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The Bootleg Files: The Norelco Santa Commercials

BOOTLEG FILES 666: “The Norelco Santa Commercials” (long-running television advertising campaign).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: No perceived home entertainment market for old TV commercials.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

Every Christmas season, certain programming is dusted off for an annual television broadcast. But for those of us who admit to being a certain age, there is one holiday favorite that always made the December television line-up worthwhile. No, it wasn’t a movie or a standalone special. Instead, it was a simple but effective 30-second commercial for a company specializing in electric razors.

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Casper’s Haunted Christmas (2000)

Less budget, and less stars, this time Casper’s adventures are reduced to a pretty crummy animated feature where Casper teams up with another spunky young girl. She’s a girl facing a crisis about Christmas and she needs the help of… Casper. Makes sense, I guess. “Casper’s Haunted Christmas” is a noticeably bargain basement style production compared to the previous movies, all the while the animation is often weird and the narrative nonsensical.

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Tales of the Third Dimension (1984)

I swear, there’s nothing more baffling and unusual than “Tales of the Third Dimension,” a horror anthology of cobbled together horror tropes that doesn’t deliver a remotely scary movie. There’s a stiff, robotic skeleton who narrates in a bad Rod Serling impression. He’s accompanied by three puppet buzzards that interact with one another like the Three Stooges, and there’s the inexplicable recurring presence of cats. It was originally supposed to be in 3D, so there are a ton of scenes obviously meant for the gimmick that just looks laugh out loud moronic sans the effect. Finally there are three bland horror tales where, I swear, the moral of one is “Be a good kid, and Santa Claus will defend you against your psychotic, mentally deranged, wheelchair bound grandmother.”

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Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

nightmare-before-xmasIN SELECT THEATERS OCTOBER 28THAlthough Henry Selick does a damn fine job of directing what is one of the most entertaining stop motion animated films, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” has Tim Burton’s stamp all over it. It’s about an outcast, a love for the Gothic and Halloween, and it’s unabashedly menacing. Though Henry Selick’s animated movie was originally touted to kids, the film is very much a dark and harrowing narrative about monsters from the Halloweentown infiltrating the Christmastown, and using the traditions and rituals to terrorize random victims. One montage even features kids getting very creepy presents like a shrunken head, and a snake. Jack Skellington is the pumpkin king who is the anti-hero that finds himself restless with Halloween and accidentally becomes the villain when he falls in love with Christmas.

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Krampus (2015)

Krampus-1Michael Dougherty is brilliant at completely rethinking and reformatting our image of popular holidays and the lore the masses have subscribed to for centuries. After doing an amazing job with Halloween, Dougherty tackles Christmas with what is easily one of the most demented holiday horror films ever made. “Krampus” is an intelligent horror comedy based around the lunacy of the holiday and how the hollow rituals and traditions practiced can build a sense of cynicism and pure hatred for what is supposed to be a fine time of year.

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Northpole: Open for Christmas (2015)

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Yes, primarily Hallmark have used the “Northpole” movies to sell whatever kitschy Christmas ornament they’re touting for the year, but they’ve accidentally built a neat Christmas movie series I want to see more of. Years ago, I would have really loved the adventures of Clementine the Elf, and her quest to restore the Christmas spirit in one unhappy soul. Right now, she’s still a charming Christmas heroine played by the always adorable Bailee Madison. Madison doesn’t even have to do much to look like an Elf, as she’s given pointy ears, and achieves the rest with her wide smile, and large saucer eyes.

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A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

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“A Christmas Horror Story” tries to do for Christmas that “Trick r Treat” did for Halloween, and really just ends as a mediocre effort with best intentions. While the efforts of the collective filmmakers to deliver a Christmas anthology for the horror crowd isn’t an awful movie by any means, it’s still a mixed bag of stories, all of which vary in tone and leave the overall film feeling bipolar in some respects. It even reaches for a clever surprise ending that just felt like a cheat for the sake of an obligatory “Gotcha!”

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Northpole (2014) (DVD)

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Part one in an apparent movie series from Hallmark Entertainment, “Northpole” is a cute film about Christmas, and trying to preserve the happiness. Literally. It’s a simple and down to Earth movie that celebrates the more entertaining aspects of the holiday, while also building on a new hero in the form of elf Clementine. Bailee Madison is the definition of adorable as the rambunctious cherubic elf, desperately trying to keep the North Pole from dying what with the happiness of Christmas fading away in a sea of unfortunate cynicism. “North Pole” depends on Madison’s enthusiastic performance, and as always, she steals the movie. “North Pole” has its fair share of silliness, but it’s a fine Christmas movie with amusing quirks that I sat through with ease.

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