Combine "The Thing" with "Gremlins" and "Bad Santa" and what do you get? Everything one could hope for in an irreverent Halloween / Christmas movie. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale Release Date: Available now Distributor: Oscilloscope Laboratories Packaging/Materials: Quad-fold cardstock disc holder and slipcase Year: 2010 Rating: R Running Time: 1:22:46 MSRP: $29.99 THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES Video 2.35:1 anamorphic NA Audio LPCM: Finnish 2.0 | Dolby Digital: Finnish 5.1 NA Subtitles English, English SDH NA The Feature: 4.5/5 Foreigners excavating a mountain in the Finnish wilderness release the creature that gave birth to the Santa Claus legend, but with its bad hygiene, nasty temper, and penchant for devouring fresh meat, it's nothing at all like the Father Christmas we know today. In fact it takes some time for a group of local hunters and farmers to realize what they're up against, but Pietari (Onni Tommila), the young son of one of the hunters, fills them in on the details, including the fact all the children in the village have been kidnapped to sate Santa's lust for "whacking" naughty children. With Christmas Day fast approaching, they'll need to act quickly if they actually want a happy holiday. Blending elements from "The Thing," "Gremlins" and "Bad Santa," "Rare Exports" is everything one could hope for in a dark and irreverent Halloween / Christmas film. Inspired by a pair of humorous short films that made the international film festival circuit, the feature film expands the story in a way that doesn't make it feel like a retread of those popular pieces. In fact, it puts a clever twist on the established mythology - and leaves just enough to the imagination - leaving the viewer both entertained and eager for more. Though most have probably never heard of the film, "Rare Exports" is definitely worth a look this holiday season. Video Quality: 3.5/5 The 2.35:1 anamorphically enhanced image features nicely saturated color, strong contrast and decent blacks, though detail tends to be lacking, especially in backgrounds and widescreen compositions. There's visible noise in some spots - usually any areas with fine, detailed patterns - but it's not enough to be excessively distracting. More high contrast scenes show a touch of edge haloing, though there's no signs of noise reduction measures, at least at standard definition resolution. Oscilloscope has also released a Blu-ray for the film, but unfortunately only provided HTF with the DVD. Audio Quality: 3.5/5 Audio options include Dolby Digital 5.1 and LPCM 2.0 tracks in the film's original Finnish language (which includes dashes of English). While it's pretty unusual for a DVD to included a high resolution, uncompressed audio track, the option turns out to be less favorable, sounding fine for dialogue, but fairly anemic for the more action oriented scenes. Consequently, I preferred the DD5.1 option for its greater depth and dynamic range, even though vocals don''t sound quite as detailed as on the stereo track. If Finnish were my native language, I might feel differently, but for the entertaining romp the film provided, a surround sound experience proved to be the better complement. English subtitles are consistently clear and easy to read. Special Features: 3/5 The special features include background material, behind the scenes, and production artwork, though added up the overall package doesn't feel particularly in-depth. In that regard, some background on the inspiration for the story and Finland's specific Santa Claus legend would have been nice. The Original Rare Exports Inc. Short Films: The popular short films that inspired the feature. Rare Exports Inc. (7:18): Find out what's involved in hunting and training Rare Exports' specialty product. Produced in 2003. Rare Exports inc. - The Official Safety Instructions (10:50): In the sequel, one of Rare Exports's shipments escapes and the specialty hunters are called on to retrieve it, but only by following very specific handling instructions. Produced in 2005. The Making of Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (28:18): The director takes viewers behind the scenes of the production, providing glimpses of rehearsals, location shoots, sound design and the world premiere, which took place at the Festival del film Locarno, Switzerland. "Blood and Snow" - A Look at the Concept Art (3:08): Sketches by artist Pekka Veikkolainen were used to help visualize the story as well as pitch the film to investors. The artwork is shown against final filmed sequences for comparison. Animatics and Computer Effects Comparison: Side-by-side "before" and "after" visual effects examples for some of the film's final scenes. Comparison One (3:57) Comparison Two (2:18) Photo Gallery: Over 30 behind-the-scenes images from the set. Original Finnish Trailer (1:57) Trailers Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (4:44): Includes two versions of an English language trailer. The Law (3:00) Terribly Happy (2:17) The Messenger (2:18) Meek's Cutoff (2:26) Bellflower (2:00) Recap The Feature: 4/5 Video Quality: 3.5/5 Audio Quality: 3.5/5 Special Features: 3/5 Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5 Oscilloscope Laboratories turns in a respectable presentation for an entertaining evil Santa Claus movie from Finland, "the home of the original Father Christmas." The extras include a decent blend of supporting materials, but they ultimately don't go in-depth enough to feel more than just promotional in nature. Still, the quality of the feature makes the release worth at least a rental, though anyone with Blu-ray capability will probably want to look to the concurrent Blu-ray release instead. Unfortunately, HTF was only provided with the DVD version, so cannot comment on the quality of its high definition presentation.