Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Unseen Movies: Christmas with the Dead

Sure, it's cheating to write about a movie that hasn't been released.  I admit it.  Still, I doubt that many of you have seen this one, so I'm writing about it, anyway.

First of all, let me tell you that the biggest surprise in the movie, for me and Judy, came in the credits.  (This is also a disclaimer.)  Since we invested a little money in the film, we're listed in the credits as associate producers or something like that.  I've already bought a turtleneck sweater, a gold chain with a big medallion dangling on it, and a hot tub.

As for the movie itself, we loved it.  So did everybody else in the audience at the premiere last Friday night.  The standing ovation at the end was loud, long, and enthusiastic.  Of course nearly everybody in the audience was involved in the film in one way or another.  We were the target audience, you might say, but I don't think it mattered.  I think everybody got a genuine kick out of it.

If you've read Joe Lansdale's story on which the movie is based, you have plenty of surprises in store.  Keith Lansdale, Joe's son, wrote the screenplay.  He used the opening scenes from the story and the very last scene, but that's it.  Pretty much everything else is Keith's invention, and it's all excellent.  There are laugh-out-loud moments, gross-out moments, and quiet moments.  I think the kid has a future.

I wrote earlier that Kasey Lansdale, Joe's daughter, has a role.  I was under the impression that it was a small one, but I was wrong.  It's a big role, and she provides some of the movie's shock value.  Not to mention that it's comedy gold.  She also gets to sing, another big plus.  Kasey's husband, Adam Coats, has a great role as a neighbor with a funny hat and a hammer.  If you know Joe Lansdale's work, you know a guy with a hammer is somebody to watch carefully.

The two "name" actors in the movie are Brad Maule and Damian Maffei.  They're good apart, but when they get together, the movie really takes off.  They have some very funny repartee, but then there's a lot of that in the movie.  Did I mention that I think the screenwriter has a future?

And then there's Chet Williamson.  I knew he was a fine writer, but I didn't know about his acting chops.  When he brings the crazy, you believe every minute of it.  His turn as a loony preacher is a high point, but all the small parts, loonies and zombies alike, are a treat.

The movie was directed by Terrill Lee Lankford, whose credits include Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, which of course makes him the perfect guy for a project like this one.  He keeps things moving from start to finish, and he does a wonderful job with a group of mostly amateur actors and a shoestring budget.

Speaking of the budget, the movie doesn't look cheap and it doesn't sound cheap.  The music is fun, and the technical crew deserves a round of applause along with everybody else.

I obviously can't claim that this is an unbiased review.  All I can tell you is that I had a wonderful time watching Christmas with the Dead, and I hope you do, too, when it comes to a theater or a DVD near you.


  1. Hey, if worked for Somtow Sucharitkul and company for at least a film or three, why not this crew? The Writer's Movie (and forgetting with some effort Norman Mailer's films) is it's own special thing...looking forward to it.

  2. And I'm not sure it's cheating at all...particularly as this one probably won't get Too much push outside of (possibly) Italy...

  3. Wow, you and Judy producers! I'm impressed!

  4. Your review is good enough for me. Hope you'll wear your Producer's outfit at the next Con you go to. Don't let all that fame go to your head or before long you'll be "doing lunch" and "taking meeting" in Hollywood 8-)

  5. Anonymous11:17 PM

    Lets do lunch. Joe

  6. Anonymous11:17 PM

    I'll have your people call my people.

  7. Anonymous11:18 PM

    Or my people will call yours. Something like that.

  8. Thank you for the great feedback, Mr. Crider. My name is Ira Shiflet, and I'm one of the Associate Producers of this film. We put a lot of hard work and I am very pleased that it made you happy. We couldn't have done it without your support. Seriously your investment went a long way, and we greatly appreciate your help. Have a nice day.

  9. You did great work, Ira!

  10. Anonymous10:53 AM

    Ira is the unsung hero of the film, but I'm singing. he kept at it when everyone else quit. Equipment failures, human failures, he stuck in.

  11. Stephen B.11:42 AM

    I've seen blogs and his posts over at Twitter about the CHRISTMAS WITH film,

    but it should be later this year as a wider release or certainly a Dvd as you said, Bill!