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1996 - 75m.

If there's anyone that was involved with George A. Romero's 1968 classic Night Of The Living Dead who's used the association far longer than they should have it has to be John A. Russo. It seems like every movie he's been involved with since co-writing that film has used it to try and pull in viewers - which might not be a good thing when you consider how most of his efforts have been pretty low quality (such as Voodoo Dawn) and that he managed to anger tons of people with his 1998 "30th Anniversary" recut of the original Night with added footage.

Apart from sporadically putting out low budget horror flicks like Midnight and The Majorettes, Russo also helped form the (now defunct) magazine, "Scream Queens Illustrated" which features various women from the world of low-budget horror in a multitude of barely dressed/nude pictorials.

More a product of said magazine, rather than a stand-alone movie, Santa Claws takes the idea of the printed page (that being nudie video shoots of various undressed females) and tacks on a slight "mentally unstable stalker" plotline.

Debbie Rochon stars as Raven Quinn, the biggest 'Scream Queen' in the game (and, as her producer likes to tell a reporter, the "original"). She's popular with her fans, has two young daughters, and is married to a successful photographer. Things aren't at their best though as it turns out she's going through a rough spot with her hubby (who's off shooting a nudie pictorial, cheating on her and wants a divorce) and, unbeknownst to her, her overly friendly neighbour Wayne (Grant Kramer) just so happens to be more than a little bit obsessed with her.

How obsessed, you ask? Well, it seems Wayne not only has a makeshift shrine set-up all about Raven, but he's also ordered the 'lifelike bust' from her employers and spends his days talking, dancing with, and kissing it. Of course, his outright craziness could be caused by the fact that when he was fourteen he shot-up his mother and boyfriend after catching them having sex on Christmas Eve.

From there Wayne dons the outfit of the killer from one of Raven's past movies (wearing a black mask and using a garden claw as a weapon) and proceeds to kill off anyone he sees as a threat to his beloved Raven.

While the box art tries to pass off Santa Claws as a body count filled slasher movie, this is just a cheapie T&A flick that just so happens to pepper a few tame murders amongst all the scenes of undressing ladies cavorting around on sleds and holding wrapped presents. In fact, this was such a cash-in by writer-director Russo's magazine that they used a lot of the same footage in the "wanker friendly", Scream Queens' Naked Christmas.

Santa Claws isn't exactly rocket science. Let's just say if you're expecting anything more than it delivers, you're expecting too much. This is just a showcase for Russo's magazine (and, to a lesser degree, lovely star Rochon) and while it's lowbrow and low budget all the way at least it has the sense to poke fun at itself. Hell, right up until the weak-ass finale (with it's poor action scenes and heavy metal soundtrack) the movie at least kept my attention - how could you not perk up during the nutty exchange between Raven and Wayne where they talk about road kill and how blood is 'sticky'?

Rochon is her usual pleasing self while Kramer goes completely over-the-top in his role; in fact I wasn't sure if he was insane or just retarded. Russo loads the rest of the cast with his Night cohorts as Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman and Bill Hinzman (who was also the director of photography) have bit roles. (Chris Hartley, 1/10/07)

Directed By: John A. Russo.
Written By: John A. Russo.

Starring: Debbie Rochon, Grant Kramer, John Mowod, Karl Hardman.

Shock-O-Rama - October 10, 2006

Picture Ratio: Full Frame.

Picture Quality: About VHS quality, the transfer here is a bit fuzzy, soft and littered with a few specks. In other words, no better than cable or cassette.

Extras: Coming to us as a "10th Anniversary Edition", this marks the second time Shock-O-Rama have released Santa Claws on disc. While I'm assuming the picture quality hasn't changed, the rest of the package has.

The original was an 83 minute 'director's cut' but from what I can tell these scenes are included in the extras here as a deleted scene. Also, from what I've read, it also included the aforementioned Scream Queens' Naked Christmas as a bonus. That's not here, but I don't think I really cared.

We also get a booklet with notes from indie filmmaker Mike Watt (who also helped prepare the extras), trailers for four other Shock-O-Rama releases, two 'retrospective' interviews with Rochon and Hinzman, and some "behind-the-scenes" footage which mostly consists of bloopers.

Visit Shock-O-Rama for more info.