The Christmas Tapes is proof that anthologies work best around the Holidays.
The Christmas Tapes won’t become a Holiday tradition for most.
There is this weird media obsessed push to have fixed things you watch a key points of the year. My wife’s family watches the same VHS copy of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I know people that will watch A Christmas Story in 24 hour marathon cycles. So, you think giving them a collection of stories out of their norm might fly? Well, that’s a big No.
Starting off your Christmas tale on a home invasion is instantly going to shut down 35% of the audience. That’s fine, as these are the same chuckleheads currently killing theaters. After an opening tale about the dangers of camping during the Holidays, it’s not longer before we’re onto the second tape about a Santa with an advent fetish. Vernon Wells plays Santa in this one and damn if he didn’t make it work.
The rest of The Christmas Tapes takes us through Dave Sheridan starring as Paranormal Pete. Watch as he terrorizes a couple moving into a house with the glee of a demented Mr. Mxyzptlk. It’s a fun way to end the movie, but the second story is what carried The Christmas Tapes over the goal line.
That being said, enjoy the things you like as you encounter them.
We live in a society that polarizes one of two ways. It’s either everything is trash or you’re not allowed to dislike anything. However, when films land squarely in the middle, you get to watch viewer brains break in real time. For as much as we want to think we have progressed as a species, everything initially comes down to I Like It or I Hate It.
However, The Christmas Tapes is a movie that lives firmly in the middle. It’s not cohesive enough to approach the heights of Holiday themed Horror such as Krampus or Black Christmas. But, it’s not bad enough to join the rest of the bottom DTV shelf of the hollowed out shell of the former Blockbuster down the street. What we have at play is an unbalanced movie with moments of greatness dotted into a mess of could’ve been better.
Why so many Santa-themed Horror Tales?
The idea of Santa is creepy in and of itself. Santa Claus is an American egregore that defied any religious trappings you want to hang on him. The Santa Claus as you know it doesn’t exist until the 1830s with the publication of The Night Before Christmas. Many Americans at that time were illiterate, rural, isolated and many had different lore concepts of what made Saint Nick into a Santa Claus style figure. The Night Before Christmas was a mass produced poem designed to make a cohesive Santa myth for the American populace.
After all, Saint Nick was the patron saint of whores…not the Saint of wrangling Reindeers and Lego gift sets. So what’s an egregore? Well, it’s a mythological creature that can do anything as long as a group of people give it the power of belief. Subsonic flight? The ability to command exotic animals? How about producing matter out of thin air? All are possible, as the right amount of people continue to believe in him.
What was once used to bring a culture together, sell products and other things has naturally bled into horror. Why? Well, because if you give an old man the powers of a God with the restraint of unbridled Capitalism, the result is a monster. Just something to keep in mind as you delve through Christmas horror and each Christmas interpretation presented in The Christmas Tapes.
The innate horror of Christmas
Christmas horror thrives because it plays on subversion and tradition. You expect certain things from Christmas, as you have been trained to accept certain things since childhood. The Christmas Tapes leans into this with three or four bites at the apple. But, why horror tinged?
Well, because Santa and everything that comes with Christmas is inherently scary. No better part of The Christmas Tales nails down outside of Vernon Wells with his Advent concept. Anything can be perverted and tarnished if you apply the right amount of elbow grease to make it get under a person’s skin.
Great stuff all around that would make for a great side feature to Holiday viewing this Christmas season!