Wreck the halls: Santa’s strangest movies, from Hogan to homicide

Photo courtesy of Legacy Releasing

By William Mayhew

Whether he’s accidentally kidnapping infant Will Ferrell, ostracizing Rudolph for being born different or getting accidentally murdered by Tim Allen, Santa Claus has a habit of getting involved in bizarre situations whenever he’s on film. But while most of us are accustomed to the oddness of Christmas classics, some Santa movies go even further. So if you’re less interested in the Christmas spirit than you are in gazing into the maw of madness, here are some films to check out:


“Santa with Muscles” (1996)


Hulk Hogan may have recently won a lawsuit to stop people from seeing one embarrassing video of him, but his most embarrassing on-screen appearance can still be found in department store sales bins near you. The plot of the film allows Hogan to show off his acting range by portraying a malicious millionaire who gets hit on the head and starts believing himself to be Santa. Then an evil scientist tries to blow up an orphanage, which leads me to conclude that the screenwriter probably won a bet about whether or not they could make this movie even dumber than one would expect given the title. But it’s also dumb in such an enjoyable way that it’s hard not to like it.


“Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny” (1972)


Another example of a bizarre title failing to capture the insanity of the film it’s attached to is this absurd musical from the ‘70s. The film features a bizarrely drowsy Santa (Jay Ripley credited as Jay Clark) getting his sleigh stuck in the sand at a Florida beach and using his psychic powers to call some kids for help. Then he tells them a fairy tale so that the movie can transition to playing the entirety of a preexisting film to pad out its runtime. Depending on which cut of the movie you see, this film within a film may be either “Thumbelina” or “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Either way, Santa won’t be the only one drifting off.


“Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas” (2014)


So you know how some people take it as a personal insult that other people say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas?” Well those people are in luck, because alleged celebrity Kirk Cameron is ready to lead the resistance in the War on Christmas. The film kicks off when Cameron’s brother-in-law Christian White, who is played by writer and director Darren Doan and looks like a depressed Walter White, makes the foolhardy decision to try to leave a Christmas party on Kirk Cameron’s watch. White tries to explain his problems with how materialistic the Christmas season has become, so Cameron immediately tells him that he’s wrong about everything and then makes up a bunch of nonsensical explanations for how presents, Christmas trees and Santa were all in the Bible. This leads scenes featuring Cameron’s “Lord of the Rings-y” Santa fighting those who disagree with his religious views. Because if there is one thing that most other Christmas movies were missing, it’s Santa smashing a guy’s head into a table while dubstep plays in the background.


“Santa Claus Visits the Magic Land of Mother Goose” (1967)


A Christmas movie from director Herschell Gordon Lewis, the man behind movies like “Blood Feast” and “Two Thousand Maniacs”? What could go wrong? By the end of the first scene it becomes clear that, even for a movie performed entirely on a high school stage, this is a surprisingly low quality production. And by the time a skull-faced doll person is being cut in half by Merlin the Magician, it starts to feel like this movie could only have been filmed in the basement of the Overlook Hotel. And in case anyone is brave enough to wonder what Santa does in this movie, he introduces the alleged “plot” of the film and then shows up again at the end to psychotically laugh. Leave it to a man dubbed “The Grandfather of Gore” to create a Santa more terrifying than the Santa themed serial killer in “Silent Night, Deadly Night” by accident.

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