653. The Junky’s Christmas – Melodie McDaniel, Nick Donkin

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SUMMARY: Junky Danny spends Christmas Day searching in vain for a heroin fix.

WHY IT’S HERE: ‘The Junky’s Christmas’ is a Claymation adaptation of William Burroughs short story, read by Burroughs himself and produced by Francis Ford Coppola. Directed by advertising and music video directors Melodie McDaniel and Nick Donkin, this black and white stop-motion short feels like a throwback to earlier days of Claymation, with a cruder, more jerky look that 90s stop-motion tended towards. However, this is wholly in keeping with the atmosphere of degradation and desperation, as is the choice to shoot the film in black and white. Bookended by scenes of Burroughs sitting in a chair reading, ‘The Junky’s Christmas’ mimics cosy holiday specials but with a heavy dose of irony. The scenes of Danny’s quest for heroin, which include a sequence in which he finds a pair of severed human legs, are incongruously accompanied by lilting, if slightly off-key, Christmas carols combined with a soundtrack by underrated hip-hop group The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. But for all its knowing irony, ‘The Junky’s Christmas’ is also oddly and sincerely touching, as it ends with a scene of genuine sacrifice and a surprising reward. A great little alternative Christmas film for those of a certain age, ‘The Junky’s Christmas’ has also struck a chord with many former and current junkies, who recognise the desperation of the lead character and appreciate the magnitude of his sacrifice.

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