Santa with Muscles (1996) (part 11 of 11)

Down in the kitchen, Dr. Blight finds the unconscious Jeffrey Jones-wannabe and goes ballistic. At that exact moment, Saavik enters the kitchen through one door while the kids enter through the other. Dr. Blight takes the opportunity to hit on Saavik yet again, and she plays along with it while secretly motioning the kids to open the door to a big walk-in freezer. Hmm, no idea where this is going. Nope, none at all. What a crazy, unpredictable movie!

Blight calls the kids “homeless little losers”, pissing off Saavik so much that she shoves him backwards. Taylor trips Blight, and Blight tumbles into the freezer, and the kids lock him inside so he can die of hypothermia. Yay for slow, horrific ways to die!

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Meanwhile, Hulk makes a lengthy, time-wasting journey down into the catacombs. Oh, and about here is where I noticed that Hulk’s servants have now completely vanished. Smart fellows.

After a minute or so, Hulk finally confronts Ebner Frost in front of the vault. Hulk calls him “Ebbie”, which is all it takes for Begley to instantly recognize him as Blake Torichevsky. Sooooo… why didn’t Frost recognize Hulk before? No idea. Maybe Ed Begley got hit on the head, too.

Hulk promises to put a stop to Begley’s evil plans, but unfortunately for him, Mr. Flint has gotten the vault open. Begley rushes inside and Hulk follows, with both men “hilariously” slamming the door right against Mr. Flint’s head.

Lenny appears and runs directly into the vault door, and this finally knocks Flint out. So Lenny does what anyone would do in this situation, which is take out that amazing, magically appearing roll of duct tape and start tying Flint up.

Meanwhile, inside the vault, Hulk calls out to Frost, asking him to leave the good folks alone and fight him outside. Frost yells back that it’s not about Hulk. “It’s about money!!” And I think you can just take this as a meta-statement from Ed Begley about his reasons for being in this movie.

Hulk strolls around the cave, peering down a hole that appears to be bottomless. You know, I really have no idea if this hole will become important later. You never know which way this crazy plot is gonna go, do you?

We learn Frost’s got some bitterness in him too, because Hulk was adopted by millionaires while Frost had to turn into a career criminal to pull his way out of poverty and despair. Begley tells him to go back to his life of luxury, but Hulk declares that “being Santa opened my eyes! I didn’t like what I saw!” Funny, but me neither. Still don’t.

Meanwhile, Frost pulls out a Fortress of Solitude-type crystal and wields it like a baseball bat. He attacks Hulk, so Hulk grabs his own long crystal. The two have a lame swordfight, complete with sparks flying off the crystals when they strike together. Hmmm, a bottomless pit… a duel with sparks flying off the weapons… looks like somebody’s seen Star Wars! Oh, and by the way, these are the very same crystals that exploded earlier just from being dropped on the ground. Just in case you forgot.

For some reason, the kids and Saavik all come running in at that exact moment. Begley lets loose with more of his deep-seated resentment, then knocks Hulk flat on his back. Hulk drops his crystal, and a really lousy matte shot shows it plummeting down the bottomless hole on its way to China.

Santa with Muscles (1996) (part 11 of 11)

Hey, when I put a plastic bag over my head, it looks just like Yoda and Count Dooku! Oooh… getting dizzy now…

Begley is about to deliver the final, punishing blow to Hulk Hogan’s head, when suddenly Taylor uses his slingshot to distract Begley. This gives Hulk time to get back to his feet, but Begley continues to try to smash him with the crystal. Begley takes out his anger on every crystal in sight, sending sparks flying everywhere. And, tell me again, why is it these crystals haven’t exploded yet?

Finally, Saavik runs up and yanks out Begley’s air hose, which sends him into a panic. Hulk finally knocks Begley’s helmet off, then delivers a punch that sends him flying. With the poor blocking and editing, it looks like Begley has fallen directly into the bottomless pit, but when we cut to him he’s just sitting on the cave floor sucking directly on his air hose.

Santa with Muscles (1996) (part 11 of 11)

Ed Begley sucks. Sometimes, you don’t even need to write a joke.

Oddly enough, the scene doesn’t end with Begley falling into the hole and hanging by his fingernails just before Hulk “heroically” pulls him up. This is only a hunch, but I’m pretty sure that’s how the scene was originally supposed to end, but once they got a look at how lousy the matte effect was, they decided that scenario would just look too abysmal for words.

It seems there’s still trouble, however, trouble of the “crystals are all glowing and the camera is being shaken” variety. Jackie yells, “The reverberations are causing an energy buildup!” Of course, her pronunciation of the word “reverberations” is so completely off that I had to look at the closed captions just to know what the hell she said. Elizabeth demands Jackie put this in layman’s terms, so the tied-up Mr. Flint screams, “It’s gonna blow!!

They all scream and go running out, with Hulk valiantly grabbing a bawling Begley and forcing him to come along. “No!” Ed Begley thinks. “Look at where my career is! Just let me end it now!”

Anyway, in an “exciting” sequence, they all run out, with the camera positioned in such a way as to make Saavik’s ass the centerpiece of the shot. Sadly, I don’t think she’d stand a chance of getting into Starfleet these days in that shape.

Finally, they all make it out of the orphanage, and Hulk’s servants come running out at that exact moment. Glad you could join us, guys.

Regardless, they’re just in time to re-enact the ending of Poltergeist. Cartoon electric bolts dance and spread across the exterior of the building, and finally the orphanage implodes. As this happens, Taylor cries, “Cool!” Yeah, something tells me the kid’s been seeing this happening in his dreams for quite a while now.

Of course, this “implosion” is rendered through miserable model work and poor computer graphics. First of all, when the orphanage implodes, you can see the layout of the surrounding neighborhood changing drastically between shots. Also, the whole gang was originally standing on the sidewalk when the building began to self-destruct, but a wide shot reveals they’re all suddenly standing in the middle of the street.

Once the place has finished becoming a smoldering ruin, Clint Howard drives up in his police car. And kill me now, because his car is still driveable, despite the fact that it was hit by a rocket and is now basically a burnt hunk of metal on four wheels. To add to the general stupidity of it all, the windshield wipers [!!] are going. The other cop cars pull in behind him and Clint gets out with his gun drawn.

Thankfully, we’re spared the tedious details of the arrests, and we quickly wipe to a little later when intrepid newswoman Helen Chu pulls up to the scene. I mean, her hair gets in her face as she jumps out of the news van, that’s how intrepid she is. She interviews Clint Howard, who tries to take all the credit for capturing Frost. Then she totally disses him to go talk to Dr. Blight, who I’m sure is a much bigger catch.

Santa with Muscles (1996) (part 11 of 11)

“Funny story. As it turns out, Kirk wasn’t bluffing about that corbomite stuff.”

Blight’s being wheeled past on a dolly, as it appears his time in the walk-in freezer has left him completely immobile and barely able to talk. Haha! Paralysis! Hysterical!

Hulk sees him and tells the kids, “I guess he’ll have a chance to defrost himself!” Everyone bursts into uncontrollable laughter, despite this A) being one of the most idiotic puns ever made, and B) not making one bit of sense. Frozen Blight makes some lame threats in Hulk’s direction before an officer finally tosses His Stiffness in the back of a police van.

Chu tries to interview Mr. Vial, but she and everyone else cover their noses like there’s a foul smell in the air. Here’s a hint, kids, it might just be this script!

The cops toss him in the van and we see Mr. Flint and Ms. Watt already in there, and they’re all repulsed by the odor. Yep, that stink’s not coming out of their careers anytime soon! As the van pulls off, Blight presses his face against the back window to complain about the odor and do some final unfunny mugging.

A cop car rolls past with Ebner Frost in the back, and of course, it goes by slowly enough for Begley to yell some empty threats at Hulk. Unfortunately, Begley is all sweaty and sneezing here, so apparently he’s got Bubble Boy Syndrome and has just now caught an infectious disease for the first time. Everyone gets a big huge laugh out of this. Haha, pneumonia! Hilarious! This stuff kills! No, really. It kills.

By the way, I think it goes without saying that the cops haven’t arrested Hulk here, and don’t even do so much as write him a ticket. So, I guess it’s okay to evade arrest, as long as you help the cops catch bad guys later.

Well, the laughs come to a close as the kids look at the smoking ruins of their home and wonder where they’ll go now. Hulk says, “I think I know a place that’s available!” Hmm, could he possibly mean his own mansion? Chez Hulk?

Nope. A cut reveals all the kids now playing on the lawn of Frost’s mansion [!!], which apparently has just been converted into their new orphanage. Only, now there are dozens of kids instead of just the three we’ve been seeing this whole time. So, um, what conclusions should we draw about all these other kids? All I can come up with a major industrial accident that killed all their parents. I mean, I know it’s bleak, but how else would you explain a sudden influx of orphans?

Anyway, Frost’s mansion has now been turned into Happy Fun Palace, a place where a bitter kid can be a non-bitter, carefree kid. A place where Taylor can run around blowing bubbles, where there are balloons everywhere you look, and Lenny can sunbathe [?] in a lawn chair.

Santa with Muscles (1996) (part 11 of 11)

“Craftsman’s been veddy veddy good to me!”

Meanwhile, Garrett Morris is now pleased as punch that he can drive a Craftsman tractor mower all around the grounds. Happy man. Happy lawn-mowing man. Only, it appears that Sears wasn’t too keen on having their product used in this movie, because a couple of letters have been taped over so it looks like it was made by “Raftsma” [!].

The lawn animals are now free of plastic and wrapped in paper streamers. We see a telescope, hula hoops, and eventually pan over to Hulk and the kids playing duck-duck-goose. Ah yes, eternal paradise. Or, perhaps Dante’s ninth circle of hell. You be the judge.

The kids and Hulk all decide to run over to the telescope. Hulk peers in, and sure enough, the telescope is focused on Frost and his henchman all wearing prison stripes and picking up trash on the side of the road. The sentence for extortion, torture, and racketeering in Lakeville? Shitty community service!

Santa with Muscles (1996) (part 11 of 11)

Very good, Ms. Rider. Ms. Love. Keep up the good work.

Strangely, Ms. Watt is also among them [?], so I guess they were all sent to the world’s first co-ed jail.

Everyone gets way too much of a kick out of the fates of the Frost and his goons. Elizabeth says, “Wow! A Christmas miracle! I do believe in you… Blake!” Hulk ho-ho-ho’s and tosses his Santa hat in the air. The hat lands on a random lawn animal that I can’t identify, and we zoom in on the hat for a fittingly weak final shot. Roll credits.

Now, if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to down as much egg nog as it takes to make this film a blurry memory. Merry Christmas, everyone, and see you in ’04!

Multi-Part Article: Santa with Muscles (1996)

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