Christmas Nightmare Double Feature

Hello all! Christmas is right around the corner, so I had decided I wanted to do a list of Christmas movies that were bad or just scared me. Then I realized that there were really only two movies I wanted to talk about. One was bad, creepy, and depressing. The other was just plain creepy. Actually I found it so unsettling that I didn't even want to watch it again for this post. Alas, duty drove me to it, so now I will share with you all:

This is one of the less creepy images. They're really horrible
when they're in motion though.
The Polar Express: I don't think it comes as a surprise that one of the movies I'm talking about today is Polar Express, a movie that has seated itself deep in my subconscious, where it can terrify me for years to come. I know, I can hear what you're thinking. What was so scary about this movie? It's about a young boy discovering the true meaning of Christmas, and going on a magical journey to the North Pole, and making new friends. Yeah I guess, but here's a different perspective: it is also a movie about a bunch of children being abducted in the middle of the night and taken on a train by an army of creepily animated Tom Hanks. Not so magical now is it? Where does Santa keep these nightmare Hanks hidden? Do they have souls? If the animation is any indicator, no, they definitely do not. This movie was released in 2004, and made attempts at creating hyper-realistic CGI characters. I personally don't really get the point, why do that when you could just have actors, but let's say you want to do that (so that half of all the actors could be Tom Hanks say). If that was the goal, then mission failed. The CGI on display here is technically impressive, and certainly the scenery is breathtaking, but the animated people... especially their faces, are close to life, but not close enough. They're squarely in the zone of creepy mannequin-like humanoid nightmares. Like some sort of creature wearing a poorly articulated human suit to try and trick you into getting onto a strange locomotive in the dead of night, promising that you'll meet 'Santa Claus'. I have my doubts.

Heartwarming Christmas movie, or beginning of horror movie?
I was clearly not the only person who found the whole exercise to be a bit ghastly. The movie grossed strongly (something like 306 million against its massive 165 million budget) but received a mixed reception from critics. Some of them were just a little weirded out, others were like me, gripped in a kind of waking nightmare, sure that nothing would ever be quite right again. This movie has its share of fans despite what I consider to be a horrific collection of pseudo-people. I guess some people can look beyond the horror to the heartwarming tale beyond. For me it was all just the echoing of Tom Hanks voice in a dark cold night.

Jack Frost: But wait, I can do better. The Polar Express was a nightmare experience for me more or less despite its premise. It had an essentially sound concept, that was terribly fouled. In comparison, Jack Frost is a movie that is not just creepy because it is about Michael Keaton: Snow Monster, but also because it is an awful idea for a movie. It's a lot like Ghost Dad, only instead its a snowman dad. Now I know it isn't really a Christmas movie, but it does star an animate snowman, so I consider it fair game. Also it's just so bad I can't miss the chance to take some cheap shots. In case you live a life happier than mine and avoided seeing this movie, I'll give you a background. Jack Frost (no shit), is portrayed by Michael Keaton, lead singer for your typical blues cover band (?) trying to get by in Colorado. Also he's kind of an absentee dad, too busy chasing that flighty mistress, fame, to be around for his son, or his wife for that matter. 

Smart thinking kid. Send that thing back to hell.
One day he is in the process of missing another important event (a family trip, jeez you jerk) but then he realizes that he's making a mistake, and so tries to go home. He borrows his friend Mac's car, and drives headlong into a blizzard. The movie rewards him for trying to make good by savagely killing him in a car crash. But WAIT Jack isn't down yet. He gave his son Charlie a harmonica, which a year later animates a snowman with his... spirit inside it I guess. Jack discovers his son has withdrawn from all life, and so, after initially scaring the shit out of him, attempts to make good and teach him all the things he didn't bother to when he wasn't a freaking snowman. Charlie rejoins the human race, but becomes despondent as winter approaches its end, meaning certain second death for snowman Jack. After attempting to keep him alive in the mountains where its colder (in the cabin they were supposed to take their trip to) Jack gives him the whole "I'll always be there watching over you blahblahblah" and then disappears, becoming an angel for finally giving his son the time of day, which is saintly I guess. Then we see this epilogue business where Charlie's friends with his bully tormentor from earlier, and his mom has remarried Mac! That's right, Jack's best bud who lent him the car. I don't know about you, but that makes me suspicious. Guy lends you car, which has a faulty windshield wiper that gets you killed in a snowstorm, then he moves in on your wife. What a pal.

Aww I'm sorry snowman, I didn't mean it.
This movie was treated... brusquely by critics and moviegoers alike. It was financially an unqualified disaster, grossing 35 million against a 85 million dollar budget. Critics panned it for being the piece of crap that it is, managing to be stupid, eerie, and depressing all in one sweep. The moral of the story is: movies about dead dads aren't a great premise, even if he comes back as a wacky snowman. Sorry guys.

That's it for today! Join me on Tuesday, for my favorite Christmas movie.

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