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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

RiffTrax Christmas Review: Christmas Shorts

Three more days until Christmas, and here’s another RiffTrax Christmas movie. This time, I’m doing some Christmas shorts: the newest ones, and a sprinkling of older ones. All of these can be found on the RiffTrax website.

Full explanation of my ranking system is here. Summary: C is average, A/B is recommended, D is badly made, F is something to avoid.

The Snowman

Rating: B+

When RiffTrax does an old-timey cartoon, it’s worth a watch. The underlying cartoon is always a weird experience, even without the added mockery.

In this case, the cartoon is about denizens of a polar region who build a snowman, bring it to life with ceremonial magic, and then have to deal with its sudden rampage.

Favorite Lines:

“I’m starting to get a Wicker Man vibe from this!”
“I think this guy was a boss in Cuphead.”

December Holidays

Rating: B

One of those school educational films you saw in grade school for social studies, or whatever they call it now. This teaches you about three December holidays from different parts of the world and how they are exactly the same because people all over the world celebrate December holidays to take their minds off the cold and darkness outside, even in places where it’s not that cold or dark in December!

Favorite Lines:

“The serving tool symbolizes the … the great spatula that is God’s love!”
“Cosplaying Jughead is a treasured family tradition!”

Alias St. Nick

Rating: B+

Another old-timey cartoon, this time about a hungry cat pretending to be Santa so he can eat any mice who don’t believe in Santa.

Word of warning: like evil Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life”, the little mouse who doesn’t believe in Santa doesn’t get his come-uppance at the end. How is this even a Christmas cartoon?

Favorite Lines:

(after a skeptic mouse doubts Santa is real) “Merlin does it all with the help of a tongue computer and a skunk!”
“AGH! Santa’s butthole!”

Spunky the Snowman

Rating: B+

Another old-timey cartoon. One could argue that the title would not have meant back then the same thing it means now, but the guys at RiffTrax don’t. The story is similar to Frosty the Snowman, except Spunky is created to deliver mail. Everything that follows is just crazy.

Favorite Lines:

“Wild animals LOVE letters!”
“A snowman sledding is like a human riding through flesh.”
“That’s what Santa’s known for, right? Killing animals with his breath?”

Santa Claus’ Workshop

Rating: B

A live-action short. I think it was a theatrical short, back in the days when movie theaters ran a bunch of shorts and cartoons in addition to the main feature. I mean, it can’t possibly be an educational short, can it? It teaches nothing. Unless it’s meant to explain why most kids don’t get toys: Santa only delivers to one house a year!

Favorite Lines:

“Can’t tell if he’s proud of the toy, or mocking it savagely.”
“And they’ve made enough toys for … two houses.”
“Wait, Mothra sings Christmas carols.”

There are plenty of other Christmas-themed shorts, both animated and not. But if you like shorts, you need to consider:

RiffTrax Live: Christmas Shorts-stravaganza!

Rating: A+

This is a collection of shorts available on DVD or as a digital download, recorded at a live performance. You could get each of the individual shorts separately, but these aren’t the live versions and won’t include a special appearance by Weird Al Yankovic. (The short Al does really has nothing to do with Christmas, but it’s damned funny.)

The other shorts are funny, too, but one cartoon alone makes the whole live performance worth it: a very weird version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Favorite Line:


(Sorry, you’ll just have to get it to find out why this is the funniest riff ever, and why it makes you forget all the other quite decent riffs.)

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