Friday, November 18, 2011

10 Things I Love About You : The Munsters' Scary Little Christmas


There are two kinds of people in the horror community; the ones who'd rather hang out with The Addams Family and the ones who'd prefer to spend a night at The Munsters'. I've always belonged more in the latter category, as the Eddie Munster-esque widow's peak the big man gifted me with at birth seems to have pre-determined.

Oddly enough, my introduction to Herman and the gang was not through the original TV series but rather via several childhood viewings of the last piece of Munsters material produced (that is, until the upcoming remake TV series comes out); the TV movie The Munsters' Scary Little Christmas, a foray into a holiday never covered on the original show and starring none of the original cast. Executive produced by John Landis, the movie first aired on FOX in December 1996, a few years later falling into relative obscurity before finally being released on DVD in 2007.

It must've been somewhere around the late 90's that I first caught Scary Little Christmas on TV and, not surprisingly, I fell in love with the family that I so related to both at the time and still to this day. I remember getting so excited whenever I saw the movie playing on TV and must've watched it at least a dozen times in my pre-teen years. As sacrilegious as it may seem, being that a whole new cast took on the iconic roles in the movie, it was in fact Scary Little Christmas that gave me my first introduction to the black and white family i'd soon come to know and love. Needless to say, this little TV movie has and always will have a very special place in my heart.

I just recently finally got around to picking up the DVD release of the film and watched it tonight for the first time since before my balls started sprouting fur. While adult viewings of some childhood favorites make you come to the realization that they really aren't so great, others take you right back to the first time you saw them as a kid, making you fall in love with them all over again. As you've probably gathered by the direction this post is headed, i'm happy to report that i've just renewed my vows with Munsters' Scary Little Christmas.

There are many things I love about the film, which centers around Santa Claus being accidently summoned to 1313 Mockingbird Lane by Grandpa, who was attempting to create some holiday magic in an effort to get Eddie back into the Christmas spirit after the family's recent move from their home in Transylvania gets him all bummed out about the holiday not being the same. Hijinks ensue as the family tries to lift Eddie's spirits, while at the same time figure out a way to get Santa up and running for his impending Christmas Eve travels.

Without further delay, here are just 10 of those things that I love about The Munsters' Scary Little Christmas!



As every male Munsters fan can probably relate, i've always had a pretty hardcore crush on Lily Munster, who was portayed by Yvonne De Carlo in the original series. Ann Magnuson became the fourth actress to play Lily and she does one hell of a job channeling the spirit of De Carlo, every bit as sexy as she was in the role.



It's fittingly located on page 666 of the Fears & Roebuck Holiday Nightmare Catalog; the Marquis De Sade Dungeon Action Playset. Eguipped with a torture rack with stretch-o-matic action as well as thumb screws that are "so real looking they'll bring tears to your eyes", the playset is to Eddie what Turbo Man was to Jamie Langston the very same year. Herman spends the early parts of the film looking for a job so he can afford the toy for his little wolfman. Unfortunately, the playset only exists within the confines of the movie.



When Santa magically appears inside Grandpa's basement, he's joined by his two main elves, one of questionable sexuality and the other a testosterone fueled viking with a big ole Gwildor beard. I don't think I ever picked up on this when I was younger but watching the film nowadays I realized that the elves are complete and utter perverts, singing about the joys of silicone breast implants, staring up Marilyn's skirt and hitting the biker bars in search of booze and hot tail. They're the Hank The Angry Drunken Dwarf's of Christmas elves and their sleaziness makes me smile.



Several times throughout the film, this spooky advent calendar is glimpsed, which features things like skeletons with Santa hats behind the doors leading up to the big day. It's totally awesome, but it makes me kinda sad that nobody has ever made such a thing here in the real world. At least that i'm aware of.



Remember when I was saying Herman needed to find a job in order to afford a present for Eddie? Well in a pretty funny montage he's seen tackling a few different jobs, including present wrapper and blood donor. In the funniest bit, he saunters into an art class wearing only a robe and proceeds to take it off in front of the class. Naturally, the students scream in terror and run out of the classroom at the sight of his Franken-wang. If i've learned anything from the mirror in my bathroom, it's that some dudes just aren't meant for that line of work.



Herman's funeral director boss, Mr. Gateman, is a total whackjob. Though he only appears in one small scene, when Herman comes to him looking for a cash advance, Gateman makes a lasting impression as he rants to Herman about how he's got no money because people aren't dying on the holidays like they used to, thanks to thorns in the side of the funeral business like fire codes and designated drivers. Oh shit, I just looked up this guy on IMDb and it turns out it's Bruce Spence, who played the gyro captain in Road Warrior! I knew he looked familiar, though I thought that was only cause he reminds me of John Waters.



Genre veteran Mary Woronov plays the main villain of the film, a neighbor of the Munsters' who is none too happy that they're trying to steal her thunder in the annual Christmas decoration contest. Her performance as Edna Dimwitty is as gloriously hammy as they come, which is perhaps best showcased in her battle with a giant fruitcake, which is actually Santa Claus himself. Long story short, the angry bitter elves transform Santa at one point into a big fruitcake, which Lily then gifts to her neighbor, not realizing that the dessert treat isn't really a dessert treat at all. When Edna attempts to fill the stomachs of the contest judges and get them on her side, the Santa fruitcake comes to life and she tries to put a stop to it, resulting in a battle of Warrior vs Hogan proportions. Eggnog, sweat and tears.



Speaking of that decoration contest, the Munsters totally capture the spirit of Halloween on Christmas on the outside of their spooky mansion, channeling Clark Griswold by way of the Grand Guignol. Lily and Eddie rig up everything from snowmen being decapitated to an evil animatronic reindeer that spews "real dog foam" to a doll in the likeness of Edna being repeatedly tossed from the roof with a noose around her neck. Naturally, they win the contest, along with oodles of concerned and outraged stares from their neighbors.



Towards the end of the film, Santa is restored back to human form (or whatever the hell he is) and he's ready to set out on his Christmas Eve adventure ... only he's got no reindeer to attach to the sleigh Herman stole for him. What's a Santa to do? Well, the elves sprinkle magical dust onto the bearded biker dudes they met earlier at the bar, which gives them flying capabilities. Naturally. They're tied up to the sleigh, bondage style, and the most epically bearded biker reindeer soon take to the skies, helping Santa deliver sweet toys and reindeer droppings to the good and naughty girls and boys, respectively. When I was a kid this seemed magical. Nowadays it just seems really fuckin' weird. Especially given the fact that the 'reindeer droppings' Santa promises to fill the stockings of Eddie's bullies with are actually gonna be piles of human biker shit. Nevertheless, I still love it all the same.



Throughout the film the Munsters are arranging for an epic Christmas party at their place, which they're inviting their whole family to. The film ends with this party, which is comprised of everyone from the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Creature From The Black Lagoon, the Devil himself and even Rosemary's Baby. It's a wild dance party and as you might imagine, seeing all those monsters rocking out is pretty damn awesome. I'm not a party kinda guy, but that's one invitation i'd totally accept. Oh and by the way, The Phantom totally dances like a Queen.

If you want to spend a scary little Christmas with The Munsters this year, the film was added to ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas lineup as of 2009, so you can likely catch it on there come December. If you don't want to wait around for it to pop up over there, the DVD is as of writing this selling for just over $5 on Amazon, with an average price that doesn't get much higher than that. If you've never seen it, give it a shot this year. You might be surprised by how warmly familiar it feels despite the new cast.


J Mello said...

I saw this a couple of years ago with my kids and we liked it. I am hoping to catch it again this year. Tried checking schedules, but didn't see it listed yet. But it is available on Amazon Instant, for those that use it.


Anonymous said...

Hey John! It's Kasey here. I just hit you back with an email containing my mailing address. I hope I didn't reply too late. Thanks man, you rule!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Never knew it existed. I just watched it and loved it. Very fun. Grandpa freaks me out though... he looks really REALLY creepy!

Johnny said...

Haha ya, Grandpa was pretty creepy in this. Glad you dug it! =)

ozac said...

I have enjoyed reading this post, which I came to via a link when looking up biog details of Mary Woronov, who played Mrs Dimwitty. It has revived very pleasant memories of quite a few years back and I am very pleased that the movie has found such an ardent fan.

I played Mr Pawlikowski, chairman of the decoration committee and had a great time doing so. You may not be aware that the film was actually made in Sydney Australia, and that the American stars were flown in for the duration. Most of the supporting cast were Australian actors, including myself, and all the locations, including the external shots of the Munsters house, which was a real house, were around Sydney.

I have never seen the completed film, except for sequences when I was doing some post-synching, but now I know it is on DVD I will order a copy and finally have a chance to see it, only 16 years late. Thanks for your post.

Cheers, John Allen

Johnny said...

That's so cool, John. Thanks so much for sharing! Once you finally get around to checking it out, let me know how ya feel about the finished product after all these years! =)