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5 Reviews for the Holidays: It’s a Wonderful Life, Gremlins, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, and Black Christmas

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) 

I don’t think I’ve seen a movie with a heart quite the size of It’s A Wonderful Life’s. This is one of the most vibrant, hopeful, and spirited films I’ve ever laid witness to. I can sincerely understand why any cinephile would claim it to be one of the greatest films of all-time. Positivity rules! 

There are a couple reasons though that are plaguing me from quote on quote “loving” this Christmas classic. A majority of the dialogue does bring out good vibes, but some of it is just remorseless exposition or unappealingly cringy. The passage of time is handled pretty poorly as well. Also, as expected, this film has no shame in showcasing some of its cliché characters that seem more one-dimensional than…whatever sort of shape is one dimensional. Plus, I’m still a little iffy on the climax of the movie; it felt marginally far-fetched and overplayed. 

I definitely enjoyed this one by a great deal, nonetheless! And, best awkward first kiss scene EVER. 

Verdict: B

“It’s A Wonderful Like” is now available to stream on Vudu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, and Sling TV.

 

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Gremlins (1984)

This movie is terrifying! And violent! 

But so darn CUTE! 

Gremlins is like the fun-size version of John Carpenter’s The Thing. There are tons of unforgettable practical prosthetics, robotics, and special effects that just make the film painless to commend. It’s also surprisingly shot very well too! This sort of oddball of a flick is definitely my cup of tea: a shamelessly twisted holiday/horror creature-feature with just the right amount of silliness in it.

And holy smokes! Jonathan Banks is in this movie! Mike from Breaking Bad! Way to go! 

Gizmo is a god, by the way. I just wanted to point that out. 

Verdict: B 

“Gremlins” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, and Sling TV.

 

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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

??? Viewing 

MY CHILDHOOD. 

Awe, yes. The Nightmare Before Christmas: a timeless children’s essential, a ballad of sheer creativity, a pioneer in the popularization of the stop-motion art form, and indisputably one of the finest looking animated films of all-time. Henry Selick’s directorial debut was a class act during a time when Disney genuinely cared for crafting something revolutionary and holy original. 

It’s so bizarre realizing just how low-key edgy, dark, and “emo” A Nightmare Before Christmas is from the perspective of an adult. Jack Skeleton is the exaggeration of a depressed man going through an identity crisis and ultimately yearning for a radical change in his way of life. Sally is the epitome of the young, suicidal teenage girl who has an abusive, unmarried father-figure who doesn’t let her leave the boundaries of their house. Love it or hate it, this movie influenced the adolescent/young adult Hot Topic culture more than any gory, R-rated cult phenomena ever did. 

This movie never ceases to get tiresome. From its ferociously fast pace to its flawlessly unique visual design, I can’t imagine a soul out there who could possibly despise such a rebellious piece of animation. Thank you, Henry Selick, Tim Burton, Caroline Thompson, and all of Danny Elfman’s musical talents who not only exemplified what it takes to push some boundaries in the lore of film but also implanted these annoyingly catchy tunes in folks’ heads all across the world—MWAHAHAHA. A Nightmare Before Christmas truly is what cinema’s all about.  

Verdict: A-

My Favorite Animated Movies

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is now available to stream on Disney+.

 

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Edward Scissorhands (1990)

2nd Viewing 

IT’S A CHRISTMAS MOVIE TO ME. SHUTUP.

Still, one of the saddest movies I’ve ever seen—even if it’s not perfectly executed. I get so choked up by the ending; it’s obnoxious. Only a man like Tim Burton could make a cheesy-looking movie about a voiceless emo with scissors for hands touch my heart. I’m head over heels for these Burton movies that feel like David Lynch parodies of classic tales—Edwards Scissorhands appearing like one of Frankenstein

This movie is just so…high. Like, everybody in this story is clearly intoxicated ASF—it’s fantastic. There’s also something strangely beautiful about watching and introvert learn to be a part of a community, trim peoples’ bushes, go to school show-and-tells, become a guest on live talk shows, give out free haircuts, and fall in love. Until, though, you know, that sinister third act.

Looking back at this movie years later, there are admittedly some stupid occurrences in the film that I’ve picked up on. There are a few hilariously goofy and weak turning points in the film that are meant to be taken seriously but just come off as farcical.

But hot damn, Tim Burton makes super horny movies! Strange!

That moment though when the goth kid gets the girl and the jock doesn’t. Now, that’s what I call a victory. 

Verdict Change: A —> B 

“Edward Scissorhands” is now available to stream on Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, Amazon Prime, and iTunes.

 

Black Christmas - 1974

Black Christmas (1974) 

2nd Viewing 

“If this movie doesn’t make your skin crawl…IT’S ON TOO TIGHT!

Name a better horror movie slogan than THAT. I dare you! 

Rarely does this sort of thing happen. If you know me, I’m not the type of fella who rewatches movies all too often—unless they’re movies playing limitedly in theaters. Black Christmas, I only saw for the first time less than two months ago, and strangely enough, I was willing to watch it for a second time this holiday season. 

Look, I’ve never found slasher movies to be all that frightening, and maybe that’s why I watch so many of them. They’re just too “down-to-earth” and comprehensible. But, Black Christmas is damn well one of the most unsettling movies I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It already amplifies the movie enough considering it showcases the greatest slasher villain ever to appear on the big screen due to his mysterious yet realistic mentally-ill nature. However, Bob Clark’s boldly strung out directing and heinous decision to leave viewers frigid with so many unanswered questions are likely the reasons why I’d proudly declare Black Christmas to be an essential in the psychological horror department.  

Side comment: I forgot how funny this movie can be at times. For such a terrifying feature-length, this film never seemed afraid to add in a pleasant gag every once in a while. Gosh, I love this movie. 

Side comment two: Rarely do horror movies do this anymore, but every character in this movie actually has a special personality trait to them that makes them intriguing to watch. Somehow, just from the way Roy Moore writes certain characters to act, you can tell exactly how they are as people and what their backstories might be like. Jess, Peter, Barb, Mrs. Mac, Mr. Harrison, Clare, Sgt. Nash, and Lt. Ken Fuller all have such distinct characteristics that make them shine compared to the ordinary “horror victim.” Side comment to a side comment: The fact that the killer’s phone calls somewhat relate in subject matter to what Jess is going through in her personal life makes this movie a lot more frightening and sincere. And, no spoilers, everything involving Peter in this movie…very good job. 

Side comment three: This movie is REALLY good at cutting! 

I feel like I’m going to regret saying this later on in life, but it’s how I truly stand at the moment: “Black Christmas is the best slasher movie of all-time.” Yes, better than my beloved, 1979 Halloween. Never thought I’d say that.

And, no. The Thing does not count as a slasher movie. John Carpenter still wins! 

Verdict Change: A —> A+ 

My Top Favorites, The Best Horror Movies

“Black Christmas” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, and Tubi.

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