I've been threatening to watch this one for about 10 years, but never got around to it until a (self imposed) rule on a blog told me I 'Had' to... I don't know what that says about me, but "I'll watch one day..." it is one of the reasons I decided to start blogging the Video Nasties in the first place, and it great that not only did it work, but it's now continuing to work with non DPP movies!
The premise is simple: Age 5, Ricky sees his parents murdered (and his mother molested) by a man in a Santa suit (an armed robber on the run as it happens, but that's by-the-by). 13 years later, having grown up with a hatred of Christmas, and a dread fear of Santa Clause, he is roped into playing Santa when the grotto-santa at the shop he works at calls in sick; This is enough to push Ricky over the edge and (still suited up) goes on a killing spree.
It's a compliantly made, low budget, post FT13th, 80's slasher, with all that entails; Most of the effects are good enough, though none are great, there are a handful (if you'll pardon the expression of gratuitous scenes of topless young ladies, and the "plot" serves mostly to put victims in the path of Ricky and whatever improvised weapon comes to hand (This may be the only movie, and is almost certainly the first movie, where a killer runs someone through with a pair of antlers).
Characters are often introduced and killed in the same scene; a real pet hate of mine in modern movies (if I don't know the characters, why would I care when they are killed) but that somehow works in 80's slashers (where we care more about the killer and the method they are killed).
Dark humor highlights include Ricky (while still working as a grotto-Santa) quietly threatening a child into sitting quietly, while a group of parents look on admiring how great he is with kids, and the moment where he gives a young girl a bloody knife, after checking that she has been good.
My only real gripe with the movie is Ricky's Grandpa; The movie opens with Ricky and his parents visiting Grandpa in a (very empty) care home. While Mum and Dad are out of the room, Grandpa reveals to Ricky that he is only pretending to be catatonic; then he goes on to (deliberately) scare his grandson by telling him that Santa 'punishes' children if they have done anything naughty all year. This is never mentioned again; I don't know about you, but when I find out that a catatonic person in a movie is faking it, I expext some kind of payoff down the line...
Oh, and Ricky has a younger brother, who literally has no job in the movie until a sequel setup is needed at the end.
So, Grandpa and Little brother aside, I straight up loved this movie; A killer Santa Clause is every bit as much fun as it sounds, and is done here much better than in 1980's Christmas Evil (which, to be fair, didn't have the benefit of coming after the Friday sequels, and therefore had no template to steal).
If you are a fan of 80's slashers, I strongly recommend that you put this one on your letter to Santa for next year, and be good, for goodness sake.