Tag Archives: Christmas

Saint (2010)

Okay — first — a few quick house-keeping things…

  • This not a zombie film, but it is relative to some of my zombie-film review — hence its being here.
  • It is a Dutch film and it has a couple of different names — Saint, Sint, and Saint Nick.  For the purposes of this post, it will be referred to as Saint.
  • If you watch this film and you say to yourself “Hey, these Christmas traditions are totally messed up!” — well, Xmas practices and winter traditions differ around the world.

When it comes to the winter holidays in the Netherlands, for many of the children the most important dates are in early December.  While St. Nicholas’ Day is on the 6th December, the major celebrations are held on the 5th December, which is St. Nicholas’ Eve — when the jolly old soul arrives and brings them their presents!

Apparently you leave these treats in your shoes — no joke.

On St. Nicholas’ Eve Dutch children leave treats out for Sinterklaas.  They also spoil Father Christmas’s horse (not reindeer) with water, hay, and carrots. In exchange, they get marzipan, chocolate coins, and hot cocoa.

The Saint takes a different twist on the popular traditions in the city of Amsterdam, portraying  St. Nicholas and his Black Pete helpers as ghosts who murder large numbers of people when his annual celebration night coincides with a full moon.

And now…
The Reason Why I Have Included This Film
In My Zombie Movie Reviews

This film is a hell of a lot better than A Christmas Horror Story (2015) or the mass liberty-taking Krampus (also 2015).  It has its scary bits along with being fun and funny.  It also plays accurately to Xmas traditions instead of taking total license and doing whatever they want.  This is cleverly done whereas IMO the other two are hack works.  If you want to pepper your holidays with a Christmas horror film, watch Saint.

Sint on IMDB and Wikipedia

Christmas in The Netherlands / Holland — Christmas Around the World

Zwarte Piet AKA Black Pete or Black Peter

A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

Christmas is drawing near and things are melting down in the town of Bailey Downs … and at best, I rate this film Yellow Puss.

This film clearly resides among its own as a B-film.  It attempts to interweave four horror stories, each of which to varying degrees have little if anything to do with Christmas myth.

If you pay closer attention to this pot-boiler than I did, allegedly the framework of these stories are tied together by a character named DJ Dangerous Dan — a lonely late-night radio personality, waxing on about how he loves Xmas while hitting the eggnog while getting understandably abandoned by the radio station staff.

Hi Bill!

DJ Dan is played by none other than James T. Kirk, clearly a retirement job following his service as captain aboard the infamous Starship Enterprise … who is probably the only actor you will recognize.

First Story – Three teens break into their school to investigate two murders that occurred the previous year. They mysteriously get locked in the basement  and then — SURPRISE — the horror begins!  This story has nothing to do with Christmas.

Second Story – A husband, wife, and their son go into the woods to chop down a Christmas tree.  The son wanders off and gets switched for a changeling who mimics him and then — SURPRISE — the horror begins!  Aside from the Pagany changeling and Christmas tree, this story too has nothing to do with Christmas.  In other words, these first two stories are just FILLER to justify bringing William Shatner into the film and to bolster the other two stories into a 107 minute B-movie made in Canada.

Third Story – A yuppie family of four visit their elderly aunt and behave poorly.  This attracts the attention of Krampus and while on their way home they are picked off one at a time.  This is the first portion of the story where the filmmakers take liberties with Krampus mythos …. but then HolloWood has given us far worse.   As a result this story has a little to do with Christmas.

Fourth Story – A fittingly Nordic-looking Santa Claus is at his workshop preparing for a busy Christmas when he discovers that his elves and Mrs. Claus have turned into zombies.  He manages to kill them all and then for an unapparent reason Santa is then forced to fight Krampus.  This is where the filmmakers quite unfortunately took the most gross liberties with the Krampus character (AKA Black Peter).  Krampus gets turned into a villain — white hats, black hats … everyone needs a villain — the problem though is that in Krampus mythos he is only a threat to bad kids/people.  In fact, Krampus and St. Nick have always worked together — on Krampusnacht (Krampus night) around December 5th he arrived to punish children who have misbehaved while of course Saint Nicholas would reward well-behaved children with gifts.  In other words, when Krampus became suppressed his tasks were given to Santa who would ‘make his list of who’s naughty and nice’.

A Christmas Horror Story at IMDbWikipedia, but most importantly at Rotten Tomatoes.

 

 

Joyeux Noël AKA Merry Christmas (2005)

I’ve wanted to watch the 2005 film “Joyeux Noël” (AKA Merry Christmas) for years — finally got to and I’m very glad I did!  One could easily say that every piper, every musician, and every person ought to.

We all know the setting…

The Great War, which of course later came to be known as World War I and lasted from 28July1914 to 11November1918.  It is viewed as being the first modern war and the most destructive.

Scottish soldiers in a WWI trench
Emerging from the trenches with Silent Night in the film.

During the first year of the war there were a number of informal and unauthorized “Christmas truces“, where men on both sides of the Western Front line stopped fighting to celebrate the holiday … and in some cases met in the middle to celebrate together.  Joyeux Noël is a dramatization of a group of French, Scottish, and German soldiers.  Having heard Silent Night on bagpipes from trench and the singing of the classic song by a German vocalist in another trench, they rose and met on No Man’s Land in one of these truces.

Maybe I think too much, this gets listed as an anti-war film.  I’m not always sure what makes a song or a film (etc) an anti-war piece — or to say, some are more obvious and direct than others.  What I am clear on is that Joyeux Noël shows that we as different cultures can set aside our differences, meet together peacefully, and share what we have in common.  To me some of the significance of this film has to do with universal languages — among those I believe are math and music.  As musicians we bring people together — in good times, in bad times, and bridging our different languages.  The lyrics may sound different but the music is the same.

Here are my side-notes on this film — in other words, these are the not important things I observed …

To me this film looked great — the costumes were good, there were four languages in this film (so long as you count the priest delivering a sermon in Latin), the acting was good, and so far as I could tell everything was period correct.  According to Wikipedia, Joyeux Noël had a budget of $22 million and brought in only $17,709,155 at the box office.  This happens — a well made film with a beautiful message … clearly it did not go unnoticed, and from when I’ve talked about wanting to see it the film apparently resonates in the collective conscious … but I’m saddened that this didn’t get as much notice in the theater that it profited let alone broke even.

As a musician I of course enjoy seeing when singers and instrumentalists are given focus in a film or in a TV show — especially when pipes are featured in a film.  I’m also accustom to these not actually featuring singers or musicians. In the case of this film the actors-not-singing is glaringly obvious — the lip syncing is painful.  The bagpiping in this film is also synced (pipe-synced?), which is understandable — finding actors who play bagpipes is uncommon (yep, sorry — Viggo Mortensen doesn’t actually play pipes in Captain Fantastic, although the filmmakers did a very good job of making it look like he did and Viggo trained hard to look as-so).  The pipe-syncing is both good & bad in Joyeux Noël.  When pipers start playing and then stop playing but the tune continues … that’s bad.  However, at times in this film the actors-not-pipers are seen playing and they actually do a considerably accurate job of appearing to play … so to some extent these guys actually trained — WOW!

The one other hang-up I had, or call it that if you will — there were four sets of bagpipes in the film.  Four clearly bran new, shiny sets of pipes.  I find it hard to imagine that pipes exposed to such conditions would be in such good shape, but this is a small thing so let’s look past it.

Okay, before I get any more into the weeds, let’s just say this — Joyeux Noël was a heck of a film — see it, it well deserves its time in the sun.

Joyeux Noël AKA Merry Christmas

Make no mistake, this is not a buddy-comedy film