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Frosty Returns (1992)

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As is often the case, the "Frosty the Snowman" DVD we took out of the library came with a second feature attached.

"Frosty Returns" is one of the most bizarre specials I've seen in some time.  It's highly uneven, containing some brilliant humor interspersed with some of the most awful songs ever composed for a Christmas special (I'll let that sink in for a minute).

Even worse is the narrator, a sort of cross between a lumberjack and pixie who appears at the start and end of the special riding on a snowflake.  This thing would make Mr. Mxyzptlk cringe.

There's very little tying this to the original special, though Frosty's appearance does seem connected with another magic hat.  Unlike the original, his existence doesn't seem dependent on it - he's able to remove it and even give it back.  The end gives the implication that he's some kind of nature spirit or snow elemental, which certainly fits the overall theme.  Maybe he hangs out w…

Frosty the Snowman (1969)

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When you filter out the sequels, knock-offs, and derivative works, I count four quintessential animated holiday specials: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman.

That isn't to say that those are necessarily the best specials out there (though The Grinch and Charlie Brown are definitely in the running), but they're the most iconic, the most "classic."

And, for years, I've been of the opinion that three out of four of them deserved that honor.  The exception being Frosty, which I considered poorly animated, cheesy, and just not particularly interesting.

When we slid the DVD in, I was wringing my hands in anticipation of ripping it apart when I wrote this article.

Then a funny thing happened.  I liked it.

Maybe I just hadn't paid attention the last few times I watched.  The writing is actually quite clever, and the pace moves along at a fair clip.  The relationship between Karen and Frost…

What it all means to me

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I wanted to take a moment to let you know where I'm coming from and what this holiday actually means to me.

And that's going to take a little background about me, my family, and why, despite most of what you see on this site, Christmas continues to occupy a very special place in my heart.

No small part of that is due to what I was raised to believe.  Faith and spirituality aren't subjects I touch on much: they tend to smear my otherwise impeccable image as a cynic.  But this is Christmas, where cynicism and spirituality meet face to face, then bash each others' faces in with picket signs arguing whether store clerks should greet customers with "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" as a matter of company policy.

But that's another discussion for another day.  This is about ME.

Yes, I was raised to believe in something greater than myself.  Something eternal.  Something that loved me; indeed, that loved us all.  This faith defined me as a child, g…

Santa Claus (1898)

I don't know how to classify this - technically, it's a movie.  In fact, it's one of the first movies ever made.  But it turns out that back in 1898, they didn't expect movies to have three-hour run times.

This one, for instance, clocks in at a minute and change.

There's no real story, per se.  The short film shows some kids getting tucked into bed, we see Santa show up (featuring some early special effects), he leaves some gifts, and he's on his way.



It's interesting to see an early version of Santa, sporting an outfit - and waistline - more reminiscent of his origins as a bishop than his current incarnation as a Coke-drinking, cookie-scarfing, overweight elf.

Some of the effects are also intriguing.  To simulate the lights being dimmed, they use a curtain that covers most of the set.  I find it fascinating to look at movies from when they were still incorporating stage techniques.  You get the sense that this was directed more like a puppet show or magic …

Greeting Card: Remembrance

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Mainlining Christmas is pleased to present the first in our line of holiday greetings.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Santa Claus (1959)

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We had barely recovered from Santa Claus (1959) the first time, when we went back in to watch MST3K go at it.  It was highly therapeutic watching others hate that stupid surreal film. 

Read Erin's post about the original movie before going on, because I am not subjecting you to another full writeup of the plot.

Some notable thoughts and quotes:

During the hideous imitation of "It's a Small World" that opens the film: the sad and bored looking children are funny for the first 3 minutes or so, then they're just depressing.

“If there is a soundtrack to Seasonal Affective Disorder, this is it”

The ethnic stereotypes joked about by the robots aren't nearly so offensive as the ones in the movie.

“Santa's laughter mocks the poor.”

The interstitial puppet segments are cute but forgettable, which is pretty common for MST3K.

FYI: This version cuts both the horrid nightmarish nutcracker rip-off dream sequence and the endless Merlin scenes.

Because it's dubbed, …

The Spirit of the Season is Upon Us

Black Friday may be one of our newest holidays, but I would argue that it is nevertheless the most primeval one celebrated by our culture, as well as the one most reflective of our values.

America is truly a capitalist country, as was made abundantly clear during our last election.  What better way to celebrate this blanket rejection of socialism than by dismissing government-recognized holidays for those the market deems holy.  And surely there is no day more sacrosanct to corporations than this.

It is also the only holiday we have involving human sacrifice.  Sure, these aren't officially sanctioned or - so far as we know - planned, but inside you know that, every year, someone, in most cases an innocent store clerk just trying to do their job, is going to be killed by a stampede of customers, or a couple of shoppers will get into a dispute over a TV and shoot each other dead.

The method of the sacrifice may change, but the reason is always the same.  These people die for greed. …