Santa and Pop Culture: How Santa Subdued Marketing

Christmas and Pop Culture: How Santa Capitalizes on Consumerism

Everybody loves Christmas.

That holiday is one of the most important holidays to exist, celebrated by diverse nations in all parts of the world. It is a period of happiness and festivity – with a sprinkle of chaos. Most often, we get into the Christmas mood right on December 1st – and remain high-spirited until Christmas Day.

But, how did we come to love and cherish Christmas so much? Is there a recipe for his popularity despite the progressive nature of modern society? Let us rephrase that: how did Santa look before he discovered marketing?

Everybody’s Favorite Guy

It is not a coincidence that we mentioned marketing and Santa in the same sentence.

For the society of today, marketing is everything. Promoting products boosts sales, and what does that bring? Well, a lot of things, but most importantly, it brings the need to buy more.

Before the 20th century, society relied on customs to strengthen the cultural heritage of each nation. Although we still do that, we now have more ways to preserve the traditions. Santa is a perfect example of that.

For us, marketing today is an inseparable part of our daily routines. We are so used to commercials that, for the most part, do not even distinguish them from the program that we are watching. Advertisements are not restricted to TVs anymore. Billboards, newspapers, the internet – wherever you go, you will see them. And how is Santa connected with marketing? Well, the two concepts do have something in common – they rely on the people’s attention to remain present.

The correlation between Santa and marketing dates to the beginning of marketing as we know it. Pop culture, an effervescent machine that powers the entire social framework, utilizes Santa as the trigger for the collective spirit. To put it simply, society needs Santa as a bow to tie around the gift box. And Santa needs marketing to remain on the gift wish-list.

Who is the real Santa?

Just like most popular icons in our history, Santa’s real identity remains a mystery.

Questions of his age, profession, location, and general existence have been used as settings for numerous movies and TV shows. Is he a mixture of several traditions and folk stories? Is he a real man living in Finland? No one knows. And for the most part – it does not matter.

Call it a suspension of disbelief, but we all know he does not exist (sorry for the spoiler). Nevertheless, we still watch movies that revolve around him and his potential identity. A mysterious old man that you help on the street, who later is revealed as Santa who gives you a gift back? Classic.

Santa is a cult, an image that is used as an attention-grabber for society. And it is a well-oiled machine that we happily believe in. And we keep asking for more.

More Than Pop Culture

Pop Culture is teeming with Christmas references. At first, we had a holiday genre that focused on holidays in general. However, as movies specifically dealing with Christmas increased in numbers, a new genre emerged. Now, the Christmas genre is present in almost all categories of entertainment.

Films are the most obvious example, but let us not forget music, shows, and games. For example, try thinking of Mariah Carey without singing “All I Want for Christmas”!

When it comes to TV shows, almost all shows must have one episode that happens during Christmas preparations. And it usually airs in December, because the theme provides excellent ratings. The gaming sphere is abundant with Christmas paraphernalia and symbolism as well, including online casinos. Santa is very popular there, and some of the best Christmas-themed slot games can be found here on MoneySlots website. Considering the extent of Santa’s presence in everyday media, it is safe to say – Santa transcended even the popular culture.

Shop, Shop, Shop

After you have seen it in commercials and laughed about it in your favorite show, what is the last thing you are left to do? Well, buy it. Marketing and entertainment have slowly guided us to the most important part of the festive enterprise. Shopping! While classic gift hunting in malls is gradually becoming an archaic activity, people still shop.

As a world that relies on shopping for the continuation of industry, we are used to buying items. We buy things all the time but buying for Santa and Christmas has more prevalence than mundane things.

The season is all about family values, sharing, caring, and big presents. Everyone needs Christmas gifts for their loved ones, even with the chaos that accompanies the shopping. And the chaos that typically ensues has been portrayed in numerous movies. It is not even a Christmas stereotype.

Nevertheless, all that is quickly forgotten once the festivities begin. No one cares about it, as long as the house is full of presents and Santa is coming.

Blu-ray Review “Bad Santa 2”

Actors: Billy Bob Thornton, Brett Kelly, Tony Cox, Kathy Bates, Christina Hendricks
Directors: Mark Waters
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Broad Green Pictures
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Run Time: 94 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

Billy Bob Thornton, Brett Kelly, Tony Cox all return for the completely unnecessary sequel. The 2003 film was a great film and that’s it. We never needed a sequel to this…did they see what happened to “Anchorman 2” or “Zoolander 2″…they didn’t learn. Kathy Bates and Christina Hendricks are to the cast but add no value, in fact I usually love Bates but she was flat out terrible in this. A few funny jokes but overall this just shouldn’t have happened.

Official Premise: Fueled by cheap whiskey and greed, Willie Soke (Academy Award-winner Billy Bob Thornton), teams up once again with his angry sidekick, Marcus (Tony Cox), to knock off a Chicago charity run by curvaceous Diane (Christina Hendricks). But the arrival of Willie’s horror story of a mother, Sunny (Academy Award-winner Kathy Bates), and “the kid” – Thurman Merman – may upset their plan. You better watch out, Bad Santa 2 is coming to town!

The Blu-ray presentation is nothing special but works for what it is. No complaints. If you want a Digital HD copy of this film included, you would need to shell out for the 4K Ultra HD release…but I wouldn’t waste your money. The special features aren’t anything special either. There are two versions of the film included. The Theatrical Version runs 1:32:16 and the Unrated Version runs 1:34:50. So it is really nothing extra included here making this worth it.

The special features included are “Thurman Then & Now” is as look into the actor between the two films. Next is “Just Your Average Red Band”, which looks at how raunchy the film is.  “That’s My Willie” Original Animated Series is a collection of animated shorts. “Jingle Balls” is (not a shocker her) the song “Jingle Bells” giving a dirty twist. Lastly there are a few deleted scenes, an alternate opening/ending and gag reel included.

Win Free Passes to Florida Screenings of “Bad Santa 2”

Calling Florida moviegoers, below please find the codes for the screenings of “Bad Santa 2”. If you want to see this film before ANYONE else! Hurry fast and grab tickets below and spread the word to your friends as well! They will go VERY fast! Enjoy and be sure to leave comments below after the film!

Fueled by cheap whiskey, greed and hatred, Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) teams up with his angry little sidekick, Marcus, to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve. Along for the ride is chubby and cheery Thurman Merman, a 250-pound ray of sunshine who brings out Willie’s sliver of humanity. Mommy issues arise when the pair are joined by Willie’s horror story of a mother, Sunny Soke, who raises the bar for the gang’s ambitions, while somehow lowering the standards of criminal behavior.





West Palm Beach-

Blu-ray Review “Saving Santa”

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ashley Tisdale, Tim Curry, Joan Collins, Tim Conway
Directed by: Leon Joosen Aaron Seelman
Distributed by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release Date: November 5th, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 83 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Halloween is over (who cares about Thanksgiving really!) and we head right to Christmas! “Saving Santa” is a great new holiday film for the whole gamily. It posted a boasts an all-star voice cast including (“The Hobbit”), Noel Clark (“Star Trek Into Darkness”), Tim Conway (“The Carol Burnett Show”), Tim Curry (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”), Ashley Tisdale (“High School Musical”) and Joan Collins (“Dynasty”). When I was watching I was blown away by the way this animated film look then I realized it was from the award-winning animation studio behind Disney’s “Secret of the Wings”, “Tinker Bell” and “Planes”. Highly recommended.

Official Premise: An upbeat tale of the ultimate holiday rush, “Saving Santa” starts at the top – the top of the North Pole, that is – where Bernard (Freeman), a low-ranking Elf, dreams of one day joining Santa’s elite team of great inventors, the very elves who make the magic of Christmas possible! But when one of Bernard’s wacky inventions accidentally reveals the secret location of Santa’s workshop to an eccentric billionaire scoundrel (Curry), Santa (Conway) and Christmas itself are in jeopardy. It’s up to Bernard to time-travel (again and again) to get Santa home in time for Christmas!

“Saving Santa” is only available at Wal-Mart, which is becoming quite the trend with these animated entries. It is being released as a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack. The 1080p transfer is quite solid and shows off the very impressive visuals from the animation. I think this could have played well as a 3D feature as well. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 works well to deliver the holiday mood and the film’s songs. There is also some decent special features including an animated music video for “Some Kind of Miracle” by Ashley Tisdale, a “behind-the scenes” voice recording sessions with the film’s talent and a special “Why Saving Santa?” featurette.

Richard Riehle talks about playing Santa Claus, “Office Space” and “Texas Chainsaw 3D”

Richard Riehle is best known for his cult favorite role of Tom Smykowski in “Office Space”.  He has played Santa Claus more than five times, including films like Disney’s “The Search for Santa Paws” to “A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas”.  Besides comedies, he has also broke out in the horror genre with films like “Hatchet” and the upcoming “Texas Chainsaw 3D”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Richard about his amazing career to date and his love for what he does.

Mike Gencarelli: After playing roles in over 150 films and over a 100 TV series; what keep you drives and keep you inspired?
Richard Riehle: I love it because every project is a new experience and adventure. You go from playing Santa Claus one day to a serial killer the next. It offers all sorts of opportunities to try new things. Whether it is for a physical or psychological role. It is just great.

MG: Since it is the Holiday season, I have to ask what do you enjoy most about playing Santa Claus five times now, most recently in “A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas”?
RR: They are all different. It ranges from “The Search for Santa Paws”, which is a family film with talking dogs, to “A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas”, where I am a bong smoker [laughs]. I just love it.

MG: Can you tell us about how you got involved with “Office Space”?
RR: “Office Space” was just an amazing experience. Mike Judge spent a long time casting it, partly because he wanted a group of people that enjoyed hanging out with each other. I think that aspect really shows in the film. We got down to Austin and he told us flat out that we are going to be working some long hours but that every night he would take us out to the clubs or dinner. We just had a great time. It was a 26 day party.

MG: Can you reflect on the cult following that the film and your role Tom Smykowski has developed over the years?
RR: It has been absolutely amazing. When it first came out it wasn’t in theaters very long. We were excited about the good response it got and our work in it but we figured that it was done with. But about six months later, people were stopping me in the streets and asking me to quote the film. It just so happened at the time, I was doing a show for Fox, so I ran into Mike and he said it just came out on VHS and cable and has developed this whole new life. The most amazing part for me is that it has continued still through today. People are still quoting the film and spreading the word to their friends that haven’t seen it. It is just great.

MG: I have the “Office Space” stapler on my desk [laughs]
RR: [laughs] I will tell you a fun story about that stapler. I was at a cigar place in Beverly Hills. We were about to leave but my friend said that Sammy Hagar just called and said he was coming in and always brings a bunch of really beautiful girls. So we ordered another round and waited. Sure enough he came in with all these beautiful girls. Before we left my friend said he wanted to show me his humidor, which was right under Arnold Schwarzenegger’s. So as we were leaving two of Sammy’s girls where heading to the bathroom and they stopped me and said “Oh you were in “Office Space”, can we have an autograph?” I said “Sure” and they asked me to put down the line about the stapler. I said that actually wasn’t me and that was my buddy Stephen Root…but I was in the film. I asked them again if they still wanted an autograph and they said “Yes, please…and can you put down your line about the stapler?” [laughs].

MG: You not only just play roles comedies, you have a nice range into horror genre like “Hatchet”; what do you enjoy most about switching it up in films like that?
RR: “Hatchet” was sort of my introduction to horror. I have always enjoyed watching them but for some reason I never got cast in them. A buddy of mine, Joel Moore, was played the lead in the film and called and asked if I wanted to fill in for someone that dropped out. I told him “Of course” and that I was waiting to do one. It was just such a great and fun experience. Since you are dealing with these horrific things, it is usually one of the most fun sets to be on – horror films in general. Horror films are also shot all over, so you get to go to all sorts of strange and cool places. I did one called “Growth” and we got to shoot in Martha’s Vineyard, which was terrific and we got to explore the island, which was amazing.

MG: Tell us about your role of Farnsworth in “Texas Chainsaw 3D”?
RR: “Texas Chainsaw 3D”, which comes out January 4th, was shot in Shreveport, Louisiana. I had never been there either. We shot a bunch of it on this old munitions plant from WWII. The film is really a great idea and it works really well. They go back to the original “Texas Chainsaw” from 1974 and start from the last shot of that film with Sally jumping into the pickup truck. Leatherface goes back to his house after his dance of frustration. The local police chief shows up at the house and tries to bring him in but the family will not let him do it. A group of vigilantes show up and level the place and everyone is thought to be dead. 18 years later, the grandmother of the whole group, who is living in a mansion outside of town, dies. I play Farnsworth, her lawyer, and I have to find this girl that supposedly didn’t die during the attack and bring her back and offer her this mansion. But then of course…all hell breaks loose!

MG: Do you have a role that stands out for you’re as most memorable or challenging?
RR: I certainly love Tom Smykowski in “Office Space”. It was a wonderful experience doing it and since then it has lived on. I really like playing Carlson in “Of Mice and Men”, which was a while back. He is the guy that shoots the dog. I also did a TV series on Fox a while back called “Grounded for Life”, which was a wonderful experience as well. The thing is that it goes back to your first question; every role is so interesting and different and each with their own individual challenges. My next role is always going to be my favorite.

MG: What other projects do you have in the cards for 2013?
RR: It is hard to tell. A lot of the projects I do are these little independent films. The greatest difficulty is not so much getting them in the can, as it is finding distribution. I did this Western called “Dead Man’s Burden”, which I really liked. Clare Bowen, who is one of the leads in “Nashville” right now, is the lead in that. It was shot in New Mexico with no time and money. So that was recently shown in an LA film festival and I thought it came out really good. So keep an eye out for that one hopefully soon.

Brahm Wenger talks about creating music for “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups”

Brahm Wenger is the composer and writer of the original music for Disney’s “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups”.  He has been working within this franchise since “Air Bud”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Brahm about working on this series and it’s latest installment “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups”.

Mike Gencarelli: With “Santa Buddies”, “The Search for Santa Paws” and now “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups”, you’ve not only composed the score but also written original songs; tell us about that aspect?
Brahm Wenger: Well the difference about when you write songs for a film is that it effectively then becomes a musical. The biggest difference is that you start before they start filming. You start when the script is written and you work with the director to find where the story will be best served with a song. When you write the score, you wait for them to finish the film and then you write the score. When you do films like “Santa Buddies”, “The Search for Santa Paws” and now “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups”, you are in from the minute they finish the scripts. You start by writing the songs. You are part of the casting process, since you have to write the songs to fit the people singing. They have to be able to perform it. If there are dance sequences, then you have to work with the choreographer. Then you are also working with them at the set level, so you are involved with the assistant director, the director etc. It is a real collaborative effort.

MG: Where do you get the inspiration for the Christmas music, specifically in “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups”?BW: I think the inspiration comes first from the script. Once you see the story, you can see what you are trying to accomplish. The beauty of doing music and writing songs is that you can say so much more with a song that you can with dialogue. There is a famous lyricist that one said “a page of lyrics is equal to ten pages of script”. It is just so much more effective. So the inspiration is from the story and you find what they are trying to say in that particular moment and then you nail it as a song.

MG: How long did it take create the eight original songs for “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups”?
BW: We started about 9 months before they started shooting the film and once the script was done. Not only do you have to write them adapt to the singer, you also have to please the director and the writers etc. It has to work and also has to be in sync for everybody.

MG: How was it working at London’s famed Abbey Road Studio for these scores?
BW: Abbey Road also has a sister studio in London called Air Studios. It was started by the famous Beatles producer George Martin. Sometimes we go to Abbey Road and sometimes we go to Air Studios. It really depends on the feeling. Air has a bit of a warmer sound. It is like a 300-400 year old church. Abbey Road is more of an industrial strength room. It feels a little brassier. So we go back and worth but they both work beautifully.

MG: You’ve been working with the Disney Buddies series since the beginning with “Air Bud”, how has the series evolved?
BW: It is very different. They come from the same genesis but are so completely different. “Air Bud” series focuses on his playing various different sports. He would figure out, how to play a sport and then have some sort of a championship game and go on win it. With the “Air Buddies” franchise, it is completely different because they dogs talk and that opens up a whole new avenue. There are also five of them instead of just one. And it is also a continuing adventure so in when they went to Alaska for the dog sled. The Alaskan theme of the great north is completely different from when they went to Egypt in “Treasure Buddies”. As a composer it is like one minute you are writing the Duke of the North and then the next minute you are working for Indiana Jones. There is no connection. When we did “Santa Buddies” or “Santa Paws 2”, it is straight forward Christmas music but here it is completely different. The next one is “Super Buddies”, which is a superhero movie and again that is completely different. It is really a challenge to start each time with a fresh format.

MG: So “Super Buddies” is next for you then?
BW: Yep, that is next now. We are working on it right now as we speak. They are just about finished shooting that. Then I should be seeing a cut in the next few weeks. So I am looking forward to starting on that one next.

Disney’s “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups” Blu-ray™ Combo Pack Giveaway [ENDED]


© 2012 Disney

“Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups” Blu-ray™ Combo Pack available on November 20th, 2012

To celebrate the release of Disney’s “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Paws”, Media Mikes would like to giveaway 5 copies of the Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (1 Blu-ray™ + 1 DVD). If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email indicating your favorite Disney Buddies movie. This giveaway will remain open until December 7th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to residents of the United States only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

Official Premise: he North Pole has a new litter of playful pups. However, when the frisky foursome—Hope, Jingle, Charity and Noble—practically destroy Santa’s Workshop with their mischievous gamboling, they realize the best way to prove that they’re responsible enough to become Santa’s helpers is to show how well they can spread the Christmas spirit all by themselves. With help from a magic crystal, they start granting everyone’s wishes. But their good intentions backfire when one unhappy boy asks that Christmas go away forever! With his wish impetuously fulfilled, and the joyous spirit quickly disappearing from the planet, Mrs. Claus and the pups have to find a way to reverse the spell—or risk losing Christmas forever.


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Kaitlyn Maher chat about working on “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups”

Kaitlyn Maher is only 8-years old but she has already accomplished so much. She started at the young age of 4 on TV’s “America’s Got Talent”. She has worked with Disney on “Santa Buddies”, “The Search for Santa Paws”, “Treasure Buddies” and most recently “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups”. She has a beautiful voice and gets to sing some really nice songs in her latest film. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Kaitlyn about her films and spreading the Christmas spirit.

Mike Gencarelli: This is your fourth role in the Disney Buddies series, how did you originally get involved?
Kaitlyn Maher: Lorna Johnson, the casting director, saw me on “America’s Got Talent” when I was 4-years old. From there she cast me for role of Tiny in “Santa Buddies”. Then they liked me and the director, Robert Vince cast me in “The Search for Santa Paws” and so on…

MG: What did you enjoy most about working on “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups”?
KM: Everybody was really, really nice. I liked working with the director, Mr. Robert Vince. Cheryl Ladd is very sweet, wonderful and so very nice. I really enjoyed working with her. Also we shot the film in mountains of British Columbia and we were surrounded by mountains and snow.  It was just really pretty.

MG: How does it compare from your role in “The Search for Santa Paws”?
KM: They both are great movies and both share the Christmas spirit. They both share that message to deliver the Christmas spirit to everybody everywhere.

MG: After three Christmas themed film, is it safe to say that it is your favorite holiday?
KM: I love Christmas. It probably is my favorite holiday. I love to share the joy and spirit of Christmas with everyone, especially with those people that are having a rough time. I want to tell them that they are meant to be happy and to keep believing. God loves them and I love them too.

MG: Tell us about the songs in “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups”?
KM: They are very inspiring songs. I love all of the songs. They are songs that you can spread the Christmas spirit with everybody. It also makes the movie really fun. It also makes me smile that other people will be able to enjoy these songs as well and it will get into the Christmas spirit. The songs also promote the true meaning of Christmas for everyone.

MG: What do you enjoy most about music?
KM: I just love making people smile and making others feel happy and loved. I also like to make them know that God loves them even if they don’t feel like it.

MG: What do you most about doing voice work in the film “Santa Buddies” and “Treasure Buddies”?
KM: It is a lot of fun going in the studios and recording. It is nice to imagine what it would be like to voice a camel and a puppy in real life. Though I don’t think I look anything like a camel [laughs].

MG: What do you have planned next? How about a new album?
KM: I have a TV show that is coming out in the Spring called “The Goodwin Games” on Fox. Yes, I will also be doing a new CD next year. I am really excited about that. I really want to give people a lot of encouragement and I want make a really inspiring CD.

Blu-ray Review “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups”

Actors: Cheryl Ladd, Kaitlyn Maher, Josh Feldman, Danny Woodburn, Richard Kind
Directors: Robert Vince
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Run Time: 88 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

The Disney Buddies franchise has been non-stop, ever since “Air Bud” in 1997. This series just keeps expanding, though this latest edition “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups” is definitely one of the cutest.  I was also a big fan of this past Spring’s “Treasure Buddies”, which was also a lot of fun.  But I have to admit, I am sucker though for the Christmas-themed installments. Did I mention this was cute? I am looking forward to watching this again with my wife and daughter, while getting into the holiday mood.  I was just left with such a nice smile on my face and in a great mood after watching this. I have become a big fan of this series and I look forward to the next installment “Super Buddies”  due out Fall 2013. But Disney if you are reading this, I want more “Santa Paws”  sequels as well!

Dad’s if you are wondering why Mrs. Clause is so smoking hot…that is became it is played by Cheryl Ladd aka Kris Munroe from “Charlie’s Angels”.  “Santa Paws 2” also features “The Search for Santa Paws” co-stars Danny Woodburn and Kaitlyn Maher (“Treasure Buddies”) reunite in this latest installment. Kaitlyn is really the cutest thing on the planet and sings beautifully. Which brings me to the original music in the film, which was really cheerful and great. Thanks in that department have to go to Brahm Wenger, who also worked on “The Search for Santa Paws” and “Treasure Buddies”. I think the addition of music to this franchise has really benefited it, especially the holiday installments.  I found myself humming the tunes…but where’s the soundtrack?

Official Premise: he North Pole has a new litter of playful pups. However, when the frisky foursome—Hope, Jingle, Charity and Noble—practically destroy Santa’s Workshop with their mischievous gamboling, they realize the best way to prove that they’re responsible enough to become Santa’s helpers is to show how well they can spread the Christmas spirit all by themselves. With help from a magic crystal, they start granting everyone’s wishes. But their good intentions backfire when one unhappy boy asks that Christmas go away forever! With his wish impetuously fulfilled, and the joyous spirit quickly disappearing from the planet, Mrs. Claus and the pups have to find a way to reverse the spell—or risk losing Christmas forever.

“Santa Paws 2” comes in a combo pack with Blu-ray and DVD disc. The 1080p transfer is sharp and works well the very colorful Christmas town that is created.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also complements Wenger’s music very well. The special features are a little light for Disney but kids will still enjoy.  There is a fun featurette where the pups take over the radio station from the film in “Santa Pups Music Mash-Up”, featuring clips from the film’s songs.  “Blooper Scooper” is some funny outtakes and other on-set Antics from the production.  Lastly, there are some great trailers for upcoming Disney Blu-ray trailers for “Return to Neverland” and “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”, which we can expect in Spring 2013. Hooray! Can’t wait for both of those releases!

Book Review “Where’s Waldo? Santa Spectacular”

Author: Martin Handford
Reading level: Ages 5 and up
Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: Candlewick
Release Date: September 11, 2012

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

I have been a fan of “Where’s Waldo?” from day one! This year the man who loves to hide is celebrating his twenty-fifth year. Waldo is bringing the holiday spirit in with this new sticker book. It is fun for kids but obviously doesn’t have much reply once the stickers are used. I was really hoping for a book of all puzzles and less stickers…but hey! kids love stickers! For $6.99, this is a no-brainer for kids.

“Santa Spectacular” gets Waldo’s world all decked out for Christmas! There are snowmen, skis, toys, and much more from Waldo’s previous adventures all combined with unique new artwork to create a hide-and-seek holiday extravaganza. That’s right you are creating the hide-and-seek, this time around.  There are hundreds of stickers  inviting readers to create their own winter wonderland for Waldo. Martin Handford is the man behind the Waldo books since the beginning, so expect the treatment here.


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Blu-ray Review “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”

Actors: Pia Zadora, Bill McCutcheon, Ned Wertimer, John Call
Directors: Wallace Worsley
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Run Time: 81 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” has always been one of my favorite “bad” movies.  It is a cheesy 1964 science fiction film and it regularly featured in the “bottom 100” list on IMDB.  I found out about this film many years ago thanks to being spoofed on “Mystery Science Theater 3000”. Since then it has always been a favorite around the holidays.  When I say this is bad…I mean bad. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t recommend it.  I highly recommend it.  It is one of those films that you just have to watch over and over and then tell you friends about it.  Kino is giving this film the real treatment in this special edition Blu-ray.  The film is not what you would call high-definition worthy but it reminds me of other films like “Plan 9 from Outer Space”. The song “Hooray For Santy Claus” is such a terribly bad song that it will have you humming it all season.

Official Premise: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians tells the story of the depressed children of Mars (including one played by an 8-year-old Pia Zadora), who can only be brought out of their funk through the jolly cheer of Old St. Nick. So the Martian leaders travel to Earth and kidnap two local kids and Kris Kringle himself. Brought back to the Red Planet, they are forcibly installed in a factory to make toys. But you can’t manufacture happiness, with Santa having to teach his alien overseers the true meaning of Christmas.

Kino Classics has really made this bad film actually quite amazing.  It is a fully restored edition from HD elements and it is the first time that this movie is available on Blu-ray. The full-screen, 1.33:1 transfer looks a literally a thousand times better than the mass public domain prints. The mono audio track works for the film and didn’t really expect much more than that here. There are tons of great vintage special features included here. The collection of extras are really all over the map. First we get various vintage Christmas-themed footage for Santa’s Cool Holiday Film Festival. Then we have Shari Lewis and Lambchop giving a season’s greeting. America’s favorite family The Nelsons have a sponsor ad for Eastman Kodak.  Max Fleischer’s “Christmas Comes But Once a Year and Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” cartoon is included. Castle Films’ Santa short subject from 1950 shows up, as well a bit from Abbott & Costello and also 1951’s Howdy Doody’s Christmas.  Did I mention all over the map? Lastly there are 50’s and 60’s vintage theatre Christmas greetings.


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Blu-ray Review “The Santa Clause: The 3-Movie Collection”

Actors: Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, David Krumholtz, Eric Lloyd
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Disney / Buena Vista
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Running Time: 293 minutes

The Santa Clause: 5 out of 5 stars
The Santa Clause 2: 3.5 out of 5 stars
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause: 3.5 out 5 stars

When it comes to Christmas, there is no better film to watch than “The Santa Clause”.  Tim Allen is nothing short of brilliant in the role and it is easily one of my favorite holiday films ever. This 3-movie collection includes all the films in this series, “The Santa Clause”, “The Santa Clause 2” and “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause”.  This is the first time that “The Santa Clause” and “The Santa Clause 2” (also celebrating its 10th Anniversary) have ever been released on Blu-ray and Disney has done them up right.

It is really hard to compare to the first film since it is such a classic.  But the sequels are still fun, silly and successfully do their job of delivering some Christmas cheer. The name Scott Calvin and Santa Clause will forever be associated with the holiday season. Let’s also not forgot “Topo Gigio”. Anyone who is tired of seeing these films in fake HD on ABC Family, can now enjoy them for the first time in full HD (except “Santa Clause 3”, which was released back in 2007). This is a real treat for anyone looking to get some holiday cheer.

Official Synopsis: Christmas gets a little nuttier when Scott Calvin (Allen) unknowingly inherits the role of the legendary St. Nick. His ordinary life snowballs into a hysterical series of outrageous events as he fills out his Santa suit, meets the future Mrs. Claus (Elizabeth Mitchell, Lost), and faces his ultimate test against the mischievous Jack Frost (Martin Short, Three Amigos!).

Let’s talk about the packaging now for Disney’s three-disc box set.  They are basically three individual releases, which are housed with a nice slipcase.  All three films looks great in their 1080p transfers and are presented in their 1.85:1 original aspect ratio with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks. “The Santa Clause” shows its age a little but still looks very sharp for its first time in HD.

Since each film has its own disc, each film comes with its own set for special features.  If you are looking massive extras in the first film, you will not find them here.  But “The Santa Clause” includes two great featurettes, including “So You Wanna Be An Elf?” and “Making Santa Snacks With Wolfgang”. Lastly there is also a short film “The Night Before Christmas”. I was hoping for a little more love hear but who knows 2014 is the film’s 20th anniversary, so maybe they will do it up again.

“The Santa Clause 2” packs a bit of goodies than the first film on Blu-ray.  First up, we have a decent commentary track from the director Michael Lembeck.  There are three behind-the-scenes featurettes included are “Inside The North Pole With Curtis”, “Director’s Tour Of Elfsberg” and “True Confessions of The Legendary Figures”. All of them dive into the production, with some good cast/crew interviews.  Lastly there are seven deleted scenes and a gag reel included.

The most special features comes from the latest in the series, “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause”.  There is another commentary track from director Michael Lembeck.  There are three behind-the-scenes featurettes including “Creating Movie Magic: Visual Effects Secrets”, “Jack Frost & Mrs. Claus: A Very Different Look”, “The New Comedians: On The Set with Tim and Marty”.  There is a great karoke sing-along called “Christmas Carol-oke: Sing Your Favorite Songs of The Season”.  “Deck The Halls: Virtual Holiday Decorator” is a fun interactive feature. There is an alternate opening and gag real including, as well as the music video for “Greatest Time Of Year” by Aly & AJ.

DVD Review “The Santa Incident”

Directors: Yelena Lanskaya
Actors: Greg Germann, Ione Skye
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Vivendi Entertainment
Run Time: 88 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

There is something about Hallmark Original Movies that just work over the holiday season. The films are cheesy and the acting is decent at best but we still watch them. Some are good and others are a waste of time. This one is cute and deserves a watch. The story is not terrible and the characters are relatively likable, except for Greg Germann’s character Erickson. If you can get past him, this is a cute holiday film for the family.

The story follows what happens when Santa’s sleigh is shot down while flying through restricted military airspace. Santa lands on Earth and is rescued by two kids and takes refuge with them and there mother from two Homeland Security agents. The agents believe that Santa and his “operation” are extraterrestrial. It is up the kids and Santa’s elves to help him return to the North Pole to save Christmas before it is too late.

Hallmark Channel Original Film “The Santa Incident” Dashes Onto DVD



Ione Skye And Greg Germann Star In Hallmark Channel Original Film Dashing Onto DVD November 1 Just In Time For The Holidays  From RHI Entertainment And Vivendi Entertainment

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – The fate of Christmas is in the hands of two secret service agents, two children and a trio of elves when the all-new Holiday film The Santa Incident arrives on DVD November 1 from RHI Entertainment and Vivendi Entertainment. Starring Ione Skye (Fever Pitch, Say Anything) and Greg Germann (“Ally McBeal,” Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby), the fun-filled family adventure is a Hallmark Channel original film and originally premiered as part of the channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” programming.

When Santa’s sleigh is mistaken for a UFO, he is marooned in a small town. Luckily rescued by two children, he tries to prepare for Christmas while stranded far from the North Pole. Desperate to make sure Christmas isn’t ruined this year, Santa must find a way to take flight by Christmas Eve. Just in time for the holidays, The Santa Incident provides fun wholesome entertainment the entire family can enjoy together. The DOVE approved DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $14.93.


After his sleigh is shot down while flying through restricted military airspace, an earthbound Santa is sought for questioning by a pair of overzealous Homeland Security agents. The fate of Christmas is now in the hands of the disbelieving by-the-book duo, unless their faith in Santa can be restored by two children and a trio of elves who have arrived from up North to help out a friend in need.