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Magic Christmas Tree is a 1964 American Christmas-related fantasy film starring Chris Kroesen. Though regarded by many as one of the worst Christmas movies of all time, its infamy is often overshadowed by Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, which was released the same year.

Synopsis

SPOILER: Plot details or story follow.
Mark and his two friends Dave and Tommy are elementary school students who are having lunch outside of the school building. During lunch, the three boys discuss their plans for Halloween. Mark tells his friends that he plans to explore a nearby old decrepit Victorian House on Elm Street known as "the old Finch Place," and dares his friends to join him on his quest. Obviously, the house is believed to be haunted by many kids in the neighborhood. While they're on their way to the house, the old lady at the Finch place is struggling to get her pet cat Lucifer out of a tree. Mark's two friends get close enough to the house but run away at the last minute. Just then Mark arrives at the house and is caught by the old lady, who coerces him into climbing the tree to retrieve her cat. When he gets close enough, the tree branch breaks causing him to fall to the ground as the cat jumps out of the tree.

As he wakes up, the film changes from black and white to color, and he discovers the old lady is a witch after all. Additionally, the house changed from a wooden Victorian structure to a stone cottage, and the old lady explains what happened when he tried to rescue her cat. She also admits to being a witch, and make him realize his fear of witches is groundless. As a reward for helping her retrieve her cat, the witch gives him a ring with an image of Santa Claus, containing the seed for a tree, which grows at an astoundingly abnormal rate and comes to life to grants three wishes. She informs him that getting the tree to work requires three magic words (apparently "Rembum, Karrynum, Pom.")

Within a month, Mark is at the dinner table on Thanksgiving, seeking a piece of turkey with a wishbone (a key ingredient to the spell), but his father Henry refuses to give it to him, until his mother urges him to do so. That night, he talks to his pet turtle Icabod, and refreshes his memory on the steps to getting his magic Christmas tree to work. He goes out to the back yard, plants the seed, says the three words, and with a clap of thunder and lighting, the tree appears instantly as he runs back in the house.

The next day, his parents are at the breakfast nook, where Henry is baffled over the lack of newspaper coverage over the thunderstorm from the previous night. Mark's father struggles to start his lawn mower, but once he does, he doesn't seem to have any control of the mower. While his mother is talking on the telephone, she notices he collides with this new tree that seemed to spring up out of nowhere. His mother comes out to investigate and when his father tells her what happened, she jokes that he should use the axe if he wants to chop the tree down. After she returns to the house, he trips over his broken lawn mower as Mark's pet turtle casually eats the grass and weeds in the family's back yard. Later, Henry spends much of his time trying to chop the tree down, but not a single ax or saw has any effect on it. Eventually he gives up and let's it stay in his yard.

On Christmas Eve, Mark's parents and older sister are preparing some last minute Christmas shopping. Mark himself decides to stay home claiming he's going to wrap some presents. In reality, he just wants to check on his tree. He inspects the tree and finds out it suddenly starts to talk. The tree urges him to say the magic words, and the tree arrives inside, fully decorated. The first of these wishes involves having an hour of power, which includes transforming vases in the house, turning nighttime into daylight and causing chaos in town. He sees a man picking up potato chip boxes to place in the back of his rental truck, which suddenly takes off. He makes a local police car take off and chase the man and his truck, while the cop chases the car. He makes a pie man and his wife throw pies in each other's faces and chase each other around town. He makes an antique fire truck escape from the local fire department, and though the firemen catch the truck, they have no control over where it goes or what it does. The pie man hits one of the firemen, and the rented stake truck chases the squabbling couple.

Mark introduces Santa Claus to the Magic Christmas Tree

The "Keystone Kops" inspired chaos will pale in comparison to what will happen when Mark captures Santa Claus all for himself.

After he's done with that chaos, he returns home just before his parents arrive and his father discovers the tree is missing. Shortly afterwards, he and the rest of the family discovers it's already indoors and decorated. Mark makes his second wish, to have Santa Claus all to himself. The tree tries to talk him out such a wish, but he refuses to be persuaded. Santa suddenly appears in the living room between Mark and the tree, just as he was about to climb into his sleigh at the North Pole. Mark introduces Santa to the tree, who practically confesses he's an unwilling participant in Mark's selfish activities. The boy demands that he won't let Father Christmas go until he gets everything he wants. Later that night, Mark wanders off and Santa and the tree discuss the error of his ways.

Despite the fact that it's nighttime at home, Mark walks through a riverbed in the woods during the day with an apparent shotgun, when in a pre-Beatles example of instant karma, he encounters a hairy giant who tried to claim him as his property. This giant is supposed to represent greed, and exposes the boy's hypocrisy over kidnapping Santa Claus. He urges the giant to let him go if he promises to be less greedy. Not entirely convinced of Mark's promise to let Santa go, he forces him to look into the river, which turns into a movie screen showing all the consequences of him keeping Jolly Ol' St. Nick. His actions cause panic at the United Nations, increased military activity, a drastic decline in the stock market, and of course billions of children never to receive the toys they asked for.

Finally, Mark's third wish is to undo the previous wish. He pleads for forgiveness from Santa Claus, who gladly complies. Santa disappears, and the tree tells him their time together is about to end as he returns to "the land of magic." Mark flops in the chair and wishes the tree a tearful goodbye. The film returns to black and white, and Mark himself returns to the yard of the Old Finch Place, in it's Victorian origins, with the old lady watching over him as he recuperates from his fall. The old lady shows her appreciation by offering him a serving of milk and cookies. As she goes into the house to get them, he realizes his whole ordeal was a dream, which suddenly zooms back into color to a nearby forest where another pine tree, who also turns out to be a magic Christmas tree (albeit in a different voice), urges him and kids everywhere to believe that there is magic in all Christmas trees.

Spoilers end here.

Cast

Actor/actressCharacter(s)
Chris KroesenMark
Valerie HobbsOld Woman
Darlene Lohnes (Mother)
Dick Parish (Father)
Mark's parents
Bill Willingham
Billy Schaffner
Robert MaffeiGreed
Dianne Johnson
Blanche Mickelson
Howard Blevins
Terry Bradshaw
Charles Nix
Ichabod (Turtle)
Lucifer (Cat)
James Crocker
Nedra
Louise Scott
Herbert Elfman
Voices

Trivia

  • The movie was filmed on an extremely low budget in La Verne, California, which explains why Mark's father mows the lawn and his family drives a convertible with the top down during the Christmas shopping season.
  • The movie was spoofed by the cast from Rifftrax, and given a scathing review from Brad Jones (a.k.a.; The Cinema Snob")

External links

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