by Heath Holland
If Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, why do I want to find something sharp and pointy when The Santa Claus plays on an endless loop in my house all month long? Or how about when A Charlie Brown Christmas (which I think is great) gets shown just one time too many? Fact is, sometimes I find myself wanting something a little darker.
Enter Santa’s Slay, a low-budget horror/comedy from 2005 starring no one’s favorite football player and wrestler Bill Goldberg as the man in the red suit. The movie is the first and only film to be directed by David Steiman, who was Brett Ratner’s assistant on movies like Rush Hour 2 and Red Dragon. He was also a production assistant on Robert Zemeckis’ film Cast Away, so Steiman knows his way around a movie set and clearly has some big connections. More on that in just a bit.
There’s a lot of recognizable faces in the regular cast Santa’s Slay, including Emilie de Ravin (Lost), Douglas Smith (HBO’s Big Love), and Dave Thomas (Strange Brew). Robert Culp also has a prominent role, which I feel bad about. He was an extremely prolific actor that I have a lot of respect for and who appeared in practically every TV show made in the last 50 years, including The Outer Limits, I Spy and The Greatest American Hero. He’s always been an actor that I felt elevated whatever he was in and brought a touch of class and depth to whatever I watched him in. I can’t say that he does that here, especially since he plays a character as deep as a mud puddle and gets saddled with fart jokes. It doesn’t make me feel any better that this was one of his last screen roles.
Whatever your expectations are for the movie after reading this far, set them lower. Now set them lower again. In terms of aesthetic, it falls somewhere between a Troma production and a latter-day Full Moon production, and should appeal to fans of both of those companies. The important thing to keep in mind is that this movie knows is exactly what it wants to be. It knows it’s a bad movie; it strives to be. Movies like this are easily dismissed as disasters, but Santa’s Slay knows exactly what it is. In that sense, at least, it’s a success.
Ultimately, there’s a ton of room for exploration of themes that the filmmakers simply didn’t pursue. The concept of the movie and the origin of this killer Santa are mostly breezed over, implying either a really tight production schedule or a lack of focus. I know that the movie is mostly about getting mileage out of seeing Santa Claus wiping people out at Christmas, but I can’t help but feel that the basic premise could have been fleshed out a little bit more, and I would have liked to have seen more flashback material and more time building the myth itself.
Santa’s Slay is not for everyone, and I suspect you already know if it’s your cup of tea or not. The production budget is almost nonexistent, Goldberg’s acting leaves much to be desired, and the movie barely has time to explore the plot that drives it from point A to B. Yet it somehow really hits the spot when viewed under the right circumstances and works as great counter-programming when you’ve had enough of those saccharine yuletide offerings. It’s currently available for rent or purchase on Amazon Instant, but also on YouTube in its entirety.