"Santa Claws" (A 25 Days of Shitmas Post) from Johnny Skrabala of BloodyPopcorn.com
The Hooded Claw 2 AKA Santa Claws AKA “I forgot my light meter!”
The 1996 Debbie Rochon-starring semi-meta yuletide slasher Santa Claws (not to be confused with the 2014 kitten-centric holiday opus of the same name) seems pretty simple at first glance. Considering that approximately 15 minutes of the film’s scant 75-minute run time are used for Christmas-themed stripping scenes that would make Elizabeth Berkley wince (more on those later), there’s actually a lot going on here when you pick the movie apart.
Rochon’s Raven Quinn is a B-Movie scream queen. She’s a wife and a mother. Her marriage is on the brink of ending. She wears Kelly Taylor jeans and doesn’t get along with her in-laws. She hangs out with Wayne, the weirdo that lives next door. Wayne is actually obsessed with her, as determined by the generic mannequin he purchased that comes with a Raven Quinn certificate of authenticity, plus the shrine he has that consists solely of the same picture of Raven plastered multiple times all over his wall. He talks to the mannequin about how great she was in her last movie, The Hooded Claw.
At some point, Wayne snaps. He puts on a black mask and grabs a garden cultivator and becomes The Hooded Claw. Under this guise he slashes his way through the producer, the director (played by Bill Hinzman, of Night of the Living Dead fame) and the other actresses at the studio where Raven is shooting her latest “movie”, Scream Queen Christmas (more on that later). At one point, Wayne kills a dude in a Santa suit, which he in turn dons, becoming…SANTA CLAWS. That’s the plot, in short, and it’s simple, to be sure, but it’s damned entertaining.
And those Christmas-themed stripping scenes? Yes, they are hilarious. But they are what give Claws its meta-ness. Raven and her friends are filming, as mentioned, Scream Queen Christmas, which apparently consists only of them dancing awkwardly and getting naked. But in true Roger Corman fashion, director John Russo (also of Night of the Living Dead fame—sort of) released a real-life video called Scream Queens’ Naked Christmas. I’ve never seen it, but from what I gather by way of online reviews, it was sort of a promo/documentary thing that was co-released with Santa Claws and consists primarily of Wayne (I assume in his Hooded Claw garb?) introducing each girl’s nude dancing sequence, cut together with some scenes from Claws. Looking at the reviews for …Naked Christmas on IMDb, one reviewer wistfully wishes that it contained more nudity. There’s also a 3/10 review from one of the actresses from Naked/Santa Claws. She gives it the low grade based on watchability, but seems to remember the shoot fondly, especially Bill Hinzman.
Santa Claws is good fun and brimming with holiday cheer (okay, maybe not, but there are Santa hats and cheap Christmas decorations here and there) and worthy of at least one December viewing every year. I’m officially putting a sequel on my Christmas list. But not a sequel to Santa Claws—I’m clamoring for The Hooded Claw 2! Maybe this time he’ll remember his light meter.