As I've mentioned a few times, I recently drove with my wife from Toronto to Los Angeles. We're going to be living here for the next few months and taking in all of the events that LA has to offer. Luckily, we arrived just in time for a Q&A screening of Lewis Jackson's Christmas Evil at the New Beverly Cinema.
For those unfamiliar with Jackson's underrated cult classic, the movie is about a child named Harry who witnesses his mother making love to Santa Claus the night before Christmas. Years later, adult Harry is an employee of a toy factory and has grown an unhealthy obsession with Christmas. After being tormented at work for his love of the holiday and his passion for toys, Harry has a nervous breakdown and decides to don a red hat and suit and become the jolly old man himself. Meticulously deciding which kids in the neighbourhood were naughty or nice, Harry takes Christmas into his own hands. Kids that were good get stolen toys from the factory and kids that were bad get a bag of dirt. In the process of delivering the gifts Harry is picked on by people on the street and the killing begins. Now on the run from the police, Harry must deliver all of the presents before his time runs out.
Black Christmas always seems to be considered the best Christmas horror movie, but I truly believe Christmas Evil is the better film. And far more entertaining! The ending for this movie is priceless. If the opportunity to see this movie in a theatre ever arrises for you, definitely take the time to see it. There is currently only one 35mm print of the movie in existence, so it's not an easy film for theatres to program.
After the movie, Lewis Jackson took questions from the audience. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to record the Q&A on video. Santa was nice to me this year, so future Q&A screenings will be recorded on video. For this Q&A you will just have to make do with some anecdotes I remembered from the Q&A. I haven't listened to the commentary tracks on the Christmas Evil DVD, so there may be some repeated information.
Lewis Jackson Christmas Evil Q&A
- Best time in Lewis Jackson's life: He was married that morning (December 22, 2010).
- Worst time in his life: He invented a genre and was never allowed to work again. He believes it was because he wouldn't comply with the current system in place in Hollywood and NY at that time.
- This is how he came up with the idea for Christmas Evil: He smoked a joint in 1970 and had an image of Santa with a knife in his hand.
- Jackson mentioned that he is a huge movie fan. He believes the only other bigger fan is Martin Scorsese. There are numerous references to other films in Christmas Evil.
- Jackson story boarded the whole film. He created nearly 400 to 500 different drawings for it.
- One of the producers on the film was a Wall Street banker. Prior to producing the movie, the producer lost 65 million dollars. He then told Jackson that he will be responsible for making all of his money back for him.
- The other producer is now dead and left his ashes with Jackson in little cocain bottles.
- He now believes that Christmas Evil has revived his career recently.
- He also believes that John Waters saved the movie. Waters kept writing and talking about it so much that he brought it back to life. "It's all about John" - L. Jackson
- When he first wrote the screenplay he wanted to create a character that embodied something honest.
- The bartender from Deer Hunter was originally supposed to play the role of Harry - but he wanted to make too many changes to the script.
- Brandon Maggart (Harry) was a musical comedy star on broadway prior to Christmas Evil. He is also the father of Fiona Apple. "He is crazy!" - L. Jackson
- Brandon was a drunk on set. During one scene, Brandon pulled down his pants while they were shooting.
- When the towns-people are running after Harry, it is actually just all of the crew. They ran out of money at the end of shooting and had to use the crew in those scenes.
- When they gave the kid who played Moss Garcia a copy of Penthouse Magazine he wouldn't give it back. His mother was none-too-pleased.
- Christmas Evil played for 8 years on 42nd Street in New York. At the end of the movie at every screening the audience would throw everything they had at the screen for fun.
- Many people believed that the negative for the movie had been lost, but it actually isn't. Some guy that put money into the movie actually has it in Texas and Jackson just doesn't want to pay to obtain it.
- Someone in the audience asked about all of the voyeurism in the movie and if it was supposed to be creepy at the time. Jackson said he was too naive at the time to think about the voyeurism in the film. "In 1980 it was ok to be creepy" - L. Jackson
- Jackson said that he smoked pot and snorted cocaine each night after shooting. "I would never do drugs on set. That would be criminal" (sarcastically) - L. Jackson
- Jackson is currently working on a sci-fi movie that sounds very interesting. He pretty much described the whole movie, so I'm not going to spoil any of it. All I have to say is that it sounds so insane that it may just end up being amazing.
- As a side note: In the late 70s and early 80s Jackson worked on many of the Italian Cannibal and Zombie movies that had New York scenes in them. My guess would be Cannibal Ferox, Zombie, etc.
In addition to the film and the Q&A, Lewis Jackson also provided a reel of all of the deleted scenes from the movie. All of which can be found on the Synapse DVD release of the film. Next time I promise I will shoot the Q&A with my new HD camera so you won't have to do so much reading and I won't have to provide you with a half-assed transcript.
Merry Christmas Evil Everyone!!!