We’re in Lapland. At the top of a mountain a mining company has discovered that there is a block of ice 60 feet square buried deep in its depths, and they’re being paid to dig it out. Meanwhile our 9 year old hero is convinced this is the burial place of the original Santa Claus, a mythical creature far removed from the kindly fat bearded bloke we’re more familiar with. Via a delicious title sequence we get to see old woodcuts demonstrating just how much more interested this Santa is / was in punishing naughty children than rewarding the good. “He tore the naughty children apart,” says one character “until even their skeletons weren’t left”.
I won’t say much more except that Santa’s elves are some of the scariest things I saw on screen last year, and the scene of them besieging a warehouse where ‘Santa’ (who is a bit of a cross between Carpenter’s PRINCE OF DARKNESS and Tim Curry’s devil from LEGEND but bloody huge) is being defrosted is one of the most Lovecraftian film moments I’ve seen in a while. Add to that the fact that our heroes are good old-fashioned reindeer hunters who look like rejects from a Metallica tribute band and a nine year old boy with cardboard taped across his bottom so he doesn’t get spanked and this is one very strange Christmas movie. The freezing locations and sense of dread (a scene of a field of reindeer slaughtered by…something at one point is just plain unnerving) reminded me of Carpenter’s THE THING, but most of all I loved the twisted sentiment – peace on earth and goodwill to all, or Santa will tear your face off. Highly, highly recommended.