Monday, November 27, 2017

Riske Business: Good Holiday Poster, Bad Holiday Movie

by Adam Riske
Frame these posters and hang them on a hook from your tree. It’ll work. Please try it!

Black Christmas (2006)
The Movie: I don’t remember much about this remake, but I do recall it not being anywhere near as good as the original and feeling cut to shreds in editing. It’s one of those cases, too, where I saw some deleted scenes on the DVD (I think there were multiple alternate endings, too) and now can’t make sense of what is in the movie at all. I keep intending to re-watch Black Christmas (2006) but never seem to get around to it. Probably because I can’t bear watching Michelle Trachtenberg in peril.

The Poster: Just like the poster for the original Black Christmas, this one for the remake is unnerving. Bonus points for a pun tag line aside (how do I get a job writing those?), the image of Mary Elizabeth Winstead (?) in terror as the killer has wrapped her face in tree lights. It's a haunting image that stays with me more than anything in the movie.

Deck the Halls (2006)
The Movie: I love movies like Deck the Halls that intend to be zany family comedies but end up being case studies in suburban psychosis. I live for this shit. If you’re a movie that has one character saying “I’m the Christmas guy around here” with a new-in-town rival replying “No, I don’t think so,” how could you not want to see where THAT goes? Deck the Halls is so fucked in the head; I love it and watch it every single year. Often multiple times. For Decks vets, next time pay close attention to Kristin Davis’ performance. It’s…special.

The Poster: I mean, c’mon, the tagline is “There glows the neighborhood.” Do I need to continue? How about the “the” in Deck the Halls looking like it’s going to hit Danny DeVito in the nuts? How about DeVito and Matthew Broderick fighting over a string of lights even though there are hundreds on the house behind them (their rivalry runs that deep)? How about Santa and his sleigh flying overhead even though Santa doesn’t have a cameo in Deck the Halls? This movie’s naughty, yo! A “so bad it’s good” classic.

Eight Crazy Nights (2002)
The Movie: I go back and forth on whether I like Eight Crazy Nights on every viewing, but I know it’s not very good. What brings me back are the characters Eleanor and Whitey. I love them, plus I can do their voices really well, which is a bonus. Her voice is every old Jewish lady impression I’ve been doing since I spun my first dreidel and his is my Michael Rappaport impression. That aside, I put Eight Crazy Nights on most years because of its holiday atmosphere (they window shop at the mall!) and catchy songs. Plus, I should support it since it’s the closest thing I have to a Chanukah movie.

The Poster: And what a great poster! I love this film’s modest, old-school animation, which makes this poster artwork feel festive and wonderful. Also, it has a trope I love in posters (another example is The Goonies, which is not as good as Eight Crazy Nights) where characters are hanging on to each other signaling an implicit promise of things about to get crazy. Bonus points, too, for the Chanukah blue font, because it’s a “holiday” movie and not just a Christmas movie. Represent!

Four Christmases (2008)
The Movie: Remember when Vince Vaughn had a shitty Christmas movie run? Well, at least Four Christmases is better than Fred Claus (#Walkout). Truthfully, I think there are moments in Four Christmases that are pretty funny, but it suffers from a mismatched pair (Vaughn and Witherspoon look openly contemptuous of each other) and endless bad sitcom nonsense. Directed by Seth Gordon (The King of Kong), who has not made a good movie since The King of Kong.

The Poster: I dig this poster, though! It looks like one of those rotating ads on the directory at the mall (I love malls! Directories are great too!). Look how well-dressed Vaughn and Witherspoon are. They look like a couple that walks into your holiday party and you’re jealous you’re not them because they have cozy clothes and probably smell like designer fragrances. I’m also big on them being wrapped like gifts because it reminds me of a Happy Honda-Days TV Spot. What else? Holiday red and green font, classic back-to-back “get a load of…” “…can’t take him/her anywhere…” stances. It’s just flat-out sexy, okay?

Jack Frost (1998)
The Movie: Saw this movie once. It’s weird. It’s really weird. It tells the story of a jazz-rock musician (basically Bruce Willis at a Planet Hollywood opening) played by Michael Keaton who is a workaholic and never sees his family. He dies and comes back as a creepy-as-fuck snowman. This movie rented well at Blockbuster.

The Poster: The poster is fascinating. Michael Keaton seems so depressed. Also, it’s weird how his name is on the poster with him below it but Kelly Preston’s name is also on the poster with the snowman below it…as if...she’s…the…snowman??? The title font is great. It looks like an expansion basketball team logo designed by fourth graders who love glitter. Lastly, concentrate on the transformation face in the middle of the poster. It makes it look like the change from man to snowman is super painful and haunting.

What holiday movies do you think are bad but have good posters?


  1. I just watched Four Christmases and thought it would have been a better movie if every parent actually lived on a different planet, because that's what it feels like. Also, Robert Duvall and Jon Voight should have switched roles so Voight could have reprised his Anaconda role!

    1. If I'm remembering right, Voight is weirdly in check during that movie. It's like he's protesting and doing the bare minimum.

    2. He's doing practically nothing to play the one normal person in the movie. Why do you cast Voight to play normal?

  2. Black Christmas is fine for a remake. That crazy incest subplot is pretty risque and gross for a movie that was in every theater, especially how it originally shows it to us. Theres some cool stuff, theres some really dumb stuff.

  3. The Time has come, I think, for Mr. Riske to confront his nemesis Fred Claus in a full-on article, or, better yet, podcast. And, thanks to the Spacey subplot, it's both seasonal and timely!

  4. I seem to have much fonder memories than you of Jack Frost. I remember it being a go-to Christmas movie for my family when I was younger, and that it was pretty heartfelt and touching. I have to admit, the whole premise is psychotic though.

    1. Its heart is in the right place. I DVR'd it this year off Freeform so I'll give it another try.