a bitchy old lady off the road to her great reward (that’s what happens when you berate Jews for saying “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas”!), but once the story started to form, the foundations for this gingerbread house immediately dried out and began crumbling. The whole thing starts to feel like a slapdash Hallmark Channel Christmas Original, only littered with foul language, crude humor, big naked fake-o boobs, and cartoony (albeit bloody) levels of murder. You could slap “Hallmark After Dark Presents” on the title card and I wouldn’t be surprised. On the plus side, if you’ve ever wanted to the see The Nanny’s head set ablaze, here’s your chance!
I say watch Santa’s Slay for the bloodshed and fast forward through the rest of this mire. And this is coming from someone who likes Jack Frost…no, not the Michael Keaton movie…and not the Russian one they watched on the Satellite of Love. All in all, I’ll use a quote from Nicholas and sum Santa’s Slay up as “File that next to brown colored toilet paper as a bad idea”. I thought SS would be gold, but it was bronze. Sorry, I wanted to get this movie out of my system so I marathoned “Snuff Box” last night and now I can’t get that damn theme song out of my skull.
Fun fact: Goldberg’s not the first professional meathead to don the red, white and beard! In 1996, man-shaped Ziploc bag full of gravy Hulk Hogan starred in Santa with Muscles, where he played a guy who did things, presumably dressed as Santa, that likely included performing wrestling moves on some less-than-noble types. It’s so shit streaked that it makes it almost impossible for me to masturbate to Mila Kunis, knowing that she was in it. Sadly, it’s outside of my realm of influence, as the be-hair curtained Real American’s entry into the pantheon of holiday “Why hasn’t this been done by RiffTrax yet?” cin-enemas was left behind in the wake of the last millenium with the rest of the Hulkster’s floppy dicked attempt at a movie career. If I could have my way though, I would Charles Band the crap out of these two bicep blasted incarnations of Ol’ Saint Nick and make them do Yuletide combat in Santas with Muscles: 2 Holly 2 Jolly 2 Slay.
In more positive news, this week marked the 20th anniversary of the release of Street Fighter – the world’s first movie adaptation of a video game, that also had a video game adaptation of itself…dividing by zero before dividing by zero was a thing. It killed Raul Julia. To celebrate, here’s movie Blanka! Despite the rest of his body being violently deformed through experimental mutation, at least his dentist will be happy to see that it didn’t effect his teeth. Merciful Cthulhumas, everyone!
Nothing much changed, we’re just older
But if I see you again back in detox
Put my remains in my snuff box
“Got any roles I can audition for? I’ll do anything for a part! I sucked off and swallowed 14 studio execs in a sauna once for Corky Romano, and I knew that movie was going to be shit from first glance!”
James Caan’s just gone straight senile. Every time we invite him to our Tuesday night Knifey-Spoony games, he always shows up with a fucking fork…
It’s Kool-Aid Claus! “Ho-ho-hoooooh Yeah!”
“Where’s the (roast) beef!… oh wait. There it is.”
“Every time you come in here Mrs. Smith, I tell you I’m NOT Paul Reiser. Please stop asking for my autograph and telling me I should give Helen Hunt a call to see how she’s doing.”
That has to be the most name brand stocked fridge I’ve seen in a long time!
“And don’t ever try putting your dick in that thing, kid. There’s a reason they’re called NUTcrackers!”
Despite what this may look like, that guy’s just trying to give Santa a complimentary shave. The beard’s just getting too big to manage.
She’s either doing her impression of Frankenstein’s monster, trying to keep her “silent but deadly” silent, or showing us her “o face”.
Billy Baldwin, tired of waiting for the call to come, goes ahead and starts up his own homemade sequel to Sliver.
“Ho-ho-HOLY SHIT! Who slipped acid into my milk and cookies?! I am freakin’ out!”
“Today’s passing of the collection plate is to raise the funds needed to replace our tissue paper windows with actual stained glass. Please give what you can, then add $10 on top of that.”
“What are you punk-asses looking at?! Tell Hanukkah Harry I’ll be waiting for him at the Nativity Scene downtown whenever he’s ready to man up and settle this once and for all!”
“Look, after Ice Cube sold out and stopped making Friday sequels, I had to make money somehow! Not like No Holds Barred 2 is every gonna be a thing! Now, you gonna buy these Cheetos or what?!”
He was only supposed to bleed from the throat for a few hours, but he somehow bled for 8 nights. It was a new Hanukkah miracle!
Having taken a bunch of Ecstasy and eaten several snowballs packed with Viagra, Santa is ready to rave straight on into the New Year!
A still from the Canadian remake of Heaven Can Wait. This is what angels look like North of the border.
President of the Canadian expansion of the NRA. Not sure how rocket launchers classify as “Rifles”, but if you ask them why they’ll just threaten to murder your family for “trampling their rights”.
Anubis will return next time in
“The Wrestling Dead”
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