As a child, every one of us has had a scare or two involving something that isn’t necessarily aiming to frighten kids. Popular examples usually involve trippy Disney animated sequences or when your talking Kevin McCallister doll starts to sound possessed due to a dead battery. Such is the case when I was a lad; there were many things in kids shows and books that frightened me, all thanks to my wonderful imagination.
Sesame Street featured a few characters that didn’t intentionally want to scare me but I won’t get into detail about those puppets; I’m going to touch upon a much smaller puppet that distilled fear into my brain every holiday season. This edition of VHS Memories, I go back in time and face what was considered a true Christmas horror: move aside Mickey Rooney in Silent Night, Deadly Night 5, you have nothing on The Abominable Snowman.
King of the Bootleg-VHS, my father created three holiday-themed tapes for the Spaghetti kids to enjoy: I’ll dub them the “Triforce” of Christmas VHS. The tapes were differently designed in colour-tone; labels and text in blue, green, and red, respectively. Each tape contained roughly ten different holiday programs, all commercial-cut and all classics in their own right. Muppets Family Christmas, Charlie Brown’s Tree Troubles, and Frosty The Snowman do not go without a viewing each year. Jimmy Durante’s rough and tuff voice puts me right back home, circa 1993, during Christmas vacation when these tapes would come out of a big cardboard box in the basement labeled X-MAS.
Christmastime was not official until those tapes were sitting each next to the tv set. It eventually became tradition to watch Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, a special from 1964 that has since become the longest running of its kind. Each year, its broadcast on television so kids from all over get to watch in fear of the evil, gigantic, reindeer-eating Abominable Snowman. Like the narrator Sam The Snowman, I too would cover my eyes in fear whenever that big monster showed up. I don’t care if he became a good guy in the end, I’m sure if he still had his jaws he’d of eaten Rudolph and beaten Yukon Cornelius to a pulp.
His Godzilla-like presence made its way into my dreams too: I vividly remember a nightmare involving the Abominable Snowman. Looking out my bedroom window, into a snowstorm at night, I could hear low pulses and feel the ground rumble to the beat of footsteps. In the distance, I could make out the figure of a large, furry head passing by houses. At a glance, I’m sort of glad I was scared of this puppet character and not a killer Santa Claus or some other Christmas-related baddie like Billy from Black Christmas.
Thanks to puberty, I was eventually able to nod off the Monster’s terrifying presence and dismiss the special as “tame”. The Xmas Triforce has since become dismantled and will never be one again: the blue and green tapes became victim to recordings of Star Trek: Voyager episodes and go unrecognized as what power they held in the past. The red tape survived and resides in my collection, where once a year I will take it out to indulge all that it offers. Yet once I get near that Rudolph special with the old newsflash opening of snowstorms, I get minor chills.