Ho ho horrible

The four worst Christmas films ever

Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (image copyright R&S Film Enterprises)

Exclusive to MeierMovies, December 17, 2017

“I got depressed seeing all the crap. And the thing is, they’re making more crap. … Crap and more crap and more crap. … I don’t even want to talk about it.”

With respect to Palm Apodaca from Five Easy Pieces, I do want to talk about crap. Specifically, I want to discuss the crappiest Christmas films of all time. Actually, I’d rather talk about sublime, beautiful, profound films such as Dunkirk and Loving Vincent, or debate the merits (and messages) of recent movies like The Square, Marjorie Prime and God’s Own Country. But those types of articles don’t get hits. What get hits are articles about crap. So I’ll indulge you with four crap fests. Why only four? Go fuck yourself – that’s why.

In fourth place is a film from 1964, the year that gave us the Beatles’ invasion of America. It also gave us an invasion of North Pole crap in the form of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Seemingly shot on 4 mm film and written on toilet paper while Santa was taking a dump, this Z-movie is beyond my ability to explain. We may never fully understand what director Nicholas Webster was thinking. Let’s just say the film is worse than its title.

In third place is a non-movie. An exercise in idiocy. While the other three entries on this mini-list represent a simple failing of the craft of filmmaking, Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas, from 2014, is a delusional essay from a religious lunatic. Between mugging to the camera and staging the oddest hip-hop dance number in the history of cinema, producer Cameron and director Darren Doane explain that it’s OK to embrace commercialism because Jesus would have approved. Indeed, all those symbols you assumed were secular and pagan? Nope. They are Christian. (If you’ve been really naughty, you might just get this DVD as a stocking stuffer.)

Second place goes to a truly weird creation: Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972). Not content to present just one bad film, director R. Winer shot half a terrible movie and then inserted another one: Thumbelina (a children’s fantasy/musical directed by Barry Mahon in 1970 and starring Shay Garner). Winer’s framing device features little more than a bad actor in a stained Santa suit stranded in a sleigh on a Florida beach, “telling” children the story of Thumbelina. The film was partially shot at the now-defunct Pirates World amusement park (in Dania, Florida), and the historic footage might hold some interest for my fellow Sunshine Staters, but it’s ruined by ear-grating musical numbers, incomprehensibly bad cinematography and the inexplicable inclusion of a pig, a sheep, a horse and a man in a gorilla suit – all trying to free Santa’s sleigh from the sand so he can get back to his workshop and deliver his presents. Oh, and then there’s the Ice Cream Bunny himself. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.) Do yourself a favor: Skip the “movie” and instead watch some of the Rifftrax version on YouTube.

It’ll make you want to tear your beans off.

Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the sleigh, here comes the worst Christmas film of all time, and it’s the SAME film as #2 – just with an even worse film inserted into it! To create an alternate version, Winer removed Thumbelina and inserted another one of Mahon’s little gems, Jack and the Beanstalk, also shot in 1970. And if you thought Thumbelina was a thumbs-down, you don’t know Jack. It’ll make you want to tear your beans off.

If, like Palm Apodaca, you’ve now exceeded your tolerance of crap, my apologies. Let me suggest a palate cleanser in the form of the best Christmas movie of all time: Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, from 1946. And remember: “Each man’s life touches so many other lives.” Live yours wisely.

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