The story in this film is not the kind of horror that you'd expect it to be as it is not the typical kind of slasher horror, it is more a black drama as a lot of the things that go on in this story are very tragic and sad rather than scary. The storytelling is really well done as it is very interesting despite not much happening and this film is also right to the point and wastes no time with filler. This film also doesn't have a lot of dialogue but despite all that, you'll be really drawn into the characters, especially Harry as he is very mentally unstable and lives a boring life, so it gives him a very unpredictable personality and you'll have no idea when he'll go off the deep end. This is also a movie where there are only a very few sympathetic characters as nearly everyone is a total dick to the main character and that just adds to the tragic nature of the storytelling.
This film also has a trippy side to it due to Harry's insanity and some of the things will make you question that if some of the things really did happen or were they all just a part of Harry's imagination. It is also important to go into this movie with that mind set of not taking everything in this film too literally, you'll just end up confused and really hating the movie if you do so, with all that said, this is a film that's a real like it or lump it movie. The acting itself ranges from okay to brilliant, the acting from some of the side characters and extras were incredibly dry and sometimes cartoony. The rest of the actors were very brilliant, they did a real convincing job at making them out to be believable people as opposed to actors playing a character, especially for when it comes to the acting style of Brandon Maggart playing Harry, his acting was incredibly spot on and you really felt like he was actually crazy as opposed to an actor playing a crazy man.
The camera work and sets in this film are really brilliant, the camera angles make this movie look like a surreal art piece and it is just so mesmerizing to look at. The sets are really dull and boring looking but that's a good thing in this case, it really enhances the situation of the film and gives the movie more meaning and combining that with the gorgeous camera work, it turns this movie into a living art piece. If you are expecting this to be a movie with a high body count, prepare to be disappointed, there's only two killing scenes in this entire movie. The murder scenes were quite gruesome and were enough to make me go "dddaaaaaaaammmmmnnnn" and they have a really good build-up as well and you will be left feeling satisfied. I also like how this edition has the cut with its original name (You Better Watch Out) as Christmas Evil is very stupid and makes the movie sound more cartoonish than it actually is.
Once you have finished the movie, you can then move on to the six hours of special features (give or take a few minutes) that includes: Three audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, interviews, storyboards, the original trailer, a slideshow of all of the peoples views from when this movie premiered, and rare audition tapes. The first commentary track is a solo track done by Lewis Jackson (the director), this track is okay as it is very simple and right to the point, he wastes no time and tells you every thing that went down. The problem I had with the first commentary track is that everything said in this one is said in the second commentary track, making the first commentary track redundant. The second commentary has Lewis Jackson joined with Brandon Maggart (the actor that played Harry), this was a better track as you've got Lewis Jackson describing what it was like working on the film, while Brandon Maggart was discussing what it was like acting in it and gave his thoughts on the movie overall. You already know that this second track makes the first one redundant so you don't need to listen to the first commentary track, so skip to this one instead.
The third commentary track has Lewis Jackson joined up with John Waters (Director of Pink Flamingos (1972)), this commentary is the best of the three as it is nothing but two guys having fun talking about the movie while they are watching it. This commentary was a fun listen and I liked the way that they played off of each other and also what they had to say about the film. Lewis Jackson and John Waters also really show their movie fandom in this commentary track and it helps breathe a lot of life into the commentary track. The deleted scenes were interesting to watch on their own but I can see why they were cut from the movie as they simply weren't necessary to being part of the film.
There are two interviews found in the special features, one with Lewis Jackson, the other with Brandon Maggart. The interviews are decent and were entertaining but a little on the short side as they were filmed for what looks like, Troma's Edge TV. The interviews do cover the film but they also cover other areas of their careers, plus it was interesting seeing a drunk washed-up SGT. Kabukiman (from the film, Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD (1990)). The storyboard feature shows off the original ideas for the scenes in the form of sketches and scripts and it was okay, it did have some interesting moments in the sketches but the script didn't interest me as they weren't much different from how they turned out in the movie.
The original trailer for the film was fun to watch but it did also cheese me off a little bit, it advertised the film as a stereotypical slasher movie and it made it out to be something different than what it really is. The most brilliant special feature in this set has to be the feature where they show photos of opinion cards from when this film premiered. The reason why this feature is brilliant is due to how unexpected people found this movie to be and most of them just trashed the living hell out of this film and it is just funny reading why they disliked the film. I'm not saying at what they say isn't baffling as this film is a very acquired taste and I can see what they disliked about the film.
Lastly, we have the audition tapes and these were very interesting and fun as you see a lot of different takes on the characters in this film and they were all good. While they were all good, you can easily see why Brandon Maggart got the role as he hit the character right out of the park in his audition. This blu-ray also comes with a little book that is stored inside the case. The book has a really nice article about the movie, some nice photos and movie posters, and a comic in the centerfold and it is a very nice bonus to have.
Overall, this film will not appeal to everybody but it will appeal to the large amount of horror and cult movie fans due to the uniqueness that this film brings to the table. This film is good for a first watch but the more you watch it, the more you'll love it and is especially good watching on Christmas Eve. A real present, not a lump of coal.
Title: Christmas Evil / You Better Watch Out
Directed by: Lewis Jackson
Starring: Brandon Maggart
Genre: Thriller, Black/Tragic Drama
Distributed by: Glass Doll Films
Running Time: 94 minutes
Rating: M15+ (Horror Themes, Violence)