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Rare exports a Christmas tale

"It's the eve of Christmas in northern Finland, and an 'archeological' dig has just unearthed the real Santa Claus. But this particular Santa isn't the one you want coming to town. When the local children begin mysteriously disappearing, young Pietari and his father Rauno, a reindeer hunter by trade, capture the mythological being and attempt to sell Santa to the misguided leader of the multinational corporation sponsoring the dig. Santa's elves, however, will stop at nothing to free their fearless leader from captivity. What ensues is a wildly humorous nightmare – a fantastically bizarre polemic on modern day morality." - (Alert)

In arctic Finland, young Pietari, who lives with his stern reindeer-herding father Rauno, becomes curious about an excavation at a nearby mountain, but when Rauno's reindeer herd is mysteriously slain and the children in town go missing, Pietari realizesthat the dig has unearthed the evil Santa Claus of local lore. - (Baker & Taylor)

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You better watch out! One could call this Santa Claus movie from Finland a black comedy, but writer-director Jalmari Helander doesn't play it for laughs: Rare Exports is more like a surreal action-thriller, set in the isolated frozen north of the Finland-Russia border, where a secret expedition is trying to excavate the folkloric Santa from an ice-encased prison on the Russian side. Unfortunately, this Santa Claus (Peeter Jakobi) is no cuddly old man who hands out presents but rather a child-snatching demon who punishes the naughty with the help of naked, scraggly-old-men elves—Father Christmases of the wild, who move about like a pack of wolves. The reindeer-herding Finns on the other side of the border become involved when animals turn up slaughtered and village children go missing. The humor is pure deadpan, while horror-thriller situations fuel the tension, with a tow-headed little kid named Pietari (Onni Tommila) taking charge like an action hero and trying to convince his gruff dad (Jorma Tommila, Onni's real-life father) to help in the fight against the savage trolls. An inventive, bizarre holiday film, Rare Exports is recommended. [Note: DVD/Blu-ray extras include two short prequels: 2003's "Rare Exports Inc." and 2005's "Rare Exports Inc.—The Official Safety Instructions" (18 min. total), a "making-of" featurette (29 min.), two animatics visual effects montages (6 min.), a concept art montage (3 min.), a photo gallery, and trailers. Exclusive to the Blu-ray release is the 1964 cult classic Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, featuring Pia Zadora (80 min.) and a bonus DVD copy of the film. Bottom line: an excellent extras package (Santa Claus Conquers the Martians!) for a disturbed holiday treat.] (S. Axmaker)Copyright Video Librarian Reviews 2011.

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