In 1984 the Brits finally made a substantial contribution to the slasher boom with the release of Don’t Open Till Christmas.
Somebody with very little Christmas spirit is killing anyone in a Santa suit one London holiday season, and Scotland Yard has to stop him before he makes his exploits an annual tradition.
Not without its problems, the film had no less than three directors and also had to deal with actor Alan Lake committing suicide shortly before it was released.
Production actually began in 1982, with original Director Edmund Purdom who quit the project, to be replaced by Derek Ford, who was subsequently fired after just two days!
It was left to Ray Selfe to complete the production, with Alan Birkinshaw completing rewrites to the script to suit the new Director’s vision.
Awkwardly, originally Director Purdom also played Inspector Ian Harris in the film, with his roles surely altered by Selfe and Birkinshaw’s new script.
Don’t Open Till Christmas also featured Pat Astley, who started her career in the porn industry but went on to star in Are You Being Served (before being fired because of her adult industry past) and The Professionals. This Christmas slasher would be her final role.
Caroline Munro was also part of the film, playing herself, and shot all of her scenes in a single day. Munro would also star in other notorious slashers Slaughter High and Maniac.
Despite all the behind the scenes problems, Don’t Open Till Christmas is mostly cohesive, with a couple of stand out chase scenes; including most notably one scene in London Dungeon; which was one of the scenes added by Alan Birkinshaw.
Don’t Open Till Christmas was produced by Stephen Minisian, who was also part of the production team on 1982’s Pieces plus he would go on to work on another troubled film in 1986’s Slaughter High. That film would also suffer another tragedy, with lead actor Simon Scuddamore committing suicide in November 1984. For context, production on Slaughter High wrapped in 1984 but wasn’t released until 1986.
What do you think of Don’t Open Till Christmas? Is it one of your Christmas slasher favorites? Let us know in the comments below –