Christmas Special Review- Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town

Amongst Christmas specials, but particularly amongst those produced by Rankin and Bass, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town stands apart. It does so because it is most the most triumphantly well-told of the lot, soon I will describe the most cinematic but here we’re talking strictly based on narrative.

The film opens in a fashion reminiscent of Citizen Kane with a newsreel spewing headlines about Christmas that go from mundane to fantastical and we are braced for the story. Then we are introduced to a mailman modeled after and voiced by Fred Astaire, he reads and we hear, in voice over, the questions children have about Santa Claus. These facts about him we all take for granted are about to be explained.

This may seem like a simple enough, paint-by-numbers method of concocting a tale but there is such ingenuity in the plot devices and also a lack of any rococo quality to it that it works. It all flows naturally from the action. Then the narrator chimes in and connects the dots just in case, and a child’s voice is heard responding.

This may just be Romeo Muller’s, the writer Rankin/Bass employed, best work as he makes Santa an even more heroic figure because in this tale we learn of his past, learn to think of him as a person not just an icon, and then also have an antagonist who vilifies him and renders him an outlaw.

You have, of course, the talents of Astaire and Mickey Rooney in this tale and the indelible figures of the Winter Warlock and Bergermeister Meisterberger and of course another classic song. It is an absolutely unbeatable combination and one of the best options for the season.

61 Days of Halloween- Santa’s Slay

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment so I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Santa’s Slay

What actually prompted me to watch Santa’s Slay was an article. When you list a movie as being so bad it must be seen then I’m interested, regardless of that fact that an evil Santa is already of interest. I must say that I am most grateful for that article for finally convincing me to see it. Now I will say this it while it doesn’t make the grade as a good movie it is also not a waste of time and rather enjoyable as a bad film, it’s not Troll 2 but then again what is?

Now most of why I can’t go there and say this film is good is the story which while original is lacking. Let’s put it this way Santa has been prevented from going on a homicidal rampage for 1000 years because he lost a game to an angel, a game which can most accurately be described as curling, while I have come to love curling had I known the fate of mankind hinged on it I would’ve started watching it at a younger age. It’s hard to tell whether that’s so bad it’s good. Yet, Santa is also a demon and the result of an immaculate conception which was initiated by, in my best Church Lady voice, Satan!

The dialogue is also a double-edged sword some of it is very tin-eared, all of Santa’s lines are a punny mess but some are home runs and absolutely hysterical.

The casting in certain places is very off. The opening scene is a who’s who of “Really? You’re in this movie?” featuring James Caan, Fran Drescher and Chris Kattan but for some reason Santa is played by wrestler-turned-actor Bill Goldberg. Yet the cast isn’t without its highlights like Douglas Smith as the hero. Smith who has always done very well with whatever part he’s landed but just hasn’t gotten anything as high profile as his older brother Greg.

There is a countdown, which due to the actual short running time of this film, seems a bit rushed. However, that’s the only real issue of pace. If there’s one thing you can give this film without qualification is that it doesn’t have any struggles with pace at all.

Another bonus in this film is, while it’s not particularly well done, there is a little Rankin & Bass style animation sequence to illustrate the backstory of Santa and the Angel’s agreement.

And, yes, it does need to be said that some of the kills are quite good and funny so this film does keep a sense of humor about itself and doesn’t have any pretensions about it which makes it watchable and to an extent enjoyable.