Film reviews and more since 2009

Santa Claus: Serial Rapist (2016) review

Dir. Bill Zebub

By: Steve Pulaski

Rating: ½★

Part of me and my girlfriend’s 30-movie Halloween marathon.

Santa Claus: Serial Rapist made me do something I haven’t done with a movie in over 10 years. Shut it off before it concluded.

In my now-14 years as a film critic, I’ve passed several unexpected endurance tests. I’ve sat through every Madea movie I watched. I put up with the latest, morally vacuous God’s Not Dead installment, and an equally abhorrent Dinesh D’Souza documentary. Not even Holmes & Watson could break my spirit enough not to see it through to the end credits. But after approximately 30 minutes of whatever-the-hell writer/director Bill Zebub’s rambling, self aggrandizing work of Z-grade schlock was supposed to be, I admitted defeat.

With that made clear, I can only give an honest review to what little of the film — which is 80 minutes long, or over two hours, depending on who you ask — I witnessed. A disclaimer at the start asserts this film isn’t pornographic, a statement I can confirm only because it’s not arousing in the slightest, contrary to what the ubiquitous nudity suggests. I dunno, when a film opens with a young woman sleeping naked, only for her body to be flipped over, her legs spread, and then assaulted by the magical forces of a dirty, disheveled Santa Claus, you have to at least give credit to the warning for being accurate.

Besides the title suggesting the jolly ole fellow has turned into an unstoppable predator, Santa Claus: Serial Rapist revolves around Thalia (Emily Prior), who is conducting research for a project centered around alien abductions/encounters. She’s phoned by the aforementioned woman, and is asked to recount the experience in explicit detail. Cut to Colin (Zebub), a mythology scholar doing something strange in the woods with a different scantily-clad woman on a picnic blanket every time we return to him. These ponderous sequences involve Colin rambling to Thalia on the phone. Colin is nothing if not verbose, inexplicably knowing the history and origins of several world religions as he rattles off factoids about the Greeks, the Jews, and more while both him and Thalia try to come to a conclusion on what exactly her first caller experienced.

These scenes involving Colin are phony as can be for a number of reasons. Zebub’s camera lingers on his female subjects’ body parts in every angle, inherently distracting us from the conversation taking place. Meanwhile, at least in the first chunk of the film, Zebub is never not seen looking at a laptop; it doesn’t take a film analyst to assume he’s reading his pseudointellectual spiel off of a Word document or something of the like. To top it off? Multiple laptops shown in the film have a large bumper sticker on them advertising Zebub’s website. As if this atrocity isn’t enough.

Once the Colin ramblings are over, we watch another inexplicably nude, sleeping, tattoo-covered woman get assaulted by Santa, and then it’s back in the woods for yet another forest-set conversation about mythology. Shot for what looks like the price of a day’s worth of crafty, Santa Claus: Serial Rapist is not only piss-poor in aesthetics, but offensively inept in regards to the effort put forth by all involved. Whatever I left unviewed of the film, I’m better for having done so.

NOTE: Santa Claus: Serial Rapist is available on DVD via various outlets.

Starring: Bill Zebub, Emily Prior, Holly Battaglia, Sabrina Alamo, Trish Von Dish, Tamara Stone, Lydia Lael, and Diana Stritzel. Directed by: Bill Zebub.

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About Steve Pulaski

Steve Pulaski has been reviewing movies since 2009 for a barrage of different outlets. He graduated North Central College in 2018 and currently works as an on-air radio personality. He also hosts a weekly movie podcast called "Sleepless with Steve," dedicated to film and the film industry, on his YouTube channel. In addition to writing, he's a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and has two cats, appropriately named Siskel and Ebert!

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