“Satan Claus”: A modern classic Christmas tale of devil worship & demonic possession

By on December 21, 2016

We have to admit that we don’t know any more about the reclusive director J.X. Williams than anyone else does. Nevertheless, we’re big fans of his short film Satan Claus, which, according to his Vimeo page, has been screened at more than fifty film festivals since 2004. It’s a modern Christmas classic tale of devil worship and demonic possession.

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According to Noel Lawrence, self-proclaimed head archivist/curator at the J.X. Williams Archive, the film was created by Williams who created a new short from two separate feature length source films — the Mexican fantasy film Santa Claus, which we told you about here, and Dario Argento’s 1975 Italian giallo film Profondo Rosso, which is better known as Deep Red (also: The Hatchet Murders).

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Apparently Satan Claus nearly started a riot at an L.A. movie theater during its premiere at a matinee screening on Christmas Eve.

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Here’s what the reclusive & mysterious “J.X. Williams” says about the film’s origins:

“In the mid-Seventies, I was working as a projectionist for this crummy movie theatre in downtown LA. The owner owed me six weeks back wages and when I ask him for the money, the scumbag has the gall to inform me that I’m getting laid off Christmas week.

If he’d known my reputation for mischief, he might have thought twice about it.

On my last day of work, I had to project a Christmas matinee for kids. Before the main feature, I added an unannounced opener to the program called Satan Claus. I fled the theatre right after my film ended but I heard the owner had to refund the entire box office. Even then, several outraged parents filed a lawsuit against the theatre.”

Merry Christmas, you cheap bastard!”

– J.X. Williams

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The J.X. Williams Archive Vimeo page has a nice pullquote from VICE Magazine: (“Combine the Spirit of Christmas, Satanism, and a group of innocent children…Borderline psychotic? No doubt about that…”).

Here’s more, from a New York Times article (“Wrapped in an Enigma, Hidden in a Film Archive,” October 2, 2005):

“According to Mr. Lawrence’s spiel, Williams’s résumé reads as a RKO mail-room flunky, closet Communist, abortive House Un-American Activities Committee witness, Mafia gofer, pioneer of mobbed-up stag loops, ghostwriter of some of the blacklist era’s greatest films and incidental avatar of experimental cinema. Williams, as the story goes, has spent the last quarter-century in Zurich in self-imposed exile, leaving Mr. Lawrence to serve as a Robert Maheu figure to his shadowy late-stage Howard Hughes.”

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.
  • Robert Guilfoyle

    Gonzo AF. Love it.