With Christmas approaching, so to do the Christmas specials. Some are timeless classics, like A Charlie Brown Christmas; others are more recent gems, such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and Bad Santa. Then there are those specials that fall into the "what were they thinking?" category, with scary Santas, incoherent stories, and horrible sound and special effects. Fortunately, the Rifftrax folks are ready to gie these awful flicks the commentary they deserve.

Rifftrax Live! Christmas Shorts-Stravaganza has the MST3K folks -- Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy -- doing a live performance of their take on some truly terrible Christmas shorts (and, for some reason, specials on pork and summer aquatic sports) in the theater. The shorts selected are truly awful, from one focusing on a monotone voiceover covering a tree "of no account" to dolls coming eerily to life to Santa controlling people's dreams.

The Rifftrax humor ranges from topical jokes -- Twilight and the song "Poker Face" -- to sarcasm, sexual innuendo, and bizarre additions. Sometimes it's juvenile, but it's often quite funny -- sometimes at the same time. I wonder about the two decidedly non-holiday shorts, and I'm surprised they didn't do more with "Weird Al" while he was there. Still, the Rifftrax Live Christmas Shorts-Stravaganza was a lot of fun -- and a great contrast to the often-excessive sentimentality of the holiday season.

Overall grade: B+

Reviewe by James Lynch

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