Here we are at the end of January, a time when large swaths of the population experience seasonal depression. The feasts are long gone, old man winter is biting at your nose, and it’s time to take down those yuletide decorations. Leave them up for one last night, because I’ve got the killer Santa flick that will turn those holiday blues red! Get ready for crazy-fest that is To All a Goodnight, the little known ’80s Christmas slasher that… well, let’s just say that they really, really tried, and that’s something!
A group of teenagers who plan a party at an all-girls finishing school over Christmas vacation get more than they bargained for when the past comes back, literally, with a vengeance.
There must be something in the eggnog over in the writers’ room that inspires Christmas-themed horror movies… more specifically, the ones with Santa Clause-themed killers. To All a Goodnight could very well be the first in the subgenre to combine the tradition of crazy storylines to stuttering dialogue peppered with giddy, misplaced catchphrases. The audience is held captive with curiosity, never fully sure if the script was written this way on purpose, or if two scriptwriters bumped into each other one day while heading to a studio pitch meeting and inadvertently mixed their stories while scooping up the pages.
The story of a killer Santa had been around before this one, but the 1972 Tales From The Crypt segment, “And All Through the House,” and Christmas Evil (1980 a.k.a. You Better Watch Out – check out our retro review here) can’t hold a candle to the head scratching plot points from To All A Goodnight that slap you in your face with hard cuts and scenes running so long you can see the actors waiting for the director to yell cut.
To All a Goodnight’s one and done director, David Hess (Krug Stillo in The Last House on the Left 1972), makes sure to cram every horror cliché into this 82 minute long masterpiece of schlock. We get multiple deaths by way of crossbow, throat slashings, a piano wire hanging, a decapitated head in shower, and the pièce de résistance kill at the end that may have inspired Steven Spielberg himself.
You want a crazy Ralph character? You got it! And his name is actually Ralph! You want crazy dialog that makes you mutter, “WTF”? Take any line from Officer Car Salesman AKA the Sheriff. The guy dresses in a leisure suit while making comments about getting lucky with the teens he and his two “officers” stay behind to guard overnight. I wouldn’t bat an eye if I found out that the project was partly funded by the mob, and as a kick, they put a couple of their capos in to play the cops.
Yes folks, To All a Goodnight has all this and a twist ending to boot. I was surprised to see that this film was released a few months before another well-known 1980 slasher (I’ll let you figure that one out on your own). The folks at The Calvin Finishing School for Girls had no idea what they were getting into that fateful day… or night. I can never be sure as it keeps changing throughout the runtime.
For some reason, there’s frost on the windows, yet the establishing shot of the school clearly shows palm trees surrounding the building. I’m not sure if those things clash. To be honest, I don’t really care, because the Santa mask they used is legit creepy as hell. That’s all that really matters, right?
If it’s not obvious by now, I’m a huge fan of the “so bad it’s good” class of films. I honestly have no idea how To All A Goodnight managed to slip past me for all these years, but I can guarantee you that it will be in my regular holiday season rotation from now on, right next to the masterpiece that is Silent Night Deadly Night 2. “Garbage daaaaayyy!” Sorry, but I had to get that out of my system.
If you love terrible movies like I do and have not yet seen To All A Goodnight, gather your twisted, like-minded friends for this one, because its going to leave your head spinning like poor Leia on that balcony.
Stay scary, horror fans!