Tuesday, December 22, 2009

You'd better watch out, the part after that.

We've been discussing Hallowe'en in Christmas; that is, Christmas movies which intentionally feature overtly scary images or actual Hallowe'en rituals. In other words, they did it on purpose.

But there is another category of 'scary in the merry', and that would have to be the Inadvertently Terrifying Christmas Film... perhaps best exemplified in the ridiculously-loaded-with-terror Santa Claus (1959).

Originally made in Mexico by Rene Cardona, Santa Claus was brought to the English-speaking world by K. Gordon Murray (for which he should be rotting in Hell). Dubbed and gussied up, it has become a favorite among Junk Cinema afficionados for its bizarre, rambling narrative, insane visuals and outright creepiness.

You can read reviews and synopses for this movie all over the 'Net; it's that popular.

Basically Santa ends up battling Ol' Pitch for the sake of the kiddies' happiness and goodness on Christmas.

Looking like an Hispanic Jamie Farr, prancing and posing his way through Hell, Pitch mugs and whimpers, points and chuckles, and generally annoys and creeps you out.

At one point he even implores his infernal Boss to not feed him ice cream, as it's bad for his digestion... yeah, just what we need to picture on Christmas -- a gay Mexican devil with diarrhea.

I flashed on this devil some years later when I first viewed Captain de Zita as the Devil in Eddie Wood's Glen or Glenda (1954):Both very Farr-esque.

At any rate, the scariest thing in this whole scary movie is an incredible dream-dance sequence with these hideous, ugly dolls.

The little girl is dreaming of the dolls, because she wants a doll so badly, but she doesn't want to steal to get one (Pitch is in her ear as she sleeps, making the dream a nightmare)... she's a cute little kid, too. But those DOLLS!!! Holy God... the only way to really know how hideous they are is to see them move, and hear their creaking, croaking mewlings:

I am sure Cardona (and Murray after him) wanted the movie to make kids laugh and think and be entertained, but I am fairly sure they had no idea how terrifying this movie was to kids.

And for that, they have incurred from me a curious blend of gratitude and wrath.

I first saw this film late one Christmas week night when I was in my early teens, and it's been a stomach-turning favorite ever since.

Oh, those dolls...


  1. That is about 11 in the Creep-O-Meter!

    Do you suppose that David Lynch saw this movie as a kid? That might explain Eraserhead.

    cant sleep dolls will eat me
    cant sleep dolls will eat me
    cant sleep dolls will eat me
    cant sleep dolls will eat me
    cant sleep dolls will eat me


  2. I know, unreal right?

    Seriously scared me but then, I love to be scared. Love/hate, love/hate...