Santa vs. homophobes?

OK, so I know Christmas is over now— even if you celebrate all 12 days of it, Christmas is over. And I figure there are at least some folks who don’t want to hear another word about anything to do with Christmas for at least another 10 months.

But when I got an email this morning promoting a new book called Santa Claus Conquers the Homophobes, I decided that a little more Christmas would be ok. Because I had to find out what this was all about. Well, one of the things I quickly discovered is that Santa Claus Conquers the Homophobes is the second book in a series by fantasy/horror fiction writer Robert Devereaux. The first one is called Santa Steps Out: A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups.

First, a little bit about Devereaux: He has written eight novels, one collection of works that includes a novella and several shorter works, and scads and scads of short fiction. His first novel, Deadweight, has been described by a critic as “Stephen King meets splatterpunk” and “American Psycho with a heart.” And goth horror writer Poppy Z. Bright — a trans man whose name is now Billy Martin and a writer whose works often include LGBT characters — said of Devereaux, “I wish I could hope to ever attain one-thousandth the perversity of Robert Devereaux’s toenail clippings.”

For someone like me who is a Poppy Brite fan, that is high praise indeed for Mr. Devereaux.

Then I started reading summaries of Devereaux’s Santa books, both of which are available on Amazon.com.

Now, here’s the quick summary of Santa Steps Out: One day Santa starts remembering that in a past life he was the Greek god Pan, famous for his sexual powers. That leads him to revive his lusty ways, and he ends up having a fling with the Tooth Fairy, who apparently has also been involved with the Easter Bunny. I think that the Easter Bunny gets jealous and tattles to Mrs Claus and things end up with a big showdown between Mrs. Claus and the Easter Bunny.

Then there’s book two, Santa Conquers the Homophobes. In this one, Santa has a new step-daughter, Wendy, who can see the future of specific children, and share with them her visions of what’s to come. Santa and Wendy team up, with a little help from God the Father, to try and prevent the suicide of Jamie Stratton, a gay teen growing up in a homophobic environment who is bullied by homophobic classmates. Apparently, that effort includes Santa and Wendy visiting the bullies to try and get them to mend their bigoted ways, and also to eradicate homophobia entirely

Santa and Wendy also enlist the aid of the “persuasive” Easter Bunny to accomplish their goal, but the Tooth Fairy and her “loathsome imps” are on the other side of the battle, trying to keep Santa and Wendy from saving Jamie while also trying to make homophobia even worse than ever before.

OK. So those books both sound like something I would enjoy reading. And if the plot summaries weren’t enough to convince me, there’s the cover art for Santa Conquers the Homophobes, pictured above left, which depicts a hot, naked woman literally pooping gold. I think that may be the Tooth Fairy. Why are the hot girls who can poop gold always evil?

Anyway, both books are available at Amazon.com, and both books have downloadable Kindle versions. I think I’ll buy them and read them this weekend. If I do, I’ll let you know if you should read them, too.

But there’s one thing I am sure of, even before I read the books: This ain’t your grandma’s Santa Claus!

—  admin

Turn off the ‘Dark’

Del Toro’s horror remake is nothing to be afraid of

BRIGHT IDEA | A girl (Bailee Madison) uses a Polaroid camera’s flashbulb to scare off terrorizing tooth fairies in a thriller that lacks bite.

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

…………………….

1 out of 5 stars
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK
Bailee Madison, Katie Holmes,
Guy Pearce. Rated R. 95 mins.
Now playing in wide release.

…………………….

A spooky mansion. Chiaroscuro lighting. A child whisked into a world of phantasm by otherworldly creatures. Ah, the unnerving joy that was Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth — or, for that matter, The Orphanage, which he produced. Both those films where among the most frightening of the last decade. Del Toro showed a skill at tapping into something primal about children in danger that speaks to a universality about the vulnerability of youth.

If only Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark came anywhere near that.

It starts off promisingly, more than a century ago, as a scullery maid descends a dark, stone staircase into the basement of a madman, only to have her teeth chipped from her skull. It’s a harrowing scene, but nothing that follows ever

approaches it for real thrills.

Based on a cheesy 1970s TV movie that clearly kept little Memo del Toro up at night, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is basically about how the Tooth Fairy is really a coven of disgusting little rodents who terrorize children.

Sally (Bailee Madison) has been sent by her mother to live with dad (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes) in the fixer-upper Rhode Island estate they are restoring to its former grandeur. Like all movie children of divorced parents, she retreats from human contact, discovering a nest of creatures living in an ash-pit under the house.

Surprisingly, these nocturnal, fanged, batlike gremlins who whisper subversive comments to Sally (“They don’t love you! Come live with us! Don’t turn on the light!”) and shred clothes are not friendly! That’s a conceit that has never made sense in bad movie: How kids are not afraid of clear dangers like monsters lurking in the shadow, but are afraid of bearded handymen and talking stuffed animals… both of which this movie has.

Del Toro, who wrote and produced, and Troy Nixey, who directs, seem more concerned with gross-outs and the cinematic equivalent of yelling “Boo!” from behind a door than telling a sensible story. That might be acceptable if the scares were authentic, or even scary. But once we see the gremlins, they seem more laughable than terrifying: Troll dolls who can’t handle a little flashbulb. (The script relies on the use of a Polaroid camera, long since gone, for its one stab at plot development.)

Holmes turns in a better-than-it-deserves performance as a stepmom who comes to believe a raving little girl, and the house itself evokes images of Henry Miller’s Turn of the Screw. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is close to the Karen Black thriller Trilogy of Terror than serious horror. Unlike the gremlins themselves, this film lacks teeth.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens