Have Yourself a Merry Little (Rifftrax) Christmas
Original MST staffers Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy, along with Sci-Fi seasons Crow Bill Corbett, have come together this holiday season to supply the desperate and deprived with more classic Christmas cut-ups - and boy do we ever need it.
So...what do you do?
You've played your well worn copies of Mystery Science Theater 3000 holiday faves Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and Santa Claus until the aluminum discs (or if you are a true fan, the VHS magnetic tape) has worn through. You've sprung for the Cinematic Titanic update of the former and are at a loss for more material to fuel for your funny Yule. Well, look no further than the guys over at Rifftrax. Original MST staffers Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy, along with Sci-Fi seasons Crow Bill Corbett, have come together this holiday season to supply the desperate and deprived with more classic Christmas cut-ups - and boy do we ever need it.
As part of a wonderful live experience (now available on DVD), the trio took on a horrifying collection of hapless holiday cheer. Then, to add another fishy figgy pudding to the mix, they delivered the demented delights of a terrible holiday treat - Santa Claus Meets the Ice Cream Bunny as a downloadable diversion. All are available on the company's website and guaranteed to help you cast out the neon Grinch, bah your huge humbug, and celebrate a prickly Patrick Swayze saturnalia, beginning with the overtly sentimental slop of:
A Christmas Rhapsody
A Christmas Dream
The Night Before Christmas
A Visit to Santa
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Santa Claus' Punch and Judy
Three Magic Words
Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny
As a rule, exploitation experts should never make children's matinee movies. Need proof? Check out the efforts of Herschell Gordon Lewis (Jimmy the Boy Wonder) and especially the off balance audacity of skin flicker Barry Mahon (The Wonderful Land of Oz, Jack and the Beanstalk). Perhaps the most mesmerizingly awful effort ever to come out of the now defunct Pirate World amusement park in Dania, Florida, this seasonal story of the world's laziest Kris Kringle, his inability to free his sleigh from a Sunshine State beachhead, and the equally odd version of Thumbelina he recounts to pass the time are the very embodiment of a nasty Noel. After using telepathy to call the local kids (all of whom look like refugees from an ABC Afterschool Special), he explains his peculiar plight (his red ride is trapped in the sand, reindeer have fled because it's too damn hot) and before you know it, the children are rounding up pigs, sheep, donkeys, dogs, and a guy in a gorilla suit to give Santa's ride a tow. When all attempts fail, the sweaty Saint says it's story time.
Loaded with atonal songs and stilted production design, Thumbelina is more or less faithful to the Hans Christian Andersen fable, if not wholly in tune with the needs of modern cinematic entertainment. Told by a narrator who turns out to play an important part later on, the combination of inert acting (especially on the part of our supposedly lovely lead) and the children's theater level of crappy costume design combines to turn everything into a pile of brightly colored mush. Within the mess, Mike, Kevin, and Bill bounce all manner of misery-reducing quips at the plotting, including the constant reference to Kris Kringle's role in the stunted storytelling. In the end, the by now brain dead end kids come up with a great idea to help Santa. They get the Ice Cream Bunny (you remember that classic character of underage folklore, right???) to bring his fire truck and transport the jolly old - if now sun stroked - elf back to the frozen salt mines. Gotta get those toys to all the undeserving little girls and boys, right?