Sunday, September 14, 2014

#62 Santa Claus (Wes)

Santa Claus
This list is so bloody annoying sometimes. Not (just) because of the dross that we have to watch, but because the bloody timing of it is sometimes absolutely dreadful. Here we are, in the middle of summer and we find ourselves watching a Christmas movie again. Unlike Die Hard, Gremlins or even Jaws The Revenge, this isn’t the sort of movie that is watchable at any time of the year, as it’s VERY Christmas orientated. Actually, this wouldn’t be watchable at any time of the year, except maybe on Halloween as we would soon find out…
Santa Claus (Jose Elias Moreno) lives in the heavens, far out in space and yet still above the North Pole somehow. He is joined in his palace with children from all over the world who act as his advisors, and Merlin (Armando Arriola ‘Arriolita’), who seems to be slumming it making sleeping potions in radioactive bowls and flowers that make you disappear. As Christmas approaches, Santa watches several children through a magic telescope, all of whom the devil, Pitch (Jose Luis Aguirre ‘Trotsky’), is trying to make into bad people. When Christmas Eve arrives Santa travels to Earth to defeat Pitch whilst he delivers his presents, but he must get back before dawn otherwise his reindeer will turn to dust. I’m sure that was a tense two minutes as the writers came up with that plot…

There have been plenty of things in kids films and television that really have induced nightmares over the years. The Wheelers in Return to Oz, the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the pink elephant dream sequence in Dumbo, The Witches in The Witches, The Other Mother in Coraline, but this movie wins hands down as the creepiest children’s film I’ve ever watched. If Mr Noseybonk from the kids show Jigsaw had a baby with The Human Centipede, then it would be this movie. This movie is like the result of a Freddie Krueger cheese dream. It’s the Christmas movie that everyone watches in Twin Peaks. Do you understand quite how disturbing this movie is yet?
To pinpoint exactly what makes it so disturbing is hard. There’s the dream that Lupita (Lupita Quezadas) has when Pitch is trying to turn her bad. It features several “dolls” dancing about her. These are people in horrific doll masks that emerge from giant coffin like boxes and whirl around in a dry ice fog. Perhaps it’s the terrible sound-editing that means that the vocal track is often only slightly louder than the Christmas music that plays seemingly throughout the film (the worst bit is when the children load up Santa’s sleigh to a song they sing accompanied by an off-key organ and occasional awful singing from Santa himself). Or there’s the creepy puppet show, Santa’s constant psychotic laughing, the clockwork reindeer with their terrifying eyes and laughter that would make Jason Vorhees hide behind the sofa, and the surveillance system that’s made from giant human body parts. In fact the only thing not disturbing about this film is Pitch, as he’s far too camp to be scary at all.

When this film isn’t busy trying to traumatise you, then it’s often being flat out racist. It starts with a twenty minute segment, that has no link to anything else, where Santa seemingly goes through every nation on Earth introducing the boys and girls from them who sing their “national songs”. Starting with the children from Africa, who are dressed in nothing but loincloths and wear bones in their hair, they play the sort of tune on some hand drums that you’d expect to hear in a 1920’s production of Tarzan. After them we have the Spanish children dressed up in traditional costume, looking like nobody has told them what they’re supposed to be doing. This actually runs through the whole segment. From China, to England (who sing a version of London Bridge is Falling Down that I expect to hear in my nightmares anytime soon), to Japan (who are even more off key than the English) to “The Orient” (seemingly India, not Leyton) and then off around the rest of the globe in way that makes me think that the producers of this movie learnt about different cultures from around the globe by watching a UKIP party political broadcast.
Just to illustrate how random and weird this movie is one last time, there was just one little piece in it that made me question if anyone actually thought about the script at all. I know I often say how bad the scripts are in these movies, but this is just so badly thought out it astounded me. Santa is so determined to make one last delivery before dawn to the poor little Mexican girl Lupita, he risks getting trapped on Earth to make sure she receives her present. Just as he arrives, Lupita’s father returns home, after job hunting... Are we seriously meant to believe that someone has been job hunting in the middle of the night, on Christmas Eve? I'm impressed by his enthusiasm, but seriously? When this movie isn’t disturbing you, or offending you, it’s just downright confusing.

Not only is this film badly written, but it’s also acted by the only Mexican actors to have less facial expressions than Santo (the legendary Mexican wrestling monster fighter). Well Santa has expressions. Sheer terror inducing expressions that make him a scarier Santa than the escaped psychopath from Tales From the Crypt mixed with the Robot Santa from Futurama and Billy Chapman from Silent Night, Deadly Night.
Having said all of this, there’s one thing I haven’t pointed out about this movie yet. It’s dull. It’s disturbing, it’s racist, it’s confusing and weird, but it’s also boring. Nothing really happens in this movie. The plot is so thin that it’s like watching an episode of The Teletubbies that’s been taking crystal meth. I can seriously only recommend this film to people who want to traumatise their children so they grow up hating Christmas, or people who find David Lynch to be a little too mainstream.