Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tales From The Crypt (1972) - Repost

Tales From The Crypt 

Directed by Freddie Francis
Screenplay written by Milton Subotsky 
The 1972 UK filmed horror anthology Tales from the Crypt is one of my favorite examples of combining Christmas themes within a horror film. The first segment presents a not so innocent Joan Collins enduring the pursuits of a murderous man in a Santa suit. 

As horror anthologies go, this is a favorite; with many of the Hammer/Amicus film folks (on and off screen) participating in the production. The Amicus crew also followed this with 1973s Vault of Horror, another horror compendium based on EC comics. 

the trailer

the feature

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Santa Claus (1959) - Repost

Repost with updated link.

René Cardona (director of multiple Mexican wrestling, horror and exploitation movies, such as Survive!, Night of the Bloody Apes or Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy) put his spin on Christmas films with 1959s odd opus Santa Claus; which was distributed in the U.S. by K. Gordon Murray.

The visuals are bargain basement weirdness (check out Santa's bug-eyed telescope or Merlin as Santa's main man), the plot of Satan sending his lackey Pitch to irritate Santa while attempting to ruin Christmas never quite gels and off center dubbing all combine for this watchable chunk of cinematic high bizarreness.

Merry Christmas!

the trailer

the feature

MST3K Episode 521 - Santa Claus 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb (1993)

The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb was originally commissioned and created as a short to be shown on BBC2 during their special Christmastime programming. Although considered too dark to air as first planned, the short won festival praise, and then additional material was shot which extended the running time to near an hour.

This was filmed with both stop-motion animation for the figures and pixilation (a technique were the actor becomes a stop-motion puppet) for the human actors. Written and directed by Dave Borthwick the plot centers on Tom Thumb, a very small boy who is snatched from his home by a nefarious genetic/government entity. During his escape, he comes into contact with strange creatures as well as other diminutive humans on his path back to his Dad.

Little English is spoken here in this surreal tale, with the soundtrack instead filled with odd grunts and sound effects. English group Startled Insects and John Paul Jones provide musical accompaniment.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Gerald McBoing-Boing (1950)

The animated short Gerald McBoing-Boing was produced by United Productions of America and released by Columbia Pictures near the end of 1950. It won that years Academy Award for Best Animated Short and years later in 1995 it would be heralded for preservation by the Library of Congress' United States National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

The short tells the story of Gerald, a youngster whose entire oral communication output consists of various sound effects but no recognizable speech. This condition proves difficult for Gerald, but he eventually overcomes and also redirects his unusual communication style into something very positive.

Originally the story appeared on a record with musical accompaniment from Billy May and was written by Dr. Seuss. Directed by Robert Cannon, the adapted short was rendered in an artistic approach that spurned the realistic style of animation that Walt Disney Studios favored at the time and instead utilized a more limited animation and stylized caricatures.

The short proved so popular that three sequels were subsequently produced: Gerald McBoing Boing's Symphony (1953), How Now Boing Boing (1954), and Gerald McBoing! Boing! on Planet Moo (1956).  A character who very closely resembles Gerald also makes a brief appearance in 1962s Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962)

Everyone's favorite visually impaired cartoon character Mister Magoo takes center stage in this  animated version of Charles Dickens' timeless holiday classic A Christmas Carol. It was first aired in 1962 on NBC and was one of the earliest made-for-television animated Christmas programs, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer didn't debut until December 1964.

While Jim Backus provides the voice for Mister Magoo, there are also some Broadway style musical numbers. Additional voices are supplied by notable folk such as Morey Amsterdam, Jack Cassidy, and Royal Dano. Also of interest is the fact that much of the characters dialogue comes directly from Dickens source material and is not "dumbed down" as has become increasingly the case with television adaptions of A Christmas Carol.