QUICK CUTS: Favorite Christmas Special Villains
With Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, Daniel Keohane, Mark Onspaugh, and Colleen Wanglund
MICHAEL ARRUDA: Welcome to a special holiday edition of QUICK CUTS.
It’s the Christmas season, that time of year when among other things all the Christmas Specials make their way across our television screens. These specials, from Rudolph to Frosty, have their share of villains. With this in mind, we ask our panel of Cinema Knife Fighters this question: WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL VILLAIN?
I’m joined today by L.L. Soares, Daniel Keohane, Mark Onspaugh, and Colleen Wanglund. Thanks everyone for joining me on this panel. And as you finalize your picks for favorite Christmas Special villain, feel free to choose your least favorite as well, any villain out there that you simply can’t stand.
Mark, we’ll start with you. Who’s your favorite Christmas Special villain?
MARK ONSPAUGH: The Grinch is my favorite, partially because that cartoon (not the horrible live action POS) is pure animated genius – and Boris Karloff both narrates and gives voice to one of Seuss’ greatest characters!
ARRUDA: Yes, Karloff is great as the Grinch and as the Narrator to that special.
ONSPAUGH: After that, it’s Scrooge—whether he be Alastair Sim, Mr. Magoo or Bill Murray (or anyone else), he is the consummate villain—miserly, mean, cowardly and with a great wit for insults—boiling someone in their own pudding and burying them with a stake of holly in their heart, indeed. Thanks, Mr. Dickens!
ARRUDA (looking at L.L. Soares): Hmm. Sounds like someone I know!
L.L. SOARES (looking back at ARRUDA) I was thinking the same thing!
ONSPAUGH: You ask if there’s a villain I can’t stand – nope, it’s a hero – Frosty the F-ing Snowman – hate him, hate every special he’s in, from the Jackie Vernon original to the one where they have his family in Florida and Rudolph does a guest spot (!). If I found that magic hat, I’d burn it, or put it on a corpse… Hmmm, maybe the corpse of Dickens or Karloff!
ARRUDA: I can’t say that I like Frosty either. I always cheer when he melts inside the greenhouse.
SOARES: For once, my choices are pretty obvious ones. The Winter Warlock (voiced by Keenan Wynn) in SANTA CLAUS IS COMIN’ TO TOWN (1970) is definitely a favorite—until the bastard’s heart melts and he turns all goody goody. Also notice that once he turns nice—he loses his powers! What an idiot.
ARRUDA: Yeah, he’s not going to win the Smartest Villain in the World Award, that’s for sure.
SOARES: Notice the same thing happens to the Abominable Snowman, another cool villain, in RUDOLPH, THE RED NOSED REINDEER (1964) – when he turns good, he’s pretty harmless. Of course, in Abominable’s case, he doesn’t have much choice after Hermey pulls all his teeth.
My all-time favorites have got to be Heat Miser and Snow Miser from THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS (1974) —another Rankin and Bass stop-motion classic, and my favorite Christmas special of all. I’m not sure how villainous they are—they’re more goofy than dangerous—and they also have the best songs of any Christmas-themed characters, with their minions singing along.
And finally, the Devil—the ultimate villain—in the Mexican classic SANTA CLAUS (1959). A horrible movie, but a good villain.
DAN KEOHANE: Oh, number one has to be the Abominable Snowman from RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (1964). Just showing those teeth as he holds Rudy’s girlfriend in his hand and we know he’s going to eat them ALL… AAAAHHHHHH!!!! Still gives me the willies, and I’m 50!
SOARES: He’s not that scary! What a wimp!
ARRUDA: You know, I hear that in the original uncut version, the Abominable Snowman actually ate Rudolph’s girlfriend, but it was cut from the original print because it was a little too intense.
KEOHANE: Stop! You’re going to scar me for life!
(L.L. SOARES smiles)
ARRUDA: That would have been a cool scene. And for those of you at home, yes, I’m joking! There’s no such scene on the cutting room floor somewhere!
SOARES (frowns): Dammit, you tricked me.
KEOHANE: I was always so grateful as a young ‘un to see him tamed and topping the Christmas tree, but I always knew… he had no teeth, and if he did, they’d all be eaten and die a horrible death.. AAHHHHHHH!!!!! Man, oh, man…
ARRUDA: You know, there’s another rumored scene at the end where he finds this set of false teeth and goes to town tearing apart all the elves—.
KEOHANE (laughing): Stop!
Okay, my second favorite, and not so much because he was monster-scary but because he was evil politician/tyrant scary, was Burgermeister Meisterburger from SANTA CLAUS IS COMIN’ TO TOWN (1970).
ARRUDA: Yep, the Burgermeister was quite the villainous fellow.
KEOHANE: Everyone was so afraid of him and his henchmen, and I have this innate fear of Nazis so it all came together in this guy. Plus I love the name.
SOARES: Are you afraid of the Easter Bunny too?
KEOHANE: Come on, Burgermeister Meisterburger is scary!
ARRUDA: I agree with Dan on this one. Meisterburger is a rather disturbing dude.
COLLEEN WANGLUND: I find him extremely villainous as well.
But my favorite Christmas special has always been THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS (1974), so my favorite villain is Heat Miser, for obvious reasons. Ya gotta love the spiky flaming red hair. I also love Snow Miser and the whole song and dance routine they each do.
ARRUDA: Yep, the Miser brothers are great!
WANGLUND: I’m also quite fond of the Bumble, aka the Abominable Snow Monster, from RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER.
KEOHANE: Isn’t he scary, though?
WANGLUND: Yeah, he’s scary.
In the end, though, no one really is a villain in these specials, anyway. They always find the good in themselves….except, and again I agree with Dan here, maybe the Burgermeister Meisterburger.
(KEOHANE shivers in feigned fear.)
ARRUDA: I agree with Colleen and L.L.. My favorite Christmas Special villains are also Heat Miser and Snow Miser from THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS (1974), mostly because of the classic song that they sing. Those song sequences are still worth seeing after all these years.
But more than that, these two characters—who are brothers, the sons of Mother Nature—are pretty entertaining in their own right. By far, they’re the two most interesting characters in THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS.
I don’t think I realized until recently that Snow Miser was voiced by Dick Shawn, who I always remember as the crazy hippie son Sylvester in IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1963).
I’ve always found Professor Hinkle from FROSTY THE SNOWMAN (1969) incredibly annoying, so he’s probably my least favorite Christmas Special Villain.
He and Frosty should bump into the Abominable Snowman on a bad day and become his next dinner.
All right, then. That about wraps things up. I hope you enjoyed our picks for favorite Christmas Special villains.
We’ll see you next time on another edition of QUICK CUTS.
Good night, everybody!
© Copyright 2013 by Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, Daniel G. Keohane, Mark Onspaugh and Colleen Wanglund