Saturday, 21 December 2013

Santa's Slay

Title: Santa’s Slay
Director: David Steiman
Released: 2005
Starring: Bill Goldberg, Douglas Smith, Emilie de Ravin, Robert Culp, Dave Thomas, Saul Rubinek, Rebecca Gayheart, Chris Kattan, James Caan, Fran Drescher

Plot: Santa Claus (Goldberg) it would seem is not quite the jolly fat guy we all thought he was. Turns out he is in fact a demon who 1,000 years ago lost a bet to an angel which meant that he was forced to become a bringer of toys and happiness. Now the 1,000 years are up and Santa has now returned to his former ways which is especially bad news for the residents of Hells Township as Santa Claus is coming to town!

Review: Wrestlers as a rule rarely make good actors, somthing the failed attempts to break into the field by Hulk Hogan highlighted, especially when these movies ultimately ended up being as laughable as his wrestling career and like that one better remember through the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia. Hogan of course is not the only example as “WWE Films” have seemingly only just learned this same harsh lesson seeing how their latest output see’s the wrestlers now being given more supporting roles than anything resembling the leading roles the studio originally had planned with this off shoot. However this is not to say that there have not been those who have broke the mould as John Cena proved to be quite a watchable action star in both “The Marine” aswell as “12 Rounds” while Kane also proved himself a menacing force in “See No Evil” even if he was essentially just transplanting his wrestling persona into a horror set.

Of course with this history of wrester actors in mind you could excuse me for being alittle sceptical about the idea of Goldberg playing a demonic Santa, afterall his stabs at acting previous to this had been limited to playing a super soldier in “Universal Soldier 2” and essentially playing himself in the underrated “Ready To Rumble” but here he really nails it right from his opening dinner party massacre which not only puts the opening of “Punisher: War Zone” to shame but I would love to think that Christopher Nolan found the inspiration for the Joker’s disappearing pencil trick from this opening, were Santa makes a whole turkey leg disappear. True Goldberg might have an advantage with his dominating size certainly helping make the character truly seem imposing, but here he also proves himself more than capable with the scenes requiring him to flex his acting muscles and even pulls off the more subtle comedy moments such as hastily spraying down a stripper pole before he uses it as a makeshift club.

Elsewhere the film has two great young leads with Douglas Smith and Emilie de Ravin who may not have to do anything particularly heavy acting wise, but are still a fun duo to be around especially as the film doesn’t allow itself to fall into the usual pitfalls of having Smith lust after Ravin for the runtime of the film. Instead the focus is kept purely on stopping Santa and only give into their lusts once he has been stopped, which honestly felt awhole lot more natural than it would have been had the film followed the usual template especially considering how majorly out of his league Ravin is yet alone a feisty firecracker who is more than capable of spearheading their misadventure. Still it does make me wonder why they never really went on to do more, much like why Thora Birch didn’t come off “Ghost World” as big a star as Scarlett Johanson did. I guess its this sort of situation which has resulted in me being so frequently forced to endure yet another Emma Watson performance.

Considerably lighter in tone than the other killer Santa movies which came before it, this film plays things strictly for laughs, as established from the opening dinner party massacre whose creative kills see one guest being flambéed and drowned in eggnog and another being killed by a Christmas star while the fact that the film also carries a healthy body count to boot only adds to the fun here, which alongside the quick pacing of the film, ensures that the film never gets a chance to get itself bogged down in minor subplots or disposable characters unless those characters are soon to be meeting a creative death or in one case eaten by demonic reindeer.

Meanwhile the film is shot in a deliberately over the top style this is a confident debut from Steiman, who after despite spending most of his carrer working as a production assistant to Bret Ratner who also appears as a producer here. Sadly despite the fun energy this film brings it remains the sole film from Steiman who seems to have since dropped off the radar since the release of this film. As such this remains much like this film a curiosity especially when they is such a fun film and an essential part of my own alternative Christmas viewing since I first saw it last year. Still if your able to not just the fact that the film features a wrestler in the lead villain role there is plenty to enjoy here, as this is one Santa with muscles who is worth watching even if it does leave you wondering by the end credits why it not as popular as other Alt. Christmas favourites.

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