Deadly Pleasures: SANTA’S SLAY

2015/12/18 01:37:09 +00:00 | Heather Wixson

[Originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of DEADLY Magazine.] ’Tis the season to be nicer, more forgiving and charitable toward those less fortunate. Keeping these ideals in mind, this month is the perfect opportunity to celebrate my favorite terrible (but so terrible that I can’t help but love it) holiday film of all-time: Santa’s Slay.

Directed by David Steiman (who has yet to helm another film since—poor guy), Santa’s Slay stars Bill Goldberg as a murderous Kris Kringle. He returns to the sleepy town of Hell Township with revenge on his mind, after being forced to be nice to children for a thousand years when he lost a bet with an angel a millennium ago. There’s a bit of Santa-related mythology thrown in, but what makes Santa’s Slay worthwhile is all the over-the-top raucous action and pitch-black humor.

It’s fair to say that the film is about as subtle as a monster truck rally, but that’s really its charm. It makes no apologies for poking fun at the holiest of holidays. The movie opens with Santa laying waste to a stereotypically obnoxious wealthy family, whose biggest concern is whether or not their gifts will have the right designer labels. While it would be enough of a gift to watch Father Christmas teach these ingrates a lesson or two in the true meaning of the holidays, Steiman shocks us with an opener featuring a handful of star-studded cameos (or star-studded by 2005’s standards), including James Caan, Fran Drescher, Chris Kattan and Rebecca Gayheart.

From there, Santa’s Slay is just an onslaught of non-PC jokes and violent gags. If you dig a little deeper, though, there’s a nice little holiday story about a teenager (Douglas Smith—Stage Fright, Ouija), the girl he’s sweet on (played by Lost’s Emilie de Ravin), and his crackpot grandfather (the legendary Robert Culp in his final film role). They all must band together in order to stop Santa’s reign of terror before their entire community is left in ruins. The mythology of Santa’s origin is also pretty cool, too (he’s the progeny of Satan), and grounds the otherwise outlandish story while giving the movie a bit more solid footing overall.

There’s no denying that the script is uneven at best, but Steiman’s talented cast throw themselves headfirst into their performances, elevating Santa’s Slay to a modern horror comedy classic that I revisit several times each year. It’s probably a safe bet that being a wrestling fan certainly makes it a bit easier for me to have nothing but love for Santa’s Slay. However, though I've never really been a Goldberg fan, this is one of the few roles that plays to his strengths and made me actually appreciate the man who was once known for his 173–0 record in WCW (World Championship Wrestling).

Santa’s Slay also features several other fun cameos, including Dave Thomas (SCTV, Strange Brew), Tommy “Tiny” Lister (No Holds Barred, The Dark Knight), and Saul Rubinek (True Romance, Frasier). For those hardcore pro wrestling fans out there, the infamous Vince Russo also shows up during the strip club beatdown scene, which is a nice callback to all that Russo did to help launch Goldberg’s career in WCW.

I won’t try and BS you (because I’d hate to end up on Santa’s "Naughty List” this year) and tell you that Santa’s Slay is some kind of masterpiece. It’s an uneven movie, but that doesn’t mean Santa’s Slay isn’t still entertaining as hell. Made in the same spirit as other dark holiday horror comedies like Jack Frost (not the Michael Keaton sapfest) and ThanksKilling, Santa’s Slay is way more fun than most people will ever give it credit for, making it a wicked addition to any genre fan’s viewing traditions this year.

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.