Marty Lang’s short comedy “Cheap as Hell: A Christmas Story” puts the year-end holidays into a homicidal setting. Lynn is married to Mort, the owner of a hairdryer company. Mort is the cheapest man imaginable: he dumpster dives for a tossed-out lawn Santa, wraps presents in old newspaper, separates two-ply toilet paper to gain twice as much backside wipe, and buys week-old Cornish hens instead of a new turkey for a holiday meal. Lyn decides to give herself a much-needed holiday gift: Mort’s death.

The film, which was made at Florida State University’s film school, dilutes its surprise by telegraphing the means to Mort’s end a bit too early (although the explanation given for Mort’s non-accidental death by his unlikely executioner is priceless). Also, Alan Raiteliff III is too nice of a guy to make Mort the villain he should be – he seems more like an eccentric than a genuine nasty. It is never clear why Lynn (a very fine Tamara Dickson) doesn’t just divorce him – why put up with such a cheapskate if he ruins every holiday with his penny pinching?

Still, this is an amusing little film which gets its job done in a neat and clean eight minutes plus change. And a little Yuletide malice helps deflect the sugarcoating which often ruins the season. Ho ho ho, indeed!

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