Santa Claws Movie Review
Written by Robert Gold
A Market Square Production
Written and directed by John Russo
1996, 83 minutes, Not Rated
Premiered on October 22nd, 1996
Debbie Rochon as Raven Quinn
Grant Kramer as Wayne
John Mowod as Eric Quinn
Karl Hardman as Bruce Brunswick
Christine Cavalier as Amanda Madison
Sue Ellen White as Debbie Darwin
Raven Quinn (Debbie Rochon), is a successful starlet in the B-movie world of horror and a proud mother of two young children. She is currently working on her latest cinematic opus, Scream Queen Christmas, but Raven’s world is turned upside down when her photographer husband Eric (John Mowod) asks for a divorce.
Raven may have studied to be a zoologist, but shot-on-video titty flicks pay the bills and will keep her occupied during this stressful season. She doesn’t have anyone to turn to with her problems, since the other actresses are jackals ready to pounce at the first sign of any weakness. Eric’s mother (Marilyn Eastman) and sister are not very supportive and blame Raven for the failure of her marriage, so she turns to her friendly next door neighbor Wayne (Grant Kramer), who eagerly listens to her and agrees to help out by babysitting the kids while she is away.
Wayne is thoughtful, kind and exactly the kind of support Raven needs. Unfortunately for her, he is also an obsessed fan who wants more than just a friendship with the sexy scream queen. As a child, Wayne walked into his mother’s room without knocking and saw her having sex with a fat slob “uncle.” They scolded him, and in return he served them with a .22-caliber apology.
Now Wayne finds solace in all things Raven, and has created a shrine for his devotion. While spending quality time with her, he learns of the pressures she faces. Before too long, Wayne has created a mental list of those he feels have wronged his idol and he sets out to settle the score in her honor. Painting a Santa Claus suit black and donning a ski mask, he arms himself with a garden trowel that was used as a prop weapon in one of Raven’s movies.
Eric returns home to find the kids drugged and unconscious. He manages to call his mother, but not 911, for help before heading to the studio to confront Raven. Wayne is busying himself with killing off members of the cast and crew whom he feels are deserving of his wrath. He still hasn’t mastered the art of knocking, and this time he walks in on Raven and Eric arguing. There is a fight that is neither suspenseful nor engaging and in the end, the Quinn family stands united, thanks in part to Wayne and his twisted Christmas spirit.
Santa Claws is an embarrassing effort from filmmakers John Russo (Midnight) and Bill Hinzman (The Majorettes), who at this stage in their careers ought to be doing better work. They are veterans of the George Romero classic Night of the Living Dead and have ridden that recognition for forty years. The material should be beneath them yet they pad the production with gratuitous nudity from as many women possible, using the old exploitation film-within-a-film excuse.
Both Russo and Hinzman appear on screen in small roles, the former as a cop, while cinematographer Hinzman is typecast as the sleazy cameraman (a job title he shares behind the lens, as well.) There are a few other familiar faces from the 1968 classic filling in small roles here, including Karl Hardman and Marilyn Eastman, but they are little more than extended cameos. Christine Cavalier (Red Lips) appears as a nude actress and Sue Ellen White steals her scenes as a temptress looking to steal Rochon’s husband.
Debbie Rochon (Tromeo and Juliet) rises above the material provided and gives a solid performance as the victim of an art-imitates-life scenario. It is unfortunate that she is so strong in this, since it is a role she was forced to repeat in countless low-budget productions for the decade that followed. She deserves better, but continues to bring her best to whatever production catches her.
Santa Claws is an example of the dreck that polluted video store shelves in the last days of the mom-and-pop operations. The punny title and misleading artwork suggests an actual monster instead of a douchebag running around in a crappy costume. There is no doubt that the filmmakers knew exactly what they were making, and the movie feels like the clumsy grab for cash that it is, but Rochon makes the viewing experience a hell of lot easier to stomach.
Day seven of Robert Gold's "12 Days of Christmas".
Day 2: To All a Good Night
Day 3: Silent Night, Deadly Night 2
Day 4: Jaws: The Revenge
Day 5: Christmas Evil
Day 7: Santa Claws
Day 9: Elves
Day 10: Dead End
Day 11: Santa's Slay
Day 12: Black Christmas (1974)
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