I understand with my brain that the days are getting shorter and summer is, technically, on its way out. However, I cannot stop my body from screaming “THIS HEAT IS UNBEARABLE! I’M GOING TO DIE LIKE THIS! SUMMER IS ETERNAL AND THERE IS NO ESCAPE!” For those of you who may be feeling the same way, I have put together this double feature to remind you that there is a light at the end of that tunnel (or rather, a darkness).
In my daily battles against this pervasive Texas sunshine, I have found that blackout curtains (a great investment when the sun rises at 6:30 in the goddamn morning) really get me in the mood for a good horror film; however, I have also found that I am a huge weenie, so the movies I’ve chosen aren’t really very horrific.
We begin with the instant-classic (and dollar-theater darling) Krampus (2015). This movie features a phenomenal cast, myriad visual gags, and a truly spectacular blizzard (the kind I would happily sacrifice my Christmas cheer for right about now). Essentially the story is as follows: a young boy loves Christmas until he gets a glimpse of what it really is: a blaring reminder that you don’t get to pick your family (because if you did you sure wouldn’t have ended up with these assholes).
As an eleven-year-old child, he finds this (naturally) disheartening. Krampus hears the call of his rejected Christmas spirit, and that little boy is punished for his lack of faith — and it is brutal. And that’s where the real moral of this story comes in! The moral is that once disheartened, even a little bit, nothing — no act of bravery or sacrifice — can save your soul; faith, once lost, is lost forever.
Once the characters accept this tenet, they have two options: denial or loss (demonstrated by the boy and his grandmother, respectively).
Besides functioning as the mouthpiece for a Pretty Neat, Deathly-Hallows-esque sequence of exposition, the grandmother is also a foil for her grandson. When confronted with Krampus in her childhood, the grandmother chose survival and reality over her grandson’s eventual choice of community and delusion, but in her choice she sacrificed the lives of everyone she had ever known (heads up: heavy Holocaust imagery; double heads up: blaming a little girl for the Holocaust — not what I’m here for, no matter how cute the animated flashback sequence is).
But, if you’re able to get past that (and I know, it’s kind of a lot to get past), Ben Wyatt is there. The whole cast, honestly, is pretty impressive. And when all is done, Krampus is the kind of movie that you can just tell everyone enjoyed making — and that’s what I look for in my media: genuine joy, even (especially) in the face of such an absurdly pessimistic moral (because again, I’m kind of a weenie).
ALSO, this movie will make you feel cold in the same way that reading A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich will make you feel cold; the imagery is just so pervasive that it can, at least a little bit, distract you from how sweaty your thighs are. This, remember, is The Point.
Moving on, then, to actual classic Edward Scissorhands (1990)! For those of you who haven’t seen it, Edward Scissorhands is about how lonely and abandoned Frankenstein’s-monster Johnny Depp is the reason it snows in sunny California. Nothing fills me with more hope for the future of this god-forsaken, blistering Hill Country hellscape than seeing those sunny, pastel houses covered in ice shavings.
Edward Scissorhands is really just a pretty movie with lots of bright colors that is designed to make you feel sad but kind of good, too. It has Winona Ryder (in her classic role as the uncomfortably-too-young love interest) and Dianne West (always good; impeccable timing); also there’s a delightful Vincent Price cameo, a surprisingly buff Anthony Michael Hall (more like: Anthony MicSWOL HOT — I mean, he’s the bad guy, but still), oh, and Alan Arkin (!!).
Edward Scissorhands, like Krampus, is also a movie about a remorseless monster (here played by Kathy Baker) who takes away the protagonist’s loved ones/family. However, she is not the same kind of evil as Literal Demon, Krampus. Her evil is all the more frightening because it is such a common, human evil — an evil born of disappointment and insecurity.
Kathy Baker is demonized from the beginning, blamed for her unhappy marriage, vilified for her sexual self-possession — she is the monster society created her to be, and she is the cause of so much unhappiness.
Baker drives Sad Johnny Depp back up his mountain, where he stays to live out the rest of his existence — an action that effectively parallels the action taken by the grandmother in Krampus, insofar as he also makes the choice to move forward in life on his own, also sacrifices his relationships for what he believes to be the greater good (in his case, the safety of those he loves; in her case, truth and reality).
But ultimately, that’s what Johnny and Winona needed — a shining and impractical love, pedestaled by memory and never forced into the ultimate test: mundanity. The love between Sad Johnny Depp and Blonde Winona Ryder is like a perfect little snowglobe — one that would have been smashed by those blade fingers if he ever tried to take it off the mantel.
Edward Scissorhands (1990), and Edward Scissorhands (Character), exist in a sweet but deluded nostalgia — indulgent and comforting and good with ice cream.
These two movies — Krampus and Edward Scissorhands — will chill your bones and warm your heart, respectively. They present the coldest, darkest, blizzard, and the softest, freshest snow. And, honestly, at this point, with my electric bill as high as it is and my spirits as low as they are, both of those sound pretty good.
So, if you’re a huge weenie like me, or if you just want to watch some cold, fun movies to drive away this unrelenting heat, stock up on freezie-pops and try out this double feature!