Episode 126: Home Alone 1990 vs 2021

Merry Christmas to one and all! We don’t usually pit two films against one another, but since it is Christmas we thought we’d give you fine listeners a little holiday treat.

Home Alone is one of our generation’s unassailable holiday classics. We’ve covered a number of its sequels on the show before, but tonight we’re finally digging into the 1990 original. But because one Home Alone simply isn’t enough, we’re also doing a deep dive into the newest entry in the series, Home Sweet Home Alone, just released on Disney+.

What makes the original a modern classic while the remake struggles to even find its footing? How many of the traps would a human being reasonably fall for? What on earth do you even use a male-to-male extension cord for, anyway? Join us as we answer these questions and a whole lot more!

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SHOW NOTES FOR THIS EPISODE:

INTRO/OUTRO: “Carol of the Bells” by Bards Bizarre. Check em out on Bandcamp today!

Questions? Complaints? Requests? Hit us up at XmasCreeps@gmail.com!

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Episode 125: 8-Bit Christmas

Christmastime is here once again, and with it come a whole gaggle of new holiday offerings from all your favorite streaming services! This week we’re discussing the nostalgia-fueled Nintendo frenzy of the film 8-Bit Christmas. Inspired in part by A Christmas Story, the film tells the tale of young Jake, a kid like any other in 1988 who just wanted a Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas.

As you can imagine, this week’s podcast is going to be wall-to-wall Video Game Chat. We understand if that might not be your cup of tea, but as three fans of video games ourselves, we each have firsthand experience with being a kid in the thrall of Nintendo’s 8-bit charms. This could not be any more For Us if it tried. And yet, this is a film very much NOT For Us. Go figure.

Anyway, we’ll dig into why this film’s sense of nostalgia may be a bit askew, times when it’s not appropriate to tug at the heartstrings, and why the most prominent NES game featured is, of all things, “Rampage”. Buckle up, because it’s about to get nerdy. Good luck, have fun!

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Questions? Complaints? Requests? Hit us up at XmasCreeps@gmail.com!

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Freeform’s “25 Days of Christmas” By The Numbers

Now that it’s December, we can finally crank up the holiday movie machine! And just like we did a few weeks ago, it’s time to break down this year’s schedule for Freeform’s 25 Days of Christmas.

Once again, we’ve crunched the numbers of the past four years of scheduling, and come up with a handy dandy graph to show which films get played more than others. For the most part, it’s exactly the ones you’d expect. Christmas is not a holiday known for disrupting traditions.

While the Halloween chart represents the entire broadcast day, this time around I’m only going to be counting what Freeform airs in prime time (think 5pm thru midnight). The easiest way to do that was to compare all four schedules published to Freeform’s social media pages.

Here’s this year’s schedule for reference. Now here’s this year’s breakdown:

Click for full size!

RANDOM OBSERVATIONS:

  • The reigning champ of Freeform’s schedule is, for some reason, the 2000 live-action version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, airing 23 times over the last four years. Home Alone and Home Alone 2 are tied for second place with 16 airings each.
  • 2018 saw five showings each for The Santa Clause and The Santa Clause 3, while The Santa Clause 2 was completely absent.
  • This year will see more Santa Clause 2 airings than ever before, at 4. That also means it will get more airtime than either SC1 or SC3 this year, which are only airing 3 times this year.
  • Only 7 films have appeared all four years: Grinch 2000, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town, The Santa Clause, The Santa Clause 3, Toy Story and Toy Story 2
  • 2019 is the only year that saw marathons of Simpsons Christmas episodes, all airing after midnight for some reason. After the rollout of Disney+, I guess they decided anyone who really wanted to watch The Simpsons after midnight would just stream it like the good lord intended.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas has only ever aired once per season, when it has historically aired anywhere from 3 to 10 times during the Halloween season. Those of you who consider Nightmare a Halloween movie might be onto something after all…
  • 2020 saw the most one-off airings, meaning the most instances of a film or special only airing once per season, at 11.

Now, what does any of this really mean? I’m not sure, but the apparent continued popularity of Grinch 2000 and the Santa Clause trilogy feels like more of a forced obligation than anything else. They’re the most recent big budget, non-Elf Christmas films around, and at least in the case of The Santa Clause, I guess someone at Disney just gave up and said “That’s what we got! We don’t need anything else.”

Home Alone‘s continued popularity, at this point, has entered the realm of holiday tradition. It’s been that way for a long time, and it’s clearly not going anywhere any time soon. Now, whether or not Disney plans on keeping it that way, or if they’ll phase it out in years to come to make room for new reboot, Home Sweet Home Alone, remains to be seen.

What do you think of all this? Any data points we might have overlooked? Let us know in the comments!

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Episode 124: The Polar Express

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Or rather, Happy T-Hanksgiving!

This week we dig deep into the Tom Hanks-filled 2004 animated feature The Polar Express, which somehow manages to turn Chris Van Allsburg’s 32-page book into a feature-length adventure full of magical train-hopping hobos, swing-dancing elves, and one kid’s quest to continue believing in Santa at all costs.

Our discussion takes some wild turns, from musing on the film’s intended audience, to The Polar Express‘s influence on later animated features and video games (more than you’d think!), to postulating the existence of a Santa Claus multiverse. So hold onto your tickets and hop aboard, because this train’s about to leave the station!

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Questions? Complaints? Requests? Hit us up at XmasCreeps@gmail.com!

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Episode 123: The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus

Welcome to Holiday Season 2021! It’s been a long year, but we’re determined to send this one out with a bang!

On this week’s episode, we attempt to explain the weirdo madness of Rankin/Bass’s 1985 special The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus! Based on a story written by “Wizard of Oz” author L. Frank Baum, this special features a council of immortal wood nymphs, an army of invisible trolls, and an elf that may or may not have inspired a character in The Legend of Zelda. Oh, and somewhere in all that there’s the origin story of Santa Claus.

Also in this week’s show, we take some time to sample a few holiday libations, break down what it means to be a Christmas movie, and share our pitches for The Christmas Chronicles 3!

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Episode 122: The Conjuring 2

We conclude this year’s Home For The Horrordays with James Wan’s The Conjuring 2! Set against the chilly, austere backdrop of Christmas, Conjuring 2 is based on the Enfield Poltergeist, a true haunting case from the late 1970s, in which a ghost supposedly haunted a single mother and her four children living in the north of London.

And joining us this week is our old pal Dr. Nick! Last heard on our Black Christmas episode, Nick returns to help us break down all the spooks, scares and general quackery going on here.

Also, we briefly touch on some disgusting holiday candy, Johnny-5 slams a Four Loko and, well… You can guess where things go from there…

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Questions? Complaints? Requests? Hit us up at XmasCreeps@gmail.com!

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Episode 121: Maniac Cop 2

The days are getting shorter… A chill is in the air… The smell of candy corn lingers… That can only mean one thing: It’s time for HOME FOR THE HORRORDAYS!

For this year’s spookytimes, we’re spotlighting a pair of holiday horror sequels. First up, our pal Stuart joins us to bear witness to the wanton police brutality of Maniac Cop 2! They thought they killed the zombie cop the first time around, but now he’s back and he’s making some new friends…

Obviously, the idea of a maniac cop certainly hits differently now than it did in 1990. But that doesn’t mean the film isn’t without its pleasures. For one thing, there are some truly spectacular car chases and shootouts. Action hounds will be right at home here…

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Questions? Complaints? Requests? Hit us up at XmasCreeps@gmail.com!

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Freeform’s “31 Nights of Halloween” By The Numbers

For the past few years, cable channel Freeform has embarked on an October programming block called “31 Nights of Halloween”. Every night in October, Freeform delivers family friendly thrills and chills, mostly from the good folks at Disney, who have owned the channel since 2016.

The block began in 1998 when the channel was known as Fox Family, later ABC Family. In 2011, a single showing of Disney’s Hocus Pocus pulled in such high ratings (for a 20-year-old movie airing on cable), that the next year the channel programmed it nearly a dozen times. In the years since, the sustained popularity of Hocus Pocus emboldened the network to build an entire month of programming around that one film. Starting with a paltry 13 Nights of Halloween, the channel expanded to 31 Nights in 2018.

And that’s where we come in! Every year Freeform releases their October schedule, and every year I enjoy looking at the list and seeing what’s changed. How many more times did Addams Family get shown last year than this year, for example. Tastes come and go, corporate mandates shift to and fro, but one thing has always remained constant: Freeform is more than happy to make you watch Hocus Pocus until your eyes bleed.

This year, I decided to draw up a chart to show this change in action. Looking back at the last four years of Freeform’s Halloween schedule, which are the last four that have been a full 31 days, I counted up every time a given film or special appears on the schedule. I tried to include as much as I could. A few non-Halloween films didn’t make the cut (mostly Disney animated films, which Freeform shows all the time anyway), but I’d consider this fairly comprehensive. 

Here’s this year’s schedule for reference. And here’s the full chart:

Click for full-size!

RANDOM OBSERVATIONS

  • Only six films have appeared all four years: The Addams Family, Hocus Pocus, Monsters Inc., Nightmare Before Christmas, Toy Story of TERROR!, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
  • Hocus Pocus is most often saved for primetime, this year only airing twice in the afternoon out of fourteen airings.
  • Calling this year’s airing of the Jaws films “The Freeform Premiere of The Jaws Trilogy” sounds nice, but the reality is that Jaws 3 airs at midnight on October 7th. Jaws and Jaws 2 air back to back at midnight on October 11th. (Also there are four Jaws films, and if there’s any Jaws we should ignore, it’s Jaws 3.)
  • We get four showings of Hotel Transylvania 2 & 3 this year, but the original is strangely AWOL.
  • From 2019 onward, The Addams Family and Addams Family Values have only ever aired back-to-back. As God intended.

THE BURTON DIMENSION

Tim Burton is far and away the most well-represented filmmaker here, with a grand total of seven films featured across all four years (eight if you count Nightmare Before Christmas)*. What’s peculiar is that Nightmare Before Christmas, a film that easily straddles the line between Halloween and Christmas, has been steadily disappearing from the schedule from 2018 to 2020, in both the 31 Nights of Halloween block AND the 25 Days of Christmas block. Chalk it up to fatigue, I suppose. It was the hottest cult Halloween film for years, but as you can see, it has handily been supplanted by Hocus Pocus as the reigning Halloween champ.

Elsewhere, though, in the entire four-year history of 31 Nights, Burton’s Edward Scissorhands has only aired twice: On October 3rd, 2019, twelve hours apart. 

Beetlejuice only made an appearance in 2020, but when he did he really made an impact, landing twelve slots on the schedule that year. This is likely because Beetlejuice is owned by Warner Bros, and Disney’s not gonna shell out the dough for a WB film unless they absolutely have to. In 2020, apparently they had to.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street saw a swift decline from 2018 to 2020, going from six showings, to one, to none at all. (Dark Shadows suffered a similar fate.) That could be due to Freeform shifting away from the older teen demographic and more toward kids and families. Or it may simply be because people realized Sweeney Todd isn’t all that fun.

This year sees the addition of two new Burton films to the schedule: The 2012 animated version of Frankenweenie, and his 2016 adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Only time will tell whether these find an audience the way Nightmare Before Christmas has.

DISNEY OWNS EVERYTHING NOW

When Disney bought out Fox in 2019, it was a seismic shift in the realm of which media conglomerate owns what properties. Case in point: The two live-action Scooby-Doo films, once staples of the 31 Nights programming block at twelve airings each, suddenly vanished in 2020. Just like with that Beetle guy, WB isn’t going to let Disney have the Mystery Machine unless they pay through the nose for it.

Another staple of Halloween TV is The Simpsons’ annual “Treehouse of Horror” episodes. For the last three years, Freeform has featured “Treehouse” marathons at least ten times a year. But along with The Simpsons, this year also sees Family Guy enter the fray with four blocks of Halloween episodes of its own.

And speaking of things definitely for kids, Freeform is also ‘premiering’ Alien and Aliens. Because when I think family friendly Halloween movies, I think of two hard-R alien mutilation flicks. It’ll be interesting to see how Freeform plans to edit around lines like “Assholes and elbows! I can’t wait for Die Hard to appear on this year’s 25 Days of Christmas block.

What do you think of 31 Nights of Halloween? Any trends you find curious? Let us know in the comments!


*Because if I don’t acknowledge it was directed by Henry Selick, I’ll get a dozen comments trying to correct me. I know. You know. We all know.

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Stocking Stuffer #25: Nirvanna The Band The Show, “The Bean”

It’s been a long time since we’ve had the chance to sit down and chat about some TV, and this week seemed like a perfect opportunity. This week Bradford brings us an episode of the Viceland comedy series “Nirvanna The Band The Show”. The episode, titled “The Bean”, follows its stars’ attempt to sneak a float into the Toronto Christmas parade as a means of promoting their rock band that may or may not actually exist.

Christmas gags abound on this episode, including a surprisingly detailed homage to the finer points of Home Alone, and The Usual Suspects (for some reason). Meanwhile, our hosts reminisce about their own experiences with Christmas parades, holiday TV, and more!

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What TV episodes would you like us to cover? Hit us up at XmasCreeps@gmail.com!

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Episode 120: Santa Stole Our Dog!

Let’s try that whole Dog Days of Summer thing again, huh? Santa Stole Our Dog! absolutely has a dog in it, and this time it might even be important to the plot! Why on earth would Santa steal someone’s dog, anyway? Well friends, this is not the first time a little critter has followed Ed Asner home… And in order the tell the full story of Santa Stole Our Dog!, we receive a transmission from our sister podcast, The O/S/T Party, to suss out how the film managed to secure music from Dolly Parton. That ain’t even the half of what makes this week’s film so bizarre, so grab yourselves a cold one, buckle up, and join us on another wild ride to the North Pole…
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SHOW NOTES FOR THIS EPISODE: Questions? Complaints? Requests? Hit us up at XmasCreeps@gmail.com!
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