DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS *** UK 1984 Dir: Edmund Purdom. 82 mins

A deeply troubled production lends a choppy, slapdash feel to this notoriously tacky British contribution to the festive slasher cycle, though you wouldn’t want it any other way. Men dressed as Father Christmas are being butchered in the West End: an obese “Santa” is castrated at a urinal, a wealthy “Santa” is speared through the mouth on a Soho club stage and a sleazy “Santa” is slashed at a notably unerotic peepshow.

Inspector Edmund Purdom, (fresh from PIECES and also directing) receives a suspicious parcel with the note “Don’t open till Christmas” which he ignores so that it can play a part in the twist ending. The plot keeps taking odd detours into the London Dungeon, the world of amateur pornography and even a cringe-inducing singing / dancing cameo from Caroline Munro, playing herself in an unfortunately horrific red dress. It flirts with exploitative nastiness – notably a brain dead model having a razor caressed over her body – and revels in hokey close-up gore, but the entertainment value is vast and the puritanical killer gets some fabulous rants (“You’re all the same…£5 for this, £15 for that…you’re selling your souls!”). As it’s 1984, the women have huge blonde hair, the men and sleazy tossers with bad perms and there’s a homophobic undercurrent.

Review by Steven West

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