What was that Christmas movie? How about the one with alien slugs... and more.

Question: I saw a Christmas movie back in the 1980s. I don't know who starred in it, but it's about a dying rich lady in NYC - I think - who lives in a beautiful apartment and helps the homeless. She hires a detective to bring her family - a son and two grandchildren - back together for one last Christmas. If you know the name and if it will be showing this year, I would appreciate the info. Regards. - Susan

I'd say you're looking for the made-for-TV movie Christmas Eve (1986), starring Loretta Young as wealthy, philanthropic Amanda Kingsley. Her son, Andrew (Arthur Hill), not only alienated all three of his children - Harley, Melissa and Josh (Wayne Best, Season Hubley and Patrick Cassidy) - but wants to have his mother declared incompetent so he can gain control of her money. Amanda, who knows she's dying but is hiding the fact from Andrew, hires a private eye ( Ron Leibman) to find her grandchildren and bring them to New York so she can spend one last Christmas with them. Fellow golden-age movie star Trevor Howard plays Amanda's faithful butler: Amazingly, this was the first time he and Young ever worked together.

I've never seen this movie, but apparently it reduces strong men to tears. I don't know whether there are any showings scheduled, but there are used VHS copies available online. They're pricy but not crazy expensive, and if Christmas Eve is something you'd watch year after year, it's probably worth investing in a copy.

Question: You're one of the best critics I know you have a great voice and should consider your own podcast or something - I think there are many people interested in hearing more movie chat from you. Here's my question: When I was a kid - maybe circa 1982 or '83 - I saw a movie on cable about a scientist who was making some sort of experiments with snakes. I don't remember how or why, but a man ends up transforming into a snake - probably because of the experiments. Anyway, I was very impressed and want to see it again, but that's all I remember, because I was probably only 7 years old. So... there you go.... Cheers from a Mexican fan! - Jorge G.

First, thank you, and please tune in to the weekly vodcast, Movie Talk, where you can hear me talking movies with my fellow TVGuide.com movie editor, Ken Fox. There's a new pair of shows every Friday.

Second, you must be remembering Sssssss (1973), in which one Dr. Carl Stoner ( Strother Martin, best known as the warden in the classic Cool Hand Luke) is messing around with snake venom and tests his new serum on unsuspecting "research assistant" - read: human guinea pig - David ( Dirk Benedict). You can get it on DVD.

Question: I was watching a subtitled Japanese or Chinese movie on cable in Twin Falls, Idaho, and only caught part of the title, which had the word "Flower" in it. It was a beautiful movie about a kingdom where the empress rebelled against the emperor and had her son kill her stepson so they could rule the kingdom. The father knew what was going on and surprised all of them. There were yellow flowers on the entire floor of the kingdom and the husband was slowly drugging the empress by putting something in her tea. - Sami

That was Zhang Yimou's The Curse of the Golden Flower (2006), a lavish period thriller starring Chow Yun-Fat as the emperor and Gong Li as his scheming empress. It's breathtakingly beautiful and rivals Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus for sheer baroque bloodthirstiness. It's easy to rent or buy on DVD.

Question: I remember seeing a movie quite some time ago, I believe in the late 1980s or very early '90s. The basic premise is that these black sluglike creatures appeared somehow and began taking over a town by consuming people's brains. I remember that they entered through the nose or mouth and ended up being destroyed by heat or fire. I can't recall much more except that if someone got a nice hit to the head, it would burst open and more sluglike things would come out and there was a school bus that got attacked, as well as a kid in a wheelchair who figured it all out only to get infected himself. I hope you can clear this up because I'd love to pick it up on DVD and rehash some horrific childhood memories. - JMC

Though there are more invasive-slug movies out there than one might think, notably David Cronenberg's They Came from Within (1975) and the recent Slither (2006), you're describing Night of the Creeps (1986). It was written and directed by Fred Dekker ( The Monster Squad), and I'm a big fan: I think it's clever and a great mix of horror and deadpan humor. To my amazement, it has never been released on commercial DVD - there's actually a petition online for its release. There are bootleg DVDs for sale online, along with legitimate used VHS copies.

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