Family Recreates Scenes From The Shining Inside Gingerbread Overlook Hotel

Best gingerbread house EVER! This gingerbread Overlook Hotel was created by filmmaking twins Aaron Keeling and Austin Keeling. Several famous scenes from The Shining were also recreated inside & you can see lots of photos here: Laughing Squid.

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas! I have some end-of-the-year Top Ten lists planned for this week (2015 movies seen & books read) plus I’ll do my best to hopefully tomorrow post a review of a true cinematic masterpiece that I recently experienced. What a way to end 2015 – I saw some truly fantastic films in December! Hopefully 2016 will be just as good. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Music Video Friday: Slade – Merry Xmas Everybodyย 

Merry Christmas, Everybody! I hope you’re spending time with your families & not reading blogs… ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s my number one song from my recent list of My Top Ten Christmas Songs. Who doesn’t love a bit of glam rock at Christmas?? Enjoy!

Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody:

My Top Ten Christmas Movies

I hope you all have a great Christmas tomorrow! And, if I don’t see you before then, here’s to a safe & happy New Year as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sorry I’ve not been around throughout December – I find it very hard to keep up on the blogging in the run up to Christmas. Bring on 2016!! In the meantime, here’s a hastily thrown together post of My Top Ten Christmas Movies (full-length films so this list is excluding TV specials such as A Charlie Brown Christmas). I did a top five at the start of my blog so I figured I should update it. At the end I have a list of full-length movies I’ve excluded, as I don’t really see them as “Christmas” movies.

So here’s my Top Ten counting down to my favorite. Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! ๐Ÿ™‚

10. Bad Santa

9. A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas

8. Elf

7. The Muppet Christmas Carol

6. Home Alone

5. Miracle On 34th Street (1947)

4. A Christmas Carol (1951) (aka Scrooge in the UK)

3. A Christmas Story

2. TIE: It’s A Wonderful Life & National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

1. Scrooged

Movies I Excluded (but I like ’em! Gremlins would be my number one if I’d included it):

Krampus (more Christmassy than Gremlins but am leaving it out since I left Gremlins out)
Gremlins (it’s only set at Christmastime)
Die Hard (ditto what I said for Gremlins)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (sorry – I watch this for Halloween!)

Kids From Classic Christmas Films – Where Are They Now?

I knew what had happened to most of these “Christmas movie kids” but there are a few interesting facts in this NME article HERE.

I figured I should mention Jake Lloyd as I hear there’s some new Star Wars movie coming out this week (which, by the way, I will try to review here on Thursday afternoon if I can stay awake long enough to write something about it!). The Phantom Menace was disappointing but, to be fair, I have to say that Jingle All The Way was far worse. I don’t think I ever even bothered to watch that all the way through. Well, the last any of us heard of Jake Lloyd was when he was arrested for reckless driving this year. Hopefully he can sort his life out – it’s a shame how fame ruins the lives of so many child stars.

It’s surprising that Nicholas Hoult has ended up being one of the more successful “Christmas movie kids” (he was in About A Boy. was that a Christmas movie?? I clearly don’t remember it now). You can’t top being in Mad Max: Fury Road! Peter Billingsley (from A Christmas Story) is strangely attractive now & we all know Macaulay Culkin (Home Alone!) went a bit weird but I loved this little tidbit: “He rarely acts these days, but recently took to the stage in his pizza themed Velvet Underground cover band, The Pizza Underground.” Ha! Seriously? Do they do a song called “I’m Waiting For The Pizza Delivery Man“?

Well, you can also read about Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki, Taylor Momsen (from The Grinch – probably my most hated movie of all time), Corey Feldman, Kieran Culkin, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Olivia Olson, Mara Wilson, Eric Lloyd, and Daryl Christopher Sabara HERE.

Oh – and I have to quickly mention this: Apparently, these life-sized Victorian dolls are roaming around London to promote some new Derren Brown attraction opening in Thorpe Park. Egads! NO THANK YOU!!!! Creepy as hell.

My Top Ten Christmas Songsย 

This list was a lot harder to put together than you’d think. I was torn between my American roots & the very different Christmas songs that I’ve grown to love (and hate a little!) in over a decade of living in the UK.

When growing up in America, I only really heard the very traditional Christmas songs and I do love all those (White Christmas, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, etc etc etc). Sometimes those songs would be sung by rock & pop stars (like The Jackson 5) or screamed annoyingly by Bruce Springsteen. Ugh. Stop screeching, Bruce! Then there’s that damn Mariah Carey song – All I Want For Christmas Is You….. to SHUT UP, Mariah! And Michael Bublรฉ can kiss my ass.

I was totally unaware that the UK had all these original Christmas songs (from the Seventies & later) that are really damn good & a lot more fun to listen to than Jingle Bells. Those in the UK will probably roll their eyes at my list as these songs are massively massively overplayed each year but I suppose I haven’t had to suffer with them for as long. Therefore, I’ve decided to do a Top Ten of my favorite contemporary Christmas songs at this point in time. Yes, some of these are American but I think the majority are bigger in the UK.

Here’s what I’ve had to leave out so that this top ten didn’t have 100 songs on it:

Traditional Christmas Songs (unless sung by David Bowie) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Songs From Favorite Christmas Movies/TV Specials. If I was including these, I’d have to say that my ONE true favorite Christmas song of all time is most definitely Linus & Lucy by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. But I’ve left these out to keep the list simple as I love far too many songs such as Linus & Lucy and songs from Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer & How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

So let’s get this over with as I know some of you will already be sick of these songs by now. Here are My Top Ten (contemporary) Christmas Songs:

10. TIE: The Darkness – Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End) & Run-D.M.C. – Christmas In Hollis

I had to include Christmas In Hollis because I’m an 80’s kid. As for The Darkness, I still respect the fact that they got a penis reference into a Christmas song. To those not in the UK, a “bell end” is an insult, meaning a “penis”. Or, more specifically, the tip. I guess. Because of the shape? I’ll stop there so I don’t attract all the pervy Googlers.


9. John & Yoko – Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

War is over? Really?! Well, it’s a good song & I love all of The Beatles. This probably deserves to be above my next song, which is from another Beatle.

8. Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmastime

This song walks that fine line between “enjoyable” & “making you want to kill if you ever hear it again”. I still enjoy it, though. For now.

7. Mike Oldfield – In Dulci Jubilo

It’s no Tubular Bells but it’s still good. The power of Christ(mas) compels you!

6. TIE: Frankie Goes To Hollywood – The Power Of Love & The Pretenders – 2000 Miles

The Power Of Love is an odd one as I didn’t even know it when I moved to the UK then was confused as to why a song with the lyrics “I’ll protect you from the hooded claw. Keep the vampires from your door.” was considered a Christmas song. It’s apparently just because of the below video for it, which is all about the birth of Christ. Huh. Very different from their video for Relax, which had men symbolically ejaculating all over the place. Oops – I’m definitely going to get the pervy Googlers now. As for 2000 Miles, it’s just a damn good song.


5. Chris De Burgh – A Spaceman Came Travelling

I promise that you will never EVER see the words “Chris De Burgh” on this blog again. But, screw it – I’ll admit that this is actually a really good song. As far as Jesus songs go. (The spaceman is Jesus, right?? Oh I love 70’s music & their obsession with space! Like the artist who’s next…)

4. David Bowie & Bing Crosby – Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy

DAVID BOWIE!!!!!!!!!! And, you know, Bing Crosby. Their cheesy banter at the beginning of this video is hilariously cringeworthy.

3. Jona Lewie – Stop The Cavalry

This is one I didn’t know before moving to the UK. I love it! It’s so catchy. If hearing this song doesn’t cheer you up at Christmastime, you’re a Scrooge.

2. Greg Lake – I Believe In Father Christmas

Yeah, I just really love music from the Seventies… ๐Ÿ˜‰ This song is awesome.

1. Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody

Yes! More cheesy 70’s glam rock goodness! I’m sure a lot of people in the UK HATE this song by now (unless they’re drunk off their tits at a Christmas party) but I have yet to get sick of it & doubt I ever will. I’d have loved hearing this growing up. It makes me want to get drunk at an office Christmas party & photocopy my ass. Okay, I’d never actually do that… But if I do, I hope Slade is playing!

Honorable Mentions:

Elton John – Step Into Christmas
Wizzard – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
Jethro Tull – Ring Out, Solstice Bells
The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping

Krampus (2015) Review

Krampus (2015)

Directed by Michael Dougherty

Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, Krista Stadler

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A boy who has a bad Christmas ends up accidentally summoning a Christmas demon to his family home.

My Opinion:

I was really excited about going to see this one. A Christmas horror comedy with an evil creature??? Oh my god – I thought it could be the next Gremlins! Well, damn – it’s certainly not as good as Gremlins but I did have fun with it.

This was an odd one. I like “odd” but what I mean is that it was a bit all over the place as it didn’t seem sure of what it wanted to be. It’s certainly much more a comedy than a horror so anyone going to this expecting a violent, gory horror film may be disappointed. Heck, I’d say that the Gremlins kitchen scene is actually much more violent than anything in Krampus. But the tone of Krampus makes it seem like it has a slightly older target audience than Gremlins even though the overall theme is quite “young” and it starts out as a pretty typical family movie. Plus the main star is much younger than Zach Galligan was in Gremlins (although they have a similar look & hairdo):

The problem with Krampus is that I honestly don’t know who I could recommend it to. It’s too scary for older kids, teenagers may be a bit bored, horror lovers won’t like the lack of gore, and comedy lovers may not find it funny enough. I don’t mean to sound negative about it, though, as I did enjoy it. I just think that only a select group of people will like this one. I’m guessing that people my sort of age who grew up liking things like Gremlins will be the ones who go for this.

Krampus feels like it has come straight out of my beloved Eighties and, if it had, it would be a cult classic now. Having been made in 2015, however, may keep this from achieving that status as I’m not sure the current generation will latch onto it. It has very few votes on IMDB (but a decent rating for a horror at 7/10) & it was showing in a very small screen in my cinema even though it just came out last Friday. It’s a shame it’s not getting more attention but I suppose it’s a bit niche.

Krampus starts out pretty damn good. It starts out exactly like a lot of my favorite (and very American) Christmas movies. Most notably: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. We get all the typical Christmas stress & annoying relatives who really don’t get along with each other but get together anyway as it’s Christmas. It had a very promising start and I was surprised that it was so heavily focused on “family” and that it felt like something the whole family might watch together. At first…

As expected, this movie gets a bit bonkers about halfway through. Well, I think it was more than halfway and a big part of this film’s problem is that it took too long to get crazy. It goes like this: family comedy… family comedy… family comedy… family comedy… family comedy… family comedy… family comedy… WHAT THE FUCK?!… sudden & disappointing ending. I can’t say it due to spoilers (even though only one or two people here would even know what I’m on about) but I think the director watched the finales of too many 80’s TV shows to come up with that ending. Quick! Someone my age watch this & tell me what the ending made you think of!

Summary:

I don’t know why so many of my reviews end up sounding quite negative. I didn’t mean for this one to sound that way as I did like Krampus. I think I “appreciated” it slightly more than I “liked” it, though. I love the fact that this was made, at least, and want to see more films like it. I’m a big fan of horror comedies (I did a Top Ten HERE and, yes, Gremlins was number one). I think my expectations were too high so that’s why I sound slightly disappointed.

I’d have also liked to see them either up the comedy or up the horror as they didn’t get the balance quite right. The Christmas themes were rather sweet & heartfelt but the director not concentrating more on just one of the movie’s aspects meant that the movie suffered a bit due to a lack of focus. I should point out that the director also made Trick ‘r Treat, which I’ve not seen but I know it has its fans on these blogs. I’m now interested in seeing Trick ‘r Treat to compare the two.

I’m not sure if Krampus will become a Christmas classic that I watch every year but I certainly wouldn’t mind watching it during the holiday season every once in a while. Don’t let me talk you out of seeing it if you think you’d like it as some of you will love it (and, yes, some will hate it). If you grew up with 80’s movies I think it’s more likely that you’ll be the type to appreciate Krampus (especially when it gets a bit crazy in a great, cheesy, retro way). I just wish the madness had started earlier & gone on for far longer.

My Rating: 7/10

Anthropomorphic Cuteness Part VII: Christmas

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Check out my favorite little Christmas plate complete with all kinds of cute faces on inanimate objects. Plus a few ornaments and a happy little star cookie with eyes. Ho ho ho! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m hoping to have a movie review ready to post here tomorrow (the totally un-Christmassy Daft Punk’s Electroma as mentioned HERE – that should get a few “WTF?” comments. lol) and that will probably be the last post until after Christmas so, if I don’t get a chance to say it before the 25th, I hope you all have a Very Merry Christmas! ๐Ÿ™‚

Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014) Review

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Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014)

Directed by Steve Purcell

Starring:
Tom Hanks
Tim Allen
Wallace Shawn
Kristen Schaal
Kevin McKidd
Emma Hudak

Running time: 22 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
It’s a post Christmas play date and the toys have to go up against the fearsome and aggressive new dino toys.

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My Opinion:

Yes! Another Toy Story short! This aired in the UK on Saturday and I couldn’t wait to see it as I’ve loved all the shorts so far (Hawaiian Vacation, Small Fry, Partysaurus Rex and of course Toy Story Of Terror, which was a longer TV special like this one). It’s hard to pick a favorite, but… I think it’s probably this one now. And Angel Kitty RULES. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I’ll say that, yes, this sort of uses the same idea from the first Toy Story film in the same way Toy Story Of Terror was similar to Toy Story 2. I thought this one worked better than Terror, though, and I found myself giggling at funny moments a lot more often this time. I really liked the new characters that are introduced, especially Reptillus Maximus and Angel Kitty with her profound statements said in an adorable child’s voice.

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Trixie the dinosaur is the star of this one and I don’t have a problem with that at all – I love it when they focus on characters other than just Buzz, Woody & Jessie. Although Jessie is sadly almost completely absent from this one, the other main characters are still in it enough to keep fans happy. In this story, Trixie wants the chance to play at being a dinosaur for a change and is finally given the chance when Bonnie takes her along for a play date at her friend Mason’s house. It’s a couple of days after Christmas and he’s just received what appears to be the entire set of toys called “Battlesaurs”. I won’t go into the story much more in order to avoid spoilers but it of course has an obvious but simple message that once again fits in with the overall themes in the Toy Story universe. They don’t hammer you over the head with the message or anything like that, unlike in most of my favorite Christmas specials (Charlie Brown, The Grinch… Not that I’m complaining as I loooooove those). My only complaint would possibly be that it didn’t really feel at all like a “Christmas” special but it makes it one you can easily watch year round, I guess.

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Summary:

A worthy addition to the Toy Story franchise, Toy Story That Time Forgot is packed full of the humor we’ve come to expect. I think I laughed even more than the kid I watched this with so, once again, I think they got the balance right with the adults liking it as well as their kids. Bonnie is still as sweet and wildly imaginative as in Toy Story 3 and we get a lot of Rex and especially Trixie, two characters I really like, as well as some great new toys. Plus a cute ending and scene during the credits. Oh, and watch out for the hilarious theme tune! I really had fun with this one. And… Everyone needs an apartment shaped like their own head! ๐Ÿ™‚

My Rating: 8/10

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Btw – I’m posting a review on Wednesday for Brian De Palma’s Phantom Of The Paradise and I’m hoping at least a couple of people will check it out as it’s the type of movie I enjoy reviewing here. But people only want to read about things like Interstellar… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ (which I kind of trashed HERE…). Lol ๐Ÿ˜‰

My Top Five Christmas Movies

1. Scrooged
2. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
3. It’s A Wonderful Life
4. A Christmas Story
5. A Christmas Carol (with Alastair Sim – Scrooge as it’s called in the UK)

This was hard – I have six favorites. Also love the original Miracle on 34th Street. And of course love all the TV specials like Charlie Brown Christmas & The Grinch & Rudolph. Should have put the classics like It’s A Wonderful Life at the top of the list but had to be honest with myself – I never go without watching the first two every December. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Hostile Christmas

Listening to Pantera’s F**king Hostile while I decide if I want to go to the company Christmas party next week with people I don’t actually like very much. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (I’d like to point out that I’m not really much of a metalhead anymore and haven’t listened to this song since 1992 – it just seemed like the appropriate song for my mood today). ๐Ÿ™‚

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