Monday, December 17, 2012

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: Cuento de Navidad (A Christmas Tale)

Just like my first Christmas-themed Tuesday's Forgotten feature this year, this is another one that is off the beaten path, in that it's a horror tale: the Spanish-language film Cuento de Navidad (A Christmas Tale).

The film is set in 1985 and centers on five 12-year-old Spanish youths. The kids, who live in a coastal summer resort town, stumble across a mysterious figure dressed as Santa Claus in a deep ditch in the woods. When they go to get help, they learn that the person is a woman wanted for stealing two million pesos from a nearby bank. Instead of alerting the authorities right away, they (foolishly) decide to keep her in the ditch until she reveals the location of the loot and a reward is posted for her capture. This leads the youths on a downward spiral a la Treasure of the Sierra Madre, as they fight internally over the woman's fate.

Oh yeah--two of the kids perform a voodoo zombie rite that they've seen from their favorite horror movie, the fictitious film within a film Zombie Invasion, scenes from which are interspersed throughout the main movie. If you want to see if their attempt to turn the criminal into a zombie is successful, you'll have to see the movie.

The film, directed by Paco Plaza of [REC] fame, does a good job of holding your interest to see how the various seeds that have been planted will grow. It's also interesting to see how American pop culture of the 80s influenced other countries: one of the children is obsessed with The Karate Kid, and they all adopt code names from The A-Team around their hostage to protect their identities. The scenes from Zombie Invasion are also amusing in their intentional cheesiness and grindhouse sensibilities.

The film was created for Spanish cable television as an entry in an anthology series, and was released in the States as part of a six-film horror DVD collection called 6 Films to Keep You Awake. If you have digital cable, you can see the film for free for a limited time on FearNet's on demand service, as I did.

Here is the film's trailer. Thanks!

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