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Christmas Evil (originally titled You Better Watch Out, also known as Terror in Toyland) is an psychological slasher film that was released only in Pennsylvania in November 1980.

Synopsis

On Christmas Eve 1947 in suburban New Jersey, a young boy named Harry Stadling sees his mother being sexually groped by his father, who is dressed up as Santa Claus. Heartbroken, the child rushes up to the attic and cuts his hand with a shard of glass from a shattered snow globe.

33 years later, an adult Harry works in a low-level position at the Jolly Dreams toy factory, where his colleagues consider him a "schmuck" and make fun of him. At home, he has taken it upon himself to become the next true Santa: he sleeps in costume, and his apartment is resplendent with Christmas décor. He spies on neighborhood children to see if they are being "good" or "bad" and keeps detailed records of their behavior.

Harry's coworker, Frank, asks Harry to cover his shift on the assembly line in order to be with his family. However, on his way home from work, Harry sees Frank drinking with friends at a local bar. Distressed by the man's duplicity, Harry breaks one of his dollhouse figures while humming Christmas tunes. The following day, he cancels Thanksgiving dinner with his younger brother Phil and his family. Phil has been constantly angered by his brother's odd behavior, while Phil's wife Jackie is more sympathetic.

At the company Christmas party, the owner of Jolly Dreams, Mr. Wiseman, announces that the company will donate toys to the children of the local hospital, provided production increases sufficiently and the employees contribute with their own money. Mr. Fletcher, one of the company's high-ranking executives, introduces Harry to new training executive George Grosch, who devised the donation scheme. Harry is angry at both for not really caring about the children. That night, he fills bags with toys he stole from the factory and other bags with dirt.

On Christmas Eve, while gluing a Santa beard to his face, he enters a fugue state that has him convinced to truly be Santa Claus. Donned in his Santa suit, Harry starts doing his rounds on the van that he decorated with a sleigh picture, and that he believes to have been trained by Santa Claus's reindeer. He first sneaks into his brother's home and delivers toys for his nephews; then leaves a bagful of dirt at the doorstep of "bad boy" Moss Garcia. Later, Harry drops off toys at the hospital, where he is greeted cheerfully by the staff.

On the street, Harry is taunted by three young men leaving Midnight Mass and, in a fit of rage, he partially blinds one of them with a toy soldier's sword, then murders them all with a hatchet. Later, Harry is welcomed at a neighborhood Christmas party, where people think he is just some harmless Santa impersonator; he dances and cheers everyone up and makes sure the attending children know they will have to be good boys and girls to receive their gifts. He then breaks into Frank's home and murders him in his bed with a Christmas tree decoration, leaving toys behind for his kids.

Songs

Title(s)Performed by
"Santa Claus, Santa Claus"James Brown
Uncredited
"Winter Wonderland"
Brandon Maggart
(Humming)
"Angels We Have Heard on High"
"Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"The Crystals

Cast

Actor/actressCharacter(s)
Brandon MaggartHarry Stadling
Jeffrey DeMunnPhilip Stadling
Dianne HullJackie Stadling
Andy FenwickDennis Stadling
Brian NevilleMarc Stadling
Joe JamrogFrank Stoller
Wally MoranPhilip Stadling Jr.
Gus SaludHarry Stadling Jr.
Ellen McElduffHarry's Mother
Brian HartiganHarry's Father
Peter NeumanMoss Garcia
Lance HolcombScotty Goodrich
Elizabeth RidgeSusie Lovett
Chris BrowningRichie Sharp
Tyrone HolmesFrankie
Patricia RichardsonMoss' Mother
Scott McKayMr. Fletcher
Peter FriedmanMr. Grosch
Owen HollanderBen
Horace BaileyJake
John BrockmanDr. Probst
Burt KleinerSol Wiseman
David HughesWorker
Lloyd David HartTipsy Worker
Francine DumontMrs. Fletcher
Pamela EnzMrs. Grosch
William RobertsonGuard
Sheila AndersonNurse
Robert AriDoctor
Philip CasnoffRicardo Bauma
Michael KlingerPeter
Mark ChamberlinCharles
Colleen ZenkBinky
Lisa SloanKhaki
Jim Desmond
Mark Margolis
Men
Jennifer NovtneyLittle Girl
Audrey MatsonWoman
Danny FedericiAccordian Player
Arthur BresslerSaxophone Player
Jack ScarangellaDrummer
Ray BarryDetective Gleason
Sam GrayInspector Grella
Bobby LesserDetective Gottleib
Will McMillanYoung Man
Bill RaymondPriest
Joan JonasOlder Woman
Nancy ClarkFemale Witness
T. Wellington PerkinsBlack Santa
Jim Gagen
Leib Lensky
James Gallagher
Santas
Hy MencherOlder Man
Michael GordonPoliceman
Stephen MendilloTom
Ratanya AldaTheresa
Kerry BroderickAngelina
John ToweyJoe
Annette KurekMary
Matthew LevineMatthew
Marian VitaleMrs. Stoller
Carrie SteeleDaughter
Robert SamilariSon
Uncredited
Danielle ComfortiLittle girl at party
Annie Gagen
Don Stitt
Party Dancers
Lewis JacksonBartender (Christmas Office Party)

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