A Snow White Christmas (1980) – By Jonathon Pernisek

 Filmation is not a studio exactly known for its superlative track record. Arguably its greatest achievement came with the creation of the He-Man series, since despite featuring poor storytelling and just plain awful animation has become a pop culture phenomenon. There are quite a few past credits to be examined, however, just one of them being this outright twisted Yuletide special. No one involved with this short film’s creation seems to have cared about it being at all worthwhile, which suits me just fine. The utter lack of quality on display here almost grants it a sort of genius as time goes on, making it a excessively guilty pleasure among my circle of friends.

Warning bells sound immediately as the opening credits roll, fading in and out as some of the worst music to come out of the first days of the ‘80s worms its way into your ears and refuses to leave. You haven’t experienced great cheese until you’ve heard the whiny lead vocalist of an electric rock band wail, “A Snow White Crist-mahs…a Snow WHITE Criiis-mahs!” It’s fantastic, to say the very least, and matters are made all the better when this group reappears to literally narrate the on screen action with their own brand of warbling, nasal-oriented music.

An example of this almost sentient ability to comment on the plot comes shortly after those amazing opening credits, but not until we endure the setup. Ya see, the time for Christmas is approaching in the snowy kingdom of Noel, and Snow White’s daughter Snow White (don’t get me started) wants to convert a castle into a playland for the local children. Sounds like a monumental waste of royal funds, but the brat is encouraged in any case. What castle will be used? Well, as Snow White Jr. points out helpfully, there’s always the big, spooky, dark, desolate, abandoned, oh-my-God-it’s-so-unsettling haunt up in the mountains. I’m not joking. The dialogue is that plainly stated.

Of course, this castle once belonged to the Evil Queen, who has apparently been spending the last few years cryogenically frozen in a snow drift. Luckily for the sake of conflict she is thawed out of her chilly chamber, which cues the band to start singing, “Oooh, the eeevil times…oooh, the eeevil times!” Great, great stuff. The Queen, still determined to be the fairest above all, sends a mighty blizzard to Noel in hopes of freezing her lovely competition. Snow II manages to escape with her pal Grunyon, but her parents are sadly (or so the music would have us believe) turned into little more than giant popsicles. Speaking of Grunyon, he cracks my stuff up. He’s essentially a midget with an obvious lust for his female companion, but his incessantly tinny voice and creepy appearance are two sure signs he’ll never achieve his lifelong goal. Sure, it’s a subplot my friends and I made up, but man is it ever amusing.

At this point there have been a fair share of highlights, but I don’t think anyone could be prepared for the appearance of the Seven Friendly Giants. These have to be the most redundant set of characters ever put to screen, but their derivative nature makes them lovable. I won’t bother with Corny the hillbilly, Tiny the ironically large, or Brainy the dull, since the others prove much more entertaining. There’s Weepy, who as we are told literally cries for reasons unknown to anyone; Brawny, the tough guy with a heart of gold, and finally, Finicky, a man who spends his days complaining about wrinkles in his shorts, bugs in his garden, and an unity house. I adore Finicky above all else in this special, since he is nothing short of a screaming queen hell bent on meeting every gay stereotype head on. I mean, the man even sports an effeminate mustache! You can’t put a price on such a finely drawn caricature.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of problems with this special, not the least of which is the standard quality of animation level put out by Filmation. Too often the same shots are used to save time and money, and continuity errors abound. This lends a stale air to the proceedings, but to an extent you just have to throw up your hands and go for the ride. Also, the movie sometimes grinds to a halt for some truly tedious padding, such as when the Queen turns into a rat and tries to eat our heroine for no good reason. But when push comes to shove, and you factor in a finale that actually involves the Giants battling a squadron of demons summoned from the underworld, A Snow White Christmas is a trip worth taking. The amount of quotable dialogue is endless, the synth tracks will keep you humming for days, and lest I repeat myself, there’s a gay man named Finicky walking around. What more could you ask out of a fairy tale gone horribly awry?