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Showing posts with the label So Bad It's Good

The Christmas Dragon (2014)

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If you've been reading this site for any length of time, you probably know that interesting Christmas genre mashups are highly sought after around here. Christmas horror is so common as to be unsurprising now, but Christmas science fiction is rare. Christmas crossed with epic fantasy is extremely rare.

It turns out there are some reasons for that.

We start our tale on Christmas. Or Christmas Eve. Or something. Ayden receives a kite in a dirty sock, and her parents tell her to thank Father Christmas. Cut to Ayden flying the kite outside on a sunny, warm day. It's unclear how much time as passed.

Some villains in black - backed up by a bunch of mooks decked out in cheap gear and swords that your average ren faire attendee wouldn't be caught dead with - accost Ayden's parents for some tax money. (Spoiler: the idea that there is a king or other person in charge of this place is never mentioned again.) Her dad accuses them of skimming off the top, and a fight ensues. The v…

Target: The Toycracker (2016)

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Depending on how generous you're feeling, The Toycracker can either be described as a live-action short film, an extended commercial, or the fourth seal of the apocalypse slowly peeling away to open the floodgates and usher in the end of days.

It's not exactly bad, per se; it's more that it's something that should not be. Its very existence is an affront to the world we know and the already fractured boundary between entertainment and advertisement. It's the final stage in the unnatural evolution that started decades ago when toy companies infected Saturday morning cartoons.

As the name sort of implies, The Toycracker is ostensibly a re-imagined Nutcracker. It starts out that way in a semi-clever scene where a modern Clara sings about losing WiFi on Christmas Eve to Waltz of the Flowers. Then she falls asleep and wakes in a version of the classic "giant Christmas tree" set, where she meets the Nutcracker, played by Chrissy Teigen, who starts singing a so…

Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

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I'm counting this as a Christmas movie, even though it means watering down the litmus test we've used in the past. The lead-up to Christmas itself only requires a third of the movie's 90 minute run-time, while New Years Eve falls at the halfway mark. Still, Christmas decorations are present until the end, so I'm giving it a pass.

I should probably mention I've only seen the first Jaws and this one. In theory, that should mean I'm missing two movies from the story, but Wikipedia assures me the third installment was excised from continuity.

The Revenge opens with a holiday celebration in Amity, where the original was set. At some point, Martin Brody, the protagonist of the original Jaws movie, died of a heart attack (i.e.: wasn't interested in making another of these damn movies). His wife and older son, Ellen and Michael, take over as the leads, while his younger son, Sean, is killed off in the first few minutes.

There are two culprits resonsible: the first…

The Good Son (1993)

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Once again, our tolerance for what constitutes a "Christmas movie" has been put to the test. This time, it's for entirely different reasons. Strictly speaking, The Good Son should meet our litmus test, as it seems to take place entirely around the holidays. However, that's really a technicality, as the producers don't seem to have realized that Christmas should be going on.

See, there's a line early in the movie establishing that the events unfold over "winter break." I'm assuming this was done to explain why no one needs to go to school. Unless there's another "winter break" I'm unfamiliar with, that means this should be set at Christmas. But at no point is the holiday referenced, nor are there any decorations or lights shown.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the winter break line was either an error or an artifact of an earlier draft, and that for all intents and purposes the movie was set over some mysterious …

It's Punky Brewster: Christmas in July (1985)

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I'm following Wikipedia's convention and using the series's unofficial name to differentiate this from Punky Brewster. In the vein of Star Trek: the Animated Series, this is actually a sequel of the live-action series in which the main characters reprise their roles. Like many cartoons, each thirty-minute block was divided into two fifteen-minute chunks. We're only covering the half that relates to Christmas, obviously.

The episode opens on a hot day in July. Punky Brewster and her friends stop to admire a skateboard in a toy store window. Punky muses over whether or not she's going to get it for Christmas, and she laments that she won't know for months. Fortunately, Glomer, the 104-year-old magical half-gopher/half-leprechaun in her backpack reveals that he's friends with Santa and might be able to help her find out.

Maybe I should pause for a moment and give you a moment to review the opening credits to this show, which offer a tad more context:



I kind o…

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: Cobra Claws are Coming to Town (1985)

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I'm going to have a hard time synopsizing this one.

Alright, this thing opens right before Christmas when three of the G.I. Joes and a pet parrot singing Jingle Bells (this is a plot point) are driving a bunch of donated presents back to their base to give them to kids. When suddenly... they're attacked! A single Cobra plane starts shooting at them, forcing them to pull over and take cover. While they're stopped, a Cobra agent sneaks behind their vehicle and unloads a bag of fake gifts.

The plane takes off, and the G.I. Joes just kind of shrug and decide it's probably not worth worrying about. They return to base and unload the gifts, including those Cobra snuck in. That includes a Trojan rocking horse, because... of course it does.

The Joes sit down for dinner, and we learn that one of them is sad, because his parents always made such a huge deal about Christmas they never got around to decorating the tree or buying him gifts.

Let's just move on.

The Trojan rocki…

Rocky IV (1985)

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After Rocky's friend, Apollo Creed, is killed in the ring fighting a Russian boxer, Rocky flies to the Soviet Union, where he trains then defeats the Russian on Christmas Day. And... that's pretty much everything that happens. Huh. Usually the synopsis takes longer to write.

If you're confused how the above could fill 90 minutes, you are seriously underestimating just how many rock montages can be fit in a single movie. To be perfectly honest, I lost count. There's an argument to be made that this might qualify as a musical. James Brown shows up at one point.

Beyond the plot and montages, Sylvester Stallone (who wrote and directed the film) managed to find time to work in a robot helper which looks a little like a stereo system on top of a coffee maker. Also, it might be sentient. And Paulie may or may not be sleeping with it - the movie was somewhat ambiguous on this point.

Likewise, it is unclear whether Rocky and Apollo were lovers. 1980's sexual conservatism w…

Santa Buddies (2009)

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To even begin to entertain a serious discussion about the movie Santa Buddies, we must first explore the greater cinematic universe it inhabits, as well as the origins of that universe. And for that, we need to talk about Full House. Or more specifically, the starof Full House, a golden retriever named Buddy.

Buddy was a stray who was adopted and taught sports by his owner. He was so famous, he appeared on two shows starring Bob Saget, Full House and America's Funniest Home Videos. He even starred in a film adaptation of his life called Air Bud.

He died a few weeks after Air Bud's sequel, but his legacy has endured. In total, there were two theatrical Air Bud movies, along with three direct-to-video sequels.

Like most people, I haven't seen any of these movies, nor do I intend to.

Rather than putting the franchise to sleep, Disney shifted the focus to the next generation. While I suspect the real Buddy was neutered, the theatrical version was more prolific: his children h…

Babes in Toyland (1986)

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Hey, did you guys know there's a tipline on the right of the page you can use to email us suggestions of things we should watch? Yeah, we didn't, either. Well, one of our readers found it and convinced us to try something she loved when she was young. Thanks for the suggestion, Loquin. And, uh... sorry in advance for the damage to your childhood memories.

This is the 1986, made-for-TV re-imagining of Babes in Toyland, starring Drew Barrymore, Keanu Reeves, and Pat Morita. It is bad. Astonishingly bad, in fact. But, between the iconic statuses its leads would go on to achieve and the utter lack of talent behind the camera, it's kind of hilarious.

The producers must not have believed in the source material, which has been heavily modified. To their credit, the premise of Babes in Toyland is utter crap. However, the logical reaction would be not to adapt it, rather than trying to shoehorn in the frame story from The Wizard of Oz.

Drew Barrymore, 11 in 1986, is essentially pl…

Santa with Muscles (1996)

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Life is sometimes unfair. So it serves to reason that Christmas is sometimes unfair. If this were not so, if we truly lived in the best of all possible Christmases as Leibniz thought, then Jingle all the Way would have no defenders, and Santa with Muscles wouldn't be entirely unknown.

While it probably doesn't need to be said, I will state it now for the record: Santa with Muscles is not a good movie. It is - objectively - pretty bad, a vehicle for Hulk Hogan produced years after the wrestler's fame had waned. When it opened, it made $120k in its opening weekend and closed after two weeks. However, unlike 99% of zany holiday comedies, it is absolutely watchable. There are even moments when the filmmakers attempted to be funny that resulted in funny scenes. If you don't watch many movies in this genre, you'll be forgiven for not realizing how rare this is.

The movie opens with a girl writing a letter to Santa. The girl's town is being terrorized by some sort of…

O Christmas Tree (2005)

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"O Christmas Tree" is a PBS documentary made in 2005 (or 2006 - it's seems to be a little difficult to get the date clarified). Lindsay and I found it at the local library and picked it up on a whim. The description claims it "traces the history of the Christmas through the ages - from its origins as a pagan symbol of fertility to a Christian symbol of rebirth." Technically, there is a section of the DVD devoted to that, but it's about as in depth and comprehensive as the sentence above: there's very little meat to that or anything else the documentary touches on. It's slightly less educational than the Frosty sequels with a fraction of the production values.

But that's not important. All you need to know is that this thing is the Plan 9 of Christmas documentaries. It's completely fucking hilarious.

First of all, it's narrated by Richard Karn. Don't bother with IMDB: he's Al from Home Improvement. And he just phones this in. Eve…

The Magic School Bus: Family Holiday Special (1996)

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This special episode of The Magic School Bus was equal parts awesome and awful; a bizarre work of propaganda that removes the education from edutainment, yet is strangely intriguing.

There's a moment in this episode where the titular vehicle is hit by its own recycling-nullification ray and transforms into junk. That's an absolutely perfect metaphor for the episode. Maybe for the series. But damned if it isn't fun to watch.

The episode begins right before holiday break. It's definitely a 90's conception of the "holiday," too, complete with pine trees, green and red decorations, multicolored lights, and an near endless number of Christmas tunes with new recycling-themed lyrics. I don't think they said the word, "Christmas" once, though they did mention Hanukkah several times. My favorite shot in the special is one of a chalkboard with a picture of a menorah and other Hanukkah paraphernalia surrounded by a Christmas garland. They tried so har…

Itsudatte My Santa! (2005)

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Japan has an incredibly bizarre relationship with Christmas. Without getting too involved in the details, the holiday has been appropriated and transformed into something akin to Valentine's Day. That said, they do seem to understand what Christmas means to Europe and America and the concept of Santa Claus. They understand, but they clearly have no problem reinventing it as something completely different, as they did in the two-part OAV, Itsudatte My Santa! I suppose I should mention the first episode is based on a manga.

Before we go on, I want to make it clear the episodes we saw were dubbed, not subtitled. Setting aside the fact dubbing is usually pretty bad, it injects an element of uncertainty around whether or not what we saw accurately reflects the original. There were plot points and ideas here that seemed absurdly random, which adds to my skepticism. I tried to find some indication online as to whether this was accurate or not, but I had very little luck one way or the o…

Lindsay's Review: My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie (2007)

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It’s rarely so clear to me that Erin has no fundamental appreciation for children’s media that’s actually aimed at children.

Because I really enjoyed watching this. Okay, a lot of it was laughing at bits that weren’t necessarily meant to be funny, and some of it was laughing at Erin, but that is enjoyment nonetheless.

You know what? I am actually completely okay with variations on Winnie the Pooh. This is a franchise in which I would be a major hypocrite if I tried to pretend to be a purist. After all, I was raised on Welcome to Pooh Corner (“Be Too Smart for Strangers!”) and I loved The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (“He’s round and he’s fuzzy, I love him because he’s just Pooh Bear! Winnie the Pooh Bear!...) and I was in a stage production loosely based on the stories when I was about... nine, I think? (I was the bee who pointed out to the other bees that Pooh was hiding behind the piano.)

So, I’m fine with Darby, and I’m fine with trying out different sorts of plots.

And you …

The Adventures of Robin Hood: Christmas Goose (1957)

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Ah yes, the olden days, when Christmas was a time of mingling between the upper and lower classes, and the lords and the peasants sang together unless the peasants were pissed off. Early Britain: a time of terribly inaccurate costume choices and horrible child acting.

This was a very odd program. It must be in the public domain or very cheap, because it’s on two of our collections of Classic TV Christmas episodes.

Like most of the programs I’ve seen from this time, there is little-to-no visible indication of snow, winter, or nighttime, even when it would seem that those things would be relevant. The “acting” is all around ridiculous and the production values are trying to be better than they are.

In any case, this story follows an annoying young peasant lad, Davie, who has a lilting soprano and an unnatural affection for a goose who he’s decided is his only friend. When the new local manor lord objects to Davie gathering mistletoe in his game preserve, Mildred the goose darts underfo…

Archie's Weird Mysteries: The Christmas Phantom (2000)

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Lindsay came across a collection of Christmas cartoons called (oddly enough) "Christmas Cartoon Collection" in Toys R Us for five bucks. Each of the ten animated episodes comes from a different series. I've heard of exactly 30% of these shows.

One of the series I've never heard of is "Archie's Weird Mysteries." Apparently, it lasted for two seasons from 1999 and 2000 and is about Archie and the Riverdale gang solving Scooby-Doo style mysteries (although apparently supernatural causes were the norm). Based on the era, I'm assuming this was an attempt to cash in on the popularity of the X-Files.

This episode is from 2000. Actually, according to IMDB, it originally aired in February of that year, presumably because whoever scheduled it was as dumb as whoever produced it.

Before we continue, allow me to state the obvious: this was really, really bad. But I also had a hell of a lot of fun watching it. I honestly can't fathom why this exists, but the…

Christmas in the Stars (LP 1980)

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A 'supportive' friend gave us a ton of random holiday music, compiled from who knows where, near the end of last year's Mainlining project. Much of it was unique, or terrible, or - like this - both. So, uh, "Thanks", I guess.

This is one of the weirdest, most nonsensical things I've ever listened to. The fact that this even exists blows my logic circuits, so to speak.

Okay, lets start off by saying that all of these songs are awful. I could have written better Star Wars Christmas songs as age six. Because even at six I was reluctant to make rhymes just by repeating the same words over and over again.

Also I feel bad for Anthony Daniels, the only voice actor with the misfortune to be involved with this. Maybe he really got a bad deal in his initial contract? It seems like he did a lot of these sorts of odd appearances.

This is also horrible because it even dispenses with the Life Day cover story, and just decides that droids make presents for Santa, and ever…

The Polar Express (2004)

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I think it's important to note that movies based on short children's books can work. Look no further than "Where the Wild Things Are" for a primer in how its done. If something isn't long enough to adapt into a movie, DON'T ADAPT IT: use it as inspiration, and build a new story and world.
Whatever you do, don't stick with a plot that requires five minutes to function and try to pad it out into an hour and a half epic. If you do, you could conceivably wind up with something nearly as bad as Polar Express, a film so awful it more or less got its source - a beautiful, subtle picture book - removed from most peoples' lists of classics. It's common for us nerds to accuse a movie of ruining a book, but in this case, it's kind of true.
The Polar Express isn't the worst holiday movie we've seen, not by a long shot. But I'm having a very hard time thinking of another that's this bad made at this budget. As such, we're going to hono…

Barbie in A Christmas Carol (2008)

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Erin is going to take this movie WAY too seriously, so I'm offering a rebuttal.

It isn't good, of course it isn't good.  It's a CG Barbie movie.  But it's not crime-against-humanity levels.  It's pink and girly and very G-rated.  They gender swap all the characters (which is more than fine with me) and make the story more about the sin of vanity than the sin of greed.  Frankly, except for a few particularly painful scenes, I'd put this squarely into “so-bad-it's-good”.  Not quite good enough to seek out, but pair it with Beauty and The Beast: Enchanted Christmas, some sort of pink champagne, and a room full of enthusiastic young women, and you might have a very amusing time.

I mean. it's produced by Mattel Entertainment!  HA! The DVD has a sing-along mode.  The main character has a fat tag-a-long cat named after a different Dickens book.  The Ghost of Christmas Past is a completely manic Tinkerbell. The whole thing is nuts.

The animation is cheap, …

The Smurfs Christmas Special (1982)

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I saw this about eight years ago on Cartoon Network, and I never forgot it.  When we were listing specials we had to track down, this was high on my list.  Very high, in fact.

Why?  Is it good?  Of course not: little - if anything - about the Smurfs is deserving of that title.  No, it's not good.  But I'll be damned if it isn't gloriously and hilariously bad.

This is one of those specials you need to see to believe.  You see, it's Christmastime in Smurf village, some kids are lost when their sleigh overturns, and Gargamel is up to his old tricks.  Then the devil shows up.

Oh, they never call him that, and he doesn't look like the devil: he looks like a Snidely Whiplash in a cape.  But he's the devil, complete with infernal power, contracts, and rules limiting his actions.  And he's kind of scary.

And what have the Smurfs to contend with cosmic evil?  A song.  Not just any song: they have what's easily the most grating, obnoxious, and stupid…