Here is my warmest recommendation to you all this December: gather your family and sit down to enjoy classic piece of seasonal Kiwiana, the long-neglected monsterpiece The Monster’s Christmas (1981).
One hour of wildly imaginative hijinks shot through with kindness and humour, suitable for young and old, and free to watch online!
The Monster’s Christmas is a live-action fairy tale, about a thoughtful little girl on a fearsome quest to help a friendly monster. It’s kinda like Labyrinth without all that pubescent horny angst, just Ludo and Sir Dydimus and lots of kid’s theatre earnestness.
There is so much to recommend this crowd-pleasing show! Most memorably it’s a visual feast, with incredible monster costumes co-designed by legendary NZ cartoonist/impish humourist Burton Silver (Bogor).
It’s also a journey film, turning the diverse landscapes of Aotearoa New Zealand into a vivid and extensive fantasy world, two decades before Lord of the Rings pulled the same trick.
And it’s funny! The troublemaking witch gets most of the laughs, with beloved theatre/radio personality Lee Hatherley relishing being almost the only character with dialogue. The aerobics gags are very of their time but still work 40 years on!
And the whole thing is pulled together beautifully by director Yvonne Mackay (who would go on to be the first Kiwi woman to direct a feature film, The Silent One).
If I had my way, The Monster’s Christmas would go out on broadcast TV every Christmas Eve, and up and down the country we would gather in the living room and watch it together. A new tradition. I think we deserve this film that is silly and fun and sweet and so, so so weird.
Until that dream comes true, you’ll have to stage your own watching parties with your families! It’s complete on the NZ On Screen website in three parts:
YouTube has it too, their copy has brighter colours so might play better with kids: https://youtu.be/Nu8SacTNbV8