Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; giving fruit cake is tantamount to treason. It’s that time of year again, when we put on ugly sweaters, drunkenly sing carols off-key, and forget how much we hate Aunt Bagatha. What? Who doesn’t have an Aunt Bagatha?
For all of me here at Junkfood Cinema, Christmas is a time to suck down as many festively-shaped sugar cookies and assorted pies as humanly possible before slipping into the firm embrace of a ho ho heart attack. And of course, I give myself the gift that keeps on giving: a giant stack of my favorite holiday movies. These movies are often, as you might expect, terrible, but every once in a while a highly-regarded classic slips in. When this oversight occurs, my baser impulses, the ones that account for my DiMaggio-like twenty-eight year streak as a resident of Santa’s naughty list, take over. I begin to image ways to corrupt said classic films and stuff them back in your stocking as twice-baked/half-baked/bake-me-something-right-now-I’m-hungry treats.
Today’s subject, or rather subjects, offer a particularly easy corruption. Director Bob Clark is renowned for making one of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time: A Christmas Story. It is a movie so adored that some TV stations actually showcase it in 24hr rotation on Christmas Eve. Luckily, A Christmas Story is quality enough that we overlook the fact that the one and only movie that should EVER be played on TV in 24hr rotation is Raw Deal. What some people don’t know is that nine years before, Clark directed a savage, violent holiday horror classic entitled Black Christmas. Guess when THAT movie takes place. So yes, Clark directed both A Christmas Story and Black Christmas. One is about the fear that you may not get what you want for Christmas, the other is about a serial killer living in your attic who comes down and kills you while you sleep. So in other words, one movie is about the scariest thing anyone could possibly imagine, and the other…is Black Christmas.
As much as I love both movies, I can’t help but think about the ways A Christmas Story could have been improved if Clark had approached it with his Black Christmas sensibilities. Would that have happened, a staggeringly different experience would await you when you tuned in during any point of that 24hr marathon. This is how we think it would have played out…
Ralphie asks for a Red Ryder B.B. Gun. He is told he will shoot his eye out. He begins to hear voices in his head telling him to kill. With the help of a steady diet of red cabbage, he is initially able to hold this maniacal urge at bay. The red cabbage link is attributed to…you know, science and whatnot.
He imagines himself with the BB gun, murdering trespasser after trespasser, drunk with the power of God the rifle would afford him.
Ralphie begins to converse with his imaginary friend Harvey, who looks just like him except that he dresses like a pink bunny. It’s adorable AND disquieting.
Ralphie dares his friend Flick to stick his tongue to a flagpole. The harmless prank becomes far more sinister when a grinning Ralphie leaves Flick to freeze to death. He later returns to dispose of the body.
Miss Shields, Ralphie’s teacher, assigns the class a theme paper entitled “What I Want for Christmas.” She is horrified to read Ralphie’s offering, which turns out to be a raving manifesto in which he demands a rifle, a hunting shack in the woods, and an army of lobotomized orphans to do his biding.
His secret message decoder, the one thing that could have rescued his fragile psyche from the brink of destruction, is revealed to not contain the instructions for controlling the wills of insects with his mind as he had expected. Instead, some crummy commercial.
The local police enlist the help of the Bumpus hounds to search for Flick. Ralphie feels the law closing in.
The local bully, Scut Farcus, crosses Ralphie on the wrong day. Farcus throws a snowball that hits Ralphie in the face, Ralphie retaliates by beating Farcus to the ground and stabbing him in the eye with an icicle screaming, “you’d just shoot it out anyway!”
When he accidentally swears in front of his parents, Ralphie is forced to eat soap. This cruel punishment makes him even more angry and hateful. His parents grill him for hours. “What your mother and I must know is…where did you hear that word?”
The leg lamp, of which Mr. Parker was so proud to have “won as a major award” is an actual severed leg that Ralphie relieved of a transient and converted into a light fixture. No one in the family notices the smell when it is switched on.
In a last ditch effort to obtain the weapon he so covets, Ralphie asks a department store Santa to bring it to him. The Santa refuses and pushes him down a slide. Ralphie murders him and stuffs him in the Parker family’s already unreliable furnace.
The Parkers irresponsibly purchase the Red Ryder rifle for Ralphie. He is so blissfully happy when he opens it Christmas morning that he eagerly shows it off to Harvey. Harvey in turn convinces him to do away with his family. He does so in vicious, but festive manner and then crawls into the attic to avoid the police.
The Parker tragedy shakes the small 1940s town. The house is sold to the local university, who turn it into a sorority house. Years later, right around Christmas, the girls of Pi Kappa Sig begin to receive disturbing phone calls. It sounds like several people on the other end, but they can make out phrases like, “what your mother and I must know is” and “no mommy, Ralphie will be good.”
That’s right. KABLAMO, it’s a prequel!
Junkfood Pairing: Oh Fudge
When the authorities raided The Parker family home, they couldn’t help but utter, “oh, fudge.” Only they didn’t say fudge. They said THE word. The big one, the queen-mother of dirty words. The F-dash-dash-dash word. Plus, look at that box. Have you ever seen a more obviously insane child?