Tuesday, November 30, 2010

K.A.C. - T - 25 Days ...

     It’s that time, boys and girls! Time to see what Santa left under the tree – let’s hope you won’t find ANY of these toys waiting for you this year. From Oreo Barbies to insane teddy bears in straitjackets, it’s time for our annual rundown of the Worst Toys of 2010! Of course, if there’s a little rugrat (or their parents) you truly DON’T like, then operators are standing by –
a BIG thank you to Beverley for this years' collection!

     Let’s not stop there – it just wouldn’t be right if the little ones got something heinous and you were left out in the cold … so here’s something to warm you right up – this years’ edition of Ugly Christmas Sweaters! From sweaters with lights and tinsel, to 3-D reindeer and celebrity sweaters, they’re all here … and all on sale!

  By the way, that is in NO WAY a hint for some of you wags ... if I find something like these Bad Boys under my tree, I WILL hunt you down ... just sayin' ... so put away those ideas right now!

     Coming tomorrow - reader submissions! I turn the blog over to what you've found - be sure to check back and see what Santa left in the very bottom of the stocking!      

Monday, November 29, 2010

K.A.C. - T - 26 Days ...

     Imagine you lived in a culture where you had never heard the Santa Claus story and were having it explained to you for the very first time. Now imagine on TOP of that you were also hearing the Nativity story and the Life of Christ tale, as well ... at the SAME TIME - finally, imagine being asked to draw an artistic rendition of what the holiday means. No matter WHAT you came up with, it couldn't match the STUNNING tastelessness of this doozy on the left!

     For the full jaw-dropping story on this years' K.A.C. Image of the Year, you need to take a long, hard look at this website - the Top Ten Strange Santas From Japan!  Aside from the Krucified Kris Kringle, there's the Colonel Sanders Santa, Skeleton Santa, Mint Green Santa and so much more!
Don't take my word for it, gird your loins and go see for yourself!


     When you've composed yourself, come back tomorrow for this year's edition of the Worst Christmas Toys of 2010 and (because you demanded it) Ugliest Christmas Sweaters!
Be brave, my Terrified Tree Trimmers!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

K.A.C. - T - 27 Days ...

     Take a look at the picture to your left ... what do you see? Jolly fat man, my ass!!! This is one seriously pissed-off dude! Why? Is Santa finally fed up with the back-breaking task of delivering toys via reindeer and sleigh during this age of online shopping? Could it be the diabetic coma from All Those Damn Cookies? Or could it be something much more sinister ... something like ...
M O N K E Y S ?????



     Yes, it's monkeys ... lots and lots of monkeys, in one of the most bizarre 'Christmas' films ever made. From 1950 (or thereabouts), our fifth entry in the '13 Strangest Christmas Shorts' (to add insult to injury) is actually called THE SANTA CLAUS STORY, but as you'll see is really a patently thin excuse to build a framework around a LOT of stock footage of monkeys. Santa's got a lesson to impart to the little boy and girl here, and it's not pretty. As he tells the sneaky kids up past their bedtime, " They know they're monkeys, but you don't." Wow, thanks for THAT life-affirming quote, Kringle!

     Anyways, my little monkeys, grab a banana and give it a look - 'ol Grumpy Klaus would want it that way!

     Tomorrow we continue our countdown with the 2010 K.A.C. Image of the Year ... and more!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

K.A.C. - T - 28 Days ...

     Welcome back! Did you get up at 4AM to be at the stores by 5AM to get all your gifts on Black Friday? Are you dancing with joy like this lady on the left with your purchases? Don't you wish you were more awake when you bought those gifts? Thanks to your sleepiness, instead of that Big Screen TV you THOUGHT you were getting, you're now stuck with ten Lords A-Leaping!

      On that note, here is entry # 4 in our '13 Strangest Christmas Shorts' - it's one of the more hyper versions of the song "The 12 Days of Christmas". It's from the "Let's Have Music with Oscar Brand" series (c'mon, you KNOW that series, don't you?) and features this whirling dervish of a lass acting out Oscar's song. 

     You can use this short in many ways:  as a drinking game, as an exercise video (just TRY keeping up with her!), as an implement of torture to your friends who HATE Christmas music, etc. 
But don't take MY word for it - go give it a watch yourself!


      Come back tomorrow (after you've toweled off from exercising) for entry # 5! See you!

Friday, November 26, 2010

K.A.C. - T - 29 Days ...

     Hello, My Tryptophan Tummy Tousle-heads! If you’re awake enough, get ready to click on something that will mess with your heads, as we continue our '13 Strangest Christmas Shorts' series, with this one from 1913, it’s THE INSECTS' CHRISTMAS! 
      What's so strange about it, you ask? Well, when you're watching this, consider the fact that animator Ladislas Starevich had a rather ... unique ... way of making his stop-motion films. Instead of going the Willis O'Brien/Ray Harryhausen route of using clay models and animating them one frame at a time, Starevich would decide which insects he wanted to tell his story with, find them, kill them, hollow out and preserve their bodies and THEN animate them! 
     Sound grisly? Surprisingly not, as the following short will show. Starevich would make a number of these shorts, the most famous being The Cameraman's Revenge (1911).  To learn more about Starevich, read the Wikipedia entry on him here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladislas_Starevich 
 To learn more about today's film, read the info box beneath the video itself. Come back tomorrow for our next entry!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

K.A.C. - T - 30 Days ...

Courtesy of Ron Adams' Monster Bash website
     Happy Thanksgiving, One and All! On this most marvelous of Turkey Days, I thought I’d share with you memories of MY favorite ‘turkey’: 1957’s THE GIANT CLAW.
        Both of us were born in 1957 (I like to think I came out ‘slightly’ better than my cinematic cousin), and it was one of the first films I remember seeing. I went to a military school in Tennessee from first grade though ninth grade, and I have fond memories of this film running one solid week as the Afternoon Movie on a local TV station when I was around five or six (they must have lost the prints of every other film!) – so Monday – Friday, at 4:30PM we would gather around the set and …Monday, THE GIANT CLAW – cool! Tuesday --- THE GIANT CLAW! We looked at each other and said, “No way!”  By Wednesday, word had spread of this phenomenon and other kids had to see for themselves – the audience grew for Thursday and Friday’s showings until it was standing room only.  We were frantic come the following Monday to see if we were in The Twilight Zone and this was now the only film left on Earth … but no, the spell was broken.
        To truly understand the hold this film has on fans, take a look at the trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOj0nXpRqX8 - Sam Katzman, the head of Columbia, had done well with a series of SF films (particularly the early b/w efforts of Ray Harryhausen) and wanted to duplicate his efforts, but cheaply. Unbeknownst to his stars (Jeff Morrow and Mara Corday), he went with the lowest bidder, a special effects house in Mexico. Morrow used to tell a great story of attending the premiere in Hollywood, being introduced and sitting in the front row, then sinking lower and lower in his seat when he saw the finished result for the first time.
        The posters for the film (see left) had kept the creature as a mystery, never showing it's face – nobody was expecting a Turkey From Hell! Not only does she (yes, it’s a mama) have the ugliest face in monster history, her voice is screechingly hilarious, as well. None of this mattered to me as a kid … 
I always get nostalgic every time I would see this or talk about it with other fans. Turns out I wasn’t alone – other fanboys and fangirls remember La Carcagne (as one character calls it – an actual mythical creature in Canada) fondly. She actually made the # 1 spot in the Top Ten Giant Movie Monsters List at Cinemassacre’s poll!
   One funny follow-up: many years later, I was attending Boston’s 24-hour Science Fiction Film Festival, and Columbia had struck a brand-new 35mm print of the film, which was premiering there. During the famous bird/jet fighter fight, the film broke! As time wore on and the projectionist struggled to fix it, I jumped up and said, “I’ve seen it so many times, I can tell you what happens next … it looks something like … THIS!” So saying, a total stranger ran down the aisle with arms extended like a plane and I took off after him, arms flapping and making my best Giant Claw screech. He collapsed in front of the screen, we got a HUGE round of applause and the movie continued. 
The film is available in a spotless, beautiful transfer on DVD as part of the Icons of Horror: Sam Katzman boxed set – it’s something to behold on DVD – you can see EVERY string holding the old girl up.
        Last but not least, a few years ago professional artist Keith “Kez” Wilson did a series of BEAUTIFUL “what if” fantasy Doc Savage paperback covers,  creating mash-up adventures of The Man of Bronze with different characters we would have LIKED to have seen. Imagine my joy when # 195, CLAW OF DEATH came out.
        So as you’re starting to snooze from all the turkey and stuffing, remember that if another member of her race from 'some godforsaken Antimatter Galaxy’ finds its way here, the turkey could be eating YOU!
        Tomorrow: Number 3 in our countdown of the Strangest Christmas Shorts of All Time – it’s downright … ITCHY!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

K.A.C. - T - 31 Days ...

     I don't care WHO you are, you have GOT to get a good laugh at the picture on the left (click on it for the full effect) - I came across this on my perusals and HOWLED (especially over the quote when this was turned into the Demotivational Poster!) - and it is a PERFECT introduction to this year's edition of ... wait for it ... SCARED OF SANTA!


     Keep in mind there are 169  photos in this year's edition, so you're going to be here awhile!

     Along these lines, ever wonder about some of the horror stories the Mall Santas must have? My favorite? The nervous young lad who panicked and at the Big Moment asked Santa for ... a sandwich! :)

     This should keep you all going for awhile as the turkey is basting and the friends and relatives are arriving for the Big Feast. I'll be back tomorrow (such dedication, I don't even take the holiday off! No, no, don't thank me!) with my FAVORITE Thanksgiving movie ... not a big surprise to those who know me! Friday through Sunday will see the next three entries in our '13 Strangest Christmas Short Films' competition, and starting next Monday, the kid gloves come off and the red, fur-lined gloves come on as we ramp up with the TRULY crazy entries, including our Image of the Year!

     Have a good Thanksgiving and travel safely - see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

K.A.C. - T - 32 Days ...

Good Morning! The picture on the left (for those of you long-time followers of the K.A.C.) can only mean one thing ... that's right! This year's edition of the Epic Fail of Christmas Albums!

You can see last year's collection on my November 19th, 2009 entry, with such stalwarts as Korla Pandit, Colonel Sanders and the Six Million Dollar Man. I wondered how long and far I'd have to look for outdoing those beauties ... not very far at all, as it turns out!

I've mentioned before that I have the Christmas music going 24/7 here at work as soon as the radio stations begin playing it - that is the official kick-off every year of the K.A.C. Well, my office mates should be GRATEFUL I stick to the traditional channels!

I COULD be sharing with them such holiday 'classics' as sung by high-pitched Japanese monsters, the Pokemon! Let's see, what to play? The verbally-challenged 'Nobody Don't Like Christmas' or 'I'm Giving Santa a Pikachu This Christmas' (a LOCK for getting coal in your stocking this year!).

Too cartoon-y for you? Then how about the dulcet tones of the American Song-Poem Christmas, with such memorable tunes as 'Santa Came on a Nuclear Missile' (!!!)

Oh, there's more - MUCH more, including the Jingle Bermuda Tree Frogs, the William Hung Christmas Album (if you have to ask ...), and A Colt 45 Christmas! They're all part of the eMusic Dozen Weird Christmas - and the best part? You can download any or ALL of these tracks! Just THINK of the looks you'll get when that certain special someone finds THESE under the tree - almost as excited as the young lass on the left! Can't wait? Then go take a listen:

Coming Tomorrow: Another K.A.C. yearly tradition, with some jaw-dropping photos - our annual visit to Big Red's Lap, and all the mishaps and tears that entails! Don't Miss It!

Monday, November 22, 2010

K.A.C. - T - 33 Days ...

     "Dear Santa, I want a new ... car ... umm, you know what? On second thought ...."  Yes, it's that time again, my Gift-Giving Gnomes! Stuck for what to give Uncle Carl this year? Haven't a clue what little Susie wants? Then put one of these Really Bad Ideas under the tree and watch their eyes light up (and, in some cases, some other lights, as well ... probably attached to the police car that pulls up to your house!) - let's see what's under the wrapping, shall we?

     How about fine art? In particular, a 'cursed' painting where the characters LEAVE the painting during the night when you're not watching - I'm kidding, right? Not at all! It's actually a very famous story - the painting is called "The Hands Resist Him" (left) - supposedly, people have died within one year of owning the painting! The brave can read all about it on the Wikipedia entry here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hands_Resist_Him 

     The TRULY brave can watch a creepy video about the painting and learn more here:

      Now that's just crazy talk - nothing more than an urban legend, you say! What the Hell does this have to do with Christmas and not Halloween? Simply this - the artist sells prints of the 'haunted painting' direct from his studio - you can find the link here: https://www.stonehamstudios.com/ - there's only one way to know if the legend is true or not, and we all have that ONE 'hard-to-shop-for' friend or relative who would LOVE something like this, right? In fact, I happen to know a LOT of people at a certain Yankee Yule Swap party who might be up for it ... hmmm .... :)


       For the more 'adult' members on your shopping list, if money (and TASTE) is no object, there's the 'Sex Robot', which is JUST as bad as it sounds - read on!

      On that note, get shopping, pilgrims! There's plenty more items to come --- umm, to be seen --- later on as we continue the K.A.C. - tune in tomorrow for more!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

K.A.C. - T - 34 Days ...

     Welcome back, Nippy Noses! The days are getting colder, the weather is brisk and it gets darker earlier and earlier ... boy, I could sure use a flashlight right about now, how about you? A red one, you say? Sure, even a red light would work. Attached to a REINDEER, you say?
It's his NOSE ??? What, is he radioactive? 

     No, just everybody's favorite Rangifer tarandus (see, you learn things here, too!), Rudolph! There are few, if any, children who don't know the story of Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer, mainly thanks to the one-two punch of the Gene Autry song played ad nauseum this time of year and the famous Rankin-Bass holiday special. My own initiation into the Cult of the Red-Nosed One came from a different path ... from a Little Golden Book (see left) when I was very young.


  As a child, I HATED all the other reindeer, who "used to laugh and call him names" - they always struck me as bullies --- even after the wrap-up, where Santa picks Rudolph, etc., and now they're all his 'friends', I thought they were a-holes of the first order. Upon looking again at the book recently, I had to chuckle - with all the teasing going on, it looks like Rudolph is about to CUT a deer! :)

     Which brings us to today's film. Long before the Rankin-Bass special, in 1948 the Fleischer Studios (creators of Betty Boop) made a lush Technicolor cartoon of Big Red, and while it's beautiful to look at and lovely to behold, it still leaves one with many unsettling questions after viewing, not the least of which being, "Why does a reindeer need a bed?" Take a look!


By the way, if you want to know more about Rudolph, read the magnificently thorough breakdown of both the character and the cartoon in the description box beneath the video. Nice job, XmasFLIX!                                                                                                                                                                            
Tomorrow: More holiday weirdness abounds, including the question: would you buy a used car from a GIANT Santa Claus? See you then!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

K.A.C. - T - 35 Days ...

What's one of the yearly traditions of the season? The tree, the eggnog, the snow, of course ... and in many homes the reading of Clement Moore's THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

Now there have been many versions of this tale put to film (and we will revisit it again before this year's edition of the K.A.C. is done), but none QUITE so creepily disturbing as what follows ... THE CHRISTMAS VISITOR. Made in 1959 by the
British animation team of John Halas and Joy Batchelor, it starts off with the original poem, then veers crazily off into "The Steadfast Tin Soldier vs. Snidely Whiplash" territory as the toys go nuts and stage an all-out battle under the tree!
I'm not sure this is what Mr. Moore had in mind when he wrote the poem (especially the 'changed' ending), but it fits right in here!

So gather the kiddies, turn down the lights and enjoy THE CHRISTMAS VISITOR!


Coming tomorrow: the SECOND of our 13 Oddest Christmas Shorts - be there!

Friday, November 19, 2010

K.A.C. - T - 36 Days ...

Welcome back, my Merry Misanthropes! Last year, my favorite entry was from the land of Frozen Fjords, Finland, and their wonderful film called RARE EXPORTS, INC.

Well, the film has become a cult hit worldwide and is a must-see at this time of the year! Not familiar with it? Then let's get you up to speed ... from the Official Site:

“It's the eve of Christmas in northern Finland and an "archeological" dig has just unearthed the real Santa Claus. But this particular Santa isn't the one you want coming to town. When all the local children begin mysteriously disappearing, young Pietari and his father Rauno, a reindeer hunter by trade, capture the mythological being and attempt to sell Santa to the misguided leader of the multinational corporation sponsoring the dig. Santa's elves, however, will stop at nothing to free their fearless leader from captivity. What ensues is a wildly humorous nightmare - a fantastically bizarre polemic on modern day morality. RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE is a re-imagining of the most classic of all childhood fantasies, and is a darkly comic gem soon to be required perennial holiday viewing.”

I’m not quite sure about that last sentence – I can’t really see it up against IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE or A CHRISTMAS CAROL every year as holiday viewing … aw, who am I kidding? In MY house, absolutely! Want more proof? Check out the trailer for this Bad Boy!


Check your town to see when it’s coming out – and remember, he KNOWS when you are sleeping … (brrrrr …)

Along those same lines, if you want to make it a FANTASTIC double feature, may I recommend the BLAIR WITCH of Norwegian 'documentaries', TROLL HUNTER! :)


Coming Tomorrow: The FIRST of our 13 Worst Christmas Short Films of All Time, with a holiday favorite as you've NEVER seen it performed before! Don’t miss it!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Welcome to the Kitschmas Advent Calendar 2010! T-37 Days ... and Counting!!!

Welcome to this year’s edition of the Kitschmas Advent Calendar, where I serve up the strangest, the oddest, the most bizarre items associated with the Holiday Season. This is my third year at it, so a quick recap is in order for the newbies to this insanity.

The K.A.C. started a few years ago as a computer wallpaper contest between myself and my work-study students, as to who could find the absolute oddest holiday-themed wallpaper. There were some doozies, with my favorite being the "Gary Coleman and Mr. T Christmas"!

As most of my original students had graduated and gone on to better things, I would hear back from them about the contest, and we would continue to email new oddities as we found them. So in 2008 I decided to expand it from just wallpaper to daily links to odd stories, photos, traditions, etc. - and opened it up to some of my other friends to share in the goofiness. The starting date coincided with the day that a local radio station started playing Christmas and Holiday Music around the clock 24/7 (which in 2008 began, believe it or not, on Veteran's Day!) ... from Santa's Grotty Grotto to the simultaneous Best AND Worst Holiday Wallpaper of 2008 (of presents opening children for Christmas!), it (hopefully) lessened the stress of the season and gave everyone a good laugh.

In 2009 the K.A.C. went from local to global, jumping on the Internet Superhighway via my Conjure Cinema blog (which you're reading now ... if you want to see last year's entries, check out the blog entries from November 11th - December 24th). If you’re reading this today, you know what that means … yep, the 24-hour, round-the-clock, non-stop Holiday Music has reared it’s Tinsel-ly Head once more, at not ONE, but TWO Boston stations, WROR 105.7FM and WODS 103.3FM. Did I mention I play it round-the-clock in my office, as well?

So without further ado, let’s open the first door on our countdown to Christmas and what to our wondering eyes should appear but … this handsome devil above! Or, to be more precise, Krampus, the Anti-Santa! This charming fellow pays a Very Special Visit to BAD boys and girls this time of year ... makes one WISH for a stocking full of coal when he comes visiting! This is the second year we've started off with Krampus, so those of you not familiar with him can brush up here:


Not weird enough for you? Not a problem! Check back with me every day from now until December 24th ... I've had a whole year to unearth the strangest sights and sounds of the season, enough to make even jolly old St. Nick blanch! There's too much to go into now, but one of the things I'm most pleased with is the 13 Strangest Christmas Shorts of All Time! Just remember --- there's some things you can't UNSEE!

So if you're brave, bookmark this page, tell your friends, tell your enemies, and join me on this scariest of sleigh rides as we count 'em down in our own demented way --- see you tomorrow!