Saturday, December 15, 2012

Santa With Muscles (Shitmas Day #15)


A Shitmas guest Post by Koyote at Tavern Of Terror

Well, it’s Christmas. No way to avoid it. We’re all going to have to endure a thousand renditions of Let It Snow for the next twenty or so days. But bad movies and good beer with friends can make the holiday season less excruciating - and having a pal who also runs another awesome blog helps too.

When Tom over at Shit Movie Fest asked me to do a guest spot for his Christmas special, I was honored and giddy to join the madness. He said I could review just about anything. But when I heard him say it was going to be called Shitmas then I knew there was one thing truly worthy of the term, a movie so unbelievably awful that it may as well have been named Shitmas itself. I knew that to back away from reviewing it would be cowardice. So I grit my teeth and barred what may be the shittiest Christmas film that ever got shat.


There are a lot of bad movies out there, and there is an assload of Christmas movies out there too. Naturally, the two worlds intersect quite often. But with the 1996 comedy Santa With Muscles, the worlds of bad movies and holiday movies didn’t just intersect, they collided with savage brutality causing a black hole of terribleness that even the most die-hard veteran of camp cinema will have trouble enduring.

Seriously, this movie is the vomit puked up after ineptitude eats too much stupidity.

Now, here at Tavern of Terror, we don’t just enjoy bad movies, we revel in them. I consider it a badge of honor (or comic shame) to not only have seen Things more than once, but to own it. I have been to Frogtown and back, baby, and I have proudly introduced many friends to the glorious crap sandwiches of The Apple, Killer Workout, and The Forbidden Zone.

But I haven’t lent out Santa With Muscles.

I don’t recommend it to just anyone. See, it takes a special kind of sadomasochistic bastard to siphon any joy from this magnum pile of dry manure. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill, low budget B-movie to laugh at. This is the big league of garbage cinema. It is appropriate that it stars legendary wrestling champ Hulk Hogan, because viewing this is for heavy weights only and make no mistake about it: it is a showdown between film and viewer.

Santa With Muscles will give you the stink-eye and say “You like bad movies, huh? Well, we’ll just see about that.” So make sure you’re ready. Test your limits with Starcrash and build your endurance with a viewing of Dr. Alien. Once you know all of the songs on the soundtrack to Rock N’ Roll Nightmare, and you can tell the Barbarian Brothers apart, then you just might stand a chance.

Just remember, this one makes Jingle All the Way look like It’s a Wonderful Life.

Hulk Hogan, not exactly know for making quality films, stars as Blake, a snobbish millionaire who made his riches off of selling his nutritional supplements. We meet him during the film’s ridiculous opening where he trains to be a warrior with morning faux fights with his staff, followed by an out of control paintball party that leads to a police chase.

One of the cops is creepy genre favorite Clint Howard (Evilspeak, Ice Cream Man) who is unfortunately wasted in this uninspired role.

Anyway, Blake ducks out in a mall and steals a Santa suit to get away. But he gets bonked on the head while sliding down a laundry shoot. He wakes up with amnesia, of course, and comes to the rationalization that he is Santa Claus with the help of a shady mall elf named Lenny; a tiresome Italian stereotype played by Don Stark (That 70’s Show). Be warned that Lenny alone is enough to make you want to give this movie a royal flushing. He is one of many unfunny comedic elements in this mess and he will lead you to wince whenever he is on screen with such hackneyed quips as “Ey, how you doin’?”

Personally, I think Clint Howard should have been cast as some sort of shady, disgusting elf, but maybe that’s just me.

Before he knows it, Blake is plopped down in the mall chair for some more unfunny comedy as kids line up to meet him. Some bad-movie laughs come in as we enjoy Hogan’s awkward performance, and then they rise to a boil as he thwarts some vandals with some badly staged kung fu action.

He becomes a local hero, and for some reason no one in the press knows who he is despite the fact that he is the town’s richest man and his best-selling protein shakes have pictures of him slathered all over them.

Eventually Santa Blake ends up at the local orphanage that apparently only has a handful of kids in it. We hear about all the other kids, but only see the same few over and over, including a young Mila Kunis who is far too young here to ogle over, giving the movie yet another strike.

Worse still is that, seeing how this is a Christmas movie, the orphanage is in danger of being torn down, of course.

The greedy villain?

Ed Begley Jr.

Stay with me here, it gets worse.

Ed plays a germophobic mad scientist with a small army of henchmen who are action-figure like in their corny personas. One of them is a villainess with electric gloves that serve no purpose. Another wears a safari hat. There’s also the standard guy-with-ponytail-who-wears-a-leather-jacket-with-a-tie, the classic henchman. All of them carry around T-squares as weapons. No one explains why. I associate T-squares with artists, not scientists. Maybe that’s just me too.

So, why do they want to tear down the old orphanage, you ask?

They want the magic crystals that lay in the mines below the building.


A cookie cutter finale ensues where Blake comes back to his senses, realizes he isn’t Santa, but helps the orphans fight off the evil scientists anyway because he realized the true meaning of Christmas or some such shit. This chicken-breast-bland finale just seems to drag out a film that anyone would have already been very sick of, and the proof of it is that I pulled out my pocket knife during it and just started looking at it. My wife saw me doing this and asked what the Hell I was doing. I told her “Oh, nothing, I was just thinking of killing myself”. I then proceeded to trim loose strings off of my trucker cap. This is actually how I spent the last twenty minutes of this movie.

FINAL THOUGHTS: A weak, pathetic attempt to have a holiday cash-in, Santa With Muscles positively screams straight-to-video but it actually came out in theaters. However, it was pulled after only two weeks, which should surprise no one.

It didn’t just fail; it created a legacy of failure, being panned by critics worldwide to the point of now being infamously wretched. It is on IMDB’s list of bottom 100 films. Total Film ranked it as one of the top 50 worst children’s films ever made and it also made it onto both Atlantic City Weekly’s and Virgin Media’s lists of worst holiday movies of all time. It is also prominently featured on Wrestlecrap, a webpage that considers itself a “wall of shame” for everything related to pro-wrestling.

The problem it poses for us bad movie lovers is that Santa With Muscles breaks the good-bad movie rule by being a comedy. Bad action, horror, sci-fi, and just about any other genre can be enormously entertaining when it is poorly done because it becomes laughable. But bad comedy doesn’t become laughable - it just stays bad. You cringe at it and get bored by it.

As I said, only the most battle-scarred and depraved bad movie connoisseur could find much entertainment value from this, and it would mostly be from the sheer astonishment of its ability to be so horrible and yet so uninteresting. Had they just made Hogan a vigilante Santa, it could have been a camp holiday classic. But by going cutesy they doomed this to the height of tedium it surely is.

I love how bad Santa With Muscles is, but as holiday movie traditions go, this ranks below Elves. Way, way below. But if you’re curious enough to see it or crazy enough to like it, you can get a copy over at

RATING: a generous 1 out of 5 just because I can’t help but marvel at anything that sucks harder and deeper than Linda Lovelace could ever dream.

CHICK OF THE LITTER: Not applicable, even if Mila Kunis grew up to be drool worthy, as we all know.


Here at Tavern of Terror, this is what we do: I review a movie (usually horror or horrible) and I recommend an alcoholic beverage to go along with it. So my guest post for Shit Movie Fest’s Shitmas Special is no different.

But what could I pair with such a junker of a flick?

Well, just because the movie leaves a bad taste in your mouth is no reason for your beverage to do the same. I am therefore going to suggest Terrapin’s seasonal Moo-Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout.

Made for Christmastime drinkin’, this is a creamy beer with a thin body but a sweet, tootsie roll flavor. It too has cutesy cover art, but unlike the movie you can actually get a lot of joy out of this four pack. But at only 6% you’re probably gonna wanna drink them all during the first twenty minutes to make Santa With Muscles just blurry enough to tolerate.

Koyote the Bartender

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