Don't Open till Christmas

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Don't Open Till Christmas
Don't Open Till Christmas FilmPoster.jpeg
Film poster
Directed by Edmund Purdom
Produced by Dick Randall
Stephen Minasian
Written by Derek Ford
Alan Birkinshaw
Starring Edmund Purdom
Music by Des Dolan
Cinematography Alan Pudney
Edited by Ray Selfe
Spectacular Trading International
Distributed by 21st Century Film Corporation
Release date
  • 19 December 1984 (1984-12-19) (United Kingdom)
Running time
86 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Don't Open Till Christmas is a 1984 horror film directed by Edmund Purdom. It was written by Derek Ford and Alan Birkinshaw.


A man in a Santa suit and a woman meet in an alleyway to have sex in a car, and are stabbed to death by a man wearing a grinning translucent mask. During a party, another man dressed like Santa Claus has a spear thrown through his head, and dies in front of his daughter, Kate Brioski. At New Scotland Yard, Chief Inspector Ian Harris and Detective Sergeant Powell discuss the murders, and interview Kate, and her boyfriend Cliff. That night, another Santa is killed, having his face shoved onto the grill he was roasting chestnuts on an open fire.

The next day, a present (which reads "Don't Open Till Christmas") is delivered to Harris, Powell receives a strange call from a man claiming to be a reporter named Giles, and a Santa is shot in the mouth. Cliff tricks Kate into visiting a porn studio owned by an old friend, and after Kate storms off, Cliff and the model (who is adorned in a Santa cloak) prepare for outdoor photographs, but Cliff runs off when a pair of police officers spot them, and the model encounters the killer, who lets her go.

At a peep show, a Santa is knifed, which is witnessed by one of the strippers, Sherry Graham. Harris visits Kate and Cliff, and makes it clear that Cliff is a suspect in the attacks, due to being present for two of them. Powell finds Giles digging through his office, and tells him that the newspaper Giles stated he worked for claimed not to know him. Giles retorts by suggesting that Harris is hiding something, and that Powell should keep an eye on him. A Santa is assaulted by a group of teenagers, and runs into the London Dungeon, where he and an employee are killed.

In an effort to catch the murderer, several officers go undercover as Santas, and two of them are butchered at a carnival. The killer then abducts Sherry, intending for her to be "the supreme sacrifice to all the evil that Christmas is". Meanwhile, Harris is taken off the case, and when Kate calls him, she is informed by his housekeeper that he is visiting Parklands, a mental institution. A Santa is chased into a theatre where Caroline Munro is performing, and his body is brought to the stage by a trapdoor after he is stabbed in the face with a machete. Kate tells Powell of her suspicions about Harris (who has no birth certificate) but he dismisses her theories, so she goes to visit Parklands alone, while the killer castrates a Santa in a department store restroom.

Kate is confronted in her home by Giles, who she had learned was just released from Parklands, and is the younger brother of Harris (who changed his surname from Harrison after Giles was committed). Powell telephones Kate, and she tries to answer, but Giles strangles and stabs her. Powell hears Kate's death over the phone, rushes to Kate's apartment, and pursues Giles into a junkyard, where Giles electrocutes him.

Giles returns to his hideout, which he chases Sherry through when she escapes her chains. Sherry knocks Giles over a railing, and when she goes to inspect the body, Giles springs back to life, and begins throttling her. A flashback is then shown, and reveals that decades earlier Giles walked in on his father (who was dressed as Santa for a Christmas party) cheating on his mother with another woman. When Giles's mother discovered this, she and her husband got into an argument, which ended with Mrs. Harrison being knocked down a flight of stairs.

Harris wakes up from a nightmare, goes into his living room, and unwraps the gift he had gotten earlier, which has a previously unseen card that reads "Christmas present from your loving Brother". The present is a music box, which explodes after playing its song, killing Harris.


  • Edmund Purdom as Chief Inspector Ian Harris
  • Alan Lake as Giles Harrison
  • Belinda Mayne as Kate Briosky
  • Gerry Sundquist as Cliff Boyd
  • Mark Jones as Detective Sergeant Powell
  • Kelly Baker as Experience Girl (Sherry Graham)
  • Caroline Munro as Herself
  • Kevin Lloyd as Gerry
  • Pat Astley as Sharon
  • Wendy Danvers as Mrs. Sherry
  • Nicholas Donnelly as Doctor Bridle (scenes possibly deleted)
  • Laurence Harrington as Kate's Father
  • Ken Halliwell as Restaurant Commissionare
  • Ray Marioni as Maitre d'hotel
  • Wilfred Corlett as Experience Santa Claus
  • Ricky Kennedy as Theatre Santa Claus
  • Sid Wragg as Dungeon Santa Claus
  • Max Roman as Store Santa Claus
  • George Pierce as Market Santa Claus
  • Ashley Dransfield as Drunken Santa Claus
  • Derek Ford as Circus Santa Claus
  • Adrian Black as Circus Santa Claus
  • John Aston as Santa Claus in Car
  • Maria Eldridge as Girl in Car
  • Des Dolan as Detective Constable
  • Derek Hunt as Police Constable
  • Paula Meadows as Dungeon Secretary


The film took almost two years to complete after original director Edmund Purdom quit the job and Derek Ford took over but was fired after two days. The distributors then hired Ray Selfe to complete the direction and Alan Birkinshaw to rewrite parts of the script, including the original ending and the London Dungeon sequence, and much of the footage was completely re-filmed however, Edmund Purdom later returned to finish the film.

Alan Lake, who portrays the films killer committed suicide shortly before the film was released.

Although the character of Dr Bridle (played by Nicholas Donnelly) is referred to in the script and credited in the film's end credits he has never appeared in any print of the movie. Due to the films many production difficulties his scenes were probably filmed but deleted.


The film was released on 19 December 1984 by 21st Century Film Corporation

It was first released on VHS in the United States and United Kingdom by Vestron Video. Since then the film is believed to be in the public domain as numerous entertainment companies have released it on DVD


The film was labeled "barely watchable" by DVD Verdict, which concluded "There's very little redeemable about Don't Open Till Christmas, but for exploitation die-hards, Dick Randall's productions are always worth watching for a lot of blood, sex, and a few laughs".[1] Hysteria Lives! gave Don't Open Till Christmas a one and a half out of five, writing "Words can hardly begin to say how truly bad this movie is! It is a Christmas turkey (with side trimming of cheese, natch) par excellence!" [2]


  1. ^ Daryl Loomis (16 December 2011). "Don't Open Till Christmas". Don't Open Till Christmas. DVD Verdict. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  2. ^ Justin Kerswell. "Don't Open Till Christmas". Don't Open Till Christmas. Hysteria Lives!. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 

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