By Tom "HaXaW" McWatters
A Christmas Carol as a story is quite a dark one. I would actually call it a brilliantly written ghost story and it’s the perfect transition film to bridge the gap between Halloween and Christmas.
Some of you may be wondering which film adaptation I’m talking about. In reality, this story is so malleable that any one of the dozens of versions done over the years will do. However I will reference a select few to illustrate my points. Here are a few reasons why A Christmas Carol is an unintended horror movie.
The Opening Scene
The story instantly grabs your attention with a punch in the mouth with the fist of our own mortality.
Ghosts and/or Spirits
Including the ghost of Jacob Marley plus the three that visit Scrooge throughout the evening, that’s a total of four ghosts and, I don’t know about you, but when I think of Christmas, hauntings and ghosts aren’t the first things that come to mind.
Like always, however, Dickens pulls it off flawlessly.
The first ghost, Jacob Marley, comes back from the dead to warn Scrooge about his impending eternal damnation. Most of the film adaptations of this scene really do it justice. Particularly the one from the 1984 version with George C. Scott as Scrooge. Marley comes in screaming in agony and terror, rattling the chains he wears that he forged in life, illustrating to Scrooge and the audience that there is life after death and there are consequences for your actions on this earth.
Remember kids, this is a classic Christmas story. However, if you showed this scene to someone who has never heard of this story before, they would never imagine that this movie had anything to do with Christmas.
Death and Christmas
While not all the film versions reference this dark detail but the 1951 version with Alastair Sim does, and it's incredibly effective.
When the spirit’s business is finished, Scrooge is passed on to the Ghost of Christmas Present and we’re introduced to Tiny Tim, who walks around with a cane and is very sick. To add insult to injury, the Ghost says to Scrooge that if things don’t change the child will die.
Pretty dark stuff, isn’t it? But it gets worse: there's one more ghost to come, and this one has Halloween written all over it.
The Ghost of Christmas Future AKA The Grim Reaper
Every film version of this sequence is creepy but shockingly the story still has a happy ending.
After that scene, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
The only other major Halloween/Christmas movie out there is The Nightmare Before Christmas and compared to this looks pretty tame. A Christmas Carol exemplifies mortality on a surreal level that’s overlooked rather frequently, especially for a Christmas movie. Ralphie may have almost shot his eye out with his Red Rider, but at least he didn’t actually kill anyone. My recommendation is to seek out at least the versions of this movie I mentioned and check them out just in time for Halloween. Better yet, get a copy of the book because every version ever made misses a little bit of the original story. Think of them as deleted scenes.
Throughout the films, you’re reminded that this is a story about redemption. Sure Scrooge was scared into becoming a good, honest, and charitable person, but it’s the choices he makes after his encounter with the spirits that really gives him his new lease on life.
No matter how big of a jerk you are, Christmas is about bringing out the best in people and sometimes, miracles can happen. Even if, in our case, they happen a little bit before Halloween.
Tom McWatters is an avid enthusiast of motion pictures, good music, and stand up comedy. He wrote for his college newspaper "The Tower" at Kean University, where he graduated with a BA in Communication. Tom enjoys writing as a hobby and if he can make someone laugh or introduce a new perspective, that's enough for him.