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BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH.

/ NOVEMBER 2014

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

CONTENTS
GHOST OF THE LETTER FROM THE EDITOR PAST
Video Vortex: In The Still Of The NIGHT OF VAMPYRMANIA
Paint Fight: The Real-Life Courtroom Drama Behind Tim Burtons BIG EYES
Make SCROOGED A Holiday Tradition At Your House
All Is Bright: The Producers
Of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT On Christmass Best Horror Film
The Long And Opaque Career
Of INTO THE WOODS Stephen Sondheim
Create Your Own MiddleEarth Feast For THE HOBBIT
Your Guide To Drinking This Holiday: The Tom & Jerry
The Horror Of The Holidays

Editor-in-Chief
Devin Faraci

Managing Editor
Meredith Borders

Associate Publisher
Henri Mazza

Art Director
Joseph A. Ziemba

Graphic Designers

Zach Short, Stephen Sosa, Kelsey Spencer

Copy Editor
George Bragdon

Contributing Writers

Joseph A. Ziemba, Phil Nobile Jr., Meredith Borders, Brian Collins, Jeremy Smith,
Trish Eichelberger, Bill Norris

Public Relations Inquiries


Brandy Fons | brandy@fonspr.com

All content 2014 Alamo Drafthouse | drafthouse.com | badassdigest.com


Promotional images and artwork are reproduced in this magazine in the spirit of publicity and as historical illustrations to the text.
Grateful acknowledgement is made to the respective filmmakers, actors, and studios.

drafthouse.com

badassdigest.com

birthmoviesdeath.com

drafthousefilms.com

fantasticfest.com

mondotees.com

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GHOST OF THE LETTER


FROM THE EDITOR PAST
DEVIN FARACI
Badass Digest Editor in Chief
@devincf
Read more at badassdigest.com

You know what the song says: its the most wonderful
time of the year. And while we like Christmas just fine
we also like poking Santa in his tubby little belly just a
little bit -- which is why this year our Christmas issue
runs towards the macabre.
Why should all the frights happen in October?
Christmas comes right after the shortest day of the
year, falling on an ancient pagan holiday celebrating
midwinter -- and connected to The Wild Hunt, a
spectral procession of hunters promenading through the
night sky, as well as the increased presence of draugr,
Norse revenants.
It was said that those who saw The Wild Hunt may
have their souls sucked from their bodies and thats
kind of what parents were scared would happen when
kids saw ads for SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT,
which is easily the most famous killer Santa movie ever.
This issue we have an interview with the producers of
that film -- find out if they got coal in their stockings.
The most famous secular Christmas story is already
kind of a horror story, and our favorite version of it -SCROOGED, starring Bill Murray -- ups the ante on
the mayhem and the comedy at the same time. And one
of the all-time greatest Christmas movies happens to be
filled with vicious little monsters, and no, I dont mean

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

your kids waiting to open their presents. We also write


about GREMLINS this issue. Remember to stay out of
the chimney, dads.
The Christmas season is also when the studios bring out
their big awards contenders, so this issue we take a look
at the career of Stephen Sondheim, whose show INTO
THE WOODS is coming to theaters. Also out this
month is BIG EYES, and we have an examination of
the real life court case behind this film about a painter
who really liked painting kids with big ol eyes.
Peter Jacksons THE HOBBIT trilogy comes to an
end this year, and youre probably going to work up an
appetite watching it, so weve brought you a great recipe
right out of Middle-Earth. And wash that down with
the Tom & Jerry, a wonderful spiked eggnog that we
detail this issue.
As always theres more waiting for you under the
mistletoe. Maybe next year well get back to some
traditional holiday fun, but this year were kind of
enjoying keeping it creepy. 6

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

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BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

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Video Vortex:
In The Still Of The
NIGHT OF VAMPYRMANIA
JOSEPH A. ZIEMBA
Alamo Drafthouse Art Director and Programmer
@JosephAZiemba

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Horror filmmakers educate audiences by exploring


humanitys dark side. From Tod Browning to David
Cronenberg, they enable us to analyze our decisions
and understand our emotions. They entertain us. But
they also reveal painful truths. For instance:
If you are unhappy with the Sega Genesis game that
you got for Christmas, Santa Claus will rip out your
eyes and eat them.
Welcome to the guiding light of NIGHT OF
VAMPYRMANIA.
Shot with a camcorder somewhere in France, this
two-and-a-half-story anthology could have originated
on the back of a ninth-graders geometry homework.
It feels like its stuck in a limbo between puberty and a
loss of virginity. This is the kid who is aware that things
are changing, but refuses to give up his Lego collection.
All he wants to do is enjoy and not think about grownup stuff. While many people would prefer to forget
that awkward age, NIGHT OF VAMPYRMANIA
embraces it. Thats what makes this movie so much fun
to watch.
A priest drives a Volvo through the woods. He stops
and addresses the camera: Watch carefully the
following movie! It says a lot about the damage that
vampires cause!
This point is proven in Red Christmas. The
cannibalistic murderer known as Santa Claus has
unleashed his fury on Christmas Eve. After crushing
the heads of some street thugz, Santa crashes a
party. But before doling out more gifts, Saint Nick
observes the guests. A guy repeatedly yells, Theres
not enough meat for dinner! Another guy dances
like Crispin Glover in FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE
FINAL CHAPTER and his girlfriend goes topless. An
aggravated war veteran shows up and shares his gory
war stories by screaming at everyone. Soon, Santa has
had enough! He removes a mans brain and throws it
on the ground. He smashes a womans head with a fruit
cake. Theres also a zoom-filled fork-stabbing that was
probably influenced by Sam Raimi. And a twist that
was definitely influenced by Umberto Lenzi because its
not good.
Were back with the priest. A title screen reads, The
Last Son Of Dracula. The priest walks through the

woods for five minutes. He finds Draculas son in a


castle. Draculas son is wearing a bald cap with his
real hair sticking out underneath. The priest stakes
Draculas son. The end!
In Hell Taxi, the final story, the same kid who
played Draculas Son wears a truckers hat that says
SUPER MACHO. He spends his time hanging out in
a hammock, talking on the phone, working odd jobs
and trying to get laid. Its basically Francois Truffauts
ANTOINE AND COLETTE, but better. Meanwhile,
a vampire picks up victims in his taxi, brings them to
his lair, and dismembers them with a handsaw and an
axe. The vampire kidnaps Cindy, SUPER MACHOs
gal-pal. Let the battle begin! And the talking in living
rooms! And the exploring of underground vampire
lairs! Eventually, SUPER MACHO rides on top of the
taxi and has a showdown with the vampires minions,
who wear rubber monster masks from Walgreens.
NIGHT OF VAMPYRMANIA doesnt play out like
TREPANATOR, SEXANDROIDE or any other
homemade brain-stabber from France that feels like
it magically materialized from Planet X. The tone is
lucid and innocent. And unlike other European SOV
horror movies that were made by young people, theres
no angst or rebellion in NIGHT. Director Richard
Thompson wasnt obsessed with genital mutilation
(ZOMBIE 90) or smoking weed (THE BUTCHER).
But he was obsessed with playing triumphant Casio
synth-pop while people do mundane things, like
walking up a staircase. He was also way into time-lapse
vectorized video effects, inept gore and meta-enhanced
references to some of his favorite things. Like a fake
horror movie that he made up called TRASHMAN:
THE NUKE VAMPIRE.
NIGHT might feel uneven to people who have no
patience. Thats their problem. This is two-thousand
minutes of naive enthusiasm and unhinged fun
crammed into an eighty-minute movie. It deserves
many hugs from you.
P.S. In this movie, Santa Claus is a vampire.

NIGHT OF VAMPYRMANIA screens as part of Video


Vortex in December at the Alamo Drafthouse. To plunge
further into the madness of SOV trash-horror, check out
BLEEDINGSKULL.COM

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

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Paint Fight: The Real-Life


Courtroom Drama Behind
Tim Burton's BIG EYES
PHIL NOBILE JR.
Badass Digest Contributor
@philnobilejr
Read more at badassdigest.com

Walter Keane was a celebrated artist who rose to


prominence in the late 1950s. Descended from a family
of artists, his paintings of waifish, often sad-looking
children with oversized, soulful eyes became iconic
staples of 1960s pop culture. Prints of his portraits
hung in thousands of homes and offices throughout
the world. Though his work was largely derided by art
critics, Walter was massively successful, a popular figure
in the New York and San Francisco art scenes, and his
portraits, combined with a gift for self-promotion, made
him a millionaire.
But behind every great man is a great woman. In
Walters case, that woman was his wife Margaret, who
also happened to be the actual artist behind all of
Walters paintings. When she went public with this
accusation in 1970, she sparked off a 16-year legal battle
that ended in a courtroom paint-off in Honolulu.

The judge presiding over that case found in favor of


Margaret. Walter appealed, insisting to his grave the
paintings were his.
Facts are elusive (and maybe illusive) in these kinds
of stories, but whats certain is this: after working
in real estate in California, Walter Keane moved
to Paris in the late 1940s and studied art. In later
interviews, he would claim the big-eyed children of
his paintings were inspired by the war-wracked
innocents he saw there. Upon returning home, the
idea took root in a line of educational toys he and
his first wife Barbara created, called Susie Keane's
Puppeteens. The dolls were sold with a record of
French lessons in high-end department stores to
teach children the language. Walter would later refer
to these dolls as proof that he had created the big
eyes that made him rich.

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Walter met Margaret in 1953; they married in 1955


and by 1957, Walter began to get a lot of attention for
his distinctive portraits of big-eyed children. Going by
the press at the time, Walters success owed as much
to his tireless self-promotion as it did to the paintings.
Mr. Keane cut a larger-than-life figure, creating and
enforcing an image of a boisterous bon vivant around
whom parties naturally sprang. He held court at the
Hungry I, a nightspot in San Francisco where he was
known to press flesh and hawk paintings until last call.
As his fame swelled, his paintings became a worldwide
sensation -- to the chagrin of serious art critics, who
called his work sentimental, tasteless hack work. But
Hollywood celebrities like Joan Crawford, Kim Novak
and Natalie Wood were fans, adorning their homes with
Keane originals and commissioned portraits. When
the Keane eyes paintings exploded into a cottage
industry of mass reproductions on prints and posters,
Andy Warhol also approved, offering up some positively
Warholian logic regarding the quality of Keanes work:
I think what Keane has done is just terrific... it has to
be good. If it were bad, so many people wouldnt like it.
Publicly, the Keanes were a family of artists, posing in
front of easels at home for a parade of newspaper and
magazine photographers. But Margaret is always

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

perched in front of portraits of slender, almond-eyed,


Modiglianiesque women, while Walter stands proud
over his bread and butter -- those wide-eyed, sad kids.
And in the text of those pieces, Margaret is peripheral,
unobtrusive. More than one feature paints a flighty, silly
figure of a woman who is content to be in awe of her
genius husband.
Privately, according to Margaret, it was a different
picture altogether.
For years, Margaret claimed, she stayed home and
painted (and did the housework) while Walter went
out and made himself a celebrity, using his wifes
paintings as a springboard. She claimed to not realize
at first that he was taking credit for her paintings. He
assured her that the high prices being fetched were
connected to his public persona, that people whod
met and partied with him were more eager to buy his
paintings than theyd otherwise be. When she resisted
this plan and vocally considered exposing him, she
claimed, Walter threatened to kill her and their children.
So Margaret kept painting, and kept letting Walter take
credit. As she suffered in silence, those famous Keane
Eyes paintings began to look darker, more sullen, those
eyes filling with despair. Eventually, Margaret was able

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to sever the relationship. After a divorce (described in


the press as amicable) in 1965, Margaret remarried,
moved to Hawaii, and in 1970, summoned up the
courage to go public with her stunning accusation.
The story was huge, perhaps most breathlessly reported
by the folks who hated the paintings. [Margaret]
claims that Walter never did a single one of those
saccharine, lugubrious paintings that peer out of every
dime-store window in the land, hissed LIFE magazine.
Walter Keane denied the charges and stuck to his
merrymaker schtick. I prefer to daub rather than to
smear, he responded, and pointed to his 1940s toy
venture as proof the big-eyed children were his. I was
painting these children 10 years before this woman
had ever heard of me. In archival catalog photos, its
obvious Walters hand-painted dolls indeed had wide,
oversized eyes, but they are in reality quite cartoonish,
closer to Tex Avery than Tim Burton, with no trace of
the dark, soulful expressions that would come to define
Keanes style.
A series of legal battles ensued, punctuated by Margaret
repeatedly challenging Walter to a paint-off to show

the world who was telling the truth. Give us both


paint and brush and turn us loose in Union Square (a
park in San Francisco) at high noon and see who can
paint eyes. Id like that. Described in all those fluffy
press pieces as shy and timid, Margaret seemed to
find her voice in this battle. Walter was a no-show at
the Union Square showdown; Margaret nonetheless
performed her half of the paint-off for a huge crowd,
perfectly producing one of the famous Keane eyes
portraits. The legal fight dragged on until finally, in a
1986 courtroom, Margaret painted one of her signature
children in front of a jury. Walter, citing a shoulder
injury, declined to do the same. Margaret was awarded
four million dollars by the jury; her ex-husband
appealed and claimed to be penniless. He died in 2000.
Margaret Keane McGuire now lives in the Napa Valley
in California, where she continues to paint. Her recent
paintings reportedly no longer have the gloomy sadness
that was once their trademark.
Tim Burton, a collector of Keane paintings, directs Amy
Adams and Christoph Waltz in BIG EYES, opening
Christmas Day. 6

This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and is
made possible by generous lead underwriting support from Tami and Michael Lang, and
corporate underwriting from The San Diego County BMW Centers. Additional funding
has been received from Stephen Feinberg. Support for the exhibition at the Blanton is
provided by Jeanne and Michael Klein, with additional funding from the Berman Family
Foundation and the Alice Kleberg Reynolds Foundation.
View of James Drake studio, New Mexico. Image courtesy of the artist.

#BrainTrash

Blanton Museum of Art / The University of Texas at Austin / MLK at Congress / 512.471.7324 / www.blantonmuseum.org

@blantonmuseum

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Make SCROOGED A
Holiday Tradition At
Your House
MEREDITH BORDERS
Badass Digest Managing Editor
@xymarla
Read more at badassdigest.com

In my home, there are three incontrovertible viewing


traditions: annual attendance to the Alley Theatres
brilliant A CHRISTMAS CAROL production, a
Christmas Eve screening of ITS A WONDERFUL
LIFE and, on the Monday after Thanksgiving after weve
decorated the house for the holidays, a viewing of Richard
Donners 1988 Bill Murray vehicle SCROOGED.
SCROOGED -- irreverent, high-strung, just a teensy
bit mean -- may feel out of place among the classical
pleasures of Dickens and Capra, but the fact remains
that each story follows the same template laid out by
Charles Dickens in 1843 (the same template that, by
the way, is responsible for the invention of our modern
celebration of Christmas, trees and all): over the course
of one night, a man who has taken the many blessings
of his life for granted is given a glimpse from beyond to
guide him into gratitude. That SCROOGED tells this
story with such unhinged glee is only in its favor.
As SCROOGED opens, we meet our ingrate: Murrays
Frank Cross, network televisions youngest president ever,
currently in the throes of a massive Christmas special
production. You should know that in the special, Lee
Major stars as a gun-toting hero saving Santas workshop
from psychos, Buddy Hackett plays Ebeneezer and
Mary Lou Retton is an acrobatic Tiny Tim who throws
away the crutches, vaults a lamppost and doublesomersaults back into one of these things -- these
things being a fancy, arms-up dismount, of course.
I would watch that movie.
BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

Despite his indisputably brilliant ideas, Frank is under


significant stress at work. Ratings are down and his
crazy old boss, a hilarious Robert Mitchum, wants
Frank to develop programming with pet appeal for
the millions of cats and dogs in America. You know,
birds and squirrels and lots of quick, random action.
More worryingly, his boss has hired a sleazy upstart
(John Glover, great in the role) to help oversee the
production of Scrooge, and Franks position at the
International Broadcasting Company is starting to feel
a little precarious.
But before you can start to feel too bad for ol Frank,
he fires a flunky -- Bobcat Goldthwait! -- on Christmas
Eve, shoves little old ladies out of cabs, tries to staple
antlers on a mouse and gives his sweet younger brother
a corporate logo towel for Christmas. (Scanning his
gift recipient list: Towel, towel, towel most of these
are towels.) Frank treats his impassive, long-suffering
assistant Grace (Alfre Woodard in the Bob Cratchit
role) like dirt and downs Stoli and Tab for breakfast.
So when his late boss Lew Hayward -- John Forsyth as
a Bacardi-swilling Jacob Marley-- appears as a crusty
corpse preparing Cross for the visitation of three
ghosts, the man is in serious need of a change.
At the heart of SCROOGED is the romance between
Frank and Claire, the ever- adorable Karen Allen.
Allen is responsible for a healthy portion of the charm
of the film; her performance is, as always, warm and
appealing. Claire is Franks benevolent ex-girlfriend,

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long ago left behind in the wake of his inexorable


journey toward earthly success. Shes is Scrooges
Belle, but this Scrooge is lucky enough to get a second
chance with her in present day. As Frank is faced with
the ghosts of his past, present and future, he comes to
realize what Claire has always meant to him.
Ahh yes, the ghosts. David Johansen is really fun as the
crude, cigar-smoking cabbie of Christmas Past, and
the cloaked Ghost of Christmas Future is duly creepy,
although sparsely used. But Carol Kane is a true delight
as the bubbly, ball-breaking Ghost of Christmas Present.
The effects in SCROOGED are of their time but
still inventive, with a singular, cutesy quality that
still delivers today. Danny Elfmans score is, well, a
Danny Elfman score: gothic and playful and full of
surprising depth. One of the most delightful aspects
of SCROOGED is its unabashedly 80s spirit. The
movies an utter time capsule with its Tab and Solid
Gold Dancers, Chernobyl and Richard Pryor jokes,
VHS recorders and Ginsu knives. The humor, however,
remains totally fresh. When a Standards and Practices
drone complains about the revealing costumes of the
dancers in the live TV special, a crew guy helpfully
offers, You can hardly see them nipples and Frank
replies, See! And these guys are really looking!

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

Murrays dry delivery is flawless throughout the film;


the supercilious waiter is the only actor in the entire
movie capable of upstaging him.
With the sharp humor and wacky effects in
SCROOGED, the formidable lines lifted directly
from Dickens resound all the more in comparison.
Frank is incredulous that Lew, a leader of business,
should feel that he wasted his life, and Lew thunders,
MANKIND SHOULD HAVE BEEN MY
BUSINESS! Its a chilling moment that stands out
amid the silly comedy. And when Murray finally gives
his inevitable bah humbug, the delivery is subtle yet
potent. It sticks, is what Im saying.
The last ten minutes or so get a little corny with the
group singing, breaking of the fourth wall and the total
STAR WARS ending (ghosts waving at the hero from
the sky!), but what the hell. This is a Christmas movie,
right? Even DIE HARD gets a little corny at the end. I
watch SCROOGED once a year and never fail to tear
up when Graces little boy finally gives us that longawaited God bless us, every one. This is a movie thats
hilarious and snarky and weird, but its also earnestly
warm-hearted. If its been too long, give SCROOGED
a watch this holiday season. Youll enjoy the dickens out
of it. The DICKENS out of it -- nobody gets me! 6

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All Is Bright: The


Producers Of SILENT
NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT
On Christmass Best
Horror Film
BRIAN W. COLLINS
Badass Digest Contributor
@brianwcollins
Read more at badassdigest.com

This was an interview I couldnt turn down; Ive been


a fan of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT for
almost my entire horror-watching life, and having
met Scott Schneid and Michael Hickey at a screening
of the film last year, I knew they had a good sense of
humor about the film, and some pretty great stories
to tell about its history. I also knew that there was
something really cool coming for fans of the film in
time for its 30th anniversary, so I wanted to get the
details on that. Read on!

Q: So its been 30 years. Whats your strongest


memory now, looking back?
S: Well, you realize that Michael and I were not on
the set, we were not involved in the actual
production in Utah. I developed the script here
with Michael, pretty much from inception, we did
all the hard work what you see on the screen is
close, like 98%, 99% of what we developed here.
So for me, it was when I took my mother to see
the movie in Brooklyn, where I grew up. I took
my Jewish mom, who had probably never seen a
horror movie in her life, let alone a slasher movie.
And there are picketers all over the place. Parents
with little kids, holding signs saying Santa aint no
hit man! or You deck the halls with Holly, not
bodies! So I had to shuttle my mom through these
people to get into the theater, and were sitting there
watching the movie, with me kind of glancing over
out of the corner of my eye every once in a while
to see how shes reacting. So after, we get out of the
movie, and I kind of have this sheepish look on
my face, and say So mom, what did you think?
And she said, Well, Ive seen worse on television!
Which I thought was priceless; she had a great
attitude about it. She didnt shame me.
M: I have many memories, and they are very vivid,
because its all a kind of once in a lifetime kind
of thing for me. I remember developing with
Scott, the writing itself, how the kills occurred
to me and so on, and I remember working with
Ira Barmak, who was the producer. I remember

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

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going to a screening for the first time and being


quite thoroughly disappointed with it, but I think
thats just the inevitable writers reaction to seeing
a movie they wrote for the first time. Because
of course it looks completely different than the
version you saw in your head, no director is going
to shoot it the way you imagined it, so it was all
wrong to me. Years later, after I forgot about
the movie in my *head* and watched the movie
itself, seeing it with fresh eyes, I really quite liked
it. I do think the directing is erratic, but there are
enough moments that I think are very good, and
I think its hilarious. I laughed a lot when I saw it
with fresh eyes for the first time. And of course the
protests were highly memorable, I was called one
day by ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT, since I
happened to work on the Paramount lot and they
said Are you THAT Michael Hickey? So I went
over and did an on-camera interview, and later a lot
of telephone interviews and so on. The brouhaha
that surrounded it was so amazing, so maybe thats
my strongest memory -- the fact that one night Dan
Rather led the CBS EVENING NEWS with a story
about SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT.
Q: This is the 30th anniversary; its just come out
on Blu-ray for the first time after several DVD rereleases why do you think its endured?
M: I think its endured because its the greatest
Christmas movie ever made! Christmas comes
around every year, so what are you gonna do? You
have to watch it!
S: Christmas is just like Halloween; the theater is
filled with horror movies for Halloween, so I
BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

think at Christmastime people want to watch


holiday themed movies. So on the positive, bright
side theres MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET and
CHRISTMAS STORY and then SILENT
NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT is the anti-Christmas
Christmas movie!
M: It also endures because of the internet. It didnt
have a steady level of interest from 1984 until
today; I think it dropped off the radar for a lot of
years after its release, and everyone forgot about
the protests. I didnt hear anything about it, I know
it was on video but I know the community of
people who found it funny or interesting found
each other on the internet, and kind of came out of
the closet with their enthusiasm for it.
S: The other thing too, for me, the film has some
things I absolutely love, and then there are things I
kind of cringe at a bit. And when you watch it with
an audience its almost like a ROCKY HORROR
thing. It plays great as a midnight movie, with
a young crowd. The things that are really good?
People quiet down, like the scene in the toy store,
and the killing of the parents, those things are really
well done, well edited, directed but then there are
things that are laughable. So when you see it with
an audience, they get into the intense parts, and
then when things get silly, like the actings not so
good in a couple of places, theyre laughing together
and having fun. All of these screenings over the
years, with these 35mm prints that are floating out
there owned by collectors -- people have gotten a
chance now to see it with a crowd, thats kept the
movie alive in its own right.

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Q: Its true; it wasnt until I saw it blown up on a


big screen that I realized how silly it was that the
boyfriend somehow doesnt see Linnea Quigley
hanging there when shes maybe 10 degrees out of
his direct line of sight. On the big screen its just
magnified, and everyones just dying laughing.
M: Well one thing to know is that Chuck Sellier,
the director, was more of a producer. This was
actually the first feature he directed. Which makes
me wonder why Ira didnt hire a movie director?
S: Dennis Whitehead, who was a co-executive
producer and developed the script with Michael
and I -- when he and I were developing the script as
producers, we met with Albert Magnoli, who went
on to direct PURPLE RAIN -- he wanted to do it!
So did Ken Kwapis, who did like SISTERHOOD
OF THE TRAVELING PANTS, he and Magnoli
had just come out of USC and did really nice
thesis films for their MFAs. We met with them and
thought they were both terrific -- and both of them
wanted to direct the movie, which was called Slay
Ride then.
Q: Speaking of Slay Ride, I know you brought this
up on the commentary, but for the fans who dont
listen to those, can you explain the writing credits
on this movie? Theres a story by credit for a
writer named Paul Caimi, and Chuck Sellier has
said that it was based on a novel called Slay Ride
that doesnt seem to exist
S: I was a Harvard grad working at William Morris,
and I had gotten a phone call from Paul Caimi,
who I didnt know, but he was a senior at Harvard
and had gotten my number as an alumnus. He
called me up in Los Angeles and said Hey, I
wrote a script called He Sees You When Youre
Sleeping, would you like to read it? So I said
sure, and he sent it -- it was like 71 pages and
it was awful. It was amateurish, and there is
absolutely nothing in that script that I liked other
than the one sentence idea of someone in a Santa
suit killing people. So I optioned the script from
Paul, and then partnered with Dennis Whitehead,
raised some money and hired Michael. And
Michael, you never read it, right?
M: Correct, I did not.
S: And I cant even tell you what that scripts story
was. It was not told from Santas point of view, it
was told from a young girls point of view, in a small
town I want to be clear, there is NOTHING we
took from that script other than the one sentence
not even a sentence, a three word idea! A killer
Santa. We took that and developed an entirely new

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

treatment, and then from that we raised additional


funds for Michael to write a full screenplay, which
was called Slay Ride. And Paul, since I didnt want
to screw the kid over, he was 21 at the time, we
made a deal with him -- he got some money and he
got a story by credit. And when Mr. Sellier, who
I never had the pleasure of meeting, did that phone
interview thats on the DVD, he said Ira Barmak
had optioned a novel called Slay Ride, which the
screenplay was based on. Thats completely wrong!
M: Slay Ride is merely the original title of the
project from when Scott and I controlled it. When
it went to Tri-Star they changed the title to SILENT
NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT. And they didnt do it
until long into -- or maybe even after production,
because the crew has t-shirts that say Slay Ride on
them. But there was no novel!
S: Sellier also took credit for the antler kill, didnt he?
He said he thought of it on the set or something?
M: Yeah, which is ridiculous, because if you just
think of it on the set, then what? You send a
production assistant to Lowes to get a plastic naked
torso off the shelf? Obviously that would take a
tremendous amount of advanced preparation and
rigging, so no, he didnt come up with that. It was
in the script.
Q: Lets talk about the soundtrack. I understand you
have some news about it.
S: There are a couple of songs in the final film as it
exists, theres the Santas Watching, Santas Waiting
song -M: I love that song!
S: -- its a wonderful song, the production is great.
And there are snippets of three other songs in the
movie, like where the kids are messing around on
the pool table
M: And on the radio when theyre driving, at
the beginning.
S: Yep! And Morgan Ames, who wrote Santas
Watching, wrote eight or ten songs, and there was
a plan to release an album, the soundtrack and the
score by Perry Botkin, which would include all of
the songs that werent in the movie. But it never
happened. But now, recently, I was able to negotiate
a deal with Death Waltz for the soundtrack. Theyre
the premiere niche record company for the horror
soundtrack resurgence on vinyl going on right now.
So its coming out late November, early December.
Itll be a two record set.

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M: Like the White Album! (laughs)

S: Nope, theyre all original.

S: So one record will be the score, the other one


will be the songs, including a really cool song
called Slayrider. Theyre very well produced,
and theyre really a time capsule from 1984. One
sounds like a Gloria Estefan, kind of a Latin beat,
and one has like a new wave kind of feel all
different styles based on what was going on at the
time. And theyre not like horror songs, theyre
just Christmas songs!

Q: OK, before we finish up, I have to ask about


Grandpa. Apart from the kill scenes, thats probably
the most memorable part of the movie. Was there
a childhood trauma that inspired that? Its such a
bizarre scene.

Q: My friends and I talked about that after that


screening. All of the songs in the movie sound like
traditional Christmas songs, the ones you hear all
the time, but they were all original. Its so rare that
a non-musical Christmas movie has originals to
that degree, its always just the standards: Joy to
the World, Silent Night, Jingle Bells but
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT doesnt
really have any of those.

M: Well at some point you gotta get the ball


rolling on the Santa punishes the naughty kids
idea, so Grandpa becomes the conduit to get
that started. Everything after, the Santa on the
road, Mother Superior it all feeds off of that. So
getting the idea planted in Billys mind, that Santa
only brings toys to those who have been good
and punishes those who have been naughty, you
just have to get that started somehow, and thats
where a crazy person comes in. Its such an insane
idea, though it is sort of justified by a lot of the
Christmas songs. He knows if youve been bad
or good so be good for goodness sake -- it sort of
forces the question, OR WHAT? 6

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LETS ALL GO
TO THE LOBBY

AD
NOW AVAILABLE AT ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE
The Brooklyn Brewer y 79N 11th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249 BrooklynBrewer y.com Facebook.com/TheBrooklynBrewer y @BrooklynBrewer y BrooklynBlogger y.com

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The Long And


Opaque Career Of
INTO THE WOODS
Stephen Sondheim
JEREMY SMITH
Aint It Cool News West Coast Editor
@mrbeaks

Good times and bum times, hes seen them all, and, my
dear, hes still here.
Everyone loves a good survival story because everyone
believes theyve still got a shot to accomplish
something extraordinary in this life. They may be
nearing retirement age after decades of dutiful, cogin-the-wheel service to some nondescript company
that does a variety of nondescript things for which no
one would think to be grateful, but, god and talent
willing, the world will one day be floored by their epic
musical about the history of irrigation. And whenever
someone tells them to place that embarrassment in the
drawer and never let it see the light of day for fear of
institutionalization, they will smile and say, Yeah, well,
Stephen Sondheim once wrote a Broadway musical
about famous presidential assassins.
For theater nerds, particularly those inclined toward
musical theater, Stephen Sondheim is the patron saint
of fuck you. Though he is one of the most celebrated
composers and librettists of the last sixty years, the
bulk of Sondheims work has challenged the status
quo of the medium; whereas most American musicals
spill over with unearned sentiment, Sondheim comes
at songwriting and plotting with an analytical mind.
Sure, hes been showered with Tony Awards, but his
shows have spawned only one Top 40 hit: Send in
the Clowns from A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC. A
lifelong cinephile, he draws inspiration from the
likes of Bergman, Bunuel and Powell & Pressburger,
driving toward quiet epiphanies via delicate and
elusive melodies that, as his career has progressed,
have become increasingly un-hummable. Aspiring
performers often audition with Sondheim tunes, but
theyre not looking to engage their would-be directors
BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

emotions; theyre showing off a thorough command


of ones instrument. And this can be a perilous task
because there arent many people outside of New
York City or Londons West End who can identify the
difference between a brilliantly delivered Finishing
the Hat from SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH
GEORGE and a horribly faked one. This is one reason
that SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE,
a Pulitzer Prize-winning study of George Searats
painting of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La
Grande Jatte, doesnt get performed much in regional
theater: its an intensely cerebral examination of the
artistic temperament. And while it is not inaccessible, it
is difficult for audiences weaned on sugary confections
like CATS and LES MISERABLES to connect to its
subtle celebration of pointillism.
That Sondheim managed to get a lavish Broadway run
for a musical about such a seemingly arcane subject
is a testament to a lofty reputation built largely on
triumphs -- WEST SIDE STORY and GYPSY -- he
wanted no part of in the first place. Born to a pair
of emotionally withholding, psychologically abusive
parents, the young Sondheim was fortunate enough
to befriend the son of legendary lyricist Oscar
Hammerstein II. Already evincing an interest in
musical theater at the age of ten, Sondheim sought the
elder Hammersteins guidance, which he provided via
a series of challenges designed to sharpen the aspiring
artists skills. Key to Hammersteins mentorship was
a request for four different kinds of musicals from
Sondheim: one based on a play Sondheim admired;
another based on a play he liked, but thought had
flaws; a third based on a novel or short story that had
not yet been adapted for the theater; and, finally, an
original. While none of these assignments ever became

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full-blown musicals (including BAD TUESDAY,


an adaptation of P.L. Traverss MARY POPPINS
which pre-dates the Disney film), Sondheim credits
Hammersteins continued tutelage as invaluable to his
development as a composer and librettist. The two men
remained close, so much so that Sondheim delivered
the eulogy at Hammersteins funeral in 1960.
It is likely that the world has Hammerstein to thank
for Sondheims involvement in WEST SIDE STORY.
Longing to make his mark as a composer, Sondheim
was initially cool to the idea of writing lyrics only
for Leonard Bernsteins urban retelling of ROMEO
& JULIET. Fortunately, Hammerstein urged his
twentysomething protg to take the gig, assuring him
that there would be ample opportunity to compose
music in the future. Though WEST SIDE STORY
is considered one of the greatest musicals in theater
history, Sondheim has expressed mild dissatisfaction
with his lyrics, which he told The Guardian are Poetic
with a capital P at Bernsteins request. But play
One Hand, One Heart back-to-back with I Wish I
Could Forget You from PASSION, and its really the
melodies that offer the starkest contrast. Sondheim has
never had a problem with expressing outsized emotion
in his lyrics; he just has a distaste for bombast.
Its this penchant for melodic restraint that has helped
solidify Sondheims reputation for being a cold,

unfeeling composer of esoteric musicals, but his aim


has almost always been to let content dictate form
-- and, for the most part, Sondheims material has been
grounded in a semi-identifiable reality. COMPANY
and FOLLIES are about real people struggling with
depressing crap like infidelity, getting older and passing
out of ones prime. Even when staging a gloriously
theatrical tribute to Grimms Fairy Tales with INTO
THE WOODS, Sondheim cant help but humanize
his archetypes and wonder at the consequences of their
actions. It makes the show a surprising choice for a
family-friendly Disney musical (e.g. the song Hello,
Little Girl finds Little Red Riding Hood being sized
up in a disconcertingly lascivious manner by The Wolf ),
but if theres a Sondheim show thats going to appeal to
the masses, its this one (or SWEENEY TODD, which
Tim Burton previously mangled with non-singing
movie stars).
INTO THE WOODS is a good show, but Sondheim
is at his very best when probing the minds and desires
of the discarded or disturbed. Who else would think
to make a musical spectacle out of Squeaky Fromme
and Sara Jane Moore throwing bullets at Gerald Ford
-- and ask the audience to empathize in some fashion?
Hes made it eighty-four years. Thank god Stephen
Sondheims still here. 6

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Create Your Own


MiddleEarth Feast For
THE HOBBIT
TRISH EICHELBERGER
Badass Digest Contributor
@cheftrish

Photos by: Cory Ryan


"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the
kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended
in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song
above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

One of my favorite recipes from the LORD OF


THE RINGS Feast is the galettes. The dough itself
is very versatile and can be used for everything from
savory canaps to sweet rustic tarts. For the feast,
we fill this dough with a simple mixture of herbed
goat cheese and some thinly sliced prosciutto. Its a
winning combination, but feel free to be as creative
as you want here. Almost anything wrapped in this
slightly crispy, slightly sweet, touch of salty dough
is going to be a hit at your holiday party or movieand-meal marathon.

Hobbits eat a lot. A LOT. They value food more than


gold, and in that, we are very alike. At the Alamo
Drafthouse, we have hosted many a feast for the LORD
OF THE RINGS and HOBBIT films -- a feast entailing
all seven courses (breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses,
luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and supper, of course)
and lembas bread, and its a joyous way to enjoy Peter
Jacksons films in the very spirit Tolkien himself intended.

Galette Dough:

And this is certainly an endeavor you can try at home


-- the Internet has many suggestions for Hobbit-style
recipes like Bilbos Tea Cake or Elven Lembas Bread. But
today Im going to share one of my feast recipes with
you, a real crowd-pleaser that even the most particular
Hobbit could enjoy.

2 cups All-purpose flour


cup yellow corn meal
lb butter, cold cut on small pieces
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

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1. In a large bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar


and salt.
2. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the
flour mixture.
3. Once the butter is evenly distributed but still in
pieces the size of a pea, add the water until the
dough begins to come together. You dont have to
add it all, but it will be close.
4. Roll into 2 balls and wrap with plastic wrap and
refrigerate at least an hour. You can also freeze
this dough.

We serve the galettes with baby greens topped with


a garlic blackberry vinaigrette, shortbread and
gingersnaps for Afternoon Tea, but you could eat them
on the side of any course. If youd like to mimic our
feast exactly, heres the menu:
First Breakfast
Fresh Hens eggs, nice crispy bacon, grilled mushrooms
and rosemary seared orange Canella
Blood Orange Mimosa

Herbed Goat Cheese Filling:

Second Breakfast
Strawberries and cream with honey
Chaucer's Mead

1- lb goat cheese
cup basil, chiffonade ( very thinly sliced strips)
2 tsp black pepper, ground
Thinly sliced prosciutto as needed or desired (make
them as meaty as you want!)

Elevenses
House made garlic, herb, and pork sausage and
tomatoes with cheeses, ale-braised cabbage and pickles
Dogfish Raison D'etre

How to assemble the galettes:


Take the galette dough and portion into small balls,
approximately 1 oz.
On a floured surface, roll out into as even a circle as
you can.
Spread the filling in the middle, leaving about a
inch of dough without filling on the edge; lay some
prosciutto across the filling.
Fold the edges over the filling leaving some exposed;
depending on the size of your galettes, you will need to
fold over 6- 10 times.
Place the galettes in a 350 degree oven and bake for
about 12- 18 minutes or until golden brown and the
filling is hot and bubbly.
Allow to cool for few moments before enjoying. These
are great right out of the oven or later at
room temperature.

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

Luncheon
Grilled New Zealand lamb t-bone chops, cherry
pepper cabernet reduction, with mashed potatoes,
roast baby carrots
Guinness Stout
Afternoon Tea
Baby greens with garlic blackberry vinaigrette, salted
pork-cheese galette, shortbread and gingersnaps
Hot Tea
Dinner
Stewed coney with taters, carrot, and leek, fresh garden
herbs with crusty bread
Woodchuck Amber Cider
Supper
Swirl of tomato and spinach soups wild mushroom
crouton, summer berry turnover with cream
NV Charles Bove Sparkling Brut
Lembas bread as needed.

Your Guide To
Drinking This Christmas:
The Tom & Jerry
BILL NORRIS
Alamo Drafthouse Beverage Director
@wnorris3

NOW one time it comes on Christmas, and in fact it is


the evening before Christmas, and I am in Good Time
Charley Bernstein's little speakeasy in West Forty-seventh
Street, wishing Charley a Merry Christmas and having
a few hot Tom and Jerrys with him. This hot Tom and
Jerry is an old time drink that is once used by one and all
in this country to celebrate Christmas with, and in fact
it is once so popular that many people think Christmas is
invented only to furnish an excuse for hot Tom and Jerry,
although of course this is by no means true. But anybody
will tell you that there is nothing that brings out the true
holiday spirit like hot Tom and Jerry, and I hear that since
Tom and Jerry goes out of style in the United States, the
holiday spirit is never quite the same.
--Damon Run, Dancing Dans Christmas
As we get deeper into the season of holiday parties and
office gatherings, we hit the age old conundrum of the
host: how does he enjoy his own festivities or mingle
with her guests if chained to the bar in order to make
cocktails that are delicious and well proportioned?
The solution is simple, and older than America, and
it is to offer guests something communal. A bowl of
punch perhaps or a steamy, aromatic pot of Gluhwein
or Wassail would suit the season. There is always
Egg Nogg, which when made from scratch bears no
resemblance to the glutinous mess available on every
grocery store shelf, and then, of course, there is Tom
& Jerry, a drink that was once a wintertime staple in
taverns and saloons across America, but that has sadly
faded into obscurity, save for a few bastions of cocktail
geekdom and some lingering purists in the Great Lakes
region and the Upper Midwest.
Tom & Jerry requires some pre-gathering labor, and
some fussing about with eggs, and for the truly

obsessed, some mucking about on eBay, but when


compounded well and served properly, it is a bone
warming seasonal treat, redolent of baking spices and
rum, with that certain ineffable greatness that makes
for tradition. Make Tom & Jerry one year for your
gathering, and you will probably have to offer it in
subsequent seasons.
Mr. Thomas, I Presume?
For many, many years, the Tom & Jerry was credited to
Jerry Thomas, author of the first ever bartenders guide
and a well-known self-promoter. Thomas got this credit
because he (loudly and often) told anyone who asked
that hed created the drink. To wit:
One day in...1847 a gentleman asked me to give him
an egg beaten up in sugar. I prepared the article, and
thenI thought to myself, How beautiful the egg and
sugar would be with Brandy to it! I ran to the gentleman
and, says I, If youll only bear with me for five minutes Ill
fix you up a drink thatll do your heartstrings good. He
wasnt adverse to having the condition of his heartstrings
improved, so back I went, mixed the egg and sugar, which
I had beaten up into a kind of batter, with some brandy,
then I poured in some hot water and stirred vigorously.
The drink realized my expectations. It was the one thing
Id been dreaming of for monthsI named the drink after
myself, kinder familiarly: I had two white mice in those
days, one of them I had called Tom and the other Jerry, so
I combined the abbreviations in the drink, as Jeremiah
P. Thomas would have sounded rather heavy, and that
wouldnt have done for a beverage.*
Of course, Thomas boast was hogwash, as references to
Tom & Jerry can be found dating back to at least 1827,
three years before Thomas was born. But given his
name and his affinity for the more theatrical side of

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the bar business, Thomas certainly promoted the drink


far and wide, in his writing, in his press clippings and
in his trendsetting bars of the mid-1800s. By the mid1860s, when winter first blew into town, almost any
bar would set out the Tom & Jerry bowl until spring
started to warm things up.
Tom & Jerry started to go out of fashion in the early
part of the 1900s, really began to disappear during
World War II, and by the 1960s it was almost extinct.
Its decline is emblematic of societal and cultural
changes that affected all aspects of American life, but
especially bars, as they moved to mass produced,
quickly executed cocktails made with off the shelf
mixers and artificial ingredients, the very opposite of
what compounding a Tom & Jerry requires.
Nogg? Not Nogg?
Tom & Jerry is best thought of as Egg Noggs hot
cousin. While a properly made Egg Nogg was also a
well-known tipple by the middle of the 1860s, the
primary difference between Tom & Jerry and Egg
Nogg is serving temperature. With Egg Nogg, as
Thomas notes in his book, There is no heat used,
while Tom & Jerry gets its warming feel not only from
a good stiff shot of booze (which it has in spades), but
also from the addition of either hot water or, better,
warm milk.
In addition to Tom and Jerry, Thomas book lists six
Egg Nogg variations, all of which are far lighter in body
and superior to the off shelf stuff you can buy at the
7-11 today. And, while he does list individual versions
of some of the Noggs, the best of them are made in a
big bowl, with enough for 15 or so servings ready to go
when the drink is completed.
With Tom and Jerry, because of the heat element, you
begin the process in a way that is similar to Egg Nogg,
but instead of mixing it all up at once, you create a
batter or dope that is kept on hand to be made into
individual warm drinks la minute. In a party setting,
this allows your guests to mix their own drinks from
a station in the kitchen (or elsewhere if you can keep
warm milk in a crock pot or insulated carafe), which
can be messy but is also great fun.
A Note on Ingredients: Booze
Almost all early Tom and Jerry recipes call for the
dope to be made with a touch of Jamaica Rum, and
the finished drink to be mixed with either Brandy or
a mixture of Brandy and Rum. Jamaica Rum of the
1860s would have been aged and it would have been
redolent of funk and hogo. A great choice here would
be the Smith and Cross Navy Strength Rum, but other
aged rums will do as well. If you can find it (and if you
do, please buy me a bottle), the Inner Circle Green Dot
from Australia would be perfect in this drink.

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

For the Brandy, make it Cognac and go with something


in the VSOP range (VS if youre on a budget). Pierre
Ferrand 1840 Original Formula is a great choice
here (and in all classic Cognac based drinks), as it was
designed to mimic the flavor of the pre-phylloxera
Cognacs that would have been commonly served in the
mid 1800s. A high quality domestic brandy would also
work, especially something from Germain Robin.
Thomas also specifies, Adepts at the bar, in serving
Tom & Jerry, sometimes adopt a mixture of brandy,
Jamaica rum, and Santa Cruz Rum, instead of
brandy plain. This is a very good idea, but theres
one glaring issue: Smith and Cross is an admirable
approximation of the Jamaica Rum of Thomas time,
but as David Wondrich has noted of Santa Cruz Rum,
its difficult to pin down exactly what the hell it was.
Wondrich suggests using Cruzan Estate Diamond,
Mount Gay Eclipse or Angostura 1919 when Thomas
calls for Santa Cruz rum, and I can vouch for the
latter two.
For the purposes of Tom & Jerry, if you want to be
considered adept at the bar, pre-mix your rum and
brandy for quicker service. Leftovers can be stored
pretty much forever in the liquor cabinet.
Milk or H20?
As noted above, Thomas claim to the drink involves
him mixing it with hot water. By the end of the 1800s,
the drink was more commonly mixed with hot milk,
and that evolution is for the best. You can of course
try both, but the Milk version of the thing has a fuller
body and is much tastier. If you decide to use water,
you can get more body in the drink by upping the
sugar content in the batter.
A Note on Ingredients:
The Dopes Spices & The Garnish
Making Tom & Jerry batter requires the addition of
ground spices and the drink is finished with a bit of
ground nutmeg. You can use the pre-ground stuff
moldering in the back of your pantry, but fresh ground
will always be better. Break out the spice grinder and
the microplane. Its worth it.
A Note on Glassware and Ceremony
Tom & Jerry is a two-step process. Prior to service, the
batter or dope is mixed and kept at room temperature
near to hand in a bowl. Then, when a Tom & Jerry is
called for, the bartender adds a spoonful of the dope to
a Tom & Jerry mug, hits it with a couple of ounces of
rum and brandy, stirs in the hot milk, and grates a hit
of fresh nutmeg over the top. These mug and bowl sets
are easily found on eBay and in thrift stores, but are
not remotely necessary.
The thing to keep in mind is the serving size. Tom &
Jerry is a rich drink by any standard, and you want to

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keep the portion under control. That super-sized coffee


mug from the early '90s is going to be far too large.
Make sure youre using a heat proof mug, and keep it
in the 6-8oz range, and you should be fine. And, as
with any warm drink, be sure to keep the glasses warm
or rinse them with very hot water before serving. You
dont want a tepid Tom & Jerry.
For the dope, any appropriately sized bowl will do. But
consider thrifting or buying the sets online. Theyre
a cool piece of Americana and can usually be had for
under $40.
A Recipe:
Tom & Jerry Dope
To Be Prepared in Advance
12 Eggs, separated
1-2 Pounds sugar to taste (I like the higher end)
1 oz Smith and Cross Navy Strength Rum or
other Aged Rum
1 tsp. ground cinnamon, preferably fresh
tsp. ground cloves, preferably fresh
teaspoon ground allspice, preferably fresh
teaspoon ground nutmeg, preferably fresh
Grind your spices if using fresh and combine and
set aside.
In a bowl, beat the egg yolks well and gradually whisk
in the sugar (adding a pinch of cream of tartar or
baking soda can help the sugar stay in suspension in
this mixture). When well combined, add the ground
spices and the rum.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form
stiff peaks and fold into the yolk mixture. Store in
the refrigerator until 30 or 40 minutes before serving,
but remove in time for the mixture to be at room
temperature when you are ready to serve.
Tom & Jerry Cognac/Rum Mixture
(makes 16 drinks, can be expanded or contracted)
16 oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac*
8 oz Smith and Cross Navy Strength Rum
8 oz Angostura 1919 Rum
Combine all in a clean glass container or bottle and
mix well. Set aside for use.
Tom & Jerry Drinks
2 oz Cognac/Rum Mixture
(or 1 oz Aged Rum and 1 oz Cognac)
1 Tablespoon Tom & Jerry Dope
Warm milk
Nutmeg for garnish

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

Gently heat milk on the stove stop until it is very warm,


but not boiling. You do not want the milk to form a
skin or cook, but want it to be warm-hot. Think of the
perfect temperature of a hot chocolate. For parties, a
crock pot that can maintain a constant temperature
is an excellent idea here. Alternatively, heat the milk
to the required temperature and store in an insulated
coffee pot for service.
Warm a heat proof mug of about 6-8 oz by rinsing with
very hot water. Add the Dope and your spirits and stir
in warm milk until the mixture is frothy. Garnish with
a pinch of fresh grated nutmeg.
Enjoy.
* Wondrich, David, IMBIBE! FROM ABSINTHE
COCKTAIL TO WHISKEY SMASH, A SALUTE
IN STORIES AND DRINKS TO PROFESSOR
JERRY THOMAS, PIONEER OF THE AMERICAN
BAR. (New York: Perigree, 2007.) 132-133. 6

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The Horror Of The


Holidays: A History
BRIAN COLLINS
Badass Digest Contributor
@brianwcollins

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

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BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

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Halloween may be the season for scares, but theres


no denying that a certain dread creeps up around the
holidays. As always, Hollywood is happy to exploit
a special occasion for the silver screen, and amid the
snow-capped family films, a few fright flicks have
popped up in honor of jolly old Saint Nicholas.
In light of the Alamos screenings of GREMLINS,
CHRISTMAS EVIL and SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY
NIGHT this month, a brief history of holiday horror:
BLACK CHRISTMAS may have been the first
traditional slasher film centered around Yule time,
but it was not the first horror movie to take place
on Christmas. In fact right around the time BLACK
CHRISTMAS was being shot in the spring of
1974, there was a cheapie named SILENT NIGHT,
BLOODY NIGHT hitting theaters, two years after it
was filmed in 1972. Interestingly, the film, like BLACK
CHRISTMAS, includes a serial killer making terrifying
phone calls, and he also seems particularly interested
in the occupants of a certain house. The Christmas
angle isnt as prevalent, and its hardly a classic, but its
interesting that Bob Clarks BLACK CHRISTMAS
would have a few similarities to Theodore Gershunys
earlier outing, especially since the combination of this
most joyous holiday with horror was so rare back then;
apart from a few scenes set around Christmas in horror
films like ROSEMARYS BABY, there really arent any
holiday horror titles prior to the early 70s. The closest
would be CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE, which has
a third act revolving around Christmas but is barely a
horror film (there are no Cat People in it, for starters).
It wasnt until the 1980s that we started seeing a
relative increase in films of the subgenre, starting with
YOU BETTER WATCH OUT, aka CHRISTMAS
EVIL, which focused on a Christmas-obsessed weirdo
reaching his breaking point as he tries to make
everything perfect for the holiday (essentially a darker
version of CHRISTMAS VACATION). CHRISTMAS
EVIL has quite a strong fanbase and screens regularly
this time of year at better revival theaters (the Alamo
Drafthouse included). 1980 also gave us the much
more obscure TO ALL A GOODNIGHT, a teen
slasher featuring a killer in a Santa suit. Inexplicably
released to theaters in January of that year, the fact that
it was considered the first killer Santa movie and that
it was directed by none other than David Hess (LAST
HOUSE ON THE LEFTS Krug) both contribute to
the films lasting legacy.
1982 offered the approximate Christmas slasher THE
DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, a film that
took the unusual path of being set in the days after
Christmas, focusing on a group of students who stayed
behind during break in order to clean the titular dorm.
Its not particularly good, but does feature a young

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

Daphne Zuniga and slasherdoms most jaw-droppingly


inane killer reveal, and thus provides a sort of nightcap
on the holidays genre offerings -- if you spend all day
watching the big guns, maybe unwind with this.
But it wouldnt be until 1984 that the subgenre really
blew up, with three major holiday titles hitting theaters,
each delivering something different for horror fans.
The most notable in horror circles is the infamous
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, a killer Santa
film (franchise?) that truly reached the zenith of what
holiday horror has to offer. Released in November of
1984, the memorable but immediately controversial
film didnt last long in theaters, as Tri-Star bowed
to pressure from various parents groups and pulled
the movie from theaters. [Read BCs interview with
the producers of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT
on page 24.] The troubled DONT OPEN TILL
CHRISTMAS (from some of the same filmmakers
behind the immortal PIECES) didnt fare much better,
though its concept was the exact opposite of SILENT
NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHTs in that it focused on
a guy killing anyone he saw wearing a Santa suit. At
least three directors worked on the film at one point
or another, and key scenes were reshot and re-edited
(the cast list includes a major character who never once
appears in the film). Needless to say, its a mess, and
worse, it largely lacks the insanity that makes PIECES
such a joy.
And, of course, the holiday horror film that received
the most acclaim and box office success that year was
the one released in the summer and given a PG rating.
Joe Dantes GREMLINS is an enduring classic, and
it fully relishes in the holiday setting; from the idyllic,
snow-covered streets of Kingston Falls, to the mom
sniffling through yet another cable viewing of ITS A
WONDERFUL LIFE, all the way to Corey Feldman
dressed as a Christmas tree, its in some ways the
ultimate Christmas horror film -- theres something
Yule-drenched in nearly every frame of the film. And
fans of mean-spirited black comedy cant do much
better than Phoebe Cates tragic back-story, a moment
that was so hated by certain critics that Dante actually
spoofed the scene in GREMLINS 2. GREMLINS is a
sharp, funny, festive Christmas film that also happens
to feature bloodthirsty little monsters wreaking havoc
on innocent citizens.
Apart from the SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT
sequels and a few one-off sequences in otherwise
unrelated horror films (like the Christmas-set opening
of JAWS 4, where caroling children drown out the
screams of Jaws first victim), the genre once again
suffered a severe lack of holiday horror for the
ensuing years. The late 90s DTV market offered
stuff like JACK FROST (a killer snowman) and
SANTA CLAWS (a holiday ripoff of THE LAST

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HORROR FILM), but nothing of any substance for


over a decade. 2005s SANTAS SLAY sounds like a
potential cult classic on paper -- the film posits that
Santa was actually a demon who lost a bet and was
forced to give presents to children for 1000 years, and
now that the time has expired he wants to return to
his demonic, killing ways. Unfortunately the final
product is nowhere nearly as entertaining as that
premise indicates.
Then, in 2006, we were treated to BLACK XMAS,
which unfortunately had to battle not only the
anti-remake fanbase of the original, but Dimensions
incomprehensible decision to release the film on
Christmas Day, rather than a few weeks earlier in order
to capitalize on those excited for the holiday in the
days leading up to it. Instead, BLACK XMAS had a
shelf life of exactly 24 hours -- who wants to go see
a Christmas movie on December 26th? Not that it
would have helped much given the poisonous reviews
-- most of which were seemingly written based on the
trailer -- but it might have given folks like me (who
had a blast with the films mean-spirited, anti-holiday
tone) more time to convince like-minded friends to
check it out. Those that were curious just waited for
DVD, and while many agreed to some extent that the
film has its merits, it didnt exactly help the slasher
genres box office potential (or director Glen Morgans
career -- he hasnt worked on a feature since).
And P2 didnt fare much better a year later. A gory
thriller set on Christmas Eve and entirely in a parking
garage, as a deranged security guard (Wes Bentley,
who even dons a Santa suit for a while) stalks Rachel
Nichols, the film boasts the unfortunate distinction of
having one of the worst opening weekends of all time,
and was long gone before Christmas actually rolled
around -- but it has found some minor appreciation
on DVD, where the films cramped setting probably
plays better. Ditto for that years WIND CHILL,
an atmospheric supernatural thriller that takes
place mostly in and around a stalled car, with its
two occupants (a lovely Emily Blunt and the Jesse
Eisenberg-ish Ashton Holmes) battling the elements,
each other and some ghosts after breaking down en
route to visit their families for Christmas.
And then theres INSIDE (A LINTRIEUR), also
from 2007 and another Christmas Eve tale that
ranks as the best home invasion movie ever. As with
HALLOWEEN, a clear influence, the plot is quite
simple: our heroine is very pregnant (shes scheduled
to give birth the next morning) and alone in her home,
and another woman is determined to get in the house
and do some really horrible things. More blood is
sprayed than in a dozen uncut FRIDAY THE 13TH
sequels, and even I had trouble watching some of the
moments of extreme violence which of course makes

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

it a perfect option to scare off your in-laws or friends


who dont seem to be in any rush to leave your house
after dinner. While the holiday doesnt really factor into
the proceedings much, it would still make for one hell
of an annual Christmas Eve viewing.
Three years later we got RARE EXPORTS: A
CHRISTMAS TALE, an Amblin-esque Finnish film
that depicts a young boy and his father uncovering
the "real" Santa, who happens to be a giant monster
with horns (and is protected by murderous elves). The
subject matter is too dark for children, obviously, but
the sense of whimsy and hilarious mythology behind
the title make it a terrific addition to the holiday horror
canon. There's also THE CHRISTMAS TALE from
Spain's "Six Films To Keep You Awake" series, which
also takes an Amblin approach to a very dark tale -replace ET with a murderous bank robber and you get
the idea. As with all sub-genres of horror, it seems the
best stuff comes from other countries these days (JACK
FROST is all U.S.!)
In 2012, we were finally served the SILENT NIGHT,
DEADLY NIGHT remake that we were threatened
with for years, Steven C. Millers SILENT NIGHT.
And it wasnt bad! Its fast-paced and tries to live up to
the mean-spirited feel of the original, but the mystery
angle is badly executed and too much of the film is set
in glaring, not-all-that-scary broad daylight. Still, its an
authentic attempt at honoring the original.
So this holiday season, if youre not feeling quite as
cheerful as your kin, take a stab at one of the above
titles and celebrate the season your own way. With lots
and lots of blood. 6

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BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2014

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