Titled Il Natale Che Quasi Non Fu in Italian, The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t (1966) smells of dubbing, greasy men, and the 60s. A down on his luck lawyer nets Santa as his client protecting him from an uncaring landlord named Prune. Santa owes rent and has to pay or get evicted. Christmas Carols, The Re-Gifter, Humbug FM, Toy Manufacturing, Creepy Looking Toys. “Fall in line, kids. You’ve been drafted into the cartoon army”, “Yeah, the war on Christmas starts earlier every year”, “He’ll be perfect for the window display!” “Fire Curtain, the movie” or “we’re geting nachos”?
MST3K has a glorious history of finding weird Xmas movies. Part of me wonders if Chrismas Dragon will be weird enough. Anyway, this follows the pattern of weirdness, but it’s got a really off vibe to it that the earlier ones didn’t. It’s not quite sinister, not quite sleazy, but it’s something.
Holy Cow! Prunes butler is the “Execute them!” Crusty old dude from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure!
For what it’s worth, there are not many Christmas movies out there that start out with people being roasted alive by dragonfire, have sequences lifted from/“inspired by” Lord of the Rings, and give Santa a hard as hell Gerard Butler accent.
I found The Christmas Dragon plenty weird. Weirder than The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t at the very least, which was childish but not very interesting. Christmas Dragon was at least equal parts earnest and stupid in ways that reminded me of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. That was just my thoughts when I watched it at any rate.
Hark! A vagrant!
Jonathan the Clerk appeared in some of the old Kay Kyser movies.
The songs were the most bizarre part of this movie for me. Legitimately the worst written “musical” I’ve ever been subjected to, though really there weren’t even enough numbers to call it that lol
When you’ve got a name like Phineas T. Prune, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll become a bitter misanthrope.
And at least the movie’s It’s a Wonderful Life tribute wasn’t yet another “I wish I had never been born” segment.
I liked the idea of the Regifter so much that I made one out of origami. Kind of a fun gimmick.
“Wow, this is heavy.”
“There weren’t enough” is a phrase applicable to essentially every aspect except the Italian quality. Emotion, plausibility, story, motivation, realism, magic, warmth. The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t (1966) is that Easter Candy bought in a discount store in May. Stale, cheap, lackluster, and no one is buying. Perfect for our beloved show though.
For the “emotion” part…how much of that is from the original language version and how much of that is from the dub though?
Good point. There is a disconnect. Then again, that even applies to the Dollars Trilogy and Sergio Leone. The Italian sound post filming approach impacted every film of the period similarly. The performances, facial expressions, physical movement, and intensity of Wasn’t (1966) seen onscreen portrays to me going through the motions and automatic pilot separate from the disconnected soundtrack. Does the dubbing exaggerate this? Yes. Is the apathy there underneath it? Yes.
A variation of the line from Leave The Bronx may be applicable here. It’s an outrageously funny Italian comedy and we just don’t get it. For real, I’m guessing a lot of the humor did get lost in translation. But its absolute unabashed weirdness did fully win me over on the second viewing. It was referenced in earlier incarnations of the show. The Day The Earth Froze mentions it, for instance. As does Santa v. Martians. So obviously it was a movie they’d hoped to get hold of for quite some time.
Oh, and I think some of the weird vibe comes from that title font, which totally looks like it came from a yard sale at Dario Argento’s house. And the weird way that Whipple’s lit and/or made up throughout.
It starts off strong with “Hark! A Vagrant!” Meanders somewhat midway through, but then regains all its oomph! with Prune getting on ebay to load up on toys after all his new friends go home, and our casts’ own take on the Happy Holiday montage. Plus, there’s the big reveal that Santa’s been Jewish all along. (“Don’t touch that, you PUTZ!!”)
My second-favorite episode of S11.
The freeze frame concluding Host Segment is one of my top favorites of the Netflix era!
One of the creepiest christmas movies I’ve ever seen… This episode gets a bit dull in certain spots but I still liked it a lot.
Riffing was great.
Never underestimate the recording everything later effect on these films. The Italians then didn’t capture any sound during Principal Photography and layered voices and dialogue in during Post-Production while making the Sound Mix. This included domestic and international prints. It was all dubbed. To any wit lost in the various dubs? It’s possible but looking at the rest of the film I can’t detect a clue visually or in the production that was so.
Oh, Bruce! Next you’re gonna tell me that all those MTV videos were lip-synced!