Slay Ride

So it’s Christmastime again. Ever since I left my parents’ house, Christmas seems to go one of two ways for me: either I go all-out and Christmasize my life to the max, or December flies by and before I know it, Santa has come and gone and I’m a year older (because my birthday give is me the presents! 29th).

I made a concerted effort to enjoy the heck out last Christmas, going so far as to host a special viewing of several Christmas classics such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, The Year Without a Santa Claus and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I made sure to get plenty of lights and decorations up. It was also the year of the “Lucy Tree,” a story I will let DG relate (perhaps in a guest post, if she’s willing) since it’s really more her story than mine.

This seems to be one of those fly-by years. I haven’t watched any of those Rankin-Bass specials (though I may have temporarily burned out on them last year), and while the Christmas tree is up and lit and the Rankin-Bass action figures are spread out, I still feel like I haven’t quite been able to really enjoy Christmas yet. But DG and her family seem very concerned about making I’m comfortable having my first Christmas away from home (even in the San Francisco year I flew back for Christmas), so I’m sure that, with liberal doses of eggnog, good cheer, Christmas Vacation and perhaps even Ernest Saves Christmas, Christmas will indeed be saved (but not by Ernest, because he’s dead. Rest in peace, Mr. Varney).

Speaking of Christmas movies, I had the intriguing experience of viewing Santa’s Slay (2005) this past weekend. It’s goofy “horror” movie starring former wrestler Bill Goldberg as a homicidal Santa Claus. The title sounds ridiculous and the premise even more insane, but before I go further, let me state for the record that this movie has James Caan in it. James Caan! Caaaaaaan! Also Fran Drescher, Chris Kattan, Rebecca Gayheart, and Lost‘s Emilie de Ravin. With the exception of de Ravin, most of the stars only have a cameo at the beginning, where they play a dysfunctional family who are brutally (but inventively) slaughtered by jolly old Saint Nick.

The plot in a nutshell is this: Santa is actually a demon who, a thousand years ago, had a proclivity for slaughtering people on December 25, so everyone would hide and hold a “mass of Christ” to try to save themselves. Then one day an angel was sent to challenge Santa to a curling competition (you read that right). Santa lost and was forced to be nice and give out presents for a thousand years. Unfortunately, the time is up, and now Santa, equipped with his sleigh and his “helldeer” (a huge white buffalo), is out for blood.

The movie seems to exist primarily to showcase Santa’s inventive Yule-themed kills. People are strangled with wreaths, impaled by Christmas stars, eaten by helldeer, and even stabbed with a menorah. Goldberg growls and grunts his way capably through the film, delivering lines like “I’m just trying to spread a little Yule Tide fear!” while the various protagonists/meat run around trying not to be murdered by Santa.

“Naughty, nice, I’m the guy with the sleigh.”

Unfortunately the best scene is the first one, where Santa murders all the cameo stars. It’s worth DVRing just for that (on a side note, we need a new verb for this whole Tivo/DVR process…I guess we could use the tried-and-true “recording,” but I still associate that with VHS tapes). Also, the story of how the angel beat Santa is told in stop-animation like the Rankin-Bass specials. Overall there’s a sense of this film being a kind of expensive in-joke for the movie industry, given the stars and the apparently decent budget (the sleigh-flying effects are pretty good for a movie that was never even released to theaters).

Both the title and the concept of a horrific Christmas movie are reminiscent of a scene in the aforementioned Ernest Saves Christmas, where the fictional horror film is called Christmas Slay.

I wouldn’t buy the movie, and I certainly wouldn’t make it a yearly viewing tradition. It’s not really good enough—or bad enough—for that. It has a bizarre level of competency in the filmmaking that kind of throws off the feel of the film. But the opening sequence is at least worth a look-see. And I imagine this will become a cult film in no time (if it isn’t already).

  1. See – that’s the benefit of Direct-to-Video. Santa’s Slay comes out in 2005 and there’s nary a whisper of discontent. Now, it’s a little cult flick that some may choose as required Christmas viewing.

    Harvey Weinstein chooses to release the remake of Black Christmas (also about a murderous Santa) on Christmas Day – and religious groups are up in arms.

    OK – so not much of a point but I am always entertained by the shear number of people who find ways to get themselves offended and feel the need to jump on the soapbox.

    BTW Does Kattan play a psychotic elf? He’s always been very disturbing. I find that Chris Kattan is as grotesque a creation as anything Stan Winston could churn out.

  2. No, Kattan is just a guy who gets killed by Santa. Which, honestly, is just as good.

    Kattan aside, DG and I were recently puzzling over Jimmy Fallon. He never should have left SNL. Since we already have Mike Myers and that lead guy from How I Met Your Mother, do we really need Jimmy Fallon loose in the wild, eating our housepets and making movies like Taxi?

  3. Kate left a comment on December 18, 2006 at 10:45 am

    re: Jimmy Fallon, and speaking as one of the millions of girls who suddenly found him irresistible in 2002 and just as suddenly stopped–I concur. How-I-Met-Your-Mother guy is both the rich man’s Jimmy Fallon AND the choice of a new generation.

  4. Speaking of Rankin-Bass, my daughter and I caught Rudolph’s Shiny New Year on ABC Family the other day and all I have to say is:

    Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot.

    I forgot how out there some of these holiday specials were! The best part — watching my daughter excoriate Rudolph for getting into a boat instead of flying to the Archipelago of Last Years.

    “Ummm. Rudolph. You can FLY!”

  5. Oh, definitely—Rudolph’s Shiny New Year freaked me out as a kid (the creepy vulture-thing was almost as scary as the one from The Last Unicorn). Though for my money, the weirdest Rankin-Bass Christmas special of them all is The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus. Based on an even weirder novel by L. Frank Baum (author of The Wizard of Oz), LASC features a group of immortal spirits, led by the Great Ak, reviewing Santa’s life in order to determine whether he is worthy of immortality. The rest is sort of Santa Claus meets The Lord of the Rings…I liked it as a kid, though, unlike Shiny New Year. I’d like to see it again, but unfortunately it’s not available on DVD.

  6. I always thought that Father Time would make an excellent fantasy villain, however, and now that I’ve been reminded of him I think I may have unconsciously modeled a character in my NaNoWriMo novel after him!

  7. I had my doubts but no longer… Transformers will kick ass!!!

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