Cheryl Eddy's Badder Santas

Susan Gerhard December 1, 2006

You can’t imagine a film critic like Cheryl Eddy ever believed in Santa Claus. She brings a dazzlingly caustic skepticism to the various films and pop phenomena she writes about weekly at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, where she’s worked since 1999. It was the same year she received her MA in Cinema Studies from San Francisco State University with a dissection of the female heroines of late-‘80s and ’90s slasher films. She loves Italian horror (for “maximum style and sickness,” she states), but says her all-time favorite in the horror genre is “Halloween.” asked Eddy to turn her attentions to another holiday, one coming right up. Says Eddy, “I actually kind of like fruitcake. And I have an irrational fear of mall Santa Clauses.” She offers five Xmas-related horrors to watch out for, one way or the other.

1. Black Christmas (1974)
“Nine years before he made A Christmas Story, director Bob Clark (whose gobsmacking filmography also includes ‘Porky’s, Rhinestone,’ both ‘Baby Geniuses’ movies, AND ‘Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things,’ which he’s apparently remaking!) gathered goody-goody Olivia Hussey, boozy Margot Kidder, 2001 starchild Keir Dullea, and B-movie god John Saxon ‘round the fire for this collegiate chiller about a prank-calling psycho.

“Predictably, the 2006 remake — directed by Glen Morgan, who also did the ‘Willard’ remake and wrote ‘Final Destination’ and ‘Final Destination 3’ (but not, it should be noted, Final Destination 2, which is the best one!) — contains a cast cobbled from ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.’ The official tag line is ‘Prepare for the ultimate slay ride!’ but my advice is to rent the original … otherwise, you better watch out..”

2. Silent Night, Deadly Night, part 2
“If you’re gonna make it a ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ night, the best (of the five in the series) is part 2 (1987). You don’t miss anything by skipping the first one, because the sequel recaps all the good parts via flashbacks galore. Discussion question: will a child who hates Christmas be cured of his killer instincts if he’s taken in by a nice Jewish couple? If a homicidal Santa’s what you crave, fill your stocking here.”

3. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
“For the title alone, 1964’s Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is worth its weight in egg nog … the lowest-budget egg nog you can find. Look for li’l Pia Zadora (as an alien) and find some way to work theme song ‘Hooray for Santa Claus’ into your caroling repertoire. Who can hit all those notes in “O Holy Night” anyway?”

4. Gremlins
“A 1980s classic. Pair with ‘Gremlins 2’ for an almost-too-scary-for-the-kiddies double feature. Part two doesn’t have any Christmas themes, but it does have a Hulk Hogan cameo.”

5. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
I haven’t actually watched this film. Nor do I ever care to. The MUNI billboard ads alone are enough to give me nightmares.