Monday, December 14, 2020

December to Dismember: CHRISTMAS WITH COOKIE (2016)

[by William S. Wilson]

The snowy landscape sure has changed since we started our Christmas horror reviews almost a decade ago. The biggest change we’ve seen has been the explosion of streaming services, which offer the indiest of independent filmmakers an avenue to millions of home and revenue streams in the tens of dollars (if they are lucky). We thought this year we might not have enough Yuletide samplings to cover a month of reviews. But then we typed “Christmas horror” into Amazon Prime and were suddenly greeted with a virtual advent calendar of things to choose. Titles for short films like SCARY LITTLE FOCKERS, HAUNTED CHRISTMAS and NIGHT OF THE KRAMPUS (how has Tom NOT reviewed that one already?). One that piqued my interest was a trilogy of films under the CHRISTMAS WITH COOKIE moniker. I like cookies, but this Cookie is an elf who tells horror stories. He’s like the Crypt Keeper with diabetes. Now, before I continue I should offer a warning: I am not on drugs and everything that follows really happened in this film. Well, except for one fake thing I’ll add. Gotta make this fun.

You know things are gonna get silly when the first onscreen credit you see is IT’S A FUCKING FIRST DRAFT PRODUCTIONS. The film opens in the year 3978 with Cookie the Elf (writer/co-director Alex Maxson) in his shack on the moon. Cookie is obsessed with cookies and this is conveyed by him being surrounded by yummy looking cookies. Cookie’s make-up is kind of a cross between Freddy Krueger, Michael Berryman and your weird, single uncle. He decides to tell us the story of the last Christmas ever...I think. This involves going back to 2016 where siblings Peter (Justin Armao) and Prudence Pole (Breeanna Judy) are unwrapping their Christmas presents. He is expecting that teenage tortoise costume and she wants a burpy doll. Instead, they received a DVD of BLOODSUCKA JONES (2013) and a bottle of anal lube, respectively. Jeez, I don’t know who is screwed worse! They are justifiably disappointed and Peter vows “revenge on that fat fuck” Santa Claus. Said retribution involves creating a potion that will enable them to get revenge at the most opportune time. It kills them. Oh, I wish I was so lucky.

Fast forward one thousand years (!) and Earth is a barren desert wasteland. The only two surviving people are Santa Claus (Maxson again) and Mrs. Claus (Dana Austen), both of whom wear masks because the sun has burned their skin. They just wander the desert over and over, which must mean this is an opportune time as Peter and Prudence pop up as skeletons. Before you get excited with Harryhausen dreams, know these are store bought plastic Halloween skeletons spray painted green and red. Obviously still pissed at Santa, the siblings attack the Claus clan and in the middle of their bloody battle (yes, the skeletons bleed buckets) Mrs. Claus is zapped up into a passing UFO. I swear to you that is not the part I’m making up. The aliens demand to be taken to the leader of Earth and Santa is the man thanks to him being the last man on Earth.

After dispatching the Prudence skeleton, Santa battles the aliens and Peter skeleton to save his wife. He succeeds and the Clauses decide to end their adversaries once and for all with a cartoon-looking bomb. They give it to the alien as a Xmas gift, but not before the alien gives them some cookies. Poisoned cookies! And they both keel over and die. Wow, the story is already over at 29 minutes...wait a sec, the run time on this sumbitch said it was 53 minutes. Yup, the filmmakers pull a swerve and things are about to get weirder. Yes, weirder. Santa and his wife are immortal beings and they just sleep long enough for another thousand years to pass. When they wake up, the Earth is fertile again. However, the natives aren’t friendly since Mrs. Claus gets a poisonous dart shot into her neck. A note on the dart mentions that Santa can find the antidote in the belly of the Abominable Snowman. What? You didn’t have a 50-foot Yeti on your plot prediction card? Santa gets swallowed by the monster and exits via his rectum. Somehow killing Pooky (yes, its name was Pooky) upsets the beast’s father (Evan Mack) and his sidekick Frrrrank (Kevin Lau). This results in the dad shrinking down in size and entering Santa’s body to do, uh, something? The duo then rip off Santa’s hands and feet. It all wraps up with some new aliens showing up and blowing up Earth.

Okay, who put the LSD in my eggnog? CHRISTMAS WITH COOKIE has all the ingredients (ha!) of a madcap comedy and you can’t accuse it of having a wafer (haha!) thin plot. The filmmakers certainly went above and beyond to deliver never-before-seen images. In fact, it is so over-the-top that I kind of wish it had more than the publicly acknowledged $1,000 budget. Despite the lack of funds, there are some elements I found genuinely funny like Mrs. Claus having a zhick German ack-scent and the filmmakers creating a desert landscape at one point with a cheap tarp tacked to a wall (see alien pic below). Everyone in the cast seems to get the spirit of what they are doing. If I had to single anyone out, it would be Evan Mack as the yeti’s vengeful father. His facial expressions killed me and his delivery was a comedic highlight, sounds like a deaf voodoo priest hopped up on speed. 

Cookie is probably the best character in the movie as he is the best realized in terms of make-up and performance. Trust me, you’ll be talking like him (imagine Cookie Monster with a six pack a day smoking habit) by the end. Oddly, he never interacts with the main cast. Which kind of makes me sad because Cookie was the selling point for me and is by far the most interesting character. With Cookie so isolated, one would think the filmmakers just acquired an unrelated horror short and shoehorned in their Cookie segments, but the same filmmakers made both the hosting bits and main feature. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case with the sequels as CHRISTMAS WITH COOKIE: LOCKED AWAY (2017) and CHRISTMAS WITH COOKIE: THE WATCHING (2018) have everyone’s favorite elf just introducing movies the group didn’t make. The best news? They aren’t centered around the holidays so I didn’t need to proceed any further for my review. Now this is the kind of Christmas miracle I can dig! As it stands, CHRISTMAS WITH COOKIE is the kind of thing any super-high Troma fan might dig. Sidenote: I’d love to think some kids discovered Cookie on Amazon Prime and pestered their parents relentlessly until they all sat down to watch it and then quickly had a family meeting. Oh, by the way, the one thing I made up in this review? Santa doesn’t exit the Abominable Snowman via his anus. Yes, somehow the filmmakers filled the film with juvenile potty humor but missed that gaping opportunity like they didn’t give a shit. Ah, boo yourself.

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