Holiday Horrible-thon Part 1: All Dogs Go To Christmas

Holy crap, where to begin. In past holiday marathons I usually curate a few handfuls of killer Santa movies, with some cheesy made for tv specials and with any luck, some K. Gordon Murray magic. As you may recall, last year's marathon was para-titled "14 movies in 3 days", which isn't nothing. This year I started early due to some unexpected time off. I decided to divide my time between cross stitching and shitty movie watching. The two just go hand in hand. Generally, I start Christmas Eve, If we have company I throw on whichever looks to have the most crowd appeal. Christmas Day is ALWAYS a day of rest. We stay in and watch as many Christmas movies as possible while enjoying our gifts and leftovers, and then the day after Christmas I cap the marathon. I could go up to the new year, but I usually am all holiday'd out by the 26th. Plus I need some Vitamin D and food that is not ham or candy. This year I reached new depths of Holiday insanity. Between my early-December craft sessions and my usual three day marathon I watched a shocking 40 Christmas movies. FORTY. That's not a round number for the month, I haven't made that calculation yet. A record breaking forty-fucking-Christmas movies starring people like Tori Spelling and Jonathan Taylor Thomas. No wonder I'm exhausted. My usual countdown seemed too overwhelming for this number, especially since some were pretty forgettable. Since my hands were basically in constant brainless motion, I decided to pick films that were similarly constantly in brainless motion. What came to pass was an endless loop of Christmas dog movies. How many could there be, you might wonder? An INCALCULABLE amount. Or at least like, 75.

How many did I watch?: 6 , and 1 cat movie. I wish I could flip that ratio but I think it's safe to say that people who love Christmas, hate cats, Because cats or cat owners are the villains in nost of these movies.

So OK, let's do an official Atomic Caravan Holiday Dog Movie Count Down...

6. Adventures of Bailey: A Christmas Hero (2012)

None of these movies are "good", but nothing made me a cringe like the Adventures of Bailey. For starters, I can assure you he is NOT a Christmas Hero, in fact, he basically ruined Christmas for everyone. There's a borderline racist plot involving Native Americans and whether or not they celebrate Christmas. Bailey runs off to see the Indian Medicine man, gets himself and his brother lost, his brother almost DIES from eating poisoned berries. When the medicine man finds and saves his brother, they learn that Native Americans can speak to dogs so they have a conversation about the meaning of Christmas. The kid in this movie has no charisma at all and comes off as a total brat. The film spends a lot of time talking about about how they have to find Bailey and Duke, while not actually doing anything at all. Also, I might have missed something but when the parents drop the kid off at their Quarter-Cherokee Grandpa's house for the weekend, it's not clear to me why the other kids didn't go since they have three children. WHO'S WATCHING THE CHILDREN? Could they just not afford to pay all three kids for that day? This is the kind of movie I would have found lame at any age. No attempt at being entertaining or appealing to kids, just awkward sentimental bullshit. It's insulting.

5. The 12 Dogs of Christmas (2005)

Slightly less nauseating because there seemed to be some actual effort put into the production design, wardrobe and casting. The story is again, totally lame and un-fun, but everything comes together like a real movie at least. They're not totally taking us for a ride. Set in the 1930's, a girl is sent to her estranged Aunt's when her Dad can no longer afford to keep her. Her Aunt lives in a town that hates dogs, There's apparently an old law that says no dogs allowed, she and some other dog lovers save all the dogs, etc, etc. This was the only Christmas animal movie I saw where the dogs didn't speak. They tried to play this one straight, a little too straight for my taste. This was the boring dog movie of the marathon. At least I hated Bailey. I hated it enough to have an engaging roast in my head while watching it. The tone here is just too serious. The one thing it had going for it was a VARIETY of dogs. Is that really a reason to watch a movie?

4. Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups (2012)

There's an inexplicable allure to the many straight-to-video entries in the Air Bud franchise. I don't exactly know how it's come this far. Was Air Bud even good to begin with? I can't remember. It must be like the Witchcraft series. The first wasn't good but it was probably a little better than expected so they signed off on 4,000 sequels. This one stars Mrs. Claus, played by Cheryl Ladd, who's more of a Mary Poppins kind of character than any Mrs. Claus I've ever seen. She goes to a town filled with Christmas spirit to try and find a new um, human representative or something? She doesn't realize she's harboring the Santa Puppies and that they've stolen the head elf's (Mickey from Seinfeld) magic crystal which grants wishes. When a kid passively wishes everyone's Christmas spirit would go away, and it does, all the dumb Christmas movie shit starts happening. Gotta save Christmas, so on and so forth. This one was easier to digest than the previous two, that certainly doesn't make it a good movie. Mediocre, at best. The little girl sings "Oh Holy Night" and got that shit stuck in my head HARD. The weirdest, and most notable visual was Santa's bizarre hair piece...

3. The Search for Santa Paws (2010)

I Thought this was the first one, though apparently Santa Buddies is, and I didn't get around to that one. So, supposing I didn't miss anything, which I doubt, Santa Paws was surprisingly, mildly enjoyable. It suffers from all of the same problems that a talking dog Christmas movie WOULD, but it caught me off guard with it's ambitious fantasy element. The magic icicle, crystals and lots of good screen cap moments. The sentiments are still relatively worthless but for a puff piece, it's really not so bad. I found it relaxing to craft by.

2. Beethoven's Christmas Adventure (2011)

Now we're backsliding from mediocre to so-bad-it's-good. Nothing's ever really "good" when you're dealing with this stuff. Honestly, this one got me conceptually. Beethoven is another weird animal Franchise I would have never expected to spawn so many sequels. We all know that Charles Grodin made the first two movies good (And ALL movies with Charles Grodin, right?). I always felt they had sort of a Jon and Garfield type of relationship, and it works. Boy does it work. But without Charles Grodin, these movies aren't cute. Who are these people who now inhabit Beethoven's life? What happened to Charles Grodin? Excuse me, George Newton? Do I want to know? Not really. But what you all must know about the course Beethoven's life took is that he now talks and his voice is TOM ARNOLD. What I find really disturbing about this casting choice is that history has now been re-written. He was Tom Arnold all along. I feel betrayed.

1. Hercules Saves Christmas (2011)

If there's one talking dog Christmas movie you see, let it be Hercules Saves Christmas. It's just full of weird. There is SO much wrong with this movie that it completely implodes on itself with Wiseauian precision. Let's start with the casting: The "kid" is not a kid at all, he's basically an adult. He could probably buy cigarettes and vote. The man who it is implied will become his adoptive father is in my opinion, too YOUNG. He looks mid-thirties at the latest. There's also something off about the cast of elves, extremely unprofessional and bordering dwarfsploitation. I also thought that a pit bull was a strange choice for a kids movie lead dog. I like pit bulls as much as the next guy, or any docile canine that isn't trying to rip my face off. From a practical stand point, they kind of have a reputation and also they just don't have the same visual cuddly appeal that a Golden Retriever or St. Bernard has. After a bit of research I found out that the creator of the animal planet show "Pit Boss" is responsible for this mess. It all made sense after that. It's essentially a vanity project in the form of a talking dog Christmas movie. Who could ask for more? Hercules is Shorty's real life pit bull, which explains the lack of um, star power? He also does the voice for Hercules AND plays the priest at the orphanage. I also have a better understanding of why the elf population is so erratic. They're dog wranglers, not actors. In addition to the cast being totally bizarre, the general tone of this film is so off. Long stretches with no music, weird editing choices, parody level green screen fantasy sequences and a villain that is painted up like a Juggalo. At one point during a particular awkward piece of dialog, I was reminded of the infamous so-bad-it's-good masterpiece "Ben and Arthur", if that gives you any idea what level this reaches. This is one of the most entertaining movies I've seen all month and I wouldn't have discovered if I hadn't committed so much time to New Dogsmas. So in the end, it was all worth it. I've found a new garbage fart to add to the hall of fame.  A classic to revisit, time and time again. It's a Christmas miracle.


Santa Claws (2014)

I watched a very different kind of Christmas movie called Santa Claws last year. Paralleled only by season and probably budget. This one was put out by Asylum, so you know the drill. It has a Christmas story arch that really gets on my nerves. The whole; not believing in Santa in a world where Santa really exists. This is VERY perplexing. If he exists then isn't it kind of irrefutable? I mean, gifts show up for children. Wouldn't it be like this insane phenomenon? So in Santa Claws, a girl actually sees him turn to gold dust and tornado himself up her chimney but then grows into a woman who doesn't believe in Santa. And in turn won't let her kid celebrate Christmas. Not even a tree, not even a present. So RUDE, almost abusive. The kittens save Christmas, and make her a believer again. That's all I got. While I appreciate that someone said "HEY, enough with the Dog movies, can we get like ONE Christmas Cat movie?". Here it is. Take it or leave it.

In Part 2 I'll give a more general breakdown of some of the highs and lows in the non-dog related Holiday Horrible-Thon. Bye for now!

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