Prancer (1989)

I love my wife, but man, when she gets control of the remote, we end up watching movies like Prancer when all I want to watch is Cannibal Holocaust again. I’m joking — I know it’s Christmas, but c’mon.

Here’s the demented thing about this movie: it has the same director as Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, John D. Hancock. I swear to Santa.

This movie is all about nine-year-old Jessica Riggs (Rebecca Harrell Tickell, who left acting to become a clean Earth activist), who is being raised by her widower father John (Sam Elliot). He can handle raising her brother Steve, but feels that she’d be better of being raised by his sister-in-law Sarah (Rutanya Alda from Mommie Dearest and Amityville II: The Possession).

Eventually, her obsession with Santa’s reindeer Prancer pays off and she gets to nurse him back to health. But man, is this a dark movie. The eighties are packed with dead moms in movies and this is yet another holiday film where everything is beyond somber.

Michael Constantine from the Greek Wedding movies is a Santa in this, plus you get Cloris Leachman, Abe Vigoda, a young Johnny Galecki and Ariana Richards from Jurassic Park.

You know how dark this one is?


Director John D. Hancock insists that Prancer’s fate — either he rejoins Santa or leaps off the cliff to his death — should be left open to interpretation.


I’m not always a fan of studio notes, but I get why they wanted a more definitive answer. Originally, Hancock decided on an elaborate special-effects sequence showing Prancer’s journey to Santa’s sleigh, but they couldn’t afford that.

When asked, Hancock claims that the shot of Prancer rejoining Santa is all in Jessica’s mind.

So the reindeer is dead.

Merry Christmas from John D. Hancock.

Please don’t tell my wife, but there’s also a direct-to-video sequel, Prancer Returns. I pray that it’s not on Amazon Prime.

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