Dir: Dick Maas
Bert Luppes, Egbert Jan Weeber, Caro Lenssen, Huub Stapel
This is a fun little slasher, though you probably will get a good deal more out of it if you're familiar with Dutch culture. It depicts St. Nicholas - the equivalent of Santa Claus, who shows up to hand out presents, albeit earlier in December - as a vengeful, ruthless bishop, who was killed along with his followers in the 15th century, when the locals refused to knuckle under to his extortion. But, when his feast-day of December 5th falls on a full moon, the "saint" returns to murder just about anyone in his path, not just naughty children. Goert (Luppes) saw his family slaughtered the last time this happened, in 1968. Now a police officer, he is trying desperately to convince his boss and the authorities that the impending festivities are going to become a bloodbath. He gets some assistance from Frank (Weeber), a teenager who goes out dressed as St. Nicholas with his friends, only to witness them falling victim to the evil gang.
Maas had success with similar genre entries a while back, so nice to see him returning to his roots. And a lot of the new wave of horror directors could learn from him, both in terms of building characters you actually don't mind spending time with, and pacing the movie. It's a crisp 80 minutes, and there's hardly a dull moment, or line of dialogue that doesn't push forward the story in one way or another. You also get some impressive kills, though the ending seems a little weird: the plan is to blow up St. Nick's ship exactly at midnight, because he and his crew will be on it. Except, it seems that they aren't. As noted, there are some references that will likely be missed by those outside the Netherlands, and I had to explain to Chris the whole 'Black Peter' thing - the concept of large numbers of people wandering the streets in blackface was hard to grasp, for obvious reasons. But people getting their heads lopped off with a bishop's mitre is much the same in any language, and I'm thinking this will replace It's a Wonderful Life as a festive favourite, at least in TC Towers.