Category Archives: A CHRISTMAS CAROL

THE GREEN HUNTSMAN: CHRISTMAS HORROR FOLKLORE

green-flamesTHE GREEN HUNTSMAN – The Green Huntsman is an interesting example of the many figures who started out as folklore before being committed to the printed page in horror stories.

Long before the short stories featuring the Green Huntsman began to appear around the 1830s the figure was already being conflated with the Wicked Huntsman of Basque folk tales. Joseph Holt Ingraham’s 1841 story titled simply The Green Huntsman is arguably the best known of the short stories.

The figure eventually known as the Green Huntsman has its origins centuries ago. Originally a mortal man, this huntsman was a Castilian nobleman who had a perfect body but a very ugly face. As the tale was inevitably embellished it got to the point where the man freakishly had just one large green eye above the nose of his otherwise handsome face. 

green-flames-2The nobleman was obsessed with tracking down and marrying a mythical woman called the Christmas Bride who could only be found on Christmas Eve. This woman was incredibly beautiful but blind. The Green Huntsman wanted her as his bride not only because she would not be able to see how hideous he was, but, more importantly, she was destined to give birth to a son who would become the New Charlemagne, who would unite all Europe under one ruler. 

Clad in his all-green hunting outfit the Green Huntsman would ride forth every Christmas Eve accompanied by his hunting dogs. One year the whip he used to urge his horse onward contained a hair from the head of the Virgin Mary herself. (Remember, there was a lucrative business long ago in selling fake relics like pieces of wood from the “true” cross, plus the bones or other items from various saints.)

That hair from Christian mythology’s Blessed Mother supposedly would act as a divining rod, and the bristles on the whip would point the way to the Christmas Bride. The Green Huntsman had paid an enormous amount of money to the Pope himself to obtain the hair. Continue reading

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SCROOGE AND MARLEY (2012)

scrooge-marley-2012SCROOGE & MARLEY (2012) – MERRY CHRISTMAS! Balladeer’s Blog’s Christmas Carol-A-Thon for 2016 comes to a close with a look at this gay-oriented adaptation of the Dickens classic. It’s also a musical, but unfortunately the songs struck me as being as blah as most of Leslie Bricusse’s output in Scrooge (1970).

Previously I’ve examined Ebbie, which is a business-woman themed version of the story, John Grin’s Christmas and Christmas is Comin’ Uptown, which are black-themed versions of the story and even See Hear Presents A Christmas Carol, a sign-language and spoken version aimed at the hearing impaired. 

Scrooge & Marley is an openly and deliberately gay adaptation of the Dickens story. It often falls into the trap of using its gay narrative as a gimmick rather than a theme but that risk just goes with the territory when a creative team is locked into following a previously mapped-out storyline.  

The film is set in the fairly present day and opens up at Ebenezer Scrooge’s gay nightclub called Screws. I was hoping it would be called Screwed, to be reminiscent of the porno version of A Christmas Carol titled Ebenezer Screwed. At any rate Scrooge is, as usual, a tight-fisted (as it were) hand at the grindstone and treats his employees horribly. Hell, he even fires them if they tip delivery people out of their own pockets! Continue reading

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A LUKE CAGE CHRISTMAS CAROL (1973)

Yes, it’s a Marvel Comics crossover with Balladeer’s Blog’s Christmas Carol-A-Thon! With all of the Marvel superheroes conquering the big and small screens here’s an action-packed Christmas Carol adaptation from the 1970s.  

luke-cage-christmas-carolJingle Bombs was the real title of this holiday tale which pitted superhero Luke Cage aka Hero for Hire aka Power Man against the one-off supervillain called Marley. Like a Guest Villain from the Adam West Batman show Marley uses a campy Christmas Carol motif for his nefarious plan … yet, oddly the story is kind of quaint.  

On Christmas Eve, Luke Cage is hanging out with his then-girlfriend Claire Temple, a nurse who worked at a clinic in the New York ghetto. Later on in the series Claire would be the center of a romantic triangle between Luke Cage and another of Marvel’s black superheroes – Black Goliath, Hank Pym’s former lab assistant who used Pym’s inventions to turn to giant-size and back. 

As night approaches Luke sees a ruckus outside the clinic: a man in Dickensian 1800s clothing is using his walking stick to beat a little handicapped boy named Timmy. Our hero goes out to save the little boy and is attacked by the strange man, who identifies himself as “Marley.”   Continue reading

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JOHN GRIN’S CHRISTMAS (1986)

john-grins-christmas

Wealthy John Grin and the Ghost of Christmas Future

JOHN GRIN’S CHRISTMAS (1986) – The 2016 edition of Balladeer’s Blog’s Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues with this obscure item from the 1980s. My copy of John Grin’s Christmas was already barely watchable when I first tracked it down and it looks worse and worse each time I watch it. Still no DVD release, though, so I’ve decided to give up hoping for a clearer copy and will just review it as is.

Regular readers are familiar with the obsessive lengths I go to in order to track down the various out-of-the-way adaptations of A Christmas Carol. I’m afraid this time around the story is kind of dull – I bought John Grin’s Christmas from someone on E-Bay a few years back. They had taped it off television in 1986 and were selling that very faded and gargly-sounding VHS tape.

Renaissance Man Robert Guillaume directed and stars as the Ebenezer Scrooge stand-in John Grin, our title craftsman who makes a variety of collectibles. Many sources claim he only makes toys but that is not true, it’s just that as Christmas approaches most of his sales are toys. And, since the story is set around Christmas time … Continue reading

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A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1969)

Welcome back to Balladeer’s Blog’s Seventh Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon!

I have several dozen video versions of the Charles Dickens classic and for years now I have filled the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas watching umpteen different adaptations of this epic myth of the Industrial Age. 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1969) – Air Programs International produced this fun animated version from Australia. There are books out there whose reviewers trash this version of A Christmas Carol but their reviews are so loaded with factual errors about this cartoon that I Continue reading

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AN AMERICAN CHRISTMAS CAROL (1979): REVIEW

An American Christmas Carol 2Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2016 continues!

At the height of Fonzie-mania in the 1970s Henry Winkler had so much pull he could have insisted on a side-deal in which he got to play every D’Ascoyne in a televised remake of Kind Hearts and Coronets if he had wanted to. Mercifully he instead chose to star in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol.   

Eric Till directed this telefilm which sets Dickens’ story in Depression- Era America. Winkler, so heavily made-up he looks like a zombie instead of an old man, portrays Benedict Slade, the Scrooge stand-in and R.H. Thompson plays Slade’s man-bitch Thatcher, the Bob Cratchit counterpart. Kenneth Pogue has the Jacob Marley role as Latham and Susan Hogan barely registers as the forever-irritating Belle stand-in. (Thank you to Garrett Kieran for catching an error – I accidentally listed David Wayne as the Marley stand-in.) 

“I’m not gonna pay a lot for this makeup job!” … Henry Winkler IS a zombie Scrooge in An Undead Christmas Carol.

This version of the Carol pulls the annoying maneuver of pretending the visits from Merrivale and the other ghosts are all a dream. There’s even an in-world reference to the Dickens novel A Christmas Carol.

On the plus side the visits of each of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come are cleverly heralded by time period appropriate music and news broadcasts airing on Slade’s bedside radio. The old tight-wad is especially discomfited by the outre 1970s music blaring from the radio before the arrival of the black Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.   Continue reading

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TWELVE HUNDRED GHOSTS (2016): CHRISTMAS CAROL-A-THON CONTINUES

Heath – one of Balladeer’s Blog’s long-time readers – has done a Supercut version of A Christmas Carol. The video runs 53 minutes and is sheer genius! Plus the rest of the videos on Heath’s channel are worth checking out as well! This is a great addition to Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2016:

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