My 5 Distorted Winter Holiday Movie Picks

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I don’t really celebrate Saturnalia or Solstice or any of the lesser-known winter holidays. I hang out with relatives and friends who do, so I don’t boycott seasonal happenings. But the winter holidays simply do not groove with me, the same way winter in general doesn’t. That’s why I live in Southern California. I’m one of the October People. Once October is done, I’d prefer we move rapidly to the new year. Add two months to early summer, cut out November and December, and it’s all good. But I don’t control axial tilt and the orbit of the Earth, so I’ll just have to take it.

I do like winter in one place, however, and that’s in the movies. Groundhog Day, The Great Silence, Runaway Train, and The Thing are winter movie favorites. And there are a few films I associate with the winter holidays, i.e. “Christmas” (you thought I wasn’t going to even use that word in this post, didn’t you?)

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Rodan Has Always Been Cool

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My article this week for Black Gate is praise for the 1956 giant monster classic, Rodan, the first of Japan’s giant monster (kaiju) films photographed in color, and only the second kaiju to have its own headlining movie, following the first two Godzilla films. The flying monster Rodan (Radon in Japanese, a contraction of Pteranadon) has a special place in the Japanese giant monster pantheon thanks not only to its auspicious debut, but also its many guest spots in the Godzilla films since: Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964), Invasion of Astro-Monster/Monster Zero (1965), Destroy All Monsters (1968), Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993), Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), and now as one of the upcoming quartet of beasts for next year’s big-budget Godzilla: King of the Monsters. The newest trailer shows Rodan in aerial action with destructive power to match the magnificence of the visual effects in the ’56 original.

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Westerns ‘39: Union Pacific

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This is Movie #2 of my resumed attempt to examine all five hit Westerns of 1939.

A re-cap for those coming in late (you’ve only missed Destry Rides Again at this point): 1939 was the most important year for the Hollywood Western. For most of the 1930s, the genre was relegated to B-picture status, with cheap films churned out by smaller studios like Republic, Mascot, and PRC as part of continuing series like the Three Mesquiteers. But in 1939, a storied year for the film biz, five A-budget Westerns turned into smash hits that changed how filmmakers would handle the genre for the next twenty years.

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King Ghidorah Charges Godzilla Just to Perk Me Up in the New Trailer

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It doesn’t make for the greatest screen capture to grace the top of a blog post, but this final image from the new trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the best thing I’ve seen in a movie trailer all year. In the closing seconds of the preview, we bear witness to Godzilla and King Ghidorah, legendary adversaries in that Batman vs. Joker and Holmes vs. Moriarty way, charging into each other in glorious modern visual effects action. Since Godzilla is one of my special fandoms, on the same level as Edgar Rice Burroughs and J. R. R. Tolkien, it’s difficult for me to express my reaction to all this without going into hyperbole. Or worse, making a reaction video. (No, I would never do that to anybody.)

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Westerns ‘39: Destry Rides Again

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Eons ago, I started a project at my old blog of writing about the five hit Western movies released in 1939 that led to the genre’s revitalizing in the 1940s and ’50s. I never finished the project, writing about only three of the movies, but I’m starting it up again—first by digging up and revising the three posts I did finish. So I’ll begin with, let’s see … Destry Rides Again.

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My Thanksgiving Horror Picks: Ravenous and The Witch

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Poor Thanksgiving! Not only is it jammed awkwardly between two larger, more ornate holidays, both of which are chewing away at it from top and bottom, but it doesn’t have much in the way of a horror movie tradition. Halloween, of course, is wall-to-wall with horror goodies—it’s the only movie genre that has its own holiday!—and the winter seasonal horror film has developed into its own subgenre, offering everything from family friendly thrills (Gremlins) to gruesome slasher flicks (all those Silent Night, Deadly Night films; please note this is not a recommendation).

Thanksgiving is the official holiday for The Twilight Zone and Mystery Science Theater 3000, so it has that going for it. In fact, I’d prefer to drop the whole “Thanksgiving” business and think of the fourth Thursday in November as MST3K Day. Discard the turkey and family and football and replace it with pizza and the Satellite of Love. I’m not excited about turkey, too much family gets stressful, and I hate football.

But I do have two horror film picks that are good matches to the season. Once the kids are in bed, the adults can release pent up tensions and guilt about the holiday with The Witch (2015) and Ravenous (1999).

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