I’m not sure whether it is down to a bad experience at a grotto many moons ago, or simply my ‘bah, humbug’ demeanour, but creepy Christmas flicks always hit the spot for me.

From the chilling delights of Black Christmas (the original of course), through to the parent-baiting antics of Silent Night, Deadly Night and beyond, the mix of malevolence and mistletoe has the ability to work wonders.

This is why I am delighted to give a big-up to a film that probably passed most people by – Dick Maas’ Dutch treat Saint.

Over-the-top, gory and with a healthy side order of genuine laughs, this brisk movie is a sleighload of fun.

Ditching the cuddly image of a jolly Santa Claus bouncing kids on his knee, this delves into the darker side of the legend.

Many Europeans you see have their version of St Nicholas being a violent, child-stealing nutjob who very much knows when you have been naughty.

Kicking off in 1492, we see St Nicholas meet a supposed fiery end when his boat is torched by some angry villagers.

Turns out he’s not quite dead though, instead returning on his day of celebration each year (Dec 5) – but only if there is a full moon.

The movie then switches to present-day Amsterdam, where exasperated detective Goert (Bert Luppes), who is convinced Saint exists, is put on enforced leave when his warnings of the carnage to come are ignored by his bosses.

Eventually Goert teams up with teenager Frank (Egbert Jan Weeber), who has been pulled into affairs when, sure enough, St Nicholas turns up and chops up a few of his pals.

Together the duo must fend off not only Saint, but his minions and the police on their trail.

At 85 minutes this is a fast-paced romp with little time to draw breath.

There are some nice scenes of carnage, involving plenty of decapitations, stabbings and the like – with solid effects work.

The image of Saint himself – on horseback and with flowing robes, mitre and staff – is a strong one and good use is made of snow-covered Amsterdam streets.

The acting is decent all round, from the campus kids right up to the various police bosses.

Director Maas, who has produced some interesting Dutch fare in the past (Lift, Amsterdamned) comes up with the type of tale here that leaves you wondering just why it hasn’t been done before.

Saint will certainly not be to everyone’s tastes, but it definitely ticked off everything on my wish list.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.