Sunday, December 24, 2023

K.A.C. 2023 - T - 01 Day ...

1975 - For our final gifts to you this year, we're going to keep the K.A.C. light and cheery - no bizarre, dark weird stuff! well, OK, not dark anyway - we'll meet you halfway.

     As for the bizarre, let's start with a holiday tale that was thrown into this oversized DC Limited Collectors' Edition holiday comic for '75, Christmas with the Super-Heroes. While I was (and am) more of a Marvel fan, I would have enjoyed a copy of this back in the day. Back to our tale - in addition to the different holiday-themed stories with the regular gang pictured here, there's a forgotten tale from the Angel and the Ape series (hang on). Their comic had already been canceled, but this story was already paid for and served as page filler for this volume. For more on the A & A, click below, then once you have the cast of characters in hand, click on the full story in the second link!









     Next: a sweet, innocent throwback - a BEAUTIFUL restoration of the 1933 Walt Disney Silly Symphony, The Night Before Christmas. 

     Michael Sky Danley has a great blog post on the history and making of this classic cartoon, complete with rare outline art, found below:

      We end this year with a link to NORAD's Live Santa Tracker. While you may just be getting up for the day, SC and the boys are already on their rounds, passing over the world and dropping toys on the way - and you and any little ones you may be with can put this up on your computer and watch the progression LIVE for the entire trip! Get it here: 

     And with that, we're done. Or, as Santa might say, "Ho, ho, ho, we've got to go!" We've delivered our 24 days of presents, old and new, and hopefully entertained you along the way. Next year we'll pick up where we left off, as we'll return on December 1st, 2024, with the Return of Retro Reindeer Rampage, looking at the years 1976-1999. Until then, have a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

K.A.C. 2023 - T - 02 Days ...


1974 - Following up yesterday's entry regarding THE EXORCIST, we have the first (but not the last) Christmas 'slasher' film made by a major studio, BLACK CHRISTMAS (aka SILENT NIGHT, EVIL NIGHT). I remember seeing this in its original release with my buddy David and being properly skeeved out by it. For a low budget item, it had an impressive array of actors - just look at that cast list on the poster, featuring Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder and John Saxon. Set at a college sorority house over the holidays between semesters, this is one of the earliest 'killer is in the house' (spoilers) trope movies, when it was new. The genius of the film is that even by the end credits, you're not sure who the killer was. Check that: you THINK you know, but the ambiguous ending and the way director Bob Clark handled 'Billy' was decidedly unique and unsettling. I remember as a teenager standing up and getting my coat, saying to David, "There's no way 'X' was the killer", and when he asked why not (and a few people around us stopped to hear my answer), I said, "because 'X' had brown eyes and the killers' were green" (or whatever color they were). At right is the shot that convinced me. The other folks looked surprised by that detail, while David just shook his head and said, "Only you, Sherlock." 😄

     For what it is, and if you're in to this kind of film, BLACK CHRISTMAS is quite inventive. Unlike the passive victims in a number of later films, these ladies put up quite a fight, especially Margot Kidder's Barb. Note: Avoid the remakes like the plague! For more on both the film and the whole 'Billy' mystique, read the articles below - however, if you think you want to see this, watch the film first, as both entries are FILLED with spoilers:

     Now you would think I would have learned my lesson about attending Christmas slasher films, but you'd be DEAD wrong, as ten years later, in '84, I doubled, nay, TRIPLED down on my not-well-thought out choice of viewing and came within a hairsbreadth (or shall we say, a camera's eye) of unexplainable trouble! The new film was called SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT. The whole sordid saga of what Laura likes to call "one of my favorite stories of yours" was an entry I wrote back in 2009 - at the time I wrote it, the Brattle Theater in Boston was showing a double feature of these two films and I said, "It's playing with 1974's BLACK CHRISTMAS, which I also saw when it first came out ... but that's another story. ;)". Well, what do you know? It only took 14 years, but here's the 'other story' at last! Looking it over, I see 'Billy' is up to his old tricks ... the same one or a different one? We may never know:  

     You can read about what I unknowingly walked into under the 'Controversy and Censorship' part of the Wiki entry below:,_Deadly_Night


     The name of our second film triggered a rabbit hole dive for me and my memory did not deceive me ... behold the same-named story of Marvel Two-In-One # 8, also from '74, wherein The Thing and Ghost Rider CRASH THE NATIVITY - I'm going to step aside and let Chris Pearce and his Teachable Moments Comics Blog explain this one!

     One more to go, as we wrap up the K.A.C. with a look at 1975!

Friday, December 22, 2023

K.A.C. 2023 - T - 03 Days ...


1973 - Listen, my children, and you shall hear, a tale of Christmas, a tale of fear ... or shall you? Debate has raged for decades about the biggest boxoffice hit of the year, THE EXORCIST. Is it or is it not a Christmas film? Would it surprise you that is answer is both Yes AND No? Demonic forces at work? Not at all - we went to the message boards and got it hashed out (with my favorite comment about the film, "From Tubular Bells to Jingle Bells...")- the answer can be found below (thankfully not THAT far below!):

"Is Santa SUPPOSED to sound like that on the roof???"

     More on the film as director William Friedkin looks back on it: 

     I visited the 'Exorcist Home' exterior when I was a teenager and the end scene is a fine piece of Hollywood trickery. When Father Karras (Jason Miller) (spoilers) takes the demon inside himself and hurls himself out the window and down the long flight of stairs to his death, it looks like the stairs are right below the window. In real life, there's a HUGE yard in between that window and the stairs! Maybe Pazuzu was a long-jumper ...

     Regardless, with shenanigans like that going on in the neighborhood, it's sure to bring the property values down. Want to know what ELSE does during the holiday season? Hop in your car and cruise the neighborhood to see how many of these signs you see: 

     Only two more to go - cutting this short, 'cause the movers are here!

Thursday, December 21, 2023

K.A.C. 2023 - T - 04 Days ...


1972 - Merry Solstice! Around and around the globe we go, through the centuries and whizzing past the equator, making ourselves dizzy with all the history flashing on by. For a crash course on what this day entails, check out the 'Solstice and Santa' page below - it's a LOT, so clear your schedule!


     You might want to spend a few quiet moments reflecting on the pretty art print above, as it gets SUPREMELY WEIRD from here. Deep breath ... ready? OK, hang on! Remember our '67 entry about the Birmingham Dracula Balloon Parade? Well, imagine if those fine folks were rich, REALLY rich, and money was no object. Now imagine they decided to host a Winter Ball, with the theme of Surrealism ... NOW imagine that maybe, just maybe, there was something a tad more sinister going on ... nothing that could be proved, mind you, but something that made history and was talked about for decades. A few folks through the years have tried to recreate the (black?) magic of this '72 event, with mixed results. When the TAMEST photo is this dinner setting, with the description of 'The dinner plates were covered in fur, while every guest's litany of forks was accompanied by a dead fish', you know you've turned the corner into the Twilight Zone. This is one of the rare times words fail me in how to describe what follows, so I'm not even going to try. Instead, read on and get YOUR best costume ready for 'Black Tie, Long Dresses, And Surrealist Heads: Inside The 1972 Rothschild Ball':


     I know, right? What the Holy Hell was THAT? Now anyone else would ramp it down from there and call it a day, but hey, we've come this far ... for dessert, how about we revisit one of the all-time WORST 'Christmas' films of all time, also from '72, with a budget in the - wait, is there such a thing as negative money? No? OK, then, with a budget in pennies, used, ratty costumes and a (possibly stolen) fire truck, Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny makes K. Gordon Murray look like Orson Welles - the putrid pastiche of a plot can be found here: 

     For a deeper delve into despair, click on the link below:

     For the brave and/or masochistic, RiffTrax took on this disaster and you can view the ENTIRE mess via this link - trust me, this is the ONLY safe way to watch this Christmas Catastrophe!

     There, there, it's all over - dry your eyes, have a drink, get some sleep. We've only got three more entries to go. I'm sure THEY will be better ... ummm, relatively sure ... come back tomorrow and find out!


Wednesday, December 20, 2023

K.A.C. 2023 - T - 05 Days ...

1971 - It's time for our annual Christmas Ghost Stories, this year featuring five of the best from the master, M.R. James. Each one was adapted for television by the B.B.C. for their yearly Ghost Stories For Christmas specials, beginning with the '71 adaptation of The Stalls Of Barchester. Turn the lights off and get beneath a warm blanket, watch one each night and you'll end with the last one on Christmas Eve - exactly when these blood-curdlers were usually told! Justin von Bosau and I are both huge fans of James' tales, and these all do the original stories justice. Click on the link below to begin: 

For those of you made of stronger stuff, we've got more Holiday Horrors to behold, such as 'Christmas Butt Cheek Art' (at right) and 49 other times 'Trolls Had The Funniest Christmas Gift Ideas Ever':

     We've only four entries left, so before we go, a gentle reminder to keep an eye out for Santa's blue coat and staff, accompanied by his granddaughter as they go house to house. He knows if you've been bad or good AND he knows if you've met your factory quota or not ... if you're feeling a tad puzzled and/or nervous at this point, allow us to introduce you via two articles below to Santa's Soviet counterpart - Ded Moroz and Snegurochka!

     Back tomorrow for a look at 1972. Get back to work, elves!

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

K.A.C. 2023 - T - 06 Days ...

     1970 - Once again we take a look at Horrible Christmas Foods, this time setting our Timeless Tinsel Tracker back a hundred years - to 1870 - and the most outrageous, eye-opening story we'll report on for this season's K.A.C. 

      What's on the menu? Stuffed Donkey Heads, Roasted Camel (English Style) and (horrifyingly) much, much more. Ripley's Believe It Or Not tells the true tale of the one-of-a-kind holiday Feasts of Beasts in 'Zoo Feast: A Christmas Dinner for the Ages': 

     Moving back to the present (well, 1970 present), while I know you would like to recreate that royal repast, it's just not practical. Instead, take a look at two articles showing you what would have been on the menu for a '70s Christmas feast, with such taste treats as Peanut Butter Soup and everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) in aspic ... those Stuffed Donkey Heads don't sound so bad now, do they?


     But wait, there's MUCH more! Even Salvador Dali got into the Jolly Jellied Jamboree, as can be seen with our next entry, entitled 'Inside The Surreal World Of '70s Food Porn':

      While there are SO many more articles on horrible holiday foods from the past (enough to fill all the remaining entries this year), we'll spare you those and instead will dally with Dali a tad longer, as we present a look at his own 'unique' take on Christmas cards below:

     We've saved the best for last, or maybe all that aspic, jellied food has damaged more than our palates. I was looking for something to encapsulate just HOW strange the '70s were and found it in the most unlikeliest of sources: behold the 1970 edition of 'Archie's Christmas Love-In'. Ooof, where to even begin with this? Well, once you get past the cover where the Claus-meister is embracing his new role as the Riverdale Guru (as an aside, methinks he's holding the wrong kind of plant for where this is going, but I digress), the contents are more than bizarre, as Archie and the Gang decide to deluge their school with the seasonal joys that only Flower Power can bring ... and the hilarity that ensues. Thankfully Alan Stewart over at the Attack Of The 50 Year Old Comic Books website has done the heavy lifting here, breaking it down and adroitly examining the colossal crash of counterculture and total Squares-ville:

     Did I say last? Well, almost - consider this a P.S. As silly as that comic book looks, I'm sure it planted a seed in some impressionable youths who took it to heart and passed down the peaceful vibes to their children and grandchildren. See for yourself in 'The Magic of Santa Claus Explained with Yogic Philosophy':

     More tomorrow with a look at 1971. Peace, baby!     





Monday, December 18, 2023

K.A.C. 2023 - T - 07 Days ...


1969 - Longtime readers can be forgiven for mistaking this picture as one from Ye Humble Curator's youth. Sadly not, but I admire this lad's dedication to the role and the show! I do actually have both Dark Shadows board games, including the one this young vampire is proudly displaying - maybe he opened his presents at night. And speaking of presents ...

     Remember a few days ago when we were relating the tale of the obscure Beatles' Christmas tune? Turns out they weren't the only ones ... read and sample the even MORE forgotten-to-history warblings from Pink Floyd (I know, right?) below! 

     The lyrics (such as they are) can be found in the comments section below the YouTube video link.



     Want to take a guess who our 'flower child' is at left? Would you believe The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come (known here as The Ghost Of Christmas Future)? It's true - this is part of the reason it's so hard to describe the '60s if you didn't live through them! 😁 For a closer look at him and his other interpretations through the years, read our referenced article below, 'The Ghosts of Christmas Yet to Come, ranked by freakiness':

     Pink Floyd, The Beatles and all the rest are fine, but with one week to go before the Big Day, there's only ONE piece of music long time K.A.C. fans want to hear today, and here it is - just like our annual stalwart visit from Krampus and our yearly Kringle's Khristmas Kuties Kwiz, you can ALWAYS count on a visit from Hardrock, Coco and Joe on December 18th in these pages. Why? Because to many, young and old alike, THIS is the official Countdown to Christmas - for the uninitiated, read on, then open yourself to this holiday earwig. You might as well put it on a loop now, 'cause it won't be leaving your brain anytime soon!

     Another decade down - come back tomorrow as we groove through the '70s!