The Night B4 Christmas (2003)

Sooooo…Im going to be honest here. The Holidays kind of got away with me this year. Given that it was supposed to be a super quiet isolated christmas. I think it’s probably been busier than any christmas i’ve had…mainly because, for some reason, I’ve been nominated the “Dedicated point of contact” for 2 households.

What that means in real terms is I’ve been looking after my partner and my parents for a good chunk of the festive period and…in blunt terms. I’ve spent more time at the dump this christmas than I have in front of movies. it’s been manic. that’s probably the best way to describe this years christmas. Very little actual christmas celebrating and a hell of a lot of sitting around waiting for stuff to happen and sitting in traffic.

This has nothing to do with the below review. but because i’ve been all over the place I just havent had time to update the site as I normally would and honestly? this is one of those reviews where I pretty much say everything I need to say in the video. theres no real afterthought on this one.

In fact; as part of some of the admin I’ve been working on over Christmas, I rewatched this one while it uploaded to a backup site. and I still 100% agree with pretty much everything I said in this…which, given this was written back in July is always a nice thing to find out.

I still say go and check this one out, dont be put off by the animation. I genuinely think this ones got it’s heart in the right place *mostly* anyway! more christmas chat to come in my “Silent Night Deadly Night” review which is going to be loaded up to the site very shortly!

It’s not often I get a poster that is simultaineously EXACTLY perfect in summing up what this film is about, while also being it’s biggest advert for avoiding it. shame really…

The Story of Christmas (1994)

Christmas 2020 will probably go down as one of the best and worst christmasses within living memory. Lets be honest; while it’s nice to see relatives and loved ones at this time of year. Theres a certain delight that comes with the idea of staying in all christmas, knowing you dont have to go anywhere, knowing you’ve not got anything to do and knowing you dont have any obligations to anyone or anything for anyone or anything.

This year I have 19 days off work. and apart from 3 of those days where I may get a text message asking me to do 10 minutes of emergency work. I have ZERO obligations. and Im feeling damn good about it. I’ve recently finished writing for next years season and im currently script editing (I hope to have that done by the 12th and definitely before the 16th. Im recording between the 16th and 19th of December and then I have 2 weeks clean to do with as I like.

I’ve decided on Booze, movies and fast living. and I Honestly cant wait! its such a nice and relaxing contrast to my usual christmasses where I spend the week leading up to christmas travelling up and down the country visiting family members and the 2nd week being pushed into their houses to play party games…theres only so many games of Charades with the same people one person can take in a week before it looses it’s appeal and my extended family arnt exactly willing to try new things (The ‘Jack Box’ series of online board games go down a treat with my close family, noone else will go near them though mistaking them as a thing of evil apparently…)

But non of that this year! ohhhhhh no! im going to enjoy a fine single malt, watch the complete works of Norman J. Warren (1978 to 1987) and eat my weight in cheese. the missus is doing similar (we live apart currently) and I for one cannot wait! GOD im so excited!

Oh yeh…this films rubbish. it’s the story of what happened to Jesus AFTER he was born. and while the actual biblical telling is action packed and a non stop thrill fest. this film somehow manages to make it boring. and I cant begin to comprehend how they’ve done it. but dont let me here try to convince you, check out my review and judge for yourself! and Merry christmas!

This was sold in Boots…how good can it be? (Not very…Boooooooooo….)

The “You Can Read” Comedy Dining Experience (1988)

So we’re back again with another addition of the…CCCCCCCOMEDYDININGEXPERIENCE. and this month we thought we’d do something a little bit different and instead of doing a commentary for a film. I decided to show Ben “You can Read” a series he’d never seen before and was thoroughly delighted to sit through…at least thats what I inferred the screaming to mean.

Anyway! Here it is! Enjoy! and remember! you CAN read!

 

(I always loved the VHS boxes for these things….they were really quaint.)

Christophers Christmas Mission (Sagan Om Karl – Bertil Jonssons Julafton) (1975)

This one really was a difficult watch in all honesty. it’s a testamony to how pre-conceived opinions on what a film is about can drastically effect the overall enjoyment of the piece. In the UK this was genuinely marketed as a movie for young kids. the cover for the VHS and DVD releases were both incredibly kid friendly (See the poster at the beginning of my review for a better idea of exactly how kid friendly it looked) and the back of the box was colourful and written in a way to make it easy for kids to get an idea of what this is about. all mentions of Socialism and communism or our lord Jesus christ is omitted in the blurb on the back of the case for this one and Bernard cribbins is mentioned multiple times as a means to try and sell this to them.

Genuinely; I think Abby home video bought this and didnt realise what they’d got their hands on till it was too late to back out of it…either that or they planned to put this out as a kids film knowingly with no regard for what it actually is about…which just plain sucks in all honesty. I think in the hands of a decent distributor (And with a decent remaster and maybe a couple of extras) this could really make a rather lovely set. Im not one for talking about “Dream releases” for content here but I think I can make an exception with this one as it kind of feels right to give it a decent release. Here’s what I’d do with it if I got my hands on it.

*4K Scan of the original film elements followed by a full remaster (clean up, colour grade and levels check)

*Both cuts of this film (Both the english Cribbins version and the original Swedish release with subs) available on the disc (The English version to be recreated using the 4k swedish scan as nothing is significantly altered and only a scene or two have been removed so it would be easy to resynch the english dub track)

*Commentary with Cribbins + A couple of film critics (Im looking at you Kim Newman and Alan Jones!) to talk about the history of this film, the animation style, why the themes of the film probably didnt take to a british audience and any juicy tidbits about Per Åhlin and Tage Danielsson

*A documentary following the production of this feature + a brief history of it’s broadcasting history both in Sweden and the UK

* (If possible…hell it’s my fantasy why not) An isolated Score track…for all that lurrrrvely Jazz and Bossa.

*a mini Documentary about politics in christmas movies. dealing specifically aroun the socialist themes raised in this feature and a discussion on whether Christmas is more personified by the Left or the Right.

*old promotional materials (TV spots, radio spots if their are any,) both from the UK and Europe

*A NICE. Bluray cover. using newly drawn artwork thats fitting for the 15 – 30 year old audience that this film is clearly based at.

*Reversable artwork containing the original Abby home video release cover artwork…Okay im joking…but what I would like is:

*Reversable artwork that uses it’s swedish title alongside some of the original promotional artwork (See the image used in my thumbnail of this review)

Obviously this release will never happen in a million years. but this movies got such a decent and wholesome message I really wish it would. it’s charming and to see it have such a shoddy release history really is a proper downer. Still…at least we got the chance to have it localised. had it not been I may never have heard of it.

(The animation still creeps me out a bit…it reminds me a bit of Wondershowzens more abstract animation sections)

The Bears who Saved Christmas (Holly and Christopher) (1994)

This movie brings to a close a 3 year trilogy of Film Roman (and film roman esq) Christmas movies. Starting with Dot and Spots magical Christmas adventure, and then last year with Nick and Noel. These tend to be the most common animated non mainstream kids films out there. And honestly? most of them could go in the crushy bin for me.

I think out of all of them Dot and Spot was probably the one I enjoyed the most, Nick and Noel was okay but a little bland and this film has way too many problems despite it’s mightily impressive cast list. Holly and Christopher are just a bit creepy to me and in general the bears who saved christmas is just a pretty mediocre christmas special.

I dont want to be a scrooge about this but honestly; there is much much better out there. You can do better and deserve better than these movies. I dont know if there are any more film roman christmas specials out there. honestly I havent looked that much further beyond these three films…there has to be more surely?…surely.

 

(There are no good covers for this special…and it never got a poster…so…bleh. this’ll do)

Dan and Ben Take the P.I.F’s!: The “Charlie Says Vol.2” Comedy Dining Experience

In celebration of hitting a 200 subscriber milestone I thought I’d offer up a bit of a bonus video this week! here’s a commentary we recorded in November 2018 covering over 150 Public information films. We were really rather “Merry”. and we will admit it’s a bit more towards the “Derek and Clive” end of the spectrum as a result. Still! here’s to the next 200! and we hope you enjoy this dealve into the terrifying world of the UK in the 1970’s and 80’s

 

You Can Read (The Complete Series) (1988)

I’ve been trying to find the best way to approach talking about “You Can Read!” (The 1988 Orbis Video released Edutainment series) for a long time now. In fact since I first found out the series I’d watched as a kid was called “You Can Read” I’ve always wanted to cover it on this channel. But I wanted to make sure I did it right (Or at least as right as possible given the spotty information thats available online about it) indeed it was literally only a couple of days before I was set to record the audio for this episode that I even found out that 3 years prior it had had a full DVD re-release in Malta.

Theres literally no information about this re-release online barring a Facebook page and a throwaway article buried deep in one of the lesser known tabloid sites. and finding that article was completely by chance. And apart from a handful of people who have commented on the facebook page to say the first 2 volumes were messed up (They’d apparently been authored as CD-Roms rather than DVD’s) it’s almost impossible to find any “Real world” evidence that these DVD’s actually exist at all. Im not denying they exist you understand. it’s just that outside of that facebook page’s own advertisements I havent seen one photograph on instagram, google or social media in itself of a member of the public owning a copy of these movies. Which does rather lead me to believe it may be a scam of some sort…but then…this is too obscure to really be proper scam material…or maybe it’s just obscure enough?…

Either way this series was a major impact on my childhood and adulthood, I was rediculously pleased to grab not only a copy of this on tape…but a copy that I actually owned as a kid and even though it’s only worth a couple of quid tops. it’s my most prized possession in terms of VHS. Probably only just being pipped by my original “Video Nasty” era release of “Tenebrae”

(All the VHS artworks look odd, they have a very basic design but they’re probably the most consistant thing in this series…)

 

As usual whenever I cover something a touch obscure Im usually immediately met with the problem of there just not being a high enough resolution image of the box art for the film im trying to cover. “You Can Read” is no exception. and the handful of covers I’ve been able to find online barely break the 500 pixel region…So here’s a 3k scan of the cover of Volume 3: Me I hope you enjoy the attention to detail.

You Can Read

 

Nick and Noel (1993)

I had a spot of unexpected success last year when I uploaded a review for a christmas film I had found on youtube that was produced in the 90’s called “Dot and Spots Magical Christmas Adventure” at the time I didnt think anything of it. It was a fairly bland if somewhat charming little kids christmas movie and that was about it.

That was until it started getting mad clicks. While we’re hardly talking viral numbers here when I woke up to find that one of my videos rather than normally getting the 10 – 20 views they normally acrew instead got closer to 200 views and growing. Well needless to say I thought I might as well hand in my notice at work and take on the full time youtuber lifestyle.

In researching exactly why that video was more popular than others I discovered that apparently that film was:

A – Astoundingly popular in Italy (Almost a christmas classic out there)

And B – Almost completely unrepresented online barring an itallian dubbed upload.

In short I’d inadvertantly landed myself the perfect storm…it didnt lead to anything. for about 6-7 months that video was my most watched one my channel. But out of an obligation to see if lighting could strike twice I decided to look into other films that the “Dot and Spot” animators had involvment in.

Thus we arrive at Nick and Noel. and…well it’s not as popular as Dot and Spot. nor is it as charming, nor is it as well made…and even Paul williams cant save this one. its a bland one in all honesty. and due to some growing pressures that started happening around about the time that I reviewed this one I honestly dont have too many fond memories about it. It’s just completely generic and forgettable. but Im sure my review will say more than I can here.

(So underwhelming…)

 

The Gift of Winter (1974)

While the promotional artwork is a little on the misleading side (All the character designs featured in promo posters and on the DVD for this are based on the  “Witch’s night out” Art style) it is important to remember that the scale of operations for this short was almost as equally small.

ultimately I was a little bit underwhelmed by “The Gift of Winter”…on the one hand it still has that charming vibe that Witch’s had…however the quality of the animation is so rudimentary and basic that it totally took me out of the experience. I do kind of feel if they reanimated this special while keeping the original audio that it may ultimately be a more “complete” feature. and while the charm is distinctly there I just cant completely get behind this one.

I would argue that this isnt so much a christmas special more a winter special (Though there are alusions towards Christmas made near the end) but it takes what is ultimately a dark and somewhat grim time of year and makes it altogether a much more pleasent time of year. and for that I can wholeheartedly get behind it.

 

(Seriously; this artwork is terrifically misleading)

Witches Night out (1978)

Well! it’s halloween again! and that means that once again I get to dip into the archive of all things spooky and pull out a few choice selections to highlight and hopefully help you guys in making your halloween go with a bang!

Last year the theme was Zombies (In particular Romero’s “Of the dead” series) and this year when put to a poll you lovely lot voted that you wanted to see a “Halloween highlights” run…I think going forward I may end up doing a themed year, then a non themed year and so on…it’s nice to work to a theme but equally this has been an absolute hoot and it’s unearthed a load of extra goodies that im now saving till next time!

Kicking things off this season we have “Witches night out!”  a special I’d only heard of last year funnily enough around about the same time I uploaded my first halloween special! since then it’s sat on my shelf gathering dust but I made it my duty to watch and talk about it this year, and it’s not without good reason! it’s short sweet and very very wonderful!

Halloween is one of my favourite times of years…it’s basically christmas but without the stress that comes with christmas. it has all the joys of nostalgia for childhood and tooth decay that comes with eating offensive amounts of boiled sugar. Pure bliss!

I do hope you enjoy my season this year! theres some great little movies coming up and im sure you’ll find one that’ll make your halloween!

(Seriously the theme tune to this special is absolutely out of this world!)