Remember those old Rankin and Bass films that would air on television during the holiday seasons? Well it turns out that there is a lost film that was created by the two animators, and it is believed to predate the original “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” film. The footage was said to have been discovered in an abandoned storage unit in Hollywood, which also contained rare stock footage and movie stills from the other well-known Rankin and Bass films. The Super 8 canister was labeled “Reindeer,” so it was automatically believed to be the original footage taken of Rudolph’s famed movie. Knowing that this could be a major artifact in the world of Rankin and Bass, the person who discovered it kept it for them self, along with an old Super 8 projector.
The individual, who I will keep anonymous for reasons I will explain later, viewed the footage while he/she took notes on every aspect. The following account is a combination of all noted details made about the film.
The Film Edit
The film begins with the opening title screen seen in the original Rudolph footage. The blizzard gusts etch out
the names of those who were most noted for creating the film, including Rankin and Bass. But one detail that I have noticed, which is especially strange for a holiday film, is that there is no audio whatsoever. Not even the sound of the gales could be heard, let alone the holiday music which sets the mood. When the wind was near the moment of unveiling the title of the film, I already came to the conclusion that “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was about to appear. But as the wind blew away the snow, the title “Randolph the Reindeer” appeared; instead of the trademark look of the title that we fans have all come to know, the title appeared in dull, block-- shaped letters. I then knew at this point that I was viewing an entirely different film. But I pressed on, thinking that it was some sort of prototype version of the original Rudolph film, and that it was never finished
The snowy winds blow away to reveal an older reindeer, who I assumed to be Randolph. But the most unnerving detail about him is that his fur was completely black instead of the brownish hue given to him in the original film. We see him casually walking through the wintery forest, showing no emotions on his face. He continues to walk until he runs into two other reindeer, one of them looking similar to Fireball. One strange detail besides the reindeer being completely black is that there is no audio of the characters talking to one another. Only the sound of grainy footage can be heard, increasing the terrifying nature of the film. The two reindeer seemed to be mocking Randolph, one of few similar traits to the original film. You can clearly see the two characters laughing at him, showing more hatred with ever giggle. A zoom in of Randolph’s face shows the pure anger he has toward the reindeer, his pupils red and bloodshot.
The screen then changes to real-- life footage of two reindeer brawling with each other, clashing their antlers together. At this point, I knew that this film was made by someone other than Rankin and Bass. This detail, along with the others, doesn't add up to being a joyful holiday film, but possibly a spinoff of the original Rudolph movie. The footage of the two reindeer fighting lasts for about a minute. The screen then flips back to the puppet sequence. The mangled body of the fireball-- like reindeer is shown full blown, causing me to gasp in both terror and shock. He laid there on the blood-stained snow, his entrails lying beside him. The image stayed this way for about a minute until it changed to the next scene. It was then that I came to the shocking conclusion that Randolph had viciously mauled the one reindeer, while the second one fled away in terror.
The next scene shows Santa’s castle, which was done in black and grey colors instead of the well-known pinkish shades. The screen then fades out to Santa and Mrs. Claus in the dining room area. Both were wearing black-- colored versions of their original outfits, Santa’s being the trousers and suspenders and Mrs. Claus with her dress and apron. At this point, audio returns to the footage, and we hear the two arguing about Christmas related problems. Mrs. Claus spoke with an irritable tone, as if she were angry with Santa about something. Santa’s responses came out in a depressed manner, dragging out some words in a gloomy fashion. The audio is once again lost, and the quality of the footage goes from mediocre to absolute crap. The scene stays on Santa and Mrs. Claus, but the two puppets are not animated into the footage. It looked as if the animators were just holding the puppets, moving them around in a childish manner. In some frames, the fingers or hands of the animators can be seen for a split second.
The screen goes to Randolph strolling through the forest, but in the opposite direction as opposed to the beginning of the film. Blood could be seen trickling off from his antlers as he leaves bloody hoof tracks in his gate. This scene seems to repeat itself, as if the same footage was used over and over again until the scene changed. But one thing I have noticed is that there is no sign of any of the forest critters from the original film. Rabbits, seals, raccoon and even birds could not be seen. It wasn't until a few seconds into the sequence when I notice what is lying in the snow as Randolph continues walking. As he walks by, the carcasses of birds, rabbits and raccoons lie in the snow beside him. The most disturbing detail about this is that the bodies appeared to have been eaten by something other than an animal. Randolph continues to walk, not stopping even once to notice the bodies beside him. But before the scene changes, I noticed something lying next to the last body on the screen. I rewound the footage, and nearly vomited. Lying next to the carcass of the rabbit was a knife and fork, both covered in crimson-- red blood.
The screen fades out to the elf workshop, filled with busy elves building toys. A faint bell can be heard, and the elves begin to exit the room. We see Hermey about to stand up, but is immediately assaulted by the head elf. He begins screaming at Hermey, but the audio is gone so all you can make out is the two characters mouth words. One strange aspect about the head elf is that he looks more primitive, with a shaggy beard and tattered clothes. Hermey sported worn-- out clothing as well, and both characters seemed to have large scars on their cheeks and hands. At first, I was confused about this detail, thinking that they were errors on the sculpture of their faces. But I then came to a conclusion that sent shivers down my spine. Santa has forced the elves to work nonstop on the toys, and any disobedient elves were whipped. The head elf finished his conversation with Hermey, and walks out of the toy shop.
Hermey is now alone, a single light shining above his head. For a few seconds, he simply stares at the toy train he had been working on before. He then reaches over and grabs a mallet, and proceeds to strike the train repeatedly. The screen stays on Hermey as he emotionlessly smashes the train. The camera then zooms in on the train, which has now been reduced to a pile of wood and splinters. Then the scene fades out.
We now see Randolph sitting in his cave next to a cardboard box. He simply stares at the opposite wall for a good five minutes, blinking. There is no sign of his parents. I only could expect something bad to happen, seeing the nature of this film. I then froze in front of the screen when Randolph picks up a revolver from out of the box. He slowly puts the gun under his chin, and pulls back the hammer. The scene changes before he can pull the trigger.
A title card appears on the screen, stating “Four Months Later” and we see a large group of elves and reindeer. All elves are wearing black elf uniforms, and we see a coffin in front of the crowd, containing Randolph. The most eerie aspect about him is that he shows no signs of decomposition; it’s as if he died the day before. The crowd then lines up, and they begin to say their farewells to Randolph. After a few elves pass by, a female reindeer comes up to the coffin, and places a blood-soaked antler next to his casket. I assumed that she was Fireball’s mother, who still grieves over the death of her son. Santa and Mrs. Claus come next, then the head elf, leaving Hermey for last. He steps up to the coffin, and begins to say farewell. Near the end of his statement, audio returns to the film; he then bends over the casket and whispers “There’s a storm coming” into Randolph’s ear before walking away. The last few seconds of the scene show a zoom in of Randolph’s face, which still has a massive hole in his head from where the bullet exited. Then the film ends.
The Aftermath Edit
Authorities later found the person in his/her home, who apparently had gone mentally ill upon viewing the movie. In addition, the phrase “There’s a storm coming” was found written in blood on several walls in the house, and the body of a raccoon was discovered in the individual’s bedroom. The actual film itself mysteriously disappeared after its first viewing. To this day, the authorities and psychologists are still unsure what cause the person’s symptoms, or more importantly why. I have this single warning for all of those who are reading this: If you happen to find a copy of this film or the actually reel itself, do not under any circumstances watch it, in hopes to save anyone else from viewing it. As for now, we can only hope that the film is never discovered again. If it is found, however, I can only hope that the individual has read this warning beforehand, and will destroy the film out of fear and safety. But if you choose not to heed my warning and you watch the film, then I'm afraid to say it's already too late for you.