Now we all know that children’s films used to be much more innocent than they are today. But sometimes you have to wonder what was going on in the minds of some filmmakers. Today, a wannabe Polanksi just cranks out something on YouTube. However, back in the 60s you had to get financial backing. That makes The Magic Christmas Tree (1964) an even bigger curiosity.
Our story begins at Halloween as we see young Mark and two friends on the playground. Mark decides he wants to go to the town’s haunted house and, once there, he encounters an old woman. After trying to save her cat in a tree, he falls only to awaken and realize that the woman was really a witch. She grants him three wishes with the use of a magic ring. By saying the magic words and planting the ring, a magic Christmas tree will grow. Of course, the tree can talk, much like a genie-in-a-bottle. His first wish is to have an hour of absolute power, which almost turns into a scene out of Carrie. Then, of course, his second wish is to kidnap Santa so he can get anything else he wants. Will young Mark see the error of his ways in time for Santa to make it for Christmas Day?
This film runs about an hour but could have been much shorter if it wasn’t for some really bad editing. As in, nothing appears to have been edited out. There are so many pointless scenes that you wonder what director Richard Parish was thinking. Not a shock to find out he never directed anything else. In fact, nobody involved in this film ever went on to make another film. Despite being made in the United States, all dialogue and sound effects were added later, giving the impression it was a foreign film. I doubt any country would claim this one. You have the incredibly original idea to transition the film from black and white to color when Mark apparently dreams the whole story. There is the cutting edge lawnmower sequence that involves a turtle and the phone conversation that adds nothing to the plot. Did I mention the beyond creepy sequence with the giant in the woods?
I recently read a comment online is actually a very accurate description. They said it seemed like something you’d watch on the CBS Family Film Festival with Kukla, Fran and Ollie. There were a lot of classic films shown on that series but some were a little different. Thankfully, the powers that be never exposed the children of world to this one.
I recommend this one only if you want to see something very bizarre during the holiday season. It is available on DVD but just watch it for free on YouTube but don’t say I didn’t warn you! And be sure to listen to Vince and the gang over at the B Movie Cast. They reviewed this one back on episode 272.