Alonso Duralde highlights new releases, from holiday horror to Hallmark cozy
Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift for the Christmas-movie lover in your life or decking the halls of your own media library, there are plenty of options this season, from new Blu-rays of your holiday favorites to advent calendars for fandoms of all stripes.
If you like a little horror to go with your ho-ho-ho, the big news for the season is “Krampus: The Naughty Cut” (Scream Factory; December 7). The 4K debut of this creepy Christmas saga gives director and co-writer Michael Dougherty the opportunity to put back in some scary scenes and adult language that had to be trimmed to get the holiday hit a PG-13 rating. The collection also features a new Dolby Atmos audio option and lots of new features, including interviews with co-stars David Koechner and Allison Tolman.
Looking back to previous decades, there’s a new Blu-ray of the Dick Van Dyke caper comedy “Fitzwilly,” featuring a rare big-screen turn for TV legend Barbara Feldon. And speaking of TV, the DVD “The Honeymooners Specials: A Christmas Carol” (MPI Home Entertainment) captures a 1977 reunion in which Jackie Gleason’s Ralph Kramden rewrites the Dickens classic and tackles the role of Scrooge.
And yes, it’s technically a Thanksgiving movie, but “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” gets a new Blu-ray Steelbook release; the collection will look handsome in any home-video library, and the disc comes loaded with more than an hour’s worth of bonus content, including retrospective tributes to both John Hughes and John Candy.
Visit Seneca Falls, N.Y., the town that inspired Frank Capra, in the acclaimed documentary “The Real Bedford Falls: It’s a Wonderful Life” (Virgil Films), and while you’re in the mood for sentimentality, check out the British film “A Gift From Bob” (Lionsgate/Saban), about a community brought together by a street musican and his very special cat. And speaking of music, you can finally get 2020’s legendary “The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special” on Blu-ray (and then go catch Jinkx Monsoon and Ben DeLa Creme live on their 2021 holiday tour).
Both Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries run their popular Christmas movies throughout the year, so clearly there’s an audience who wants permanent copies of these films. Quite a few of their 2020 titles are being made available this year, including “Chateau Christmas,” “Christmas by Starlight,” “The Christmas Doctor,” “Christmas in Evergreen: Bells Are Ringing,” “Christmas in Vienna,” “Christmas She Wrote,” “A Christmas Tree Grows in Colorado,” ratings champ “Christmas Waltz,” “Cranberry Christmas,” “Deliver by Christmas,” “Five Star Christmas,” “A Godwink Christmas: Second Chance, First Love,” “Good Morning Christmas!,” “Holly & Ivy,” “Jingle Bell Bride,” “A Little Christmas Charm,” “Love, Lights, Hanukkah!,” “Meet Me at Christmas,” “One Royal Holiday,” “Project Christmas Wish,” “A Timeless Christmas,” “When Calls the Heart”: Home for Christmas & The Greatest Christmas Wish, and Walmart exclusives “If I Only Had Christmas,” “A Nashville Christmas Carol,” “Time for Us to Come Home for Christmas,” and “USS Christmas.”
(Totally subjective picks for best in the bunch? The delightfully funny, and LGBTQ-inclusive, “The Christmas House” and the charmingly romantic “On the 12th Date of Christmas,” starring Hallmark fave and “Letterkenny” co-star Tyler Hynes.)
And if this brand of holiday romance puts the candy cane in your hot cocoa, ImagiComm Entertainment has a trio of titles to add to your list: “Christmas in the Rockies,” “Christmas in the Wilds,” and “Christmas in the Pines.”
For the Kids
You can’t go wrong with the Blu-ray Steelbook The Original Christmas Specials Collection (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment), which puts such beloved Rankin/Bass favorites as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” and “Cricket on the Hearth” at your fingertips to enjoy with your family.
PBS offers up two DVDs featuring seasonal tales starring characters known to and loved by young viewers, with PBS Kids Christmas Collection and PBS Kids: 20 Snowy Stories. (These two compilations feature something like seven combined hours of entertainment for youngsters you need to keep otherwise occupied this holiday season.)
Books, Calendars…and a Sweater, Of Course
Two new books from Insight Editions allow you further your fandom for your favorite Christmas movies while also whipping up delicious treats in the kitchen: “The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Official Cookbook & Entertaining Guide” features lots of festively ghoulish ideas for treats and party games while “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Official Bailey Family Cookbook” shows you how to craft Christmas dinner, cocktails, and desserts just like Donna Reed.
(And I would be remiss not to mention “I’ll Be Home for Christmas Movies” (Running Press), a book I co-authored with the hosts of the hilarious “Deck the Hallmark” podcast, which features everything from reviews of more than 100 Hallmark Christmas movies to recipes for delicious food and drinks to serve at your own Hallmark-watching party.)
Insight Editions also has you covered on the Advent calendar front, with a marvelous 3-D extravaganza that celebrates a holiday favorite: “Home Alone: The Official AAAAAAdvent Calendar” features a pop-up tree, 25 ornaments to hang upon it, and a booklet with prank ideas. (If you want to go the non-home-invasion route, the Disney Princess Enchanted Christmas Pop-Up Advent Calendar also includes a tree and ornaments, as well as the “Disney Princess Holiday Guidebook.”)
And whatever your fandom, there’s an Advent calendar for you, be it Marvel, Batman, “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” or even “Star Wars,” although the latter shockingly ignores Life Day and the infamous Holiday Special.
Finally, wear your Christmas movie love on your sleeve with Oscilloscope Films’ officially licensed “Rare Exports” Krampus sweater, guaranteed to start conversations and frighten children at holiday gatherings all season long.
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