Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

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Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (1978/ Children’s Television Workshop/ Dir. Jon Stone)

Friends, Interneters, Countrymen? Look, lend me your eyes okay? I come not to bury Big Bird, but to praise him. The good men do, may sometimes live after then, while what little evils the commited may be interred with their bones. So let it be with Big Bird. Many hath told you Henson was ambitious? If it were so, it was a magnificent joy; and Henson hath answer’d it. You all did love him once,–not without cause: what cause withholds you, then, to mourn for him? O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason!–Bear with me; my heart is in the coffin there with Henson, and I must pause till it come back to me.

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The Christmas Orange (2002/ Bardel Entertainment/ Dir. Ian Freedman)

So here we have something so obscure that I may be the only person who actually bought the DVD. Not only am I the only owner of the DVD in America, I bought it 10 years after the product came out. And I only bought it for a few dollars, on a whim because I’d never heard of it and reviewing things that say “Christmas” on them is a thing I do. So I decided to give it a try. Given the product was only $6, given that it was a one shot for Canadian TV, and given that it was 10 years after it was first broadcast, I wasn’t expecting to find a huge amount about the cartoon. It’s based on a book, that’s what I found out. It’s not a bad product, we’ll get that out of the way for starters. I’m not sure how good it is though. Let’s examine The Christmas Orange…

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The Fat Albert Christmas Special (1977/ Filmation/ Dir.Hal Sutherland)

Doing holiday specials is a tough gig. Quite often, they’re produced as a fast buck idea. Something to throw at the screen during December, and if possible, break up the McDonald’s Commercials a little. Most the specials I have seen, and I’ve seen WAY more than I should, fit into this category. Particularly existing properties, like the Smurfs or He-Man, fit this mold.

You know what? We’re not going to mention another holiday special for the rest of this review. I’m going to show my hand early and just say it. This is good. I don’t want to taint that by comparing it to something less good. If it’s really good, it should be able to stand up on its own without putting something else down. And I think this is good, and I think it goes beyond a cynical cash grab, and I think it might really be worth your while.

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The Snowman (1982/ TVC London/ Dir. Dianne Jackson)

This is a cartoon for which I have no nostalgia. I only saw it for the first time last year and was so exhausted that I fell asleep during part of it. If I can offer an untainted perspective on any holiday movie, this HAS to be it. I only bought it because it has a tremendous reputation. The fact that it came on a DVD with The Nuttiest Nutcracker had nothing to do with it. I still haven’t watched that second feature, mainly because I watched the trailer. But we’re talking about something that I’ve been told by English and Canadians is the height of their VEWPRF season. So I bought it and watched it, and now I shall write my review of that movie. How did I think it help up? You’ll have to wait and see…

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The Smurfs Christmas Special (1982/ Hanna-Barbera/ Dir. Gerald Baldwin)

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. My first holiday special review in two years… it was supposed to be a momentous occasion. It should have been filled with joy, and laughter, not this. I said some time ago that I was sort of done with reviews that only amounted to complaints. I mean… look, The Avengers happened and we’re liking things because we like them again, not because we hate them and want to imagine we’re superior to them. I want you to know, I started this with the purest of intentions. Sadly The Smurfs Christmas Special did not hold up.

There is no way to properly summarize this, no way to discuss it on its merits, or play on the themes. Mostly, because I have no idea what happened. The best I can hope for is a synopsis, going down the line point by point. Maybe, together, we can reach an understanding. Just remember the mantra “I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks!”

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5 Non-Horror Halloween Movies

Posted: September 20, 2012 in Holiday, Top Lists
Tags: , ,

I like Halloween, a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. Syd also loves Halloween. The problem is, Syd doesn’t like horror movies. It’s a little hard to watch movies during the Halloween season if you live with someone who doesn’t like Horror movies. So I decided to put together a list of movies that don’t have to be classed as horror. That way, I get to get into Halloween, and Syd gets to sleep without nightmares. So as a result, I’ve got something that isn’t scary. Now, there aren’t rules to this, there isn’t any science, I went by feel. The only explanation I can come up with, is an after the fact examination. Each of these feel Autumnal to me. They take place during the fall, or have strong themes of the supernatural. That’s all I got. I like watching these during Halloween.

NOW! Allow us to, for a moment, start with the honorable mentions. Someone suggested The Nightmare Before Christmas while I was putting this list together. Syd had a complaint, “It’s a Christmas movie.” and with that, it sort of had to go. It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown was rejected on the grounds that Syd can’t watch old Chuck get another bag full of rocks. She just can’t take the bullying of Charlie Brown. The Godfather is something I always find myself watching during autumn, but it’s not Hallow’een-y enough. Likewise, Ghostbusters was also suggested, but it just felt wrong. Yeah, it felt wrong, I go mostly by feeling on this sight, quit trying to imagine that I use any kind of science behind this. There is no science, no chart, no weighing of evidence. Feeling, gut, emotion. We went through a few others, but in the end I landed with these five.


1. Clue
A classic comedy, that didn’t get the kind of love it deserved back in the day. Yes, it’s based on a board game, but this movie is SO MUCH MORE! Clue is truly one of the funniest satires of both the mystery genre and the McCarthyism of the 50s. I’m not sure it actually takes place during the autumn, but it feels like it does. Also, most the characters are inside and the whole thing has a lovely warm feeling that I admire. There are few movies that are as much fun as this one. When I reviewed this a while ago, I was ready for it to have not held up, but it did. And it has the most manic dénouement in history with Tim Curry running around explaining the murder like mad. Ya gotta love that!


2. The Crow
Another movie I’ve reviewed, and still watch. I’m not sure I’ve mentioned this before, but about 90% of the time I review a movie I have this feeling of “Well, I don’t need to watch that again.” that washes over me. And maybe 85% of the time I never do watch the movies again. Or at least, I don’t feel an urge to watch them. This one, however, I found myself wanting to watch after the review. I went into the viewing, with the idea of watching it for a review, with the idea that I was going to sink myself into a crappy earl 90s nostalgiafest of not holding up years later. Strangely, not only did it hold up, but there were things I found that I appreciated about the movie that had never struck me before. Of course, by issues with depression didn’t start until my 30s, so some of the things in that movie wouldn’t have struck me until later. Since that review, I’ve pulled it out every Halloween Season and watched it at least once, if not twice. Yeah, I didn’t much talk about the movie here did I? Aw well, click the link up there and read the review.


3. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Okay, so this is a midnight movie that plays on Halloween. What do you want from me? If you don’t know what Rocky Horror is… I honestly can’t help you. No, wait, I’ll try. It’s part sci-fi homage, part lunatic comedy, part polyamory romance, part exaltation of the joy of being yourself, part surreal examination of the sexual awakening of America, it’s a musical and Tim Curry is in it. Again. What more could you possibly need? There is a lot more story than what ends up on the screen, so you’ll need to watch four or five hundred times to get the full understanding. If you’re a fan, you will have done this. Not sure why I’ve never actually reviewed this one. I’ve thought about it. I think I probably like it too much. There is a list of movies that I love, that I think I’ll probably never actually review. I might, some day, which is why I’ve never done a “Movies I’ll NEVER Review” list, because three days would go by and I’d find myself deciding to give Raiders of the Lost Ark the love it deserves. It’s such an unrecognized classic! Seriously you have no idea how close to rhapsodizing it I was after seeing it on the IMAX screen last week. Only exhaustion stopped me. What was I talking about? Oh, right, Rocky Horror. Well, all that I said about Raiders also applies. I like it too much, I would just say things you’ve heard before.


2. Interview With the Vampire
Again, I’m not sure how Halloweeny this is, but I watch it at this time of year. Again, we’ve got themes of depression, the supernatural, and (oddly) polyamory. Huh, note to self, collect a list of movies that feature polyamory. This is another movie that I have watched each Halloween since the review. I actually haven’t watched the Corman Poe movies that much since I reviewed them, and I think they all got much higher reviews than these two I’ve admitted to watching a lot more. Interesting that. I’m not sure what it says, but I do watch it. Probably because the movie is ridiculously beautiful, being more of a drama with a bit of supernatural themes than really a supernatural film. Everyone I have asked about this says it’s not a horror film, that they’ve always felt it to be a dramatic period piece first and a vampire movie second. Oddly, I have real problems with the book. I tried to read it once, got the heavily abridged audiobook, and it’s kind of terrible. Try cutting what, according to my unabridged audiobook, is a book that takes fifteen hours to read and squish it down to three hours. I’m only reading the whole thing for the first time right now. Interestingly, I don’t find Louis as whiney as everyone else. I never found him whiney exactly, just ineffectual. I think he’s supposed to be clinically depressed, but written by someone who either hasn’t suffered from depression, or can’t articulate the feelings very well. The movie is fantastic though, and you should probably watch it again for the first time.


5. Legend
Tom Cruise and Mia Sara fight TIM CURRY? What the shit? How many times is Curry going to turn up in this list? Well, as this is the last entry, it should be the last time. Again, the autumnal feeling is questionable, but I allow it because the only times I’ve ever felt like watching this movie is in the period between September 1 and November 30. So, I’m going with it. The supernatural is well represented, and there is a force of evil that has to be conquered. There is a lot of darkness, a great deal of glitter, and Tom Cruise in a mini dress. I don’t know, it feels right, and it has Tim Curry in it! Has Tim Curry ever steered us wrong? I mean BESIDES McHale’s Navy! And CongoAddams Family Reunion, Oscar, Charlie’s Angels, FernGully: The Last Rainforest… You know what? Never mind! Look, when he’s good he’s VERY good. You may be wondering why I don’t mention The Shadow. I actually sort of like that movie. I’ve been thinking of a review for it. I like to defend the indefensible after all. Also, would have been a good one for this list. Another movie I associate with fall and Halloween.

Wait, I didn’t put The Immortals in here? That actually takes place ON Halloween. Of course, it’s also not a very good movie. That’s probably why I didn’t put it here. And yet, I have, so work out that little pair of ducks on your own.

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Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales (1979 Warner Bros. / DePatie-Freleng Enterprises Dir. Friz Freleng & Chuck Jones)

Ah sweet, sweet freedom. I don’t have to do anymore commercials if I don’t want to! Shall we talk about harmless but enjoyable cartoon entertainment for a moment? Let’s talk about what is really the last gasps of the Looney Tunes, the time of the mid-80s when all the guys who had worked on cartoons their whole lives were dying off and studios were shutting down animated production left and right. During those days, just before the nostalgia wave that hit in the 90s, it was hard to produce new Looney Tunes. This was one of the compromises. Partially made by Friz Freleng’s company and partly made by the powerhouse that was Chuck Jones, this holiday special is one of the last times that the old team would produce and entirely new show instead of just making bumpers for compilation movies. Even if it were bad, which it isn’t, it would still have Chuck and Friz and Mel working on it. Actually though, I find it sort of charming, if not anyone’s best work.

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