New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments 62: Christmas Evil

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I hope you’re not planning on asking Santa for a lifetime subscription to Penthouse magazine or you’re in for it. Released the same year as To All a Good Night, Christmas Evil is the true classic of Christmas horror films. If Psycho and Halloween are looked at as pioneering films in the genre, Christmas Evil holds the same honor when it comes to Christmas horror movies. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Silent Night, Deadly Night, but the majority of Christmas Evil was actually filmed right here in New Jersey. Originally released as You Better Watch Out and also known as Terror in Toyland, this largely overlooked horror movie offers dark humor and a creepy, yet yuletide atmosphere.

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Can you dig it? Santa traded in his sleigh for a custom van!

It’s a familiar story, one that has been copied numerous times after the release of both Christmas Evil and To All a Good Night. At the time in 1980, these two films just seemed like cheap throwaway horror film gimmicks, but to many horror film buffs they are classics now.

You can read about Christmas Evil all over the Internet, but the basic gist of it is that on Christmas 1947 little Harry loses his shit and starts cutting himself after witnessing Santa Claus getting naughty with his mother. When Harry realizes it was his father under the Santa suit he grows up wanting to be like the Santa he thought existed. Fast forward to his adult years, Harry has become straight up obsessed with Christmas and becoming Santa. He even keeps a book of all the good and bad kids around town. Dressed as Santa, Harry begins to go on a rampage around town to right all the wrongs he’s witnessed in various ways. The difference about this film and other Santa slashers is that Harry is actually playing a moral judge, he’s just not going around hacking up everyone in his path.

In the horror sub genre of Christmas or Holiday horror films, there aren’t too many that are worth revisiting. Christmas Evil is the type of perennial classic that you can go back to in the same way you re-watch A Christmas Story and How The Grinch Stole Christmas every holiday season. Every time I watch it I wonder why it hasn’t been labelled the quintessential Christmas horror movie yet. Is Silent Night Deadly Night better? I don’t think it is and neither do my fellow bloggers:

“It’s one of my favorite film endings of all time, the absolute perfect end cap to what is a madly magical film.” – Freddy in Space

“…the pedigree of most holiday-themed slasher movies isn’t very high, but Christmas Evil is pretty exceptional.” As perfectly summed up at Marcus’ Movie Life

And while I disagree with his Silent Night Deadly Night sentiment, I tend to agree with Charles Tatum’s Review overall which states that “Christmas Evil belongs just below Gremlins and Black Christmas and well above Elves and the moronic Silent Night Deadly Night when it comes to the unique Christmas horror genre.”

After a little girl says to him “Santa, your shirt’s dirty,” Harry replies “There’s a…a lot of pollution between here and the North Pole.” That sure is true, and although it’s never claimed outright in the film, the story itself takes place in suburban New Jersey. At least from my countless viewings over the years, aside from a couple of glimpses of NJ license plates, Christmas Evil doesn’t mention the state except for thanking Montclair and Glen Ridge in the closing credits.

Also check out Christmas Evil at one of our favorite horror blogs, Kindertrauma!

NJ T-Shirt Tuesday 73: Shamrocking New Jersey

St. Patrick's Day T-Shirts 1
Charcoal New Jersey Shamrock T-Shirt available at Cafe Press 
I Shamrock New Jersey! Tee available at Fresh Tease

Can’t decide what to wear for St. Patrick’s Day? Is your Leprechaun costume still getting dry cleaned? Look no further than our T-Shirt selections to wear on St. Patrick’s Day this year.

Christmas, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day all get accused of being too commercialized, but what about St.Patrick’s Day? It’s just another reason to sell green decorations and candy and plaster everything with shamrocks. Instead of just wearing St.Paddy’s themed t-shirts, the wearing of the green has been blown completely out of proportion since people also spray their hair and skin green as well.

St. Patrick’s Day is getting out of hand. If any holiday deserves to be even more commercialized than it already is it’s Halloween, the most fun time of the year for kids and adults alike. St. Patrick’s day is supposed to be a religious celebration yet it’s become mostly about going out and getting trashed. This may be fun for those of legal drinking age, but what about the kids? At least there’s the Shamrock Shakes at McDonald’s because without those St. Patrick’s Day sucks for kids.

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Hoboken Shamrock T-Shirt available at Solid Threads
I (Shamrock) Love New Jersey available at Skreened

Since the beginning of the month, all over New Jersey there have been St.Patrick’s Day parades rolling through main streets of towns. The earliest St. Patrick’s day parade in New Jersey took place in Morristown in 1780, and since then, the whole thing has snowballed from there. The celebration is now a month long event rather than just one weekend. In case you miss a parade in one town, you can go to another town’s parade the next weekend.

All right, so maybe I’m a humbug, but all St. Patrick’s Day seems to be about is getting shitfaced in bars from green beer. The parades create tons of traffic, and the excessive drinking makes people puke green behind every corner. There’s also cops everywhere you turn looking to hand out tickets for public intoxication with their “zero tolerance” policy. Instead of getting caught up in all that, maybe I’ll pick up some mint chocolate chip ice cream, turn on Weezer’s Green Album and have a Sexy Armpit style St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Hopefully I’ll get a visit from my green friends, The Great Gazoo, Slimer, and Sludgey, The Sexy Armpit mascot.

How The Grinch Stole New Jersey

The Christmas season has officially kicked off and The Sexy Armpit’s iPod has been cranking out the holiday tunes, but there’s one song that I forgot to put on there! “Mr. Grinch,” a 1995 alt-rock cover version by The Whirling Dervishes who hailed from Westfield, NJ.

The Whirling Dervishes got some airplay on MTV and they were were pretty big in the local Jersey rock scene in the ’80s and ’90s. Members of the band went on to form Everlounge, who frequently plays original rocking lounge music in bars and clubs around The Garden State. Whether you’re a New Jersey native or not, their version of “Mr. Grinch” is a must add to your Holiday playlist.

Everlounge will be playing at:
The Stage House
Scotch Plains, NJ
on 1/7/11

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=thesexarm-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B000003TFL&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

Starland Ballroom Food Drive ’09

This release was taken from the Starland Ballroom Newsletter:

The Middlesex County Food Organization and Outreach Distribution Services (M.C.F.O.O.D.S) is in desperate need of food donations, and Starland fans are asked to lend a hand by bringing a canned food item to any Starland show in November and December. And we’re not looking for decade old Sloppy Joe mix either: The present economic woes are affecting those in need harder than ever. Please help us help others this holiday season and bring a can to your next Starland show. For more info on how you can help M.C.F.O.O.D.S visit their official website: www.mciauth.com/mcfoods.htm

For more information on food donation centers throughout New Jersey, visit the Food Bank of New Jersey website: www.njfoodbank.org

Check out StarlandBallroom.com for their concert listing.

Easter Candy Explosion! A Pictorial

Wal-Mart is more satanic than Hell could ever be. In fact, even in this time of economic despair, I was on a hunt for some cool little trinkets to throw in my niece and nephew’s Easter baskets. Wal-Mart is a slimeball salesman, hair greased back, with a shit eatin’ grin. Walking through the aisles of Wal-Mart is like stopping by a garage sale that you had no idea was even going on. I don’t need anything at that garage sale but for some God awful reason I walk away from it with a handful of junk I didn’t need or even knew I wanted. What was intended to be a quick trip to the store for Easter candy turned into a rapid free fall into a hellish vacuum of consumerism. 

When it comes to buying things I don’t need, I wouldn’t feel as bad to buy…oh, say…a back issue of a comic book line. If I finally come across an old back issue of Teen Titans that’s eluded me for years, I would snatch that book up in milliseconds. If the object fills a certain void or purpose then I have no problem justifying the item as a “must have.” On the other hand, what you are about to see are items that no man with hair on his chest could ever justify actually shelling out money for. After nearly $150 bucks it was completely out of hand.
One question though…
What would you do if you saw these 3 crazy/wacky flavors of Whoppers staring you down? I was immediately paralyzed with an obsession to make these mine. I knew they would taste like shit, but for some reason, all I could picture was me in an empty Wal-Mart laughing and giggling as I submerged in 650,000,000 pastel colored whopper malt balls. These suckers were pouring out at me through the roof, from the laundry detergent aisle, and from the creepy end of the store where they keep hoses and Christmas trees all year round.

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Keep in mind folks that there wasn’t even an iota of a fraction of a chance that these would be any good at all. I was walking into a disaster and I knew it. A dog crap flambe would probably taste nicer than the disgustingly sweet Vanilla Whopper. Pepto Bismol may as well release an orange cream flavor since they could just rip the recipe right off of the Orange Cream Whopper carton. These Whoppers should feature a “Missing” ad on the side of the carton: “MISSING: ORIGINAL WHOPPERS THAT ACTUALLY TASTE GOOD…YOU KNOW THE ONES…THE ONES THAT BURN THE SKIN OFF THE INSIDE OF YOUR MOUTH IF YOU SUCK ON THEM BALLS FOR TOO LONG.” 
And the Blueberry, what an astonishing fucking joke they are. Imagine for a second that original Whoppers were artificially inseminated by the sperm of a pastel Easter bunny. Their offspring would be Blueberry Whoppers, and let’s just say Grandpa Whoppery isn’t too pleased with his gay grandson. He’s always off dancing at the Blue Oyster and talking about how he wants to get into a civil union with another Blue “Bear” Whopper. With a clear mind I can hereby declare that Blueberry Whoppers are THEEEE worst variety in the Whopper Malt Ball candy line. It has nothing to do with them being gay either. Hell, our former governor was a Blueberry Whopper.

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This green marshmallow mess was staring me down from the shelf because it knew that I just love to torture the shit out of these stupid holiday marshmallows. This poor guy didn’t stand a chance. As far as I’m concerned I gave him a nice makeover. I tore his big, dumb ears off with my ferocious, Sabretooth-esque teeth. Off with his silly bow tie! In a matter of seconds, Baby Binks was middle aged, balding, bow tie-less, and stressed out.

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Russell Stover is taking the whole Marshmallow Rabbit to another level. Next thing you know they’ll be coating actual rabbits with milk chocolate. In a way, I’m glad because at least this chocolate mess actually looks like a rabbit unlike some of it’s predecessors. Of course, that would be in a Donnie Darko, demonic, talisman looking rabbit sorta way.

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I decided to turn him upside down just for fun. For the life of me, I couldn’t put my finger on who he reminded me of. Until…DING…DING!!! It came at me like a fatal blow from a ‘roided up Russian…

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Happy Easter everyone! Heed my warning: It wasn’t the fruit that was forbidden, it was all the unnecessary crap that fills the shelves at your local Wal-Mart.

Buried Treasure? X Marks the Spot in New Jersey

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“You sound just as corny as Dad does…”
– Brandon Walsh, The Goonies

I grew up watching my father’s favorite classic pirate movies with him, and in turn I would show him my favorite movie ever, The Goonies. Chunk only had old Hanukkah decorations in his attic. Mikey had a shitload of cool pirate stuff that was intended to make it’s way into an Astoria museum. My attic was filled with my sister’s old dolls and a bunch of other household junk that had been banished to the black hole by my mom. If it was up to my Dad, it would have all went straight into the trash. Even though we didn’t have historical stuff from the pirate days, my Dad did bestow upon me something that always made me think he dreamed of going on a Goonie adventure of his own someday. One weekend he brought me to his room and opened the doors of his chest of drawers, lifted up a stack of sweaters and shirts, and pulled out a folded, burnt up paper that was hidden underneath:

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My Dad handed me the paper and told me it was “a real treasure map!” If I was any more excited my eyeballs would’ve fallen right out of their sockets like Ragetti’s in Pirates of the Caribbean. I unfolded the old map, careful not to tear the delicate artifact. The map was titled “Treasure Map,” (awesomely appropriate).

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The map outlined possible sites where pirates may have buried their treasure, or their ships sunk along the east coast. Luckily for him, my dad didn’t try to convince me that Captain Kidd or Blackbeard sealed this map in one of the walls of our house because the copyright is 1965. I was a little kid, but damn was I perceptive.

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My father and I were able to continue enjoying the pirate genre beginning in 2003 thanks to the release of the Pirates of the Caribbean. I saw POTC more than 5 times in the theater and it gave me the same feeling of wonder that opening this map did. It’s amazing that my father got this map as a souvenir on vacation nearly 40 years before we went to the theater to see POTC together. Perhaps he held onto it because it gave him that adventurous feeling that we all have when we’re young. He kept it to hand down to me, and I’ve had it ever since. In essence, I don’t have to go searching because the map is “good enough” treasure for me.
Is your life is in need of some adventure? Maybe this map will assist in your hunt. Here’s a closer look at possible sites where treasure is buried in New Jersey:

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On your quest, try to avoid any run-ins with the Fratellis, and don’t tell mom you’re going because I have a date with Andy on Friday, limp lungs!

Would YOU Let Santa Claus Drive Your Corvette?

I’m surprised and excited to see how many houses have been decorated for Christmas this year. On my way home from work every day, I pass through so many towns and as Paul Stanley says “They’re lit up like a damn Christmas Tree!” It seems like there’s more Christmas spirit in New Jersey this year than ever before. Whatever the reason is, it’s an excellent feeling! People’s displays have grown more elaborate and creative. In fact, while riding through Fair Haven, NJ last weekend we saw this Corvette parked on someone’s lawn:

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Take a closer look and you’ll see Santa behind the wheel about to take the ‘vette out for a spin:
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That’s a pretty awesome lawn decoration if you ask me. I don’t think you’ll be able to pick that one up at Wal-Mart! 
For all the good that Santa’s done throughout time, I still don’t think that’s enough to make me let him borrow my Corvette to deliver presents. We have no idea what kind of driving record he has. They could drive like assholes up in the North Pole. If the elves get licenses then I’ll give a definitive “NO” on that one. Besides, isn’t St. Nick all tanked up on spiked Egg Nogg he drinks at houses all over the world? Isn’t that what makes him so jolly in the first place? We wouldn’t want him getting a DWI, so let’s have him stick to flying around in his sleigh. 

JAY: You’re not getting my keys, Santa! 
SANTA CLAUS: Ho, Ho, Ho, we’ll see about that! How bad do you want that PS3 for Christmas?!?! Ho, Ho, Ho!
JAY: I’ll forget about the PS3 for now, just as long as you don’t crash my beautiful Corvette and turn it into a red and white yuletide mess. Oh, and toll prices just went up so it’ll be cheaper if you hop in you’re sleigh.
SANTA CLAUS: Ho, Ho, Ho! Jay, I’m going through a mid-life crisis times 3. Can’t I just take the ‘vette for a few minutes? Mrs. Claus never lets me have ANY fun. She took away my copy of Transformers on DVD because she said I was staring a hole in Megan Fox. I’m not even allowed to go to Hooters up in the North Pole. And if you haven’t noticed, all of Santa’s helpers are all gay males. I lead a sad, boring life. C’mon, help a brutha out.
JAY: OK, OK, but you’re going to owe me BIG time if you crash it!
SANTA CLAUS: Yeah right, after I got you everything you asked for every Christmas? Batman, He-Man, WWF, Star Wars, Thundercats, I gave it all to you! You weren’t that good this year anyway! So I owe you nothing bub! 
JAY: You know what Santa, you can f—ing walk!
Friends don’t let Santa Claus drive drunk.
A Public Service Announcement from the Ad Council and Mrs. Claus.

BetaMaxmas brings you Holiday Specials Retro Style!

My friend Steve alerted me to this awesome site called Betamaxmas. As you can see from the screenshot, it’s a late ’70s or early ’80s living room fully equipped with a Christmas tree decorated with BIG BULBS, a TV set with rabbit ears and a remote control, and a Betamax player. On the TV set you can watch all different vintage holiday specials. If they come in a little fuzzy…just click the rabbit ears to adjust the reception! It’s amazing how fast technology has been “museumified.” A bonus is the classic TV guide listing on the top right.

The Sexy Armpit Turns 4!

At the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month (there’s that number again!) World War 1 came to an end. 11/11 is now celebrated as Veterans Day, and in a completely unrelated coincidence…The Sexy Armpit’s birthday! Woooo-hoooo! The Big 0-4! I’ve taken the liberty to have Chef Allen of the Royal Palace whip up a special treat for all of us to enjoy. I figured it would help us celebrate such a momentous occasion!  

Jay: Yo, Chef Allen! Why don’t you have your guys roll that big mofo out here…

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King Randor: Um, Jay?
Jay: Yes, King Randor?
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King Randor: Don’t you think this ridiculously sized cake is a little much for only a 4 year anniversary?
Jay: Awww yeah! That’s the way we do it sucka! Hey Adora…are you impressed by it’s size? They say the size of a man’s cake is an indication of…
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Jay: WTF? 
(all of a sudden there’s a blinding flash of light and a cool beaming sound effect)
Holy Shit! What the hell was that? Damn, I was just trying to enjoy The Sexy Armpit’s 4-year anniversary and you had to make it an exploding cake didn’t you Chef Allen? You mutha-
 

Jay: DID SKELETOR AND HORDAK JUST JUMP OUT OF MY CAKE? Oh man, I can’t think of a better present, thank you all so much! They were my favorites growing up. Hey guys…when’s your little strip dance? You are here for that aren’t you? That’s usually what happens when people pop out of a cake, especially gigantic pink frilly ones! Now I think you’re obligated, you owe it to these fine people. You can’t let them down now! At least Kobra Khan cause he’s probably got some trouser snake…umm, OK…I guess I’ll shut up now…

…gulp…
Hey Hordak, I bet you’re going to spray confetti or party streamers out of that thing right? Maybe bubbles or something to that effect? That’s such a nice gesture, you fellas are tops!
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