Santa’s Slay


Seasonal entertainment, ah, how trite and predicable you are.  From  Rankin-Bass and their Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer and all its nauseating sequels to some saccharin made-for-TV movie where a hunky trucker gets caught in a blizzard while trying to get home to spend the holiday with his blind daughter, which is really important because this is their first Christmas since her mother died.  Can Reba McIntyre, who is also an undercover angel, help save a blind girl’s special Christmas wish in this Hallmark Holiday special?  Oh, I hope not.  Then there is the Mary Kate and the other Mary Kate Christmas Mystery or maybe something with Smurfs or a cartoon mouse who helps Santa, who is stricken with polio or AIDS or maybe that embarrassing fingernail yellowing fungus or something –  I dunno.  I flip the channels and it’s not going to get any better. Bah!

I nod off in my big comfy chair –  warm and cozy from egg nog and the crackling fire.  Ahhh.  The dream sequence begins now:

I’m a producer at Lifetime.  They want me to make a Christmas movie.  Foolishly, they leave me to do my thing without supervision, but they have a few requirements that must be met.  I must cast an aging TV star with name recognition, a retired professional athlete and there must be romance.  Yeah, they’re thinking maybe a story staring the mom from Family Ties who hooks up with Joe Namath. They try to re-capture a lost romantic Christmas moment from long ago and blah, blah, blah.

I’m thinking that Robert Culp would be the best choice for my aging TV star ,because he was Trent in The Demon with the Glass Hand, which is the best episode of the Outer Limits –ever.  And for my retired athlete, I’m gonna pick Goldberg, the former pro wrestler, because he’s Jewish and an athlete and mean.  How great is that? And instead of making them fall in love, which would be really funny, I’m going to make them bitter enemies. Good stories have conflict.  Culp will be a paranoid grandfather with penchant for invention and an incredible secret.  Goldberg will be Santa Claus, only instead of fat and jolly, he’s going to be the son of Satan and a homicidal maniac who is out for revenge against Culp.  For the romance angle, I’m gonna have an awkward teen romance between Culp’s grandson and a cute girl that works with the boy at the local deli.  And I’ll set the movie in a place called Hell Township, and place it somewhere in either North Dakota or Minnesota.

I wake from my nap, my face awash in brandy flavored snooze drool and my slippers on fire. After stamping out the fire, I plop back into my chair.  I turn to the TV.  Awwwww, man.  It’s that horrible Frosty the Snowman cartoon.  If only the movie I dreamt about was a real movie –  that would be a Christmas miracle. When what does my wandering eye freaking see but the movie I imagined and it’s on DVD!  A wonderful surprise!  It’s my lucky day!  Let’s pop in the movie and watch Santa’s Slay!

Santa’s Slay is a throwback to the horror-comedies of the 1980’s.  I could go into greater detail about the plot, but there are a couple of places where the movie goes into exposition mode, giving you the back story using Rankin-Bass styled claymation, which I don’t want to spoil.  Basically, it shakes down into a movie where two resourceful teens have to stop an evil being before it’s too late.  In the main, we’re seen this story before, but that doesn’t matter.  Yeah, there are plot holes big enough to fit eight reindeer but that isn’t important.  What’s important is telling that story with good cheer and I think that Santa’s Slay does it.

The two leads,  Douglas Smith and Emilie de Ravin are engaging enough as the two protagonists hoping to save the world from Santa’s reign of terror.  Douglas Smith is bang-on as the awkward reluctant teen  hero, recalling the memories I have of Zach Galligan in Gremlins. Emilie de Ravin is just about perfect as the sassy heroine.  Together they carry on in the finest tradition of low budget direct-to-home video horror-comedy. As far as on-screen personalities go Santa’s Slay is really Bill Goldberg’s movie.  I can’t really say that I’m a fan of his previous work — I’m not into “perfessional wrastlin” – I can say that he is imposing and hammy enough to make writer/director David Steiman’s twisted vision of Santa highly entertaining.  Additionally, Goldberg did most of his own stunts.  Take that, Tim Allen!

Santa’s Slay is David Steiman’s screen writing and directorial debut; it seems a rather large project for a guy with no experience.  Steiman wasn’t a Hollywood newbie fresh off the bus from Nebraska, with stars in his eyes and a song in his heart, who happened to get lucky.  He was Brett Ratner’s personal assistant and a production assistant on a few Robert Zemeckis films.  Though  Steiman was a virgin director, he was certainly not a industry newbie, and he called in every favor he could to make his holiday dream come true.  It’s a pity that he’s not done anything else. Santa’s Slay is fun little movie that mixes satire, action and little gore into a delicious holiday treat which will probably appeal to a wider audience than most other Christmas oriented horror or horror/comedies.

WTF Moment:
The movie opens with a family consisting of James Caan, Chris Kattan, Fran Drescher, Rebecca Gayheart, Alicia Lorén and Annie Sorel, sitting down for Christmas dinner when Santa arrives to spread some Christmas fear.

Bill Goldberg
Douglas Smith
Emilie de Ravin
Robert Culp
Dave Thomas
Saul Rubinek

David Steiman

David Steiman

Three of five Vincents

One Response to “Santa’s Slay”

  • TreverT:

    I had no idea who Bill Goldberg was, but he seemed to be channeling Jesse Ventura’s character from Predator for his Santa portrayal, which helped immensely.

    Also, how can anyone NOT love a movie that opens with the horrifying murder of Fran Drescher?

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