As with most films of the late 1970s and early 1980s, woman often had to bare their breasts as they got murdered. That seems to be one of Billy’s triggers here. And he’s triggered quite a bit here.
There is one scene that absolutely had to be the one that they built the movie around. Some bullies steal some kids’ sleds and go down the sled path, as bullies often do. The first bully makes it down. The second bully is ambushed by Santa Billy with the axe. His headless body reaches the bottom of the run, then his head comes rolling down after. Cinema!
Obliviously, after the success of Halloween, Hollywood was looking for other holidays to have people horribly murdered. Christmas both seems like a logical choice and a horrible choice, because of peace, merriment and joy vs. having people horribly murdered.
The first half of the movie is showing all the awful things that happen to young Billy, with only one young nun who thinks maybe Billy has issues because, you know, SANTA KILLED HIS PARENTS. But she’s basically ignored and the head nun beats Billy for his various transgressions, showing him punishment is good (foreshadowing). Anyway, he reaches his teen years, gets a job with other awful people until, as mentioned, he snaps, running around town murdering people. Just to even things out, a cop manages to mistake an old, deaf priest in a Santa suit as Billy and shoots him dead. But since we never met the guy, this barely registers. Then the same cop runs across Billy Santa and fails to kill him. In fact, Billy murders the cop, so…hooray?
The ending has a nice foreshadowing ending; Billy is shot to death in front of the orphans as he was about to kill the mean head nun. As everyone stares in horror at the scene, one boy looks at the nun and simply says “naughty.”
That, apparently was enough to make 4 sequels off of.
Now we come to a big-budget Hollywood Christmas horror movie. A boy, Max, gets ticked off at by his annoying and mean extended family, loses the Christmas spirit thereby creating a situation that invites a visit from Krampus, sort of Santa’s evil twin.
There’s a whole European tradition about this creature that punishes (and maybe eats) bad children, and though a lot of the character was altered to conform to both a standard movie template and the horror movie arcs, it just reminds you how horrible old-timey Europe was. Also, it’s got a lot of comedy mixed in.
The family is forced to fend off possessed toys and baked goods, evil elves and ironic monsters. A grandma seems to know what’s going on and helps the best she can, as an old woman who people tend to tolerate.
In the end, it comes down to Max confronting Krampus and denouncing his earlier disillusionment with Christmas and says all he wanted was a Christmas like it used to be. And he gets thrown into a hell pit anyway. So, now all the horror movie tropes are off the table. But, wait, the boy wakes up in his bed! It was all a dream?? Actually, that’s kind of weird, I don’t remember a scene of him being sent to bed. He joins the family and it seems like a normal Christmas morning, until they all start to remember the events of the night before. We zoom out to realize they are in a snow globe, one of many kept by Krampus in his cabin in the woods. That was an oddly chilling ending to an offbeat movie.
One could say it was…naughty.