Creepy Christmas: “Santa’s Workshop: Where Dreams Come True for Girls”

Tru Vue put out many films for children. Most of them were mostly harmless – they did own the rights to produce Disney content for years, although they really didn’t take full advantage. Some of them were a bit problematic by today’s standards; one of them was horrendously racist. But at the very least, most of them were safe to show to children – since they were children’s films. Not so much with this one:

The title slide for Tru Vue #224, “Santa’s Workshop (Girls)”.

Okay, so Santa Claus is going to try to “fill every wish of every good little girl” – that’s pretty noble, right? Santa must really be a mensch! Apparently, girls wish for different (definitively feminine in 1938) things, but every single one of them wants a doll of their own. After all, from the moment of birth, every girl can’t wait to have children of their own! So let’s travel to “the Northland” to find “Santa” working away in “his doll shop”…

In the very first slide, Santa is already frustrated. Apparently his elves are out running errands, so the only other characters we’re seeing here are… previously completed dolls, all watching Santa agonize over textile choices.

Still no elves, but at least Santa has a decapitated doll’s head to pose with. Where is this “workshop” in “the Northland”? This looks like a corner of some disused garage. I’m getting a little suspicious…

Santa is hard to please! He looks like an angry hobo. And apparently, is working in very cramped quarters, as we’ve only seen seen one angle of Santa in his garage / “workshop”…

Gah! Why is Santa always holding doll heads up? And while we’re on the topic of heads, what’s with Santa’s hat? I’ve seen mall Santas with better gear than that. It looks like someone Hot Glue Gunned a bunch of hastily cut felt to make that floppy thing. You’d think that, if you owned all kinds of workshops and had a crack team of elves, you could get a proper Santa hat.

We’re on our fifth picture now, and of the five, three have had Santa holding doll’s heads. Decapitation fetish perhaps? The caption claims that’s he’s fitting the head onto the doll – but the picture tells a different story, and the dolls in the background look anxious…

The exact same setup once again – Santa’s garage must not have a diversity of photographic angles. Santa’s now doing some sewing while dolls watch on. The elves are still missing. I’m starting to wonder where the Tru Vue photographer found this Santa – perhaps living in a van down by the river? At a truck stop? The answer is probably lost to history.

The doll must have a hat. If the doll doesn’t have a hat, some little girl might notice the drill holes in the head, into which Draino has been poured. Still no elves.

He must take both with him. Two dolls! Considering that, in 1938, the world population was about 2.3 billion, of which we can guess that at least 300 million were children – if half of the children were good, that’s 150,000,000 presents to be delivered, assuming only one present for each child. But it seems such a chore to have to deliver both of the dolls!

Santa stuffing both of his dolls into the sack. But wait – it looks like there’s already a bunch of stuff in there. I’m starting to get a sinking feeling, as I realize that we still haven’t seen a solitary elf… would an elvish body fit in that sack?!?!?!

It would appear to be home invasion time. Except for the fact that this huge “chimney” is clearly a (badly) painted cardboard box, and Santa is clearly standing comfortably, with his bodybag for elves sack flung over his shoulder. Note the larger doll trying to escape – clearly damaged goods after spending time in Santa’s Garage.

Is Santa delivering presents to a crack den? Why is the window boarded off? What “other presents” are in the sack? And why is the fire still going in, presumably, the middle of the night? Theory: Santa’s going to put the murdered elves other presents in the fire and “dispose” of them, in return for bringing a hastily made doll to this crack den little girl’s domicile.

Christmas morning? What, at 3AM? This looks like it was taken as soon as the fire went out – presumably the “extra presents” consumed the rest of the fuel. Either that, or the crack den theory holds – no natural daylight is reaching this shadowy room. Santa has long since escaped back up his cardboard chimney, and now a little girl has arrived on the scene in a kimono. The doll pokes out of the stocking like the head of a caterpillar from Hell. Keep in mind that this was intended for children.

Kimono Girl loves her new “dolly” so much that her first action is to scold it in front of the other presents. It’s apparently still the middle of the night inside her crack den, but there are no unnecessary parental figures around, and the creepy uncle figure is probably back in “the Northland”, agonizing over the textiles to be used on the next hastily made toy that will act as cover as he disposes of an elf.

This doll seriously looks like it would like nothing more than to escape from its terrible new overlord! Or maybe it’s just looking for the source of the “toasted elf” smell in the crack den. In any case, Kimono Girl’s expression is inscrutable, a sort of half smile. The same sort one might expect out of someone ordered to “start smiling, or you go back in your crate”. Her crossed arms, restraining the mournful little doll, show off what in Eastern Bloc countries of the era would be an engagement ring. What’s going on here?

Whew! The “children’s” slide show is over, and my trauma level is not quite at “chew some Valium and go lie down” status. But seriously – we have truck stop Santa alone in his elf-free garage-corner “workshop”, playing with various doll heads, before heading out with a sack that is way too large for two dolls. Then we have him breaking into a crack den with his sack, presumably after the large doll has made an escape, and delivering the small doll to the Russian Mail Order Child Bride, and getting rid of some evidence of his own, before beating a quick retreat back to his “workshop”. I guess dreams have come true for girls – but as for me, that was pure nightmare fuel.

For a less-insane look at Christmas through the Tru Vue stereoscope, check out “The Night Before Christmas“.

Merry Christmas One and All!

This post is dedicated (a day early) to Anthony Paul “Pookie” Brooks, 23/12/1980-8/7/2010, who in Third Grade joined me in the principal’s office after jointly writing, drawing, and distributing a comic book entitled “Santa’s Slay”.


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