The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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All Critics (6)
| Fresh (5)
| Rotten (1)
| DVD (3)
Lewis Jackson's Yuletide UFO puts the manic in Manichaeism.
Harry is played... with the kind of range & intensity more usually associated with De Niro's Travis Bickle or Joe Spinell's Frank Zito than with the blankly cartoonish Jasons, Michaels & Freddies who would come to dominate the mainstream slashers.
The film is noted for starting a sub-genre of the jolly St. Nick as a psycho slasher killer.
Even before "Halloween," there was "Black Christmas."
As if a Norman Rockwell painting was shattered over the fireplace, a child's fragile perception of Santa as a caretaker is skewed when he sees Santa caressing his mother's leg. If your idea of heart-stopping insanity is a man humming Christmas tunes and donating toys to mentally challenged children, this is the movie for you. The whole premise is far-fetched and ripe for a dark comedy, not a psychological drama. The film is entirely poker-faced when a newscaster announces "avoid anyone dressed as Santa" and during a police lineup where they coerce belly laughs out of the suspects. The film feels very dated and is exquisitely moronic. The last frames defy justification and only accentuate the film's tin-ear fancifulness.
This is a slasher movie where the psycho is obsessed with creating a great Santa Claus for children, and with punishing the adults who don't believe anymore of course. He even works at a toy factory! The guy who plays him is pretty creepy, but there's not as much blood and gore as there could have been, and the other actors aren't so good. Overall, it's an okay Christmas horror movie.
This started out rather slowly, but kept building. It winds up getting more and more serious until it just goes flat-out silly at the very end - with an ending totally off-the-wall and completely insane that I have to give the filmmakers props for being so ballsy. It may not be perfect, but it's got some good things going for it.
After Harry sees a man dressed as jolly St. Nick make love to his mother one Christmas Eve as a child, he grows up obsessed with Santa Claus, going so far as to spy on neighborhood kids and keep his own list of who's been naughty and nice. One Christmas Eve, he snaps. A character study and not a slasher film, despite the marketing. It alternates between atmospheric and darkly witty, and just plain ridiculous. Still, it's probably the "best" killer Santa movie ever made.
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