#1193 Christmas 2019: The Christmas Star (1986)

This year’s Christmas special is by far the shortest yet. But, it’s also 100% longer than I previously anticipated as I thought I’d run out of eligible movies already last year,

The Christmas Star is one of those movies shot in Canada, but with U.S. actors and look & feel to make a saving in the production costs. The cast is actually remarkably good for a totally unknown little movie; familiar faces here include Ed Asner (who’s known for portraying Santa in various films), Rene Auberjonois (who sadly passed away earlier this month), Alan North and Fred Gwynne.

The story itself is basic, but manages to find an interesting sidetrack from the usual Santa Claus movies. The Christmas Star is not a big budget movie, but being a Disney movie there’s a certain quality to the production.

I watched the movie together with my 6-year old daughter who was glued to the screen right from the beginning to the end. So did The Christmas Star just become a xmas tradition for our family? That’s to be seen next year!

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 83%

#796 A Hobo’s Christmas (1987)

Ahh, christmas – the time for forgiving and the new beginnings. But as the old vagabond returning to his grown up son’s for the christmas soon finds out, forgiving and starting anew can sometimes be a challenge.

The old man may not have any problems winning over the hearts of his grandchildren, but it’s his long neglected son that has understandably a hard time letting it all slide. The viewer is on the edge here as the gramps kind of wins our hearts over by making an effort – to best to his capabilities – but he never seems quite ready to really make an actual commitment to his son.

Being a christmas movie, A Hobo’s Christmas is taking place in that special universum where the drifters don’t booze, nor suffer from mental problems, but instead join together for a jolly little song and even pitch in for creating the best even christmas meal. But that’s beside the point, and the interesting story between the neglected son and his father is still a solid backbone that carries the movie. Tension between the two is kept up until the end and old wounds seem very hard to heal – like they would be.

Darn it. I never expected this, but I kind of liked A Hobo’s Christmas. Unlike your normal sentimental christmas fluff, A Hobo’s Christmas is sentimental christmas fluff that actually has some food for thought, plus a relatable situation that speaks for both the adults and the kids. It’s not going to earn my recommendations for your family’s new christmas tradition movie, but for a small, humble made for TV christmas drama it’s surely among the best ones in its class.

80s-o-meter: 67%

Total: 72%

#795 Xmas 2017: A Christmas Without Snow (1980)

A Christmas Without Snow is another made for tv christmas movie, this time about a small church choir getting a new choirmaster and preparing to sing Handel’s Messiah at the Christmas concert. The choir is also joined by Zoe, a teacher who’s just moved to San Francisco from Omaha after her divorce.

The movie introduces quite a wide number of characters and story lines, but still manages go be pretty drowsy and very TV-movie like in its pace of storytelling. It’s not a very christmassy movie, lacking not only snow but that special magic of christmas time, and wouldn’t interest really interest me if it was run again in TV during the holidays.

On a positive note, I did grow fond of many of the characters in the movie, thanks to some believable acting work. Particularly John Houseman deserves a praise here as the demanding but fair and charming choirmaster who delivers his witty lines in a credible and lovable manner.

80s-o-meter: 43%

Total: 48%

#794 Elves (1989)

Elves is a christmas horror movie with a homicidal Elf (yes, there’s actually only one) that looks like if Nosferatu and a werewolf mated.

There’s a strong home cam feeling to the movie, even so that I was on the borderline of dropping it altogether from the review list. The elf is mostly just a lifeless, plastic torso or its loose hands puppeteered outside the screen, and as pathetic as this sounds, it still manages to be the most credible actor of the bunch, thanks to not having any actual lines. Speaking of which, the horrid dialogue is the only part with some, limited entertainment value here.

Dan Haggerty – previously known from numerous different Grizzly Adams filmatisations – performs as the male lead looking like, but not actually acting as the santa. Haggerty seems like a capable actor, but here he seems mostly baffled how he actually ended up in this production.

Although the movie doesn’t live up to its premise, I still have to give it some credit for its outrageous synopsis – including some genetically engineered elves and nazis – and for being probably the only christmas horror movie original enough not to involve a lunatic killer dressed as a santa.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 27%

#793 Xmas 2017: Babes in Toyland (1986)

Babes in Toyland is a kids’ movie that probably should’ve been disqualified from this list, but its interesting cast got the best of me: There’s Keanu Reeves as the male lead, Drew Barrymore as the girl hero who helps to save the day, Richard Mulligan as the antagonist and Pat Morita as the toy master, all delivering some decent acting work as always.

Although the most well known from this years’ christmas movie featurette, the movie is still totally unknown in these parts of the woods and never was a part of our christmas tradition. After seeing it I doubt I’ll make it there either, but the little ones really seemed the enjoy the movie.

Babes in Toyland is enjoyable in the context of being a made-for-TV christmas movie with a well known cast, but adults without any nostalgic connection to the movie should probably look elsewhere for their christmas entertainment.

80s-o-meter: 64%

Total: 48%

#792 Xmas 2017: To All a Goodnight (1980)

The Christmas featurette for 2017 is going to be a short one – looks like I’m down to the last Christmas movies of the 80s that I know of. The first movie – To All a Goodnight – is another slasher where the killer happens to dress up as the Santa.

As some of you might be remember, this is a familiar concept from Silent Night, Deadly Night series and Christmas Evil, and it’s just as uninspired as the other ones. And it also happens to be the least christmassy one of them all.

To All a Goodnight is an amateurish early 80s slasher that runs pretty much exactly as you’d imagine it to, and even with its many technical flaws – like, the night shots being obviously just poorly dimmed day shots – isn’t bad enough to warrant any chuckles. It’s got your usual stuff like tits and multiple kills, but no suspension nor anything else original to really keep up any interest.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 24%