Now that the holiday season is upon us, it’s time once again to watch the greatest Christmas film in history.
And no, I’m not talking about It’s A Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story, or even one of the several dozen renditions of A Christmas Carol — including the CG one with Jim Carrey. (Everyone knows the Muppets made the definitive version.)
Instead, what I’m talking about is Vendetta: A Christmas Story.
This movie’s awesomeness is unparalleled. For the uninitiated, “Vendetta” is a 20-minute film that first appeared on the Internet in the late 1990s. Back then, the movie took about three hours to download. Surfing the Web in those days involved lots of thumb twiddling, as well as enduring your modem’s electronic screeches.
The film, produced in the style of a 1980s cop show, depicts Santa Claus being pursued by special agents. He gets shot at, beaten, chased and stuffed in a trunk. It’s everything you could ask for in a holiday film.
I especially loved “Vendetta” when it first came out, because it demonstrated that you don’t need expensive sets, famous actors or lots of cash to make a film. You just need heart … and a lot of free time.
“Vendetta” was made in that weird era when professional, homemade films were possible — albeit relatively difficult — to produce. These days, consumer video-editing software is abundant, and computers are much, much faster.
That’s not to say filmmaking is easy — it’s not. But it’s definitely easier now for people who know what they’re doing.
“Vendetta’s” filmmakers had little money but plenty of creativity. They essentially made a fun, entertaining flick with consumer-level cameras and dollar-store props.
And I admire that. Audiences today are desensitized to the big-budget splendor of Hollywood. We take all their work for granted. That’s why it’s refreshing when a good, low-budget film comes along. We can see filmmaking’s fundamentals in their raw form.
Also, low-budget filmmakers have to have the basics nailed down. They can’t use big-name actors or special-effect sequences as a crutch. To pull off their film, they have to have a solid script, competent camera work and exceptional editing — all of which “Vendetta” showcases.
What’s more, “Vendetta’s” creators give the the film away. I doubt they’ve made money with it. They should have, if they haven’t. It’s a creative gem, and what’s more, it’s hilariously entertaining.
So this holiday season, here’s a giant thumbs up to “Vendetta” and to its creators. For me, Christmas isn’t complete until I’ve watched it at least once.