Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are very familiar with my Bad Movie page. Laughing at bad and weird movies is one of the great joys of life so I often post holiday-themed looks at cinematic turkeys around Halloween and Thanksgiving. The Yuletide season has its fair share of turkeys as well, so enjoy this examination of more Christmas season bombs than even Henry Kissinger ever dreamed of. In keeping with my blog’s overall theme I will exclude overexposed movies like Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and the Mexican film Santa Claus. Visit my Bad Movie page if you want full-length reviews of these flicks.
THE CHRISTMAS MARTIAN (1971) – This Canadian flick is dubbed into English from its orginal French so viewers get treated to the Old School bad movie fun of the actor’s lip movements rarely matching the words being said. An annoyingly whimsical and whacky Martian gets stuck in Canada at Christmas time. A young brother and sister help the alien visitor repair his Ed Wood- level spaceship and save him from suspicious Canadian authorities. Yes, it all seems … reminiscent … of the much-later movie E.T. but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence. (?) The Martian overdoes the zaniness factor to such a degree that even Charles Nelson Reilly would have told him to tone it down a little. He also wallows in a Canadian candy treat that looks a lot like Reese’s Pieces. Just sayin’.
SANTA AND THE ICE CREAM BUNNY (1972) – Ever want to see Santa Claus sweating so much that his red pants cling to his butt tightly enough for his crack and each buttock to stand out wide and proud? THIS is the movie for you! (And please stay away from children.) Santa’s sleigh crash-lands in Florida and becomes “stuck” in about an inch of sand on the beach. A profusely perspiring Saint Nick telepathically summons help from a group of children (who do double-duty as Santa’s elves back at the HILARIOUSLY cheap North Pole set) who try to pull his sleigh free from the tiny powder of sand covering its runners.
This unforgettable bomb features songs so poorly-recorded you can’t make out most of the lyrics, an almost disturbingly pointless visit from Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, and repeated plugs for the ersatz amusement park Pirate’s World. The Ice Cream Bunny was the park’s Mickey Mouse- style mascot and there’s a Pirate’s World kiddie movie awkwardly inserted into the body of this joyously terrible Christmas bomb. Thumbelina in some versions and Jack and the Beanstalk in others.
ELVES (1989) – This horror film stars Dan Haggerty as a department store Santa Claus who tries to thwart the plans of octogenarian Nazi scientists who plan on using demonic elves from Norse mythology’s realm of Alfheim to take over the world. No short review can possibly do justice to how enjoyably awful this fairly gory movie is. Part of the fun lies in the fact that the filmmakers can’t even keep their own story straight, sometimes telling us the Nazis want to use hideous, violent elves as an army of conquest, sometimes telling us they want the only elf in the film (despite the plural title) to mate with the movie’s heroine in order to spawn a Master Race and at other times telling us the elf needs to mate with the woman at Midnight on Christmas Eve to give birth to the Anti-Christ. All this plus lots of dead teenagers.
THE ENERGY CAROL (1975) – An animated Canadian educational short that was used to educate students about energy conservation. The Scrooge stand-in gets taught all about energy-wasting past, present and future to try to get him to change his profligate energy consumption at Christmas time. After driving home this message with as much subtlety as a jackhammer this educational short ends on a “meh” note by implying that energy conservation might not really be all that important after all. Hilariously wishy- washy time-waster.
TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1974) – The dumbest of all animated Christmas stories. Even as a little kid I wanted to kick this special’s merciless Santa Claus between the legs over and over again. When ONE dorky mouse writes a letter to the newspaper debunking Santa’s existence old Saint Nick shows a decided lack of Christmas spirit by pompously deciding that NOBODY in the town will get any gifts. The town constructs a massive clock that plays a butt-kissing song to try to appease the wrath of the power-crazed Dread Deity of Yule, Kris Kringle. Luckily this works or else the town would have probably resorted to sacrificing virgins to convince the dark Noel god to show mercy on them. The town should have told Santa to watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas to learn a few things about the season. Then they could tell him to affix his lips to the collective gluteus maximi of the entirety of the hamlet’s populace – oh, heck, to kiss their asses!
NEW YEAR’S EVIL (1980) – The New Year’s Eve entry in the 80’s trend toward slasher flicks for every occassion on the calendar. Kip Niven, David Niven’s son, plays the mass murderer who kills at least one person each time Midnight arrives in each of America’s time zones. Roz Kelly plays an elderly punk singer who is not punk in any way, shape or form and who is hosting a New Year’s Eve special like a certain elderly DJ used to host. Lack of logic abounds, as do interchangeable victims, no-name musical acts and a long, pointless battle between our slasher and a biker gang!
HAVE I GOT A CHRISTMAS FOR YOU (1977) – This telefilm could also have been titled We Wish Jews A Merry Christmas to more accurately reflect the ham-fisted (no joke intended) nature of the proceedings. Jewish community members volunteer to work on Christmas Eve for various Christian acquaintances so they can spend the holiday with their families. The good intentions of this combined Christmas/Hanukkah special are undermined by the Borscht-belt comedian caricatures of both the Jewish AND the Christian characters. You’ll have fun laughing at the blatant ethnic stereotypes, the cliched stories and the phony made-for- tv emotions while also having fun with the overdose of kitsch-casting. Milton Berle, George Takei, Jayne Meadows, Kim Fields, Steve Allen, Wolfman Jack, Herb Edelman, Adrienne Barbeau, Jim Backus and many others appear, to nicely set up an evening of trivia-centric joking with your friends as you watch this baby.
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984) – “You’ve made it through Halloween … now try and survive Christmas!” So went the ads to this most notorious (but not the first) movie to present a slasher dressed as Santa Claus. The more recent movie Santa’s Slay was INTENTIONALLY cheesy but the 1980’s killer Santa movies were trying to be real horror films which makes them a lot more fun to laugh at. Well, that and the evil nun who drives the killer santa crazy as a child in this flick. The presence of scream queen Linnea Quigley and the in-your-face ad campaign are this film’s biggest claims to fame, and its sequels aren’t even worth watching to make fun of.
See also CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980) – About a slasher in a Santa suit who has kept a list of who’s been naughty or nice and sets out on Christmas Eve to kill everyone on the “naughty” list. This movie is so mind-numbingly boring that it’s the one to watch if you’re sharing it with the wimpier breed of bad movie buffs. … TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT (1980), which features Jennifer Runyon AND Harry Reems of all people. A slasher in a Santa Claus costume who kills several co-eds as well as the inept cops who come to protect them. … And DON’T OPEN ‘TIL CHRISTMAS (1984), a British horror film about a lunatic killing people dressed in Santa suits for the holidays. This one’s hilarious because of the way the British thespians’ inherent dignity is so at odds with the cheap and exploitative story.
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