May your holidays be filled with visions of terrifying marionettes!
unkle lancifer & aunt john
May your holidays be filled with visions of terrifying marionettes!
unkle lancifer & aunt john
I’ve got to snap out of it and get my groove back. There I was happily riding the horror Christmas train when suddenly, absolute derailment. What the hell is wrong with people? If horrendous tragedy wasn’t enough to sap my spirit, here comes everybody with their too late answers for everything. In my opinion, if your solution doesn’t put the value of human life above all else then it already blows. Whatever you do, don’t even try to place blame on movies and video games, they happen to be exactly what I’m going to use to springboard out of this funk. I want to thank INFAMOUS 2 for providing a place for me to hide ‘til the coast was clear and now I’m going to make a ten-ingredient movie cocktail to obliterate this malaise. I’m not saying these movies (not in any order) will work for you, but I know through experience that they work for me. If you have your own secret weapon stuper-smasher please share it in the comments section!
THE NEVER ENDING STORY (1984)
Let’s get the tough love out of the way . I know this movie has the saddest scene ever but I’m going to stick it up here anyway as a crystal clear mission statement. Don’t let the swamp of sadness get to you Artax! Also, if you can watch the scene below without crying, you are most likely a sociopath… so please get help.
THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955)
They may have complimentary singing voices but in the end murderous charlatan Harry Powell (ROBERT MITCHUM) is no match for unsung saint Rachel Cooper (LILLIAN GISH). “I’m a strong tree with branches for many birds. I’m good for somethin’ in this old world, and I know it too.”
SUPERMAN II (1980)
Ignore the cellophane “S” and let’s hear it for the citizens of Metropolis! After Zod and his cohorts have apparently killed Superman, bystanders are so outraged; they band together and selflessly throw their own safety to the wind. “They killed Superman!” one screams; “Let’s go get’em!” yells another. This always makes me happy. The fun’s not over yet, I could watch Lois clock Ursa (“You know something? You’re a real pain in the neck!”) all day.
A list is not a list without JOHN CARPENTER. If you want to convince me that an alien would be even remotely impressed with humanity, it’s a good idea to get an actor like JEFF BRIDGES to play said alien and KAREN ALLEN to represent humanity. “You’re at your very best when things are at their worst” Not always true but when it is…wow.
FLASH GORDON (1980)
The theme song alone is enough to make me euphoric but what I find most life affirming is when Dr. Zarkov explains how he avoided being brainwashed by thinking of the works of Einstein, Shakespeare and the Beatles. That must be one hell of a planet he comes from! As Flash would say, “Not too bad.”
You didn’t think I’d neglect to put a horror film up in here did you? CANDYMAN is stuffed with stinging bees and violence but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t got anything positive to relay. I love that our hero Helen sacrifices herself to save a baby and I love even more that she is recognized and mourned by the residents of Cabrini-Green for her deed. They don’t even know a fraction of what she’s been through but they know enough.
(Tie) HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (2010) /THE IRON GIANT (1999)
I can’t choose between these two and so I won’t.
(Tie) LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986)/GREASE 2 (1982)
I don’t always watch musicals but when I do they include songs about murder and dentistry (LITTLE SHOP) or sex education and bowling (GREASE 2).
Johnny Case (CARY GRANT) must choose between shallow dud Julia and her freethinking down to earth sister Linda who just happens to be KATHARINE HEPBURN. I won’t tell you how it ends but summersaults and the world’s greatest rumpus room are involved.
You’ve seen this right? You know how it ends. Once upon a time way back in 1988 I went to see SCROOGED in the theater and I’ll never forget it. After BILL MURRAY has his epiphany he breaks the 4th wall and invites the audience to sing along with the closing song “Put a Little Love In Your Heart.” I don’t know what was going on with the packed Center City Philadelphia audience I saw this with but they really got into it. At first it was embarrassing and then it became mandatory. You had to sing and clap along. When MURRAY told one side of the theater to sing they did and when he told the other (my side) we did too. It was amazing and I’m not exaggerating and if you think it sounds lame that means you weren’t there. Hey, isn’t that Harry Powell (ROBERT MITCHUM) singing along too? I forgot that he was in it. How perfect. Yes, the world really sucks sometimes but if you’re one of the many people not adding to the grief, you should make sure you enjoy yourself this season. You deserve it.
I’ve made it clear I’m saving my tears for tragedies more devastating than a horror movie being remade HERE. Let me also be honest and admit that I get a kick out of watching supposedly broad-minded horror fans stomp their feet and get all Harper Valley P.T A. puritanical whenever a new one is announced. Sorry, nothing is more comical than a person in a zombie T-shirt crying about the death of originality. Greedy Hollywood is “out of ideas” that, or maybe they just know that pious bubble-dwellers will promote their film ad nauseum by bitching about it non-stop for a year…and then see it anyway. Can you believe that somebody had the gall to remake SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT? How can anyone hope to improve upon that fine piece of cinematic artistry? Don’t get me wrong, I adore SNDN but a lot of my affection for it is because it is crass, disrespectful and mocks propriety. It’s not a movie that would clutch its pearls and say “Well, I never!” at the thought of being remade. It was born to step on toes.
If you are appalled by remakes you better not watch SILENT NIGHT (2012); not only does it use a previously existing movie as a springboard to tell its story, it brazenly lifts swatches of content from fellow maligned remakes! Still teary-eyed about the MY BLOODY VALENTINE redo? Well here comes JAIME KING and a small town atmosphere to pour salt on your wounds! Still throwing darts at that ROB ZOMBIE poster because he successfully burned every copy of JOHN CARPENTER‘s masterpiece in existence? Here comes that no good MALCOLM McDOWELL and he’s brought expressive color filters and light flares with him! That’s gotta sting. Never mind that the first two SNDN‘s, long out of print, have been released at a reduced price to coincide with this differently titled movie’s release, this abomination was built to ruin everybody’s innocent memories! How will we ever go on?
SILENT NIGHT is a fine modern slasher. It has an exceedingly likable lead in KING and even though it’s lame on occasion, its coal black sense of humor easily wins out in the end. They did a superior job making the Santa killer look menacing and there are more than a couple inspired kills. Granted, some of the nods to the original work better than others. It’s always nice during the holidays to see someone impaled on antlers, but they needed to hire a much gnarlier dude to play phony-comatose grandpa. The guy they chose could play a patriarch on a nighttime soap! Look, I LOVE Christmas horror films and regardless of this flick’s origin, it’s a welcome addition to my collection. It’s too soon to say if it will become part of my seasonal rotation but if I had to guess I’d say, “Who am I kidding? Yes.” It’s a crisp breezy romp and I must put a star on its tree for not shying away from killing a bratty kid who asked for it. I’ll always favor the orginal’s more personal story focusing on the forging of a psychopath, but there’s room in my stocking for this approach too. I won’t over sell it because I’m bias as hell but if you’re into killer Santas movies than it’s a must see all the way. In fact, I’m hoping it follows its inspiration’s lead and spews out many sequels for years to come. Yes, SEQUELS! Groans of disapproval are music to my ears.
Tags: Seasons Beatings
A ways back we received a traumafession regarding THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY (HERE)- specifically about the scene where the title character witnesses the horrific murder of his parents. Although personally my heart was filing its nails during that incident, it did break into a zillion Legos during a scene that occurs later in the program.
I am talking about the moment that Baba the lamb is run over by a chariot. I think it may be the worst thing that ever happened in the history of ever and even thinking about it now makes me want throw my computer out the window and scream to the heavens like WESLEY SNIPES in JUNGLE FEVER. To me, Baba’s death was more tragic than a 1,000 Bambi’s moms. Have you ever seen that Baba guy? He is adorable. Especially when he is dancing around on his little hind lamby legs. Naturally, I’d rather throw myself into a volcano than see something bad happen to Baba.
When you are a kid the time period between when Baba gets plowed down and the point where he is miraculously brought back to life lasts eons. In reality, it takes less than five minutes for the little baby Jesus to conclude that the kid’s drum playing (and heart) are decent enough to splash some resurrection mojo on his poor dead friend.
For some reason the Bible neglects to include the story of THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY and I’m guessing it’s because the song it’s based on didn’t exist until 1941. I suppose that will do for an excuse. They should really add it though because it’s got most Bible stories beat because it can’t be misinterpreted to spread evil and it doesn’t talk smack about delicious shellfish.
THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY ends with the very clear statement that hate, ALL hate, is and always will be wrong. I like when stories cut to the chase and don’t include a bunch of random rules and sloppy propaganda. In the end the Little Drummer Boy and I are so psyched that Baba is alive that we both can’t help dumping our free-floating elephantine hatred of all things human. Well, most of it anyway, I still wouldn’t mind seeing that chariot driver dragged into the middle of town and his smug puppet head sliced off with a rusty scythe. Careful driving this Christmas Eve kids and hold on tight to your lambs!
When I was a very little kid, I stole a pack of Dentyne gum from the grocery store. It was so easy- I just put it in my pocket as my Mother was purchasing groceries. The act itself was thrilling. I could not believe that I could think of something like that, do it and then bask in the rewards. I was interacting with the world and I existed. Hubris was destined to trip me up though. I shared my accomplishment with my older brother and after enjoying some of my gum and throwing the wrappers into a bush, my brother promptly snitched (Life lesson #1: Happiness lasts longer when not shared with others.)
So now I was in trouble, big trouble. I had to wait in the stairwell as my mother spun the punishment wheel in her head and determined my fate. As I stood in the hall crying and praying for the power to turn back time (Life Lesson #2: No amount of praying will result in God granting you magical powers) the two cops from ADAM-12 (MARTIN MILNER & KENT McCORD) came into the kitchen and began to discuss my fate with my mother. I saw them and I heard them, I swear. I was trapped in a whirlwind of guilt and horror; I was obviously going to be arrested and sent to jail. I wasn’t a “good” guy, I was a “bad” guy! Oh, the shame!
Time would reveal that no, the ADAM 12 guys were not in my home at all. I had just had, you know, a visual and audio hallucination of some sort. I guess my brain was not formed enough yet to draw the lines between my imagination and reality (this would also explain the night that I saw the Easter Bunny in the living room.) I bring up this story because while watching the Finnish film RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE some invisible elf in my head dragged it out of storage and shoved it center stage. The movie may look like a killer Santa flick but in reality, it’s more about being a kid, and finding a way to overcome feelings of being “bad” while gaining some confidence about your abilities and position in the world. If you watch this one expecting gore, explosive action and big scares, you might feel shortchanged so I’m saying don’t do that.
RARE EXPORTS introduces us to a kid named Pietari who has gone and done something worse than stealing Dentyne. He and a friend, while snooping around an excavation, left a hole in the fence that contains his father’s reindeer herd and now something has obliterated his family’s livelihood. Pietari’s guilt cannot be contained and even though he has been sworn to secrecy about the incident, he knows that Santa sees all and will punish him severely. This is made even clearer as all the local kids about town begin to disappear. Pietari’s father captures an elderly man who he thinks may be responsible for their predicament but Pietari is convinced that the creepy guy is all-knowing Santa himself. The truth is actually stranger and more fantastic than Pietari can imagine so I won’t ruin it here.
This is a highly original film that plays with your expectations and stokes your imagination at every turn. If you a looking for a different type of holiday viewing experience then this is it. It hits a very unusual and singular note by being much darker and creepier than your standard family Christmas movie and yet much more whimsical, nostalgic and ultimately uplifting (literally in one scene) than your usual Christmas horror fare. Director JALMARI HELANDER is compared to SPIELBERG, JEUNET and DANTE in blurbs on the back of the DVD and I can see that, but with the frozen landscape, zero female presence and block of ice excavation, I was thinking hey this is like a kid’s version of THE THING! Okay, well, maybe that doesn’t fit exactly but you know how my brain works. In any case, RARE EXPORTS is a great addition to my pile of required Christmas holiday viewing. Really the only thing that it is missing is a cameo from the guys from ADAM-12.
I had awful dreams last night and I blame the segment “The Present” from KAZUO UMEZ’S HORROR THEATER VOL 3. directed by YUDAI YAMAGUCHI (VERSUS, BATTLEFIELD BASEBALL.) “The Present” is a Japanese killer Santa story based on an influential manga. Honestly, I don’t know much about mangas but if anything involves a killer Santa, I want to know about it and I want it to be a part of my life. “The Present” opens with a little girl named Yuko having an awful dream herself. It’s Christmas night and her parents console her by informing her that as long as she is good, she has nothing to worry about and Santa will protect her from harm. If she’s bad though, she is screwed!
Flash-forward into the future and Yuko is now a young adult. She appears to be a bit of a wallflower compared to her friends but she agrees to travel with a group to a hotel to celebrate Christmas. Arriving at the hotel, she begins to stumble across crap featured in her childhood nightmare. In fact, the hotel room she stays in is decorated with assorted objects from her youth. Yuko is not feeling it and wants to go home but her friends convince her to stay and then her boyfriend convinces her to have sex. Apparently having sex on Christmas angers Santa and now Yuko and all her pals have to be butchered and fed to the reindeer. Wow, Yuko’s parents were not kidding.
“The Present” is doused in off-putting colors and heavily utilizes disorienting angles and flash cuts. It’s made even more surreal by the fact that it is filmed on some kind of HD video that reminds me of DR. WHO. There’s plenty of blood and gore running through this simple vignette, but the real creeps are the result of the psycho-moralistic undercurrent. It’s kind of like being stuck in one of those Christian haunted houses that tries to scare the sin out of you. I can’t say crazy Santa is completely effective either. He’s got a very impressive throwing star on a chain which he uses to yank off assorted limbs, but for some reason he can’t be bothered to deliver a proper scowl. Maybe this dude looks scary in Japan, but to me he looks like a bored delivery guy.
Assuming that nobody will ever watch this, I’m going get spoiler-y. As if the character of Yuko had not been disparaged enough, we come to find out that she was never the innocent we knew and was just pretending to be “pure” as a way to manipulate those around her. It turns out she doesn’t like Christmas, does not want to spend Christmas with her parents, smokes cigarettes and sneakily smiles to herself when she’s pretending to be coy. Personally I’m still not convinced that she deserves to have her brains scooped out but hey, I’m a liberal. It’s not surprising that the movie ends up being the dream that young Yuko had at the start. What is surprising is that young Yuko takes credit for squashing the brain of the “bad” future Yuko who is yet to be and that her parents rejoice in the fact that she will always be “gentle”.
Well, I’m happy I checked this one out even though I think it’s crazy making and causes bad dreams. “The Present” is so dogmatic that it ends up revealing the most horrible side of Santa I’ve ever seen. Turns out he is just a tool to scare and bribe kids into listening to their parents and submiting to their bourgeois values. Who knew?