A Christmas Tale (TV Movie 2005) Poster

(2005 TV Movie)

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8/10
Fantastic.
Fmartiterron10 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"Stories to keep you awake" was a legendary Spanish TV series that told independent suspense / horror stories every week. As of 2006, some Spanish media have joined resources to produce a follow-up in the shape of six direct-to-DVD films, directed by some of the most popular Spanish film directors. "Cuento de Navidad" is helmed by Paco Plaza, director of "The second name" and "Romasanta".

Among the bunch of films that compose this series, this may easily be the best of the lot. Paco Plaza creates a surprisingly cruel negative to teen films, such as "The Goonies" or the Spanish TV series "Verano azul". Set in the early 80s (pop culture references abound in the story), it tells the story of a group of early teenagers that find a wounded woman in the woods, dressed up as Santa. Rather than helping her, they start abusing her, and as soon as they learn she's the suspect of a bank robbery they increase the abuse in order to obtain the robbed money themselves.

It's a bleak story, full of cruelty, and Plaza's talent is evident when he uses elements that in other hands would be comedic to increase the cruelty of the tale: when the abused woman manages to turn tables on the kids and pursues them axe in hand, they mistake her for a zombie, and in their efforts to defend themselves of her attacks, the mimic the techniques they've seen in horror movies, much to our horror.

It's not a perfect film. I've mentioned how the tale is packed with pop culture references, and some of them feel a bit gratuitous, although they are well integrated within the plot. I was specially amused by a zombie flick that appears recurrently, a parody of Lucio Fulci's movies that strucks more than a chord. Watching local rock and roll star Loquillo as a zombie hunter (with dubbed southamerican accent to boot) is absolutely priceless.
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8/10
A Tale of Cruelty and Lack of Innocence
Claudio Carvalho21 April 2008
In 1985, in a coastal town in Spain, the friends Koldo (Christian Casas), Peti (Roger Babia), Tito (Pau Poch), Eugenio (Daniel Casadellà) and Moni (Ivana Baquero) stumble with a woman dressed like Santa Claus trapped in a hole in the woods. While to boys go to the police station to ask for help, the others find a rope to take the woman out of the hole. However, the boys find in the police station that the woman is the dangerous thief Rebeca Expósito (Maru Valdivielso), who has just stolen two million pesetas from a bank and is wanted. The group decides to leave the woman in the hole without any food to force her to give the robbed money to them. Meanwhile, Peti and Eugenio that are fans of the movie "Zombie Invasion", decide to make a voodoo ceremony with Rebecca to transform her into a zombie. When Rebecca escapes from her imprisonment, she uses an axe to chase the evil boys.

"Cuento de Navidad" is a one of the best episodes that I have seen of the great Spanish series "Películas Para No Dormir". The director Paco Plaza has an extraordinary effort to make such good movie working with five kids and one outstanding actress, Maru Valdivielso. The result is an original and very dark film, blending black humor and horror with cruelties and no innocence of the abusive teenagers that show no merci while torturing a "mean woman". My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Delinqüentes Diabólicos" ("Evil Delinquents")
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8/10
Yes Sir, I Can Zombie … But I need a certain song!
Coventry1 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"Six Films to Keep You Awake" is a Spanish TV initiative created/produced by the most legendary granddaddy of Spanish horror cinema Narciso Ibañez Serrador ("Who Can Kill A Child", "The House that Screamed") and featuring episodes directed by some of the country's most prominent and world-widely respected filmmakers in the genre, like Alex De La Iglesia ("Day of the Beast", Perdita Durango"), Jaume Balagueró ("Darkness", "The Nameless") and Paco Plaza ("Rec", "The Second Name"). If this is Spain's response to the similar American TV-series "Masters of Horror", than I can only be enthusiast and thrilled to notice that the horror genre is still alive and kicking! "The Christmas Tale" was my first personal acquaintance with the series. A vastly enjoyable one, I may add, and definitely one that makes me look forward to the five remaining installments.

The plot introduces five 12-year-old but very independent kids (four boys and a girl) who are about to spend a life-altering Christmas vacation. They discover an unconscious woman dressed up as Santa Clause in a pit in the woods who turns out to be a fugitive and dangerous bank robber. Since this woman allegedly stole 2 million pesetas – and since the police don't even bother listening to them – the quintet decides to keep her trapped in the pit and question her about the loot. The situation soon escalates, as some of the kids gradually develop into merciless and sadist abductors. Things get even beyond control when a voodoo-ritual from a silly horror film, which the kids playfully imitated, turns out frighteningly real and the woman rises from the pit as a vengeful and bloodthirsty zombie. "The Christmas Tale" is versatile and chock-full of ideas in spite of his short running time of barely 70 minutes. The film seemingly unfolds as a rather disturbing hostage-thriller, but halfway changes into a more light-headed zombie horror flick. The first half more tension-driven and the second half thrives more on excitement, but the blackly comical elements as well as the energetic atmosphere are maintained throughout the whole movie. The script is also stuffed with small but highly ingenious gimmicks and delightful tributes to older horror and non-horror classics. The events take place in the year 1985, for example. This is mainly a tribute to the kid-gang movies of that period (like "Stand by Me" and "The Goonies"), but perhaps also to justify why the kids spend their school holidays playing outside instead of rotting away behind their computers. The timing and setting also provide the ideal excuses to showcase a handful of terrific 80's set pieces and songs (like the catchy disco hit "Yes Sir, I Can Boogie" used in a masterful scene) and there are also numerous posters and VHS tapes of elderly Spanish horror flicks to spot in the backgrounds (like "Tombs of the Blind Dead", "The Werewolf versus the Vampire Women" and "Horror Express"). The young cast members deliver tremendous performances and Maru Valdivielso is also terrific as the Santa Clause and, by the way, the only adult character whose face can be seen properly.
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7/10
A Christmas Tale
Scarecrow-8822 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Kids discover a wounded bank robber at the bottom of a deep pit in a wilderness where they bike ride and decide to negotiate with her..they will send down a rope and pull her out if she forks over the two million she stole. Things get really complicated, to put it mildly.

The only really identifiable trait regarding Christmas is that the severely malnourished and suffering robber is wearing a Santa costume, used when she held up the bank. Maru Valdivielso is Rebeca, the woman whose leg is broke, she's being starved by the kids, and after several days is deteriorating mentally and physically. By the end, she's half-crazed and in pursuit of those brats who have failed to help her, carrying an ax, prepared to inflict some serious bodily harm. Lots of pop culture references, including one kid named Tito(Pau Poch)who adores The Karate Kid(..including references to "V", zombie movies, Dynasty, Freddy Krueger, specific toys of the 80's(..it's set in '85)among other things). The main culprits behind holding Rebeca hostage are Peti(Roger Babia)and Eugenio(Daniel Casadellà), willing to deprive her of food and any creature comforts in order to attain the money in her possession..even if it means starving her to death. And, that's what is interesting about "The Christmas Tale"..you become sympathetic with Rebeca's plight for we must endure seeing her wasting away both psychologically, as her body responds negatively to the harsh conditions. Her face is ripe with cuts and sores, we get a long look at her badly damaged leg, and when she attempts to climb out of the pit a rotted finger nail gives way. It becomes quite an unpleasant sight to behold. In a funny turn of events, one can almost root for her to splatter the kids all over the place with the chopping ax for their treatment of her. The only kids who wish to get Rebeca out of the pit are Moni(Ivana Baquero)and her little boyfriend Koldo(Christian Casas), but as part of the pack, the others hold influence until it's all but too late. Thrown in for fun, there's a possible act of voodoo which might bring Rebeca back from the dead to get revenge. The finale is rather exciting, as the kids run for their lives with Rebeca following them into a theme park. Not as grisly as it could've been, but what Rebeca goes through is rather unsettling. Eugenio and Peti's inhumane behavior is rather troubling. From the director of REC, Paco Plaza. Part of the popular Spanish "6 Films to Keep You Awake" series.
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3/10
An unsatisfying experience
Mike Guratza29 March 2016
It's not that this movie is bad... But it certainly doesn't belong in a series called "movies to keep you awake", since I doubt it would even keep a twelve year old awake at night.

Although the direction by Paco Plaza (of REC fame), and the general production value is obviously on a very good level, the movie is a combination of Stand By Me, Home Alone and of "The Three Investigators" juvenile mystery books (i.e. having a trailer parked in a backyard as headquarters is a direct link between the latter and this film I think), with none of the aforementioned is what I would consider "spine chilling". The heroes of the movie are conveniently "nerdy" kids that obsess over classic cult movies like Karate Kid, portraying the filmmakers' nostalgic intentions and paying homage to them.

Overall though, the movie is what has been described above: a movie about a bunch of kids, that resembles a "Goosebumps" episode, more than a real thriller. I can definitely see why someone can like this one a lot, but it just didn't work for me.
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7/10
Horrible little people! Christmas Tale with an eerie vibe.
insomniac_rod3 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I'm glad I caught this movie at 3:00 a.m. on Sky's "The Film Zone". I'm a huge fan of Spanish Horror and I decided to give it a chance. Although this movie isn't 100% Horror, it has a vibe of creepiness mixed with a regular children's adventure flick.

The display of cruelty is always present and towards the end of the movie, when the "old mean woman" escapes from the hole (literally), things get darker and even with a feeling of a late 80's slasher.

While the "torture" scenes are not very graphic or even violent, you feel disturbed with the children's behavior. Then the good gore comes when the kids try to get rid off the woman well, by killing her and doing horrible things to her eyes and head. You need to watch it.

I recommend this movie only for those who are into the typical "cat and the mouse" plot, and for those who can take children being mean and horrible with a grown-up who even if stole and made something wrong, didn't deserve to be punished like that! In my opinion. But revenge, sweet revenge always happens even for these children.

The atmosphere is always dark and unsettling but not only because of the female villain, but because of the sad and cold settings. No Merry Christmas for everyone.

EERIE DETAIL TO CONSIDER: We can only see adults' feet and torso but not their faces. This detail may have been taken from Mexican chiller "Veveno para las Hadas". Brrrrr.
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2/10
"I'm going to make those zombies regret the day they died." For my money this is absolutely terrible.
Paul Andrews30 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Películas Para no Dormir: Cuento de Navidad is set in a small Spanish town during Christmas 1985. Five young friends named Koldo (Christian Casas), Peti (Roge Babia), Tito (Paul Poch), Eugenio (Daniel Casadellà) & Moni (Ivana Baquero) find a woman dressed as Santa Claus stuck in a large hole in the local woods they play in, they quickly discover that her name is Rebeca (Maru Valdivielso) & she is wanted by the police for a bank robbery. The greedy little git's decide to keep her trapped down the hole until she tells them what she did with the money she stole so they can steel it from her. Straving & badly injured Rebeca seemingly has no choice to tell them...

Known under the title Films to Keep You Awake: The Christmas Tale to English speaking audiences this Spanish production was directed by Paco Plaza & is part of the six film Films to Keep You Awake series of made-for-Spanish telly horror films. The script by Luis Berdejo starts off as a fairly simple thriller with the twelve year old kids keeping Rebeca down a hole in the woods so they can get the money she stole, this aspect of the film is alright but far from brilliant. Then something right out of the very worst 80's horror film happens, two of the kids who like watching horror films bizarrely conduct a Voodoo ritual for no apparent reason they saw in a film they watched called Zombie Invasion which brings Rebeca back from the dead when she dies down the hole. Right, well isn't that quite the most stupid thing you have ever heard? Why on Earth did they reenact the Voodoo ritual? Why did it even work? Then for the last twenty odd minutes Películas Para no Dormir: Cuento de Navidad becomes a slasher film as a reanimated back from the dead zombie Rebeca stalks the annoying kids with an axe. Unfortunately imagine the very worst teen slasher film from the 80's & then triple it, Películas Para no Dormir: Cuento de Navidad has no nudity, no deaths, no gore, no blood, no mystery surrounding the stalkers identity & it's as lifeless a twenty minutes of predictable slasher film nonsense as I have ever seen. The film also raises the unpalatable notion that watching horror films causes people to turn bad since the two most evil, sadistic & nasty of the kids are the two that watched the zombie film, talk about alienating your audience! Then there are a few plot holes like how did Rebeca get out of the hole at the end? Why was there a big hole in the woods anyway & why did Rebeca fall down it? Couldn't she have just like walked around it? It wasn't exactly inconspicuous...

Director Plaza does alright but I never got the feeling it was Christmas, there are no decorations or anything like that & apart from Rebeca being dressed in a Santa Claus outfit nothing relates to it being Christmas at all. Plaza also takes the odd decision to not properly show any of the adults faces, the cops & the kids parents are all framed so as to have their heads either obscured by an object or cut off the top of the frame. Strange & there's no real reason for it as far as I could tell. The only bit of gore is when someone's head is impaled on a metal spike. Apart from some really lame stalk 'n' slash moments at the end there's nothing in Películas Para no Dormir: Cuento de Navidad to indicate that it is even a horror film. There's certainly nothing scary here & there's no sort of atmosphere.

Yechnically the film is alright, apparently shot in Barcelona in Spain. It's reasonably well made & put together. Shot in Spanish the film is subtitled, some of the subtitles don't stay on screen for long though so you will have to be quick. The acting seems OK but as someone who doesn't speak Spanish it's hard to tell.

Películas Para no Dormir: Cuento de Navidad is another entry in the Films to Keep You Awake series that for me is far more likely to send you to sleep. It really doesn't make any sense, it has lots of holes (besides the one Rebeca falls in) & there's nothing new or original or horrific about it.
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7/10
The only way to finish them off is to stab them in the left eye that goes all the way to the brain.
lastliberal6 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
You may remember Ivana Baquero as the cute 12-year-old Ofelia in Pan's Labyrinth. She took home a shelf full of awards, including a Goya. She's 15 now, and still cute. She is among a group of teens that find a thief (Maru Valdivielso) dressed as Santa down a hole, and they torture her to get the money she stole.

Paco Plaza ({Rec}, Romasanta) directs this fascinating film. He is assisted by Luis Berdejo as the screenwriter. Berdejo also penned {REC}.

The teens watch Zombie Invasion on TV and decide to perform the ritual on the thief. It works, and they are running for their lives as she comes after them with an ax. They remember the techniques in Zombie Invasion to kill the zombie, but it was Karate Kid that did the job.

Valdivielso (Romasanta) was excellent as the thief/zombie. All of the kids were super. It was an enjoyable horror film.
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