Written by Hayley Spivey
Music & Lyrics by Abbie Goldberg, Aaron Goodwin, Haley Spivey
Toy piano playing by James LaBella
Directed & edited by Andrew Child
Art direction by Andrew Child
Puppet knitwear & opening sequence artwork by Sara Kenny
Reindeer & snowman puppet by Joe Wood
Exterior of Mary’s House by Hayley Spivey
Ink & watercolor images by Lou Lim
Featuring: Ben Astrachan, Alex Casillas, Ethan Child, Becky Ittner, Dylan Scott, Kayla Shimizu, and Michael Herschberg
Premier on December 17, 2020
Eternally on YouTube
Review by Kitty Drexel
YOUTUBE — Punk is not dead. Mary’s Dark Christmas is the most hardcore thing I’ve seen this year, and my housemate had COVID-19 before we knew what caused it or how it was spread.
In this deep dive into the twisted depths of Spivey’s conscious mind, third-grader Mary Christmas (Becky Ittner) goes on a bender of junk-punching tantrums because Santa (as himself) cancels Christmas. Jeff Bezos (Jack Brewer) swoops in to save capitalism with his Naughty or Nice program™. He believes “that everyone has the right to infect and kill their grandparents so they can see a few presents under their tree.”
Her punk brother Happy Christmas (Ben Astrachan) attempts to placate her; Dad (Michael Herschberg as an abstract interpretation of Ned Flanders) explains classism to her. Mary is having none of it.
Bezos can be generous so long as workers smile under their masks, never sleep, and pee only in their designated Amazon bottle. Mary, firmly believing that no one is too young for capitalism, joins the Amazon army. She has a mission to earn the very bestest, most awesome-sauce gift that only Bezos or Santa can provide. Will Mary have a merry Christmas? You’ll have to fall down this thorny rabbit hole to find out.
Mary’s Dark Christmas has the potential to become a cult classic a la Troma Entertainment & South Park. It should be workshopped immediately to film festivals, Arisia, and other cons right away. Its unique characters draw upon archetypes found across genres (the violently precocious kid with a heart of… gold? The greedy but cheap as sin villain, Santa, etc.). The janky animation straight out of Microsoft Paint will appeal to fans of homegrown cartoons. This featurette will surely draw a larger appeal – but only if a large audience knows about it.
The sockpuppet work is reminiscent of Sifl and Olly. It’s the fun kind of creepy – which I personally hate but acknowledge that others love. Bezos’s head looks like it’s gone through a trash compactor, eaten by a rabid squirrel, regurgitated, and then molded back to its original shape with paper mache. All that is to say, it’s lifelike. Jack Frosty’s (Andrew Child) blue pate triggered my fight or flight reflex. I needed a short walk around my monitor to calm down.
Mary’s Dark Christmas has a rockin’ soundtrack! The vocals are better than expected. The lyrics punch up. “Merry Dark Christmas” is what the kids call a banger. “Amazon is Coming to Town” should replace its lesser cousin of a similar name. Spivey and Child should orchestrate a cast recording. They can sell it online to fundraise for their festival submissions. Then they can sell it on Amazon.
I’m told that Santa is giving extra gifts to Antifa and social justice warriors who fight the power. Goodness is relative. Only naughty kids are submissive to hate and greed. I hope all of you are exhibiting good, rebellious behavior across the gender spectrum. Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Happy Hannukah, Festive Kwanza, Blessed Yule, and a Happy Fuckin’ New Year to all!