Thursday, December 26, 2013

HOLIDAY HORRORS: The Turds in the Punchbowl

Ahhh yes, the day after Christmas. The presents are unwrapped, the delicious stuffed filet of beef has been consumed (except for that piece worth fighting over at lunch) and it's time to figure out what you're keeping, what's being sold on eBay and what you're just flat out returning for store credit. In other words it's time for the sorting of the crap.

Anytime you undertake an, er, undertaking like watching a dozen holiday horror flicks in a couple weeks there's bound to be a couple turds in the punchbowl.

Today's the day for a couple of those turds... sorry folks.

First up is SANTA CLAUS (1959), a hallucinogenic nightmare of a "children's" film courtesy of Rene Cardona and K. Gordon Murray.

I can't imagine being a kid and getting dropped into some kind of freaking nightmare where Santa lives on a cloud in space and Satan sends his chief demon – a hyperactive freak named Pitch – to make all the kids on Earth do evil. Or he'll be forced to eat chocolate ice cream.

Which we all know is bad for his digestion.

On Christmas Eve, Santa leaves his Multi-National Intergalactic Sweatshop run by Merlin the Magician (?!) and drives his team of terrifying, teeth-chattering wind-up reindeer that turn to dust if Santa's not back to his space shack by sunrise around the globe to deliver presents to good girls and boys.

Most of the brain-bending flick revolves around a trio of kids and their quest for holiday joy: there's Lupita the poor girl who never gets anything from Santa; the rich boy whose parents ignore him until they drink the "Cocktail of Remembrance"; and, the three hooligans who plan to jump Santa, stuff him in a sack and make him their slave!

Like other South of the Border abominations such as LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND THE MONSTERS (1962), the concept behind SANTA CLAUS seems sorta cute and benign. Until you have to sit down and suffer through every one of its excruciating 90 minutes!

The end result is so completely tedious and moronic that it makes it perfect fodder for creating an insulting MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER episode. Approach at your own risk.

Despite suffering through THANKSKILLING 3 and the aforementioned SANTA CLAUS, I was shocked to find I wasn't anywhere near done my Holiday Horror penance. Oh no. That chore would be left to what is easily the worst, most aggravating piece of Christmasploitation pie I've ever been served – the excruciating and completely worthless CAESAR AND OTTO'S DEADLY XMAS.

Okay, so maybe "completely worthless" is a bit harsh. But I'm not far off the mark. Maybe...

Ostensibly a jab at the whole "Killer Santa" genre, CAESAR & OTTO makes one classic miscalculation – it's sorta hard to parody a genre that has already begun to parody itself.

But that doesn't seem to bother this low-budget Abbott & Costello as Ceasar (the hyperactive and ceaselessly annoying Dave Campfield) and Otto (the kinda funny and somewhat charming Paul Chomicki) banter and argue about their lot in loserdom.

Like some of the latter day SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT sequels (see how I brought this full circle?), CAESAR & OTTO has waaaaayyyy more plot going for it than it really needs.

Sure, there's a killer Santa (the too good for this crap JACKASS grad Deron Miller aka CYK) and Caesar's holiday trauma (inspired by the original SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT complete with scene-chomping Lloyd Kaufman as Grandpa) but we're also forced to suffer through his desire to turn a quick buck by making a Christmas-themed horror movie and Otto's hunt for a long-lost love, not to mention an unwelcome Linnea Quigley cameo (shudder) and a Dr. Phil spoof that had me longing for the real deal.

The killer Santa/Christmasploitation genre may be ripe for a good tweaking. Unfortunately, this isn't it.

I'm going to spare you any links to where you can buy these flicks. If you search them out it's your own fault.

No comments: