Tuesday, December 16, 2014

3615 code Père Noël: Le Home Alone (A Shitmas Post from Eddie Spuhghetti)




So I don’t need some friggen striped t-shirt, blanket-carrying kid to tell me what Christmas is all about: tis the season to give.  Moonsaulting at the chance to do a piece for Shitmas here at Shit Movie Fest, I figured it's a prime opportunity to give a fairly unique present while my site Here Lies is still going through “final processing” (just a little bit of this and a little bit of that).  I'll be guiding you through a French thriller with sweet hints of Die Hard and Home Alone, subtle notes of Rambo and a dash of Silent Night, Deadly Night.  I just need to find the tape here.. ah, here we go: ca c’est 3615 code Père Noël.    


My Aunt Dolores came across a copy at a library bookshop in Toulouse, France and presented it to me wrapped in tin-foil with a big card saying “Merry Christmas Ethan”.  Like many of you, I hadn't even heard a drip of piss from this film anywhere and it even goes by different titles such as Deadly Games and Game Over  - my favourite being “Le Home Alone", coined by my Aunt Dolores while tossing back her seventh egg-nog.  Home Alone comparisons are a guarantee but both films share the same 1989 production time-frame, making it impossible for any kind of intended imitation.  The only references to American cinema are several homages to Action epics like Commando and First Blood Part II.  Here's where I take you into the film without ruining the ending; it’ll be to your discretion whether or not you wish to watch the entire thing (I’ll explain why later).  *Presses PLAY button*  




After seeing Le Clochard ("hobo" in French - we’re gonna call him that as he doesn't actually have a name) attempt to join a kinder snowball fight, we’re introduced to our French Kevin McCallister: Thomas, sleeping inside of a WW2 fighter plane within a mansion..  Just to show you how badass he is, we get a gear-up montage complete with an Eye of the Tiger ripoff tune.

Thomas goes all out when playing “hunt the dog” by running gunfire sound-clips over the PA system and completing his mission with a trap-door net (why it’s there, I have no idea but obviously we’re gonna see it again).  Munching down on a croissant over breakfast, we sorta get the 4-11 on who these folks are: Thomas's mom is a widowed business-lady, concerned that her son is losing faith in Santa Claus.  His grand-père (grampa) is suffering from glaucoma but doesn't have any problem seeing Thomas is a little genius and maturing quickly for a boy his age: at 10, the kid has a seasoned mullet.


Thomas and his buddy Ferrari (I dunno, he's wearing a Ferrari hat so that's what we'll go with) use Minitel via an Atari ST to quiz Santa Claus into proving his existence.  I'm gonna hit the PAUSE button right now and explain Minitel: it was created in France during the late 70's as an electronic text service via phone-lines.  A precursor to internet chat, Minitel was primarily used by businesses to convey information by first typing in a code like 3615 (think of it like 1-800) and then the business name.  The service was very widespread in Europe (short-lived in North America) and even had public booths like the one we see Le Clochard use to coax Thomas into telling him his location.  Although he doesn't get an exact address, Thomas says his mom is the manager of the big department store in town, which gives Le Clochard an idea.

Our little genius spends the afternoon restoring/driving a car with his grand-père and later makes some final adjustments to the mansion's security cameras.  Using a forearm console with a small monitor, he can remotely access the security system and flip between the camera feeds in hopes of capturing le Père Noël in the act.



Meanwhile, Le Clochard has now become Le Clochard Du Noël; performing as the best mall Santa Claus he can be.  Here's where we go into Michael Jackson territory by getting two hints at what his motives are but neither will be confirmed: Le Clochard Du Noël is really enjoying himself here and genuinely comes off as a grown-up loner who just relates to kids and wants to bring them joy (sorta like that Twilight Zone episode with the old guy that plays with kids and turns out to be an alien or something).  He then decides to creepily stroke a little girl's face and proceeds with a slap when she senses something is wrong and pulls his beard down.  Thomas's mom immediately intervenes and informs Le Clochard Du Noël to take a hike.

He instead hitches a ride in the back of a delivery van after overhearing of its destination: Thomas's mansion.  The driver is killed off and the house staff allow Le Clochard Du Noël in by thinking it's just the delivery guy being creative.  Using a secret passage within his closet, Thomas hunkers down under the living room table with hopes of catching le Père Noël's arrival.  As Le Clochard Du Noël sprays fake snow in his hair and beard, Thomas's mom calls up to make sure he's in bed; eerily mentioning that if he's caught watching, Santa will turn into an ogre.  The midnight hour looms as we get this insanely creepy shot of Le Clochard Du Noël sitting in a rocking chair with full-blown determination.


Thomas is full of whimsy as Santa descends the chimney and proceeds to kill his dog with a serving trowel.  Our little genius manages to escape, grabs Grand-Père and heads for the garage via a hidden toy room with a suspended bridge inside (same room that had the plane from earlier).  They both get into the car and attempt to start it as Le Clochard Du Noël appears and starts to beat the crap outa the thing like a bonus level from Street Fighter II Turbo.  Managing to retreat back to the toy vault, Thomas leaves his grand-père behind, figuring he can battle le Père Noël himself to prevent his mother from being attacked upon arrival.     

As Thomas's mom races home and attempts to call from her state-of-the-art car phone, Le Clochard Du Noël destroys a security cam in the game room: one of the many themed rooms in the mansion (like the SNES Home Alone game).  Thomas scores in stalling Santa in the hidden trap-door net and then gets lost in an art gallery maze-room in his own home (ya got me there).  Well our little genius does manage to make it to the attic but is met by Le Clochard Du Noël , forcing Thomas to escape by a window and begin to brace the roof barefoot like the petit John Du McClaine he is. 



I keep calling Thomas a little genius: while it is a line that was used in the trailer and I happen to find it funny, he proves this quality time after time.  What better example than entering his room's window and sending a fax message to several people from his computer!  Grand-Père narrowly avoids being killed in the toy vault, as Thomas manages to pull him out and together they lure Le Clochard into a sauna within "the gym room" using walkie-talkie-chatter as bait.  Back at the mall office, Thomas's mom's accountant/boyfriend notices the fax and informs her of the situation.  She calls up the cops to go to the house just to check on him..  sorry, I had to say it.



With his forearm control-console damaged, Thomas cannot unlock the doors and release the window gates.  As he makes his way to the security panel, his buddy Ferrari received the fax and decided to bike over.  Just as Thomas confronts Ferrari, Le Clochard Du Noël arrives and stabs our little genius in the leg with the serving trowel!  Horrified, Ferrari pedals his ass away and escapes the grasps of our evil Santa Claus.  He escapes and as Le Clochard Du Noël returns to the mansion, the intercom goes on; Thomas informs Santa that he's gonna scare him to death..

*Presses STOP button* That's all I'm gonna show ya for now.  Remember I mentioned earlier about it being your call if you want to watch this?  With 
no official DVD release and no NTSC home video version of any kind, watching 3615 code Père Noël will be a challenge unless you can speak German or French (only versions I can find).  Being from Central Canada, bilingualism is fairly essential for the workplace but also helps me in understanding many de la killer Santa Claus movies from France.



3615 code Père Noël is one of those true hidden gems that may never be appreciated by a mass audience due to a language barrier and limited home video release.  With only a few kills, it isn't a straight slasher (none are innovative or glamourized) but the sheer terror that brews within the large, dark mansion-setting makes up for it.  The production/set design is very admirable; this does not look like a cheap movie in the slightest and the use of miniatures really emphasizes the scale of the mansion.  Speaking of our little genius, he's a really good actor himself and does a believable job of being a smart, resourceful kid on the verge of losing a big piece of his childhood.  The actor portraying Le Clochard Du Noël is especially creepy; without knowing exactly what his goal is, he gives us a mysterious Evil Santa Claus who will stop at nothing to capture this kid.

Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings to all!  And if you really want to know what happens next, well maybe I can make a subtitled version at some point..  just don't go asking Santa Claus for it.


- Eddie Spuhghetti
Here Lies

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