Coincidentally, I was going to review this UK-based, Christmas-themed Slasher as part of my final review anyway but since the holidays are right around the corner, it couldn't have come at a better time. Perhaps you've heard mention of '84's Silent Night, Deadly Night and 1980's Christmas Evil (aka You Better Watch Out). Both can be considered films within the sub-genre as well, especially the former, but they aren't what I consider obscure...at least not to the standards of this particular review series. In terms of top-tiered material, Black Christmas is still the reigning champ; the original from 1974 of course, although the remake was done remarkably well.
The film opens with scenes depicting a costume party several days before Christmas. Kate's father, dressed as Santa Claus, makes his appearance on stage and is quickly assassinated by someone from the crowd. The police are quick to investigate; particularly Inspector Ian Harris (Edmund Purdom, also the director). The blame is gradually shifted upon Kate's boyfriend Cliff. Any male participant found representing good ol' St. Nick is taken out in brutal fashion. Is Christmas doomed?
I found it difficult to reasonably describe the film's premise on account of how humorous and well...stupid, it is. During the opening segments, while the credits appeared on screen, I had a glimmer of hope - could THIS be the Christmas-themed horror movie of the past so aggressively sought after by enthusiasts? After the high of my inner pep-talk wore off I was faced with the grim reality of a mess-ridden film. It's been documented that the finished product was the result of a few directorial changes in the crew's lineup.
Hideous cut-jobs are littered throughout and it'd be a chore to find a lengthy segment that does not have this issue. Probably the most prominent example of such shortcomings pertains to the death sequences - you may as well forget any use of subtlety and smooth transitional work. The killings begin and end so abruptly; they merely drop them on you like a giant anvil. Not to mention that they occur so rapidly and involve characters that share no screen time prior to their demise. Obviously the highlight in a moment like this is the gore factor but even that is severely lacking.
I may as well spell things out for you as to familiarize yourself with the players involved in Don't Open Till Christmas...E-M-B-A-R-R-A-S-I-N-G. Outside of Edmund Purdom (who's been in a few horror movies, and his acting merits far outweigh his brief directorial work), the inflections used, or rather, not used, result in a very underwhelming performance. They manage to be so unconvincing in their deliveries that, collectively, they'd fail miserably at selling bottles of oxygen in a space vacuum.
In your typical 'Hey-What's-Going-On-Here?' one can always expect a few distractions; characters thrown into the mix that make the audience think twice of who the killer is. In this case, a reporter is introduced, unfurling a red flag to allow the guessing games to begin among the audience. I wouldn't worry about twists, tricks, or cerebral traps because the red herring in this film is so fat you may just want to throw it in the oven.
At the height of the film's conclusion, the motive of the killer is finally revealed, in what turns out to be the DUMBEST of reasons to go on a murderous spree. I'm not even sure it makes logical sense. It's zany and unintentionally hilarious which probably stands as the most insulting thing you could do as a film producer. Don't Open Till Christmas is one cookie that you shouldn't leave out for Santa; when it's all said and done, I'm sure you'll agree that not only does it have nothing to do with the title, but English accents can't hide poor quality. A native of Britain would probably conclude this review by saying this - "It's rubbish!"