Tag Archives: Countdown to Christmas

#5, 4, 3, 2, & 1 – Countdown to Christmas: DIE HARD

Anyone who reads this site with any regularity should already know how I feel about the Die Hard franchise, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it made the list. And truth is, I’d rather watch this 5 times in a row than watch any other movie on the list once. Hence, it’s representation of # 1-5. Yippee ki-yay.

I will assume every has already seen Die Hard, but as a refresh, here we go: John McClane is a cop from New York who goes to a Christmas party at his wife’s new office, the Nakatomi Plaza in LA. After arriving John takes off his shoes and all hell breaks loose. Hans Gruber and his group of “terrorists” brake in and take everyone hostage. Everyone that is except for barefoot John. From here McClane proceeds to sneak around the building, talking shit and killing members of Hans’ team…


As the movie progresses John kills more and more of Hans’ men, and we remain in awe at his ability to do it all without shoes. Eventually we learn that Hans is in fact not a terrorist, but instead just a very clever thief, and once it becomes apparent that Santa Claus in not gonna swoop in and save the day then it falls solely into the lap of John to save Christmas. And save Christmas he does. Barefoot.

With no available chimneys our hero is forced into the building’s venting system to deliver his presents (bullets) to Hans.

This allows him the opportunity to rescue his estranged wife Holly and her co-workers.

Well, at least most of her co-workers…


So in honor of the fallen, we give Die Hard 25/5.


http://youtu.be/bIbAOlvf0qs

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#6 – Countdown to Christmas: SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT PART 2

Few, if any Christmas movies ever really exemplify the true spirit of the holiday. Too often we are inundated with commercial messages, and magical reindeer, and a complete and utter lack of brutal murders. Well, that’s not the case in Lee Harry‘s masterpiece Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2, which focused on what really matters at Christmas time – punishing the naughty.

In the first Silent Night Deadly Night, Billy grows up in an orphange and is a rather unhappy child, perhaps it’s cause Santa Claus (the real one I assume) shot his dad and raped and murdered his mom. Right in front of him. Yikes!  That must make sitting on Mall Santa’s lap an even more terrifying experience than normal. Anyhow, once Billy grows up, he decides that he too will dress like Santa and murder people who he deems to be ‘naughty’. It all seems justified to me…

In Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2, Billy’s younger brother Ricky decides to take up the mantle of ‘murderous Santa’.  This is particularly interesting since the murder of his parents, which is the event that inspired his brother to kill, he was far too young to remember. That means, since he credits the same event as his inspiration, the stories told to him as a kid must’ve been pretty explicit.

Ricky is so intense…

Now director Lee Harry made a pretty interesting choice here, he shot the 2nd movie using the mostly recycled footage from the first movie as Ricky has flashback after flashback to events he was not present for. Like Brody’s wife in the 4th Jaws movie. So after Ricky, who never says a word without furiously moving his eyebrows, tells us about all the stuff Billy did in the first movie, it’s time for him to flashback to some of his own kills. Amazingly, no matter how far back a story goes, Ricky never seems age. Anyhow, we hear about him killing a man with an umbrella and that’s where it all began.

Eventually Ricky stops with the flashbacks and starts getting in some fresh kills, and one in particular has become increasingly popular since the invent of YouTube…

So as you can see, the Internet really appreciates strong acting. The sheer power behind Ricky’s eyes on Garbage Day is unforgettable and for that reason, as well as the respect paid here to the first movie, I give SNDN2 a solid 5/5.

#7 – Countdown to Christmas: ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS

I hope all of our readers are getting in the holiday spirit – our countdown is winding right down!  For today’s installment, I pay tribute to 1988’s classic comedy, Ernest Saves Christmas. As I’m sure you all agree, the collection of Ernest movies are the top-tier of incredible film making.  His characters are unforgettable, his facial expressions are laughable, and they exhibit the ultimate in story-telling and delivery.  Know what I mean, Vern?

In Ernest Saves Christmas, Ernest must – you guessed it – save Christmas.  Santa Claus is getting on in years and must pass down his profession to Joe, who Santa has chosen to carry on the torch.  However, when Joe is reluctant to believe and his lazy-eyed agent is annoyed by his presence, Santa is thrown in jail and must save Christmas – with the help of Ernest P. Worrell, of course.

Now, if it’s one thing Ernest can do, it is impersonate bizarre characters, and this film is replete with them.  His seedy congressman character springs Santa out of jail.  His dentally-challenged back country snake farmer gets Santa into a closed movie set to speak with Joe.  And who can forget the curmudgeon old woman with the neck brace – my personal favorite.

In the end, Joe embraces the magic of Christmas and steps up to be the new Santa Claus.  Ernest saves Christmas, it snows in Florida, and Santa can get back to being the Sultan of Agrabah.  It truly is a Christmas miracle!

I submit that if you do not find the character of Ernest enjoyable, you are either lacking a sense of humor or you were born without a childhood.  These movies are freaking hilarious.  Good for the whole family to enjoy.  Plus, as adults, we can make a nice drinking game and take a shot every time Ernest says, “Know what I mean?”

Ernest embodies everything great that the 80s had to offer, right down to his styling wardrobe.  Jim Varney (may he rest in peace) is like so many other great artists – his brilliance was never fully appreciated.  I won’t say he was type-cast, at least not to his relatives, but found a niche as one character and one character only, and played the shit out of it.  I have to give him major respect for that.

2/5 Snoopies, Vern!


#9 – Countdown to Christmas: CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS

There is nothing on TV that gets me in the Christmas spirit quite as much as A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Released in 1965, it is a timeless classic that endures for many fellow lovers of the holiday season. Charlie Brown we all know and love as the ho-hum, down-on-his-luck grade school boy with the yellow and black shirt.  In this particular made-for-TV special, Charlie Brown searches for the true meaning of Christmas.  In his conversations with his fellow classmates, he realizes how commercialized Christmas has become.  There are Christmas cards to give out.  There are pageants to organize.  His sister is more focused on her letter of demands to Santa.  Even Snoopy has bought into the hype, decorating his dog house like a Macy’s Christmas float.

snoopy-xmas

And then, Linus has the answer.  Readers, you may have a wide range of beliefs, but there’s something incredibly sweet and innocent about the way Linus recites the Christmas story.  There’s something incredibly poetic about Charlie Brown’s love for a wimpy Christmas tree, shunned by everyone, in which he can see so much of himself.  He is able to take something everyone sees as ugly and make it beautiful.  And then the kids sing with their faces in the air and their mouths open wide.

I have always enjoyed the humor and the heartwarming stories that the Charlie Brown cartoons have told.  The Christmas special reminds us to slow down at Christmas time and remember what it’s really about – celebration, family, of giving.

As a musician, I appreciate the soundtrack almost as much as the story.  Vince Guilardi’s jazz piano carols are some of the few holiday tunes I can stomach, let alone enjoy, every year.  All of these reasons make A Charlie Brown Christmas a top contender on my list of holiday favorites.

5/5.

#10 – Countdown to Christmas: WHITE CHRISTMAS

To me, there are few films more classic and heartwarming around the holiday season than Irving Berlin’s 1954 masterpiece, White Christmas.  Comedy!  Drama!  Romance!  Song and dance routines!  Men dressed up as women!  This film really has it all.

White Christmas focuses around the vocal stylings of two of the time’s greatest singers: Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney.  Throw in colorful characters like “Mr. Slapstick” Danny Kaye, and “I’m not really singing but check out my sick dance moves” Vera-Ellen and you have a party just waiting to happen.

Crosby and Kaye play Wallace and Davis, two army vets who are now a somewhat popular traveling song and dance act.  Clooney and Ellen are the Haynes sisters, same profession, but slightly less popular.  The two pairs meet and in their adventures find a failing inn in Vermont that is owned by Wallace’s and Davis’ former commanding general in the army.  Determined to save their hero’s business, the four put on a show at the inn to bring in guests and revenue.  They put on the show (with a little relationship drama, of course) and the inn is saved!  Hooray!

This film also gave birth to the very popular holiday song of the same name.

White-Christmas

There’s just something about movies made from the 40s and 50s.  Sometimes I feel like they just don’t make them like they used to.  A good song-and-dance routine can really push me over the edge.  And men just don’t wear their pants as high as they used to.  Ah, those were the days.

4/5.