Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Insanity Claus

Over the years, Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy have seen- and made fun of- a lot of bad and/or unusual films, first on Mystery Science Theater 3000, and then through Rifftrax. Just in time for the Christmas season, they've unwrapped a lump of coal that makes Manos: The Hands of Fate, often considered the worst film they've ever riffed on, look like Casablanca. As far as Christmas "presents" go, it even out-insanes the Star Wars Holiday Special- which is no easy task. It's...Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny.

Directed by Barry Mahon (believed to be the real-life inspiration for Steve McQueen's character in The Great Escape), this bizarre film is in fact no more than an earlier adaptation of Thumbelina with a Christmas wrap-around. And product placement for a Florida theme park called Pirates World, an odd-looking place that, not surprisingly, was eventually driven out of business by a certain other Florida theme park that had just opened when this film was released in 1972.

A sample from the Rifftrax:

Seriously, this thing must be seen to be believed. The Thumbelina portion is pretty strange, but the Santa Claus wraparound is even more so- especially the climax (if you can call it that), when the titular Ice Cream Bunny makes his grand entrance, which is perhaps both the most WTF and hilarious sequence ever immortalized on celluloid. Not to mention the already strange source material makes this possibly one of the funniest MST3K/Rifftrax outings in history. I encourage you to stop reading this immediately and download the pre-synched film as soon as possible- it is quite possibly the best $10 you will spend this Christmas.

For those who aren't already convinced: a brief description- brief in that I can't do this justice in text and also that I'm trying to block it out of my memory:

Santa Claus is stranded on a beach in Florida for some reason. Santa is also apparently drunk, sweaty, and is using his red suit as a makeshift toilet. (Seriously, what's with the seat of his pants?) Santa calls some kids to help him free. The tone-deaf kids, who are always singing for some reason, try different animals in order to get Santa's sleigh loose. None of them work, possibly because they didn't even try to attach them to Santa's sleigh. Santa tells the kids not to give up hope, and begins to tell the story of Thumbelina, which he says is about believing in yourself and never giving up hope, but whose true message seems to be "animals are horny and they all want to marry human girls." Said story of Thumbelina is presented through dioramas at Pirates World being looked at by a young girl while a voice from a PA system tells the story. And this story is supposedly being told by Santa, whose own story also has a narrator. So basically, we have like five levels of narration going on here. Anyway, the story ends and Santa is eventually saved by the Ice Cream Bunny (who apparently has no connection to ice cream other than his name), who poorly drives his fire truck through Pirates World (perhaps his eye that keeps voluntarily closing is to blame for his poor motor skills) and eventually ("eventually" being the operative word here) makes his way to set Old St. Nick free. Santa's sleigh magically disappears from the beach (if he could do that the whole time, why didn't he do that before?), but not before Santa bids the kids farewell with some not-at-all-encouraging words: "We've, uh, established that we'll try to make it, won't we?" Also, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are there and do absolutely nothing.

But seriously, words can't describe this thing. Nor can facial expressions, shadow puppets, pantomime, Morse code, semaphore, or any other form of communication. The only way to experience the mind-blowing mind-blowingness of Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny. With Rifftrax along for the ride, it's both hilarious and frightening. What better way to spend Christmas? Well, I can think of a lot of better ways to spend Christmas. But none more entertaining as this.

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