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Sneaky, charming, funny and disturbing, RARE EXPORTS: A
CHRISTMAS TALE will not be played vicariously in the background while we
decorate the tree this year. Instead, I’ll be treating this Finnish attraction
(on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo from Oscilloscope Laboratories) like a fine
bottle of port that should only be opened when friends are gathered around the
glowing warmth of the tree once it’s fully decorated…and the lights are all off…and
my friend Kevin, who is terrified of scary-Santa imagery, is stuck here due to
unsafe driving conditions.
This beautiful package does have one really infuriating
legality: The Blu-Ray/DVD banner at the top of the front cover, slight as it
may be, ruins what looks like the most bitchin’ Christmas storybook ever. It’s
a beautiful piece of art that equally chills and warms the heart, and the font
sports an INDIANA JONES/HOWARD THE DUCK fade of orange-red to yellow. It’s
You’re wondering about the plot. If you’re not, the features
stuff is below. For those who haven’t heard, this is the frostbitten story of
an excavation company drilling into a mountain to hopefully find…and I don’t
feel like telling you anything else. Let me explain: I went in fairly blind to
this film. Couldn’t be happier. All I knew was that a scrawny, irritable, nude
and white-bearded old man caused a wild rift in a film with “Christmas” in the
title. If you really want to learn more about the storyline, you can enjoy our
initial spoiler-free review here.
I would rather impart this: Even if this isn’t a legitimate
“horror” film, it achieves what we as an audience appreciate about respectable
films categorized under that label. The film presents a threat, and presents it
with an attitude. It’s the attitude of a film that we cling to the most
sometimes, and this one is a real punk. We love that, don’t we? That’s why some
of our favorites happen to jab a switchblade at sacred cultural elements. When
it comes to the holiday of Christmas, let’s take an very brief look at how RARE
EXPORTS sits alongside of four of our most recognized and/or cherished Yuletide
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, for all of the fun it is and the
trouble it caused, is really just a brat of a movie that should have coal for
CHRISTMAS EVIL holds the holiday so close that it’s
deliriously suffocating—you don’t know whether to laugh, cry or turn it off,
hide and call Mom.
TALES FROM THE CRYPT’s “And All Through the House” segments,
both the ’72 theatrical and ’89 cable versions, sink a revolting set of teeth
into the oppressive greed cloud that inherently hovers above the date of
And lastly, FILMS TO KEEP YOU AWAKE: A CHRISTMAS TALE (which
reminded me most of RARE EXPORTS, and not only because of the title),
demonstrates the startling abilities of children when faced with an
To that effect, RARE EXPORTS notes this, strips, wipes its
ass with any treasured notion of Santa Claus, tosses it in the snow, snickers,
then whispers, “John Carpenter ruled…” while moseying out into a dark, icicled
Though the disc extras are all wonderful, I mystified myself
by not looking forward to them. I had a blast with this flick—why dig right
into the revelatory goodies? Somehow, it seemed unsavory to want the trick the
film had played on me to be completely explained right away. I wanted it to
tickle my imagination for a little while before learning the ins and outs.
Then I came to my senses. Director Jalmari Helander’s two
prequel shorts are included: RARE EXPORTS INC. and RARE EXPORTS INC.—THE
OFFICIAL SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS. These are as hellishly humorous and distressing
as the feature itself, and should be watched afterward. Oddly enough, the
second short’s conceit would make for a brilliant sequel.
“The Making of RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE” provides a
whirlwind look at rehearsals, locations, stunts, makeup, sound design and the
premiere. Not a typical behind-the-scenes jaunt by any stretch. No talking
heads—just fly-on-the-wall cameras capturing this and that, occasionally
landing on the noses of the cast and crew. But, frankly, I was right. I didn’t
really want to see this. It is excellent, and I love seeing how much effort
everyone put into the film and how enthusiastic they were, despite being cold,
exhausted and occasionally, unflatteringly naked. However, I think I’ll work to
forget all about this and just let the movie be the movie each season. Now I’m
changing my mind—do I want to see more of this journey?
“Blood in the Snow: A Look at the Concept Art” is a
collection of drawings done by Pekka Veikkolainen “to help the filmmakers
visualize the story while writing the script. These were also used to pitch the
film to potential invenstors.” And they’re all worthy of frames. I’m assuming
the same artist did the grand work on the cover. Stunning.
“Animatics & Computer Effects Video Comparison” makes it
very clear what you suspected during the film’s more spectacular moments. If
you’re into this sort of thing, it’s a very nifty segment.
A photo gallery and original Finnish trailer are also
included, as is (drum roll) 1964’s SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS—a cult
classic from the Oscilloscope vault featuring Pia Zadora in her first movie
role. Which is…quite the…you should…I can’t. But you should.
DVD/ Blu-ray Reviews
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