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This isn't the Christmas any of us wanted. It's still Christmas.

This was supposed to be the Christmas spent with friends and family again, right? After a year in isolation, this was when we'd all be able to take a deep breath and gather together. Honestly, that was never going to be this Christmas for my family. We've got a toddler, and even before the news the vaccine trials for that age bracket weren't a rousing success, it was clear the timeline wasn't going to line up. Our most optimistic projections would have been having our kid vaccinated sometime in early January. Now we're hoping for late spring and trying not to get our hopes up. But I know those of you without young children (and some with more tolerance for risk) were thinking this was the year you'd be able to celebrate without concern. Big parties, nights out... Christmas traditions. I know a lot of you are doing those things, anyway. And, I mean, I hope you're vaccinated, boosted, and taking as many precautions as you can. I hope Omicron really does turn o

'Tis the Season: A New Medium

We've been reviewing Christmas movies, specials, books, episodes - God, you name it - for more than a decade now, and granted, a lot has changed. Overall, we've seen both an increase in quality and quantity, a wider variety of subgenres represented, and a more global pool of customs being drawn from. But one of the most noteworthy changes in holiday media is one I'm not seeing discussed. I refer to the advent of the Christmas television series or season as a medium. On one hand, this is to be expected. Streaming functions differently than traditional TV. It has different goals and different limitations, and those result in drastically different kinds of programming. Traditional TV favored weekly, episodic stories that could maintain casual viewers: streaming platforms know you can (and generally will) start from the beginning and watch every episode (at least until you get bored). Even shows that maintain weekly releases are typically fewer episodes in length, since the inc

Slasher Santa: Themes and Thoughts

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I hadn't intended to spend anywhere near this much time on "Slasher Santa" movies this year. As I mentioned in my top 5 list , I'm way outside my wheelhouse here - I typically dislike slasher movies, and my background in horror remains relatively limited. I only put the list together after being surprised by the number of movies in (or at least adjacent to) the genre I considered good enough to warrant recommending. And while I'd originally intended to just sort of "wing it," I ultimately found myself re-watching everything on the list to confirm my rankings. In the process of going through all that, I wound up with a few observations I couldn't fit in the introduction. In particular, I noticed that every one of these movies in some way incorporated two related themes: identity and the dual nature of Santa Claus. Actually, back up a minute. Every one of these except for Santa Jaws. But Santa Jaws is really more a parody of this trope than an example

Five Slasher Santa Movies that are Inexplicably Good

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If you read that headline and thought it was full of crap, you were at least partially right. I'll admit up front I technically went with four  movies and an episode, which is kind of cheating. That said, the episode in question isn't XMas Story from Futurama  - this is limited to horror, and all five of my picks come from that genre. The idea that I would be able to assemble this list at all would have been unthinkable a few years ago. This is, after all, supposed to be the dregs of holiday entertainment - the worst trope Christmas media has to offer. Only... it's not? While there's no shortage of abysmal slasher movies where the killer either is dressed as Santa or - in some bizarre sense is  literally Santa himself, there are a shocking number of movies where the otherwise tired premise results in something absolutely fantastic. Just to reiterate, by "shocking," I mean five. Okay, four and a half. I was going to start with some history on this trope, but...

Once More for the Cheap Seats: If a Movie's Set at Christmas, It's a Christmas Movie

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I want to start this off by acknowledging I've been too quick in the past to dismiss arguments that Christmas movies should be defined by tone or subject, as opposed to setting alone. At times I somewhat uncharitably assumed these arguments were entirely without substance, when I should have dug deeper: there is a case to be made. I now want to immediately follow up that acknowledgment with an assertion that I'm still right, and the case to the contrary is wrong. It's just... it's more nuanced than I was giving it credit for. Mea culpa and all that. So, with that out of the way, let's rip open the bandage covering the bloody, infected wound that is the debate over the definition of "Christmas movie." The movie most wrapped in this is Die Hard, but... I'm sorry, that's just absurd. For reasons I've covered extensively in the past , Die Hard is about as festive as they come. It's not just a case of definitions clashing - the definitions most

Welcome Back. Again.

My, time flies. It feels like just yesterday we were taping our eyelids open and forcing ourselves to watch low-budget CG holiday specials and musicals that would make an angel vomit. And yet here we are again, ready to experience Christmas in all its infinite horror. Indeed, the holidays are upon us again, and as ever we are here to meet them. When we first started Mainlining Christmas, we were at the mercy of mail-order DVDs, our limited collection, and what we could find languishing in the clearance section of used book stores. But the eleven years Mainlining Christmas has been running has seen the explosion of streaming services, making it easier than ever for the yuletide aficionado to transport their imagination to a winter wonderland. Well, more often than not I suppose it's more like a sewage processing center located in a winter wonderland, but the point still holds. If you'd told me eleven years ago that we'd not only still have enough material to keep running thi

Another Christmas Upon Us

As we settle with the people in our household to enjoy the warmth of a raging inferno burning through the remnants of our once-great civilization, it seems like a good time to stop and reflect on the things we didn't do, the friends we didn't see, and the experiences we didn't get to have together. We can also take a moment to reflect on the movies we watched through the long, long, excruciatingly long months of 2020. I assume you're doing the same thing, because - let's be honest here - it's not like there was anything else to do. This has been weirdly a good movie year for us here at Mainlining. Year after year, I keep expecting the well to run dry, only to discover it runs deeper and stranger than I possibly could have imagined. This year, we were introduced to  3615 code Père Noël , The Proposition , Ben is Back , Dash & Lily , and Happiest Season , all of which I'd rank among the all-time great Christmas media (I'm trying to be inclusive to Dash

That's a Wrap on Our First Decade

This wraps up ten seasons of Mainlining Christmas. Yup, a full decade down, and we've got nightmares brimming with sugarplums to prove it. In theory, this probably should have been our biggest year, the one we went all out to celebrate. But, frankly, we've had way bigger things occupying our attention than holiday movies and songs. I hope this doesn't dispel the magic too much, but the vast majority of content we reviewed this year was watched and written up prior to the birth of our daughter over the summer. Since then, we've been busy. And tired. Also sick. Turns out, having a kid is hard. But it's also all kinds of incredible. I won't rehash all the cliches: I think everyone knows this is life-changing in more ways than one. If you've got the inclination and ability to bring a small human into your life, I recommend it. This Christmas... it's been weird so far. I wasn't joking about the sick part: all three of us have had one virus or anothe

We Need to Re-Evaluate L. Frank Baum's "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus"

Content Warning for discussion of genocide and accounts of severe historical racism. We've reviewed L. Frank Baum's Life and Adventures of Santa Claus in the past, we've written about the Rankin/Bass special, and we've talked it about multiple times. But, in the process of watching the 2000 animated adaptation for the first time, I wanted to go back and revisit the book, as well as its sequels. So I did. I wrote an extremely long article discussing the merits and flaws of the work (some of the writing is pretty but most of it is kind of boring) and how influential it was (it probably created one of Santa's two primary origin stories, it's more or less the basis for all the Rankin/Bass specials, and its sequels, "A Kidnapped Santa Claus" and "How the Woggle-Bug and his Friends Visited Santa Claus," are probably why we have Nightmare Before Christmas). I went through the plots, the characters, all of it. It was a lot of work, and I think

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

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Thanks so much for spending another season with Mainlining Christmas. Whether you read every word, listen to the occasional podcast, or just click Like on Facebook, we appreciate you. So far, I think this year's changes were a success. Once we backed off from the constant flood of posts, we had time to choose our content more thoughtfully and do research for more podcasts and other analysis. We also had more time to actually enjoy the season. December is a very busy time in my current job, so I personally needed the respite. In fact, it's been such a success that we're planning on bringing on an unpaid intern next summer. Rather than go through the headache of posting an ad or something, we've decided to grow them. We're expecting them to arrive in late June of next year. I expect this person to take up incredible amounts of time and energy, but provide an all-new perspective on holiday media. And life. Hopefully, we'll be back next year, although th

Last Minute Gift Guide: 2018

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Welcome to the Mainlining Christmas 2018 Last Minute Gift Guide! This year, we wanted to help those of you looking for last-minute gifts by suggesting a handful of unique presents that are virtually guaranteed to still be on the shelves right before Christmas! Let's jump in! Christmas Noel Emoji Poop Decoration Let's face facts, everything you're giving and receiving this year is, at its core, crap, but this particular gift is abnormally honest about that fact. Featuring absolutely no features or worthwhile qualities, this is literally and metaphorically precisely what it appears to be. As a bonus, this looks as though it could be utilized as a tree-topper. I can't say for certain, though: I... uh... didn't really want to touch it and check. Who to buy it for: The perfect gift for anyone who actually liked The Emoji Movie or thinks this is somehow clever in 2018. Price:  You can find this at Michaels Arts and Crafts for just $14 + whatever dignity you

It's April, and You Should Be Starting Your Christmas Shopping. Hold On - We're Serious

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First things first - if you don't have kids and don't have any reason to care about toys, then clicking on this was probably a waste of your time. Sorry. For those of you who do have kids to shop for this year... at the very least, you should probably start planning ahead. Because Toys R Us, one of the country's largest toy sellers, is about to go belly up, and that's going to throw a mangled giraffe carcass into the gears of the toy industry. I feel like that metaphor got away from me. According to literally the first source I came across , Toys R Us peddles 15% to 20% of the country's toys, and not all of it will be picked up by other retailers. While other stores will probably increase their holiday orders due to the loss of their competitor, between 1.5% and 3% of the country's toy sales will likely just... not happen. In this context, "not happen" means you'll drive around town looking for the official voice-changing Captain America

A Reminder on What Is and Is Not A Christmas Movie

On Christmas Eve, Jordan Peel claimed "Get Out" qualified as a Christmas movie . As the article I linked to points out, he clearly wasn't entirely serious, and I found his arguments entertaining. But since this isn't the only time this year I saw a movie somewhat haphazardly labeled a Christmas movie, I thought I'd take a minute and revisit the concept. Here at Mainlining Christmas, we have rather extensive criteria for determining whether a movie qualifies , but that's not what I'm talking about today. I want to look at a more straightforward definition. When people call movies like Get Out Christmas movies, what they really mean is that they're movies that can be watched at Christmas. But that's literally any movie. I'd argue a better litmus test would be this: is the movie better  watched at Christmas than at other times of the year? Or, to put it another way: Is it worse  when seen at times that aren't Christmas? If

I Can't Remember a Worse December

Between the unrelenting anguish of current events and the exhaustion of moving into a new house, this has been a sparse year here at Mainlining Christmas. I still wanted to take a moment to thank you for sharing the season with us. This year we looked at more than 70 movies, episodes, and specials that spanned 69 years. They included everything from lesser-known classics, to shows we had watched in years past, to new specials and episodes that were just released. We'll continue to post sporadic updates about holiday-ish media in the off-season, so make sure you're following us on Facebook or RSS to keep updated. And we'll be back next year, so long as civilization doesn't collapse. If it does, you're welcome at our fireside for some post-apocalyptic carol singing. In the meantime, I wish for all of you health and strength in the face of dark times, and may you each have love to keep you warm.

Revising the List

Three years ago, I put together a list of the all-time best Christmas movies : five films meant to represent the absolute best of their respective genres. I stand by the concept and remain proud of what's on there. But. I've seen a lot more movies in the past three years, and I wanted to revisit and update it where appropriate. Luckily the format I used lends itself nicely to this. Last time, I presented my picks for the two best installments in each genre and let them fight it out until a winner emerged and claimed the prize. Well... here comes a new challenger. At the end of this, we're going to be left with two lists: a revised top five and an expanded top 15. Best Animated Christmas Movies Previous Winner: Nightmare Before Christmas Previous Runner-Up: Arthur Christmas New Challenger: 101 Dalmatians You'll see a few movies showcased on this update that were overlooked the first time due to their holiday credentials being subtle. 101 Dalmatians isn&#

On Horror at Christmas

There's an article up on comingsoon.net offering a brief look at a handful of Christmas horror movies. It's a good read with some interesting insights into the sub-genre, but it doesn't really delve into the origins. Instead, it points out the more horrific aspects of modern Christmas, which are of course worth exploring. But it got me thinking about the depth of horror as it relates to Christmas, and I wanted to dig in a little deeper. Over the last century or so, pop-culture and entertainment has mainly embraced the funny and whimsical aspects of Christmas, leaving things like horror seeming subversive. It hasn't helped matters that the vast majority of Christmas horror has been extremely campy, giving the genre the sense it's trying to mock or parody the season from the outside. All but one of the movies the article I linked to above fits that mold (the exception being Black Christmas). But this is all pretty new. Pull off a layer or two of cheer, and you fi

100 Christmas Movies to See Instead of Watching A Christmas Story

Every year, A Christmas Story is aired non-stop on Christmas Day, despite the fact that it's an over-rated piece of humorless drivel. One of the reasons it's shown is that people continue tuning in, likely because they're unaware there are better options available. This, in turn, incentivizes its continued airing. In an effort to combat this vicious cycle, we here at Mainlining Christmas have generated an alphabetical list of one hundred alternative holiday movies and specials, each vastly superior to A Christmas Story. To be clear, this is not in any way an exhaustive list: there are certainly numerous other options out there far better than the swill that is A Christmas Story. Also, this list can also be used to find alternatives to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, and The Santa Clause, as these movies are likewise inferior to each of the movies listed below. 1  A Charlie Brown Christmas 2 101 Dalmatians 3 3 God