Is Zemeckis’ Christmas Carol A Horror Film?

Published 6 years ago by , Updated August 6th, 2012 at 5:18 pm,

a christmas carol comic con panel robert zemeckis Is Zemeckis Christmas Carol A Horror Film?

Here’s an interesting piece of news for you to ponder. While the rest of Hollywood TV and movie studios are out promoting their upcoming projects at Comic Con, Robert Zemeckis is there to clarify some things about his latest upcoming project, A Christmas Carol.  Apparently Zemeckis wants us to know that his version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a “classic ghost story”.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times Thursday, and verified at the Disney 3D comic Con panel by our own writer Rob Keyes, Zemickis said he thought people might get the wrong idea about A Christmas Carol because it is being released by Disney.

“…,this is a movie for real movie fans, and real ghost-story fans and fans of graphic novels.”

I personally find this information puzzling. It doesn’t make that much sense to me that he is going all ghost-story with Dickens’ classic tale of family, forgiveness, charity, generosity, patience and fellowship. I’ve never really equated Charles Dickens to Edgar Allen Poe or Stephen King, but that’ s not to say a “re-imagining” of the story wouldn’t be an interesting take on it though.

Let’s just take a look at the information and marketing leading up to this point and see why Zemeckis would think audiences would get the wrong impression.

First is the director, Robert Zemeckis, who is known for a more family oriented director or at the very least a non-horror film director. He’s portfolio includes, Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future Trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Forrest Gump, Cast Away, The Polar Express, and Beowulf. None of those films scream scary to me so why should audiences think he next project would be any different? He did direct the mildly OK What Lies Beneath that could be considered a “ghost story” but that is just one movie he did.

Next, is the studio he went with, Disney. If he was doing A Christmas Carol as an actual CGI version of the book, then I’d say it was a great choice but since he seems to be dead set on people accepting this as a ghost story, then I have to question his decision to go with them. Disney has the occasional “BOO” but it’s always followed up with a laugh so I still see no reason to assume Carol is going to be scary.

Moving on to Jim Carrey, or funny man Jim Carrey, Ace Ventura, the Grinch, Fire Marshall Bill – the list goes on but nowhere on that list will you find his name associated with a horror film or even a suspenseful thriller. I’d be more concerned that he would put a suggestive pose or off color humor into the movie before I thought Carol was going to be a ghost story.

Now we’ll quickly go through the promotional items that have been released so far for the film.

May 14th, 2009 the studio releases its first official poster – non scary:

a christmas carol jim carrey Is Zemeckis Christmas Carol A Horror Film?

May 20th, 2009 we get a good look at Jim Carrey in CGI form as Ebenezer Scrooge – still non scary:

hr disneys a christmas carol   1 Is Zemeckis Christmas Carol A Horror Film?

July 7th, 2009 the first international poster is released which actually looked a little “scary”:

christmas carol poster2 570x Is Zemeckis Christmas Carol A Horror Film?

And here is a new picture released of Scrooge (click on the image to enlarge):

scrooge 1 Is Zemeckis Christmas Carol A Horror Film?

After looking at all the marketing leading up to this point, would anybody honestly say they were thinking Zemeckis’ version of A Christmas Carol was going to be more of a horror film? If he isn’t careful, Zemeckis could have another Land of the Lost situation on his hands. And as we found earlier in the summer, parents don’t like to be marketed to one way, just to be lead in a different direction once inside the theater. Maybe that is why he is trying so hard to clear things up now so to avoid it later.

When I was discussing this topic with Screen Rant writer extraordinaire Ross Miller, we were in agreement that the only major Hollywood director that has successfully built his reputation in both adult action/horror AND kid oriented films is Robert Rodriguez. He manages to straddle the fence very well and he does it by never bringing either genre close to each other.

Audiences know when they go to see From Dusk Til Dawn or Machete that you are in for a gory, adult language filled, solid R-rated movie. There’s no doubting that in the least from the marketing or trailers. And when you go see Spy Kids or the upcoming Shorts, you know that it’s going to be a zany, wild out of this world adventure that most kids under 13 are going to giggle and laugh at. Again, he never lets you think otherwise with the marketing or trailers.

I said in an earlier article that I thought audiences would very much enjoy the new CGI version of A Christmas Carol but now I’m left scratching my head, wondering if Zemeckis went in the right direction with the story.

Are you looking forward to the possible horror direction of A Christmas Carol or do you wish Hollywood would just leave our classics alone?

A Christmas Carol haunts a theater near you November 6, 2009.

Source:  Studio Briefing

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  1. “Screen Rant writer extraordinaire Ross Miller…”

    Aw shucks…


  2. I’m dying to see ot but I’m skeptical on the scary ghost story angle. Maybe he means it’ll be darker than expected….

  3. “Moving on to Jim Carrey, or funny man Jim Carrey, Ace Ventura, the Grinch, Fire Marshall Bill – the list goes on but nowhere on that list will you find his name associated with a horror film or even a suspenseful thriller.”

    How about “The Number 23.” Not really my cup of tea but a suspenseful thriller nonetheless.

  4. @ludovicotek – I think you are referring to Number 13 and that just proves my point on how no one associates his name with the suspense/thriller/horror genre. I didn’t even remember he was in it.

  5. whoops, you are correct Number 23, either way, bad movie.

  6. I’m not sure what makes you think “ghost story” necessarily means “horror.” Dickens’ book IS a ghost story (it’s a story and it’s about ghosts), and it has some very effectively eerie moments, as do the best adaptations of it (the Muppet film released by Disney is a terrific example, family film though it may be). Off the top of my head, “Ugetsu,” “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,” and “Curse of the Cat People” are all ghost stories with some creepy moments, but none are really “horror” movies. “It’s A Wonderful Life,” in some ways an updated and Americanized “Christmas Carol,” features the intervention of a spirit and some pretty eerie/frightening stuff. Zemeckis’ “Christmas Carol” seems perfectly in keeping with that sense of the atmospheric to me.

  7. I think this film will be for any kind of audience. Both kids and adults should enjoy it. Zemeckis is a very good director, so he won’t fail with it. I’m looking forward to this, but I’d want to see a trailer. Or has any been already released?

  8. Zemeckis’ quote is a bit strange as far as what he is trying to “explain” about his film, but I don’t necessarily see the connection between “Ghost Story” and “Horror Film”, as another poster already mentioned.

    If he had said “Horror Film”, that would have been surprising and something to ponder, but that wasn’t the quote.

    I confess the little I have seen do far has not impressed me as something special – and it sounds like a vehicle for Jim Carrey go nuts and chew up the scenery while being mo-capped, which may or may not be a good thing.

    His last two efforts along these lines have been disappointing; “Polar Express” and “Beowulf”. The first has some nice visuals (based on a book by noted illustrator), and the latter looked and felt like a really long cut scene from a video game. Both seemed really lacking in any kind of “soul” or “heart” or whatever you want to call that intangible something that raises a movie about just being a bunch of moving images on a screen.

    I hope I am proven wrong, as I have always enjoyed the story itself.

  9. The only trailer for this film is a pirated Italian trailer someone put on you tube. I find it odd that Disney didn’t release more images/ trailers/ information at Comic Con. Don’t forget, Christmas Carol arrives in theaters everywhere 5 months from now.

  10. Zemeckis has had his hand in several horror movies sometimes as writer (Bordello of Blood), as producer (The Frightners; House on Haunted Hill; The Reaping; Monster House (for a kids movie it scared the hell out them and some adults too); Gothika; House of Wax; Ghost Ship; Thir13en Ghosts). And he also directed and produced Death Becomes Her and it that wasn’t a horror movie…oh wait, that was a HORRIBLE movie!

    So he’s been involved with a bunch of campy horror movies. I loved The Frighteners and What Lies Beneath. And really, A Christmas Carol revolves around a jerk and three ghosts. I’m thinking that ghost story is a good description.

    I don’t care how many times A Christmas Carol is remade. It’s like a tradition. At least once every decade, someone makes it again, if not just changing the name. My favorite version is Scrooged. I know, it’s a comedy but it’s so clever.

    I don’t know if liking most Zemeckis films means that I have bad taste. I just like his work. It ain’t all gold but some of it is pretty darn good.

  11. @prtfvr – The only horror movie his has DIRECTED was What Lies Beneath. He directed 3 episodes of Tales from the Crypt for TV and he has produced several horror films but only directed the one.

    You don’t have bad taste for liking Zemeckis. He’s an outstanding director with a great list of movies to his credit (except Death Becomes Her). I honestly hope I’m found to be incorrect here and the movie is more of a Scooby Doo creepy ghost story than a Poltergiest type ghost story. But his running around to the interviewers and such making sure people understand he went major ghost story with the adaptation gives me reason for pause.

    But, you don’t get asked back time and time again to direct films in this industry if everything you do is crap…wait…Uwe Bolle throws off the bell curve on that doesn’t he. Oh well.

  12. @paul

    It sounded as if you were saying that in the list of movies, I thought he directed them all. Not so. On one he was a writer, the other, producer. I’m just saying he’s had some experience in the genre. Maybe not Texas Chainsaw Massacre, gory horror but still horror in one of it’s many forms.

    I probably won’t even see this in the movies anyhow. I only have two reasons that I go to the movies anymore. It’s either something I’m dying to see or I wound up at the movies by accident. That last one is rare. Most times I wait for the movies to become available at iTunes or PPV.

  13. As a Dickens fan, most of his stories were about Ghosts and very clever. Sometimes difficult to read at the beginning with the “old english” style of prose. I suggest anyone interested re-read A Chrismas Carol, ( clever in itself as a title) and maybe by November we will see a different version. But really though….how many times have re heard ” faithful to the source material.” Not a JC fan, but I will see this to be sure.

  14. “nowhere on that list will you find his name associated with a horror film or even a suspenseful thriller.”

    Someone forgot to check IMDB……. Carey did a film called “The Number 23″ in 2007.

  15. Haha….sorry that film was already addressed above. My bad!

  16. I’m more puzzled by your comments than by anything Zemeckis said. There’s a world of difference between a ghost story, as he said, and a horror movie, as you said. The original title of the book was “A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas”. It has always been considered a ghost story.

  17. I really think Zemeckis was just trying to prevent another Beowulf incident, where adults who have never read the book took their small children to see what they thought would be a fun cartoon, only to see a somewhat nude Angelina Jolie seduce the fairly unwholesome hero. I saw 5-8yr olds in the theater to see Beowulf, not that the movie was too graphic or anything, some parents just got a little alarmed and probably should have checked imdb before taking their kids. I’m thinking Zemeckis was unsatisfied with the way Beowulf turned out and wants to try it again with A Christmas Carol, but who knows.

  18. I think honestly it was scary because it had scary popouts and i am 8 and i am terified of that movie.You should not let your child if she or he is under 7 years old