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Toy Story 4 is a 2019 American computer-animated comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures. It is the fourth installment in Pixar's Toy Story series and the sequel to 2010's Toy Story 3. It is directed by Josh Cooley (in his feature directorial debut) from a screenplay by Andrew Stanton (who had co-written the first three films) and Stephany Folsom; the three also conceived the story alongside John Lasseter (director of the first two installments in the franchise), Rashida Jones, Will McCormack, Valerie LaPointe, and Martin Hynes.[2] The film stars the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan, and Joan Cusack.
The film continues from Toy Story 3, where Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear, among their other toy friends, have found new appreciation after being given by Andy to Bonnie. They are introduced to Forky, a spork that has been made into a toy and embark on a road trip adventure. The film is dedicated to Don Rickles (who appears posthumously in the film via archive recordings) and animator Adam Burke, who died in 2017 and 2018, respectively.[7]:12[8]
Toy Story 4 premiered on June 11, 2019 in Los Angeles, California and was theatrically released in the United States on June 21, 2019, in RealD 3D, Dolby Cinema, and IMAX. The film was positively reviewed, with critics praising its story, humor, emotion, animation, and vocal performances.
Contents 1 Plot 2 Voice cast 3 Production 3.1 Development 3.2 Casting 4 Music 5 Release 5.1 Marketing 6 Reception 6.1 Box office 6.2 Critical response 7 Future 7.1 Spin-offs 8 Notes 9 References 10 External links Plot During Andy's childhood, R.C. is being swept down a storm drain. Woody leads a successful rescue operation with the other toys, but while they are busy, Bo Peep and several other toys are given away by Andy's younger sister, Molly; despite Woody's efforts to save her, Bo reassures him that part of being a toy is being taken away. Although Woody briefly considers going with her, they bid each other farewell.
Two years after Andy donates his toys to Bonnie, Woody and the other toys are happy in their new life. Worried that Bonnie will feel overwhelmed at her kindergarten orientation, Woody—whom Bonnie has recently been neglecting—sneaks into her backpack. Bonnie is nervous and almost cries after a classmate discards her arts and crafts supplies. Woody covertly recovers some of the materials from the trash, along with a spork. Bonnie turns the spork into a handmade toy she names "Forky". Forky comes to life in Bonnie's backpack, shocking Woody. At Bonnie's house, Forky experiences an existential crisis, believing that he was made to be trash and not a toy. Forky becomes Bonnie's favorite toy, but Woody must continually stop him from throwing himself away.
On Bonnie's family's road trip, Forky jumps out of the window and Woody follows him out. Forky finally becomes enthusiastic about being Bonnie's toy after Woody explains that Forky makes Bonnie feel the way trash makes Forky feel. They walk towards the RV park where Bonnie's family is staying. Woody spots Bo's lamp at a store, Second Chance Antiques. Searching for Bo inside, he and Forky encounter a doll named Gabby Gabby, and her sycophant ventriloquist's dummies, the Bensons. Gabby offers to take them to Bo, but soon reveals her true plan to obtain Woody's voice box, since her own is broken and no child will purchase her. Woody flees with Forky, but they are separated. Woody escapes from the dummies, but Gabby captures Forky. At a playground, Woody reunites with Bo and her sheep Billy, Goat and Gruff. Bo now lives the free lifestyle of a "lost" toy, but agrees to help Woody and Forky get back to Bonnie. Woody spoils a rescue attempt when Bonnie enters the store; abandoning Bo's strategic plan, he tries to rush himself and Forky back to Bonnie, but fails.
Meanwhile, Buzz searches for Woody on his own, seeking guidance from his inner voice; the button-induced phrases from his own voice box. Buzz finds himself as a carnival prize in a fairground between the RV park and Second Chance. He escapes with plush toys Ducky and Bunny. They meet up with Woody and Bo. Along with pocket toy cop Giggle McDimples and Canadian stuntman toy Duke Caboom, they try but again fail to rescue Forky. Woody is the only toy still determined to save Forky. Unwilling to risk everyone’s lives again, Bo angrily leaves with the others. Woody encounters Gabby Gabby again, who tell him of her longing to belong to the store owner's granddaughter, Harmony; Woody gives her his voice box in exchange for Forky.
Woody and Forky enter Bonnie's backpack, which she left at the store. As Bonnie is retrieving it, Forky watches Harmony reject Gabby. Woody sends Forky back alone, with a message for Buzz to meet them at the carnival's carousel. Woody comforts Gabby and invites her to become Bonnie's toy. Bo and her friends return to help and they head for the carnival. Trixie impersonates the RV's GPS and the toys manipulate the controls, while Bonnie's parents believes the rented vehicle is malfunctioning. When Gabby sees a crying girl lost in the carnival, she decides to become that child's toy; taking responsibility for Gabby, the girl approaches a police officer and is reunited with her parents. At the carousel, Woody and Bo share a bittersweet goodbye. Realizing Woody feels torn, Buzz tells him that Bonnie will be okay without him. Deciding to stay with Bo, Woody embraces Bonnie's toys and gives Jessie his sheriff badge. The RV arrives and Bonnie's toys leave with her.
In mid-credits scenes, Woody, Bo, Giggle, Duke, Ducky, and Bunny travel with the carnival, helping children win prize toys. On her first day of first grade, Bonnie makes another new toy: a female plastic knife, to whom Forky eagerly introduces himself.
Voice cast Main article: List of Toy Story characters Tom Hanks as Woody[9] Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear[10] Annie Potts as Bo Peep[11] Tony Hale as Forky[12][13] Keegan-Michael Key as Ducky[14] Jordan Peele as Bunny[14][15] Madeleine McGraw as Bonnie,[16] she was previously voiced by Emily Hahn in the third film and the TV specials Christina Hendricks as Gabby Gabby[17] Keanu Reeves as Duke Caboom,[18][19] a Canadian daredevil toy Ally Maki as Giggle McDimples[17] Jay Hernandez as Bonnie's dad[7] Lori Alan as Bonnie's mom[7] Joan Cusack as Jessie[20] Bonnie Hunt as Dolly[21] Kristen Schaal as Trixie[22] Emily Davis as Billy, Goat and Gruff[7] Wallace Shawn as Rex[23] John Ratzenberger as Hamm[24] Blake Clark as Slinky Dog[25] June Squibb as Margaret the Store Owner[7] Carl Weathers as Combat Carl[7] Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head[26][a] Estelle Harris as Mrs. Potato Head[20] Jeff Garlin as Buttercup[23] Maliah Bargas-Good as Lost Girl[7] Juliana Hansen as Miss Wendy[7] Steve Purcell as The Dummies[7] Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants[28] Jeff Pidgeon as Aliens[25] John Morris and Jack McGraw as young and teenage versions of Andy[29][7] Laurie Metcalf as Andy's mom[30] Lila Sage Bromley as Harmony Mel Brooks as Melephant Brooks[31] Carol Burnett as Chairol Burnett[31] Betty White as Bitey White[31] Carl Reiner as Carl Reineroceros[31] Additionally, Alan Oppenheimer, Patricia Arquette, Bill Hader, Flea, and Melissa Villaseñor voice cameos in the film as Old Timer, Harmony's Mom, Axel the Carny, the Caboom TV Announcer, and Karen Beverly respectively.[32] Rickey Henderson cameos as the voice of an Oakland Athletics bobblehead figure.[33]
Production Development In a 2010 interview, Lee Unkrich stated that Pixar was not planning a fourth film after Toy Story 3, but also that he was "flattered that people ask about it—it reminds me how much people love the characters, but it was really important to me with this film that we not just create another sequel, that it not just be another appendage coming off of the other two... there may be opportunities for Woody and Buzz in the future, but we don't have any plans for anything right now."[34] Tom Hanks and Tim Allen were signed on tentatively to provide the voices of Woody and Buzz; Hanks stated the following year that he believed Pixar was working on a sequel.[10][35] Rumors arose that Toy Story 4 was in production and slated for release in 2015, but Disney denied these rumors in February 2013, stating "nothing is official."[36]
Toy Story 4 was officially announced by Disney during an investor's call on November 6, 2014.[37] Then-studio head of Pixar John Lasseter, who directed the first two films and executive-produced the third, was scheduled to direct after writing a film treatment with Andrew Stanton, with extra input from Pete Docter and Unkrich. Rashida Jones and Will McCormack joined as writers, with Galyn Susman returning as a producer from Ratatouille.[38] Lasseter explained that Pixar decided to produce the sequel because of their "pure passion" for the series, and that the film would be a love story.[39] Lasseter felt that "Toy Story 3 ended Woody and Buzz's story with Andy so perfectly that for a long time, [Pixar] never even talked about doing another Toy Story movie. But when Andrew, Pete, Lee and [Lasseter] came up with this new idea, [he] just could not stop thinking about it. It was so exciting to [him], [he] knew [Pixar] had to make this movie—and [Lasseter] wanted to direct it [himself]."[40]
In March 2015, Pixar president Jim Morris described the film as a romantic comedy and stated it would not be a continuation of the third film, but a separate story from it.[41][42] The same month, Variety reported that Cooley was named co-director, having previously been head of story on Inside Out.[43] According to Lasseter, the film was kept so secret that even Morris and his boss Edwin Catmull had no knowledge of it until the treatment was finished, stressing that "we do not do any sequel because we want to print money" but rather to tell a new story in the same universe.[44] Lasseter stated at D23 Expo 2015 that the film would focus on Woody's relationship with Bo Peep and involved him and Buzz going on a journey to find her.[45]
At D23 Expo in July 2017, Lasseter announced he was stepping down and leaving Cooley as sole director, saying he could no longer commit to directing the film between his positions at Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Disneytoon Studios, although he would still be involved in the film as executive producer,[46][47] however he was uncredited as executive producer in the final film. Jones and McCormack withdrew from the film in November 2017, citing “philosophical differences”.[48]
By January 2018, Disney confirmed that the screenplay had been written by Stephany Folsom, rewriting three quarters of Jones and McCormack's original script according to Potts in June 2018.[49][50] Folsom had collaborated on the screenplay with Stanton, who co-wrote the screenplay for the first two films.[51] According to Cooley, the center of the film's updated screenplay was around the relationship between Woody and Bo Peep. Bo Peep had been absent in Toy Story 3, explained narratively as Bo Peep having been given away. This had set the stage for the conclusion of the third film, with Woody getting the idea to give Andy's toys to Bonnie. Cooley said that when they thought about bringing Bo Peep back in this film, it would not only rekindle the romantic interest between Woody and Bo Peep, but also serve to have Bo Peep become a lost toy, a fear Woody has had through the series, and help to challenge his world view with their reunion.[52] According to animator Becki Tower, Bo Peep's new attitude and independence was in development long before the Time's Up movement started, and was not done in response to it.[53]
By September 28, 2018, recording for the film had begun. Tim Allen said that the film's story was "so emotional" that he "couldn't even get through the last scene".[54] Similarly, Tom Hanks said that the film's ending scene was a "moment in history".[55] On January 30, 2019, Hanks and Allen finished recording their characters' voices.[56]
Casting Most of the previous voice actors, including Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, signed on to reprise their past voices. Hanks stated in May 2016 that he had finished recording his first lines for Woody.[9][57] Annie Potts was confirmed to be returning as Bo Peep, after being absent from Toy Story 3.[11] Don Rickles intended to reprise his role as Mr. Potato Head, but died in April 2017,[58] before any lines were recorded as the script was still being rewritten.[59] According to Cooley, Rickles' family contacted Pixar and asked if there was any way to include him in the film. Pixar reviewed 25 years of archival material that Rickles had participated in, including unused lines from the first three Toy Story films, video games and other related media for the franchise, and other works, and were able to assemble enough material to use within the film.[27]
Tony Hale was cast as Forky, a homemade toy suffering an existential crisis. Hale has performed roles before with similar panicked characters, notably Buster Bluth on Arrested Development and Gary Walsh on Veep. When asked to voice Forky, Hale said, "A utensil's existential crisis? I'm in!".[60] Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele were cast as a pair of carnival prize plush toys named Ducky and Bunny. Cooley said that while they brought them on to provide some improvised comedy to the film, "they were story motivated which elevated Ducky and Bunny and the film to a level I never could have expected".[61] Additionally, Keanu Reeves was announced to be voicing a character in the film,[18] named Duke Caboom.[19] Reeves said he was contacted out of the blue by Pixar for the role, seeking him to voice the part and letting him develop his own riffs on the character.[62] On March 22, 2019, Madeline McGraw, who previously voiced Maddy McGear in Pixar's Cars 3, was revealed to be voicing Bonnie, replacing Emily Hahn.[16] Comedy legends Carol Burnett, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Betty White were added to the cast to voice a set of four toys that Bonnie played with as a toddler but had since outgrown, acting as "veteran" toys to help Woody prepare for when the same happens to him.[31]
Music Toy Story 4 Toy Story 4 Soundtrack.jpg Soundtrack album by Randy Newman Released June 21, 2019 Genre Score Length 72:37 Label Walt Disney Pixar chronology Incredibles 2 (2018) Toy Story 4 (2019) Onward (2020) Randy Newman chronology The Meyerowitz Stories (2017) Toy Story 4 (2019) Singles from Toy Story 4 "The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy" Released: June 5, 2019 Randy Newman, who composed and wrote songs for the previous three films, was confirmed to be returning at D23 Expo 2015.[3][63] Director Josh Cooley said that he hired Newman to return because "[he] can't imagine making a fourth one without Randy Newman".[7] Newman wrote new themes for Bonnie, Gabby Gabby, and Duke Caboom, with the latter's featuring accordions and mandolins to represent the character's memories of rejection.[7] He also wrote a "subordinate theme" for Forky.[7] Newman also wrote two new songs for the film, titled "The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy" and "I Can't Let You Throw Yourself Away", with Newman also performing the latter.[7] On June 5, 2019, Chris Stapleton's version of "Cowboy" was released as a single.[64] The film's soundtrack, featuring Newman's score, Stapleton's and Newman's versions of the two new songs, and a new version of Newman's "You've Got a Friend in Me", was released on June 21, 2019, with the film.[64][7]
All tracks written by Randy Newman[3][7].
No. Title Length 1. "You've Got a Friend in Me" (performed by Newman) 2:39 2. "I Can't Let You Throw Yourself Away" (performed by Newman) 2:05 3. "The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy" (performed by Chris Stapleton) 1:51 4. "Operation Pull Toy" 5:19 5. "Woody's Closet of Neglect" 3:55 6. "School Daze" 4:22 7. "Trash Can Chronicles" 3:28 8. "The Road to Antiques" 2:41 9. "A Spork in the Road" 1:56 10. "Rubber Baby Buggy Butlers" 1:52 11. "Buzz's Flight & A Maiden" 4:07 12. "Ducky, Bunny, & Tea" 2:16 13. "Moving at the Speed of Skunk" 1:34 14. "Bo Peep's Panorama for Two" 2:36 15. "Three Sheeps to the Wind" 2:55 16. "Sneaking and Antiquing" 1:42 17. "Recruiting Duke Caboom" 1:16 18. "Prepping the Jump" 2:20 19. "Let's Caboom!" 4:07 20. "Cowboy Sacrifice" 2:06 21. "Operation Harmony" 4:24 22. "Duke's Best Crash Ever" 2:43 23. "Gabby Gabby’s Most Noble Thing" 3:02 24. "Parting Gifts & New Horizons" 5:05 25. "The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy (Soundtrack version)" (performed by Newman) 1:51 26. "Plush Rush!" 1:12 Total length: 72:37 Release The film was originally scheduled for theatrical release on June 16, 2017,[37] but was pushed back to June 15, 2018, while the 2017 release date was given to Cars 3.[65] It was later delayed again until June 21, 2019, while its 2018 date was given to Incredibles 2, which was further along in production.[66] The film was also shown in IMAX theaters, and unlike most Pixar films was not theatrically released with a leading short, marking the third time a Pixar film is released without a short, after the original film and 2017's Coco.[67][68]
The film had an early screening at Disney's Hollywood Studios on June 8, 2019.[69] It had its world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California, on June 11, 2019.[70]
Toy Story 4 will be one of the first new films to be released on Disney+, alongside Captain Marvel, Frozen 2 and The Lion King.[71]
Marketing The first teaser poster was revealed at D23 Expo 2015 alongside the first posters for Cars 3 and Incredibles 2.[72] Pixar screened early footage of the film at CineEurope 2018.[73] The first teaser trailer which introduced Forky, as well as his voice actor Tony Hale, along with the official teaser poster, was released on November 12, 2018.[74] The teaser features Judy Collins's recording of "Both Sides Now" (originally written by Joni Mitchell). A "teaser reaction" video, introducing the new characters of Ducky and Bunny, voiced by Key and Peele in a parody of their recurring Key & Peele skit "The Valets," was released the following day.[14] On November 28, 2018, a new international teaser poster was released.[75] On February 3, 2019, shortly after the conclusion of Super Bowl LIII, a new sneak peek was released, which re-introduced Bo Peep who had been absent from Toy Story 3.[76] After this reveal, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals issued a complaint that Bo Peep was still using a shepherd's crook and considering it a "symbol of domination over animals", and requested that Pixar change this out before the film was formally released.[77] On February 15, 2019, a clip of the movie was shown during Annie Potts’ interview on Good Morning America.[78]
The official trailer for the film was released on March 19, 2019.[79] On March 27, 2019 an international trailer was released, showing more footage.[80] On April 3, 2019, the film's first 17 minutes were shown in CinemaCon, to a positive reception.[81] A series of TV spots, known as "Old Friends & New Faces", was introduced on April 18, 2019, with the first one featuring the re-designed Bo Peep.[82]
Reception Box office As of June 25, 2019, Toy Story 4 has grossed $155.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $123.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $279.2 million.[6] The film had a worldwide opening of $244.5 million, the 46th highest all-time and biggest for an animated film.[83]
Beginning on May 28, 2019, in its first 24 hours of pre-sales, Toy Story 4 set the records on Fandango for most tickets sold by an animated film in that frame (besting Incredibles 2), while Atom Tickets reported it sold nearly 50% more than the previous three-highest selling animated films combined did in their first day (Incredibles 2, Ralph Breaks the Internet and Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation).[84] The film opened alongside Child's Play and Anna, and was projected to gross $140–160 million in its opening weekend, with some predicting it could debut as high as $200 million. It played in 4,575 theaters, the second-most all-time behind Avengers: Endgame.[85][86] It made $47.4 million on its first day, including $12 million from Thursday night previews, the second-highest amount for an animated film behind Incredibles 2.[87] It went on to debut to $120.9 million, finishing first at the box office.[88][89] Although below projections, executives at Disney were pleased with the debut since it continued Pixar's "remarkable consistency" at the box office and showed "proof of audiences' long-time love for the Toy Story franchise".[90][91] Additionally, it was the best opening of the series and the fourth-highest of all-time for an animated film.[83][92]
In other territories, the film opened day-in-date with the U.S. in 37 countries (64% of its total market), and was projected to gross around $100 million abroad for a global debut of $260 million.[85] In China, where the film opened alongside a re-release of Spirited Away (2001), it was expected to debut to $15–20 million.[5]
Critical response On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 98% based on 342 reviews, with an average rating of 8.41/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Heartwarming, funny, and beautifully animated, Toy Story 4 manages the unlikely feat of extending – and perhaps concluding – a practically perfect animated saga."[93] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 84 out of 100 based on 57 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[94] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an overall positive score of 89% and a 75% "definite recommend".[83]
Peter DeBruge of Variety wrote that "Toy Story ushered in the era of computer-animated cartoon features, and the fourth movie wraps up the saga beautifully. At least, for now."[32] Writing for IndieWire, David Ehrlich gave the film a grade of B+ and wrote, "Clever, breathless, and never manic just for the sake of keeping your kids' eyes busy, the action in Toy Story 4 is character-driven and paced to perfection."[95]
Future In May 2019, producer Mark Nielsen said that Pixar would be focusing on making original films instead of sequels after Toy Story 4.[96] On an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Tom Hanks claimed that the film would be the final film in the series. He stated to Ellen DeGeneres that Tim Allen had "warned him about the emotional final goodbye between their characters Woody and Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story 4."[97] However, Mark Nielsen did not rule out a possibility of a fifth film, stating, "Every film we make, we treat it like it's the first and the last film we're ever going to make, so you force yourself to make it hold up. You don't get in over your skis. Whether there's another one? I don't know. If there is, it's tomorrow's problem."[98] Shortly after the film's release, Annie Potts said that despite her not knowing if another film would be made, she believes a lot of fans will be interested to see what the toys do next.[99]
Spin-offs A 10-episode short-form series, Forky Asks a Question, will debut exclusively on the Disney+ streaming service upon its launch on November 12, 2019. A short film titled Lamp Life, which will reveal Bo Peep's whereabouts between leaving and reuniting with Woody, will be released on Disney+ later in its first year.[100]
Notes Rickles, who died in early 2017, appears through the use of previously-recorded material.[27] References "Official Teaser". Disney/PixaYouTube. November 12, 2018. Retrieved February 16, 2019. Giardina, Carolyn (May 13, 2019). "'Toy Story 4': Rashida Jones, John Lasseter Among 8 Who Will Share "Story By" Credits". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 13, 2019. Cross, Dominick (February 26, 2016). "Newman on Putin, people, politics, music". The Advertiser. Archived from the original on March 2, 2016. Retrieved November 26, 2016. "TOY STORY 4". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved June 13, 2019. Patrick Brzeski (June 21, 2019). "China Box Office: 'Toy Story 4' Getting Crushed by Rerelease of Anime Classic 'Spirited Away'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 23, 2019. "Toy Story 4 (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 26, 2019. "Press Kit" (PDF). Retrieved June 8, 2019. Amidi, Amid (October 8, 2018). "Adam Burke, Veteran Pixar Animator, Dies". Cartoon Brew. Archived from the original on June 22, 2019. Retrieved June 22, 2019. "Tom Hanks Offers Toy Story 4 Update". uk.movies.yahoo.com. Archived from the original on June 30, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2016. Sneider, Jeff (July 14, 2010). "Exclusive: Tim Allen Signed On for 'Toy Story 4'". The Wrap. Archived from the original on September 11, 2012. Retrieved August 31, 2012. Ridgley, Charles (January 28, 2019). "'Toy Story 4': Bo Peep Officially Returns in New Teaser". Comicbook.com. Retrieved January 28, 2019. "Toy Story 4 Teaser Trailer Introduces New Non-Toy Character". /Film. "'Toy Story 4' Teaser Trailer Introduces New Toy Forky". The Hollywood Reporter. November 12, 2018. Archived from the original on November 12, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2018. Skrebels, Joe (November 13, 2018). "Toy Story 4: New trailer introduces Ducky and Bunny, played by Key and Peele". IGN. Retrieved November 13, 2018. Neilan, Dan (November 13, 2018). 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submitted by islandnstuff to Podel

THROWBACK: The Night We Stopped Listening To Christmas Music

I've lived in Newton, Georgia my whole life. For the most part, it's a pretty safe small town. Not to mention, it's gorgeous around Christmas time. Even without snow, Newton resembled a Hallmark Movie set. All cute houses, a lovely downtown square, and countless Christmas lights.
But there's a dark side to Newton's cozy charm. Behind the Southern hospitality resides a morbid history that's carried over into the present. While us Newton residents now live in fear of The Day Stalker, we've been tormented by several other serial killers of yesteryear. And around the holidays, The Scrooge Killer especially becomes popular.
During the mid-1980s, Newton was at the mercy of Olivia Edmond. Olivia was more than eccentric. She was a bitter, raving lunatic. Throughout her life, she never dated or married. Never had kids. All she did was live with her elderly mother. But then at 35, Olivia lost it all. Her behavior grew more erratic... so much so that local police essentially quarantined her in her modest house on Whigham Dairy Road. And then in early December of 83, her mother passed away.
By now, even Olivia's once-striking looks had gone to Hell. Her appearance now like a pretty young witch who'd aged in dog years. The manic loneliness had left her with stringy black hair and wrinkles all around her wide dark eyes. Her large nose protruded more than ever.
Then again, considering Olivia's wardrobe consisted of her mama's veiled hats and skin-tight Greatest Generation clothing, Newton yokels naturally started spreading rumors Olivia herself was indeed a witch or a Satanist... or a ghost. Hell, sometimes all three!
The fact Olivia refused to join in Newton's Christmas festivities further made her a feared outcast. Unlike the rest of the community, Edmond's house never had any lights or decorations. She was even rumored to demand the station be changed any time a Christmas song came on. She was a ruder Ebenezer Scrooge. Only scarier. And by 1986, she'd become a personification of a Newton campfire story... and this was all before we found out she was a serial killer.
In December of 86, the city finally discovered Olivia's darkest secrets. She was seen abducting a little girl from a local playground... all while dressed in her mama's most regal white dress. Authorities tracked Olivia all the way back to the house on Whigham Dairy Road. And there, Olivia was caught red-handed. Her mama's dress soaked in redness as if Olivia had gone swimming in a literal Red Sea. They even said that as she killed the girl, her mama's record player blasted Olivia's favorite Big Band and Swing songs. No Christmas jams, of course.
Dozens of bodies were later found in her basement. Both children and, especially, young men. Olivia had slaughtered them all since 1983. After the police believed she strangled her mother... and from there, Olivia's methods had only gotten sicker. Not to mention messier. She preferred shovels and ice picks. Seasonal weapons for the holiday she hated most.
During her trial, Olivia never gave us a reason or motive. Never bothered pleading insanity. All she said on record was "Goddamn Christmas..."
Over the years, Olivia Edmond's mythology grew like those of the immortal witches she resembled. There were rumors that most of her murders were carried out in December... the one month and holiday where she'd "flare up." Combined with her resentment of Christmas songs, Olivia was destined to be known as The Scrooge Killer. And she never gave Newton a reason not to canonize the nickname. After all, she was our Ebenezer, our Grinch. And now she was our most notorious local legend. A nice slice of counter-programming to the obnoxious lengths we Newtonites celebrated Christmas. Like the Black Christmas to our town's Miracle On 34th Street aesthetic.
Still to this day, we talk about Olivia Edmond. We've immortalized her. When we tell the kids to be good so Santa Claus will bring them presents, we warn them that if they're bad, Olivia will come take them instead. When I was growing up, I especially remembered mama and daddy telling me to be careful when you hear a Big Band or Swing song playing! God knows, I freaked out plenty of times hearing those 1940s Christmas songs on the radio.
And now at twenty-seven-years-old, my childhood nightmare was about to be laid to rest. Thirty-one years after her capture, The Scrooge Killer was to be executed tonight at Arrendale State Prison. Seven P.M. on December seventeenth. A fitting month for the psycho who hated Christmas.
As if the execution wasn't enough of an event, my boyfriend Billy and me had dinner plans with my parents. Chinese food. A goofy holiday tradition my family and I always did. Always at Great Wall too, a Chinese restaurant downtown. Right by a Newton square fortified by Christmas lights.
Together, Billy and me lived out in the country. At my cottage: Margot's Mansion as he called it. Even surrounded by a forest befitting a fairy tale, we were less than fifteen minutes from Great Wall. One of the beauties of living in these cozy small towns.
I always enjoyed our dinners with mom and dad. But tonight was a little different... I wasn't really in the mood to socialize or go out with family. Not when a part of my childhood was about to be taken away for good.
Yeah, I knew Olivia Edmond was evil. Pure evil at that. But a part of me wanted to stay home and keep tabs on Edmond's execution. Not that it was gonna be televised or anything but just to sort of acknowledge this milestone event. A private memorial service for my childhood boogeywoman.
Like dutiful workers though, Billy and me got ready to report to the folks. We were dressed in nice casual clothes, our large jackets set to protect us from the cold. But not even they could do much when we went out into the piercing winter night.
By 7 P.M., I'd pulled the Camry out of the driveway. We drove down Vada Road, past the many Christmas decorations. All the Santas, Mrs. Clauses, and reindeer figurines were adorned by bright lights appropriate for a spaceship. A holiday highway.
Like a co-pilot, Billy turned up the heat. With a roar, the hot air got to work thawing us out. Then Billy turned his attention to the radio.
A hit radio station hit me like a frying pan between the eyes. 98.9's endless Christmas pop. U2's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" swirled around me like secondhand smoke. I suppose I could sympathize with Olivia when it came to these overproduced tunes...
I flashed a glare at Billy. But all I got back was his smug grin.
We were a quirky couple. Especially for Newton. Billy was a year younger than me... so we were never that close in high school. I was more of the shy geeky type. Pretty but bookish. You know, glasses and thrift shop clothes. Nothing flashy. I liked to think I had Aubrey Plaza's sardonic wit with Natalie Portman's face. Close enough when I had a Pixie cut at least...
On the other hand, Billy was always the charming athlete. Even in Newton High, the boy was a legend. A great point guard with both the looks and handles. Not to mention pretty smart for a "jock" (a term Billy detested). I even had him in a few of my AP history courses...
Our paths crossed again in college. I was cruising along to my nursing degree when Billy arrived. He was a starter for the basketball team from day one. He actually made them decent. I know Billy always preferred being compared to Russell Westbrook... but for my money, I was glad he looked more like John Wall.
From there, our relationship blossomed. I got him into poetry, he got me into the NBA and Atlanta Hawks (I know, I know...). After graduation, we moved back to Newton, and I became a nurse for the local hospice. And Billy... well. He struggled to find work. Not that I minded. Honestly, I made enough for us to get by. Plus I saw where Billy did what he could whether it was keeping the house clean or doing the odd work-from-home jobs here and there. At least, I knew he was trying. For a hot househusband, I could do worse. A future househusband I mean! We were taking our time, after all.
And as Bono's vocals tormented me in the car, there was Billy bellowing along to the sentimental lyrics. A winter serenade from the love of my life.
Like a drunk on karaoke night, Billy wouldn't stop. And I couldn't stop laughing.
As the U2 track faded out, I heard two vibrations go off. I silenced my phone.
Billy retrieved his iPhone. Even from here, I could tell an intrigue overtook his jovial goofiness. For once, he was even ignoring the cheese that was Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time."
"Another Amber alert?" I asked. We'd been getting plenty of those in the last few months. And in my sickened gut, I knew they were courtesy of The Day Stalker.
"No," Billy replied. He held his phone toward me. "She's dead."
I saw the large notification from Newton's newspaper app on his screen.
The Rockdale Citizen had the official announcement: Olivia Edmond Executed. Presumed Dead At 7:05 P.M.
Even bombarded by McCartney's chorus, I felt stunned. Yeah, I knew Olivia would be killed. But the finality still struck me. The Scrooge Killer was gone. Her execution announcement like a morbid variation on that tragic moment you find out Santa Claus ain't real.
"Crazy, right?" Billy said. Missing his usual smile, he put his phone back in his pocket.
I kept my restless gaze on Vada Road. The manic bells of "Wonderful Christmas Time" felt like chimes off a graveyard. A funeral march complete with 70s synths.
Annoyed, I switched over to NPR.
Classic Christmas music greeted us. A breath of fresh air from the hokey holiday histrionics almost every other channel was playing. Plus, this Big Band rendition of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" felt appropriate considering Edmond's passing. Even if she hated Christmas.
I heard Billy's bemused groan. "Really, Margot?"
I forced a smile. "It's better than that other shit."
Grinning, Billy reached over and changed it back to 98.9.
"Babe!" I yelled.
Somehow, "Wonderful Christmas Time" was still on. Like it was on an endless, torturous loop. Much like this station's entire Christmas line-up for that matter.
Like a delusional crooner, Billy began belting the lyrics to me.
"Stop it!" I said through laughter.
Still "singing," Billy leaned in even closer. One-on-one with his helpless "audience."
"Oh God!" I yelled. With that, I changed channels. Back to NPR. A Big Band rendition of "Silver Bells."
Billy groaned. "Margot..."
"Just leave it here," I said with a smile. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Billy lean in toward the radio.
"Billy, please!" I pleaded in a gentle tone.
At my command, Billy stopped and faced me. "Alright. I don't know how I can sing to this..."
"Then don't," I teased. Unable to resist, I placed my hand on his leg. "Save the singing for the bedroom."
Billy ran his hand along my arm. "Ooh, you want a private show?"
Just Billy's touch could shoot excitement through me. Now I really had to focus to keep my eyes on Vada.
Seductive, Billy leaned in closer. "I'll do more than sing."
I chuckled. "I know you will."
Right when Billy squeezed my hand and leaned in closer, a sudden strike of strings startled us. Like a terrifying apparition, a congregation of violins overtook the ethereal Big Band sound. Screeching violins that were reminiscent of Hitchcock's Psycho rather than the holidays. "Silver Hells."
Billy jumped back in his seat. "Shit!"
Cringing, I held onto the wheel. The violins were far worse than any Christmas pop song I'd ever heard. The sharp noises stabbed my ears.
Aggravated, Billy lunged toward the radio. But right before he could change it, the violins went away. As if the players and their instruments were removed off stage.
Now the music was back to being pleasant. The Big Band musicians had jumped right into "Here Comes Santa Claus."
Billy chuckled in disbelief. "Well, that was weird."
"Yeah," I said.
"That's one Hell of an orchestra."
Grinning, I faced Billy. "It's like they got drunk and fucked it all up."
"Here Comes Santa Claus" kept playing through the Camry in elevator music fashion.
Basking in its soothing rhythm, I felt the Big Band music calm my nerves. Even when it was nothing but Christmas tunes.
In an abrupt switch, The Eagles's "Please Come Home For Christmas" shattered through my serene soundtrack. Now we were back to crass commercialism. Back to 98.9's annoying beat.
And there was Billy singing along to the lyrics. And damn, did babe always know the lyrics... he didn't even need a karaoke screen.
"Ugh, Billy!" I yelled.
Like a flirtatious lounge singer, he held a calm hand out toward me. "Come on, baby."
As we drove past nothing but thick forests, I saw a stop sign up ahead. We were about to turn right on to Whigham Dairy Road. Olivia's old street. The whole road was nothing but darkness. As if its residents were too scared to leave any house lights on much less have any glowing Christmas decorations.
"Just enjoy the Christmas music!" Billy went on.
Gradually coming to a stop, I flashed Billy a glare. "Just put it back."
The Eagles's chorus reached a cloying crescendo. And Billy gladly joined in.
"Billy, please," I begged. I brought the Camry to a stop. I saw no headlights on Whigham Dairy. And only outlines of houses. We were in a void of Newton darkness.
Annoyed, Billy reached toward me. "Margot-"
Then the same violins suppressed all the harmonies and jangly guitars. The Eagles had been upstaged by the piercing shrill fiddles. And they were louder than ever... the same repetitive chords quick and steady like the thrusts of a knife. As if the players were using a switchblade on the violins' strings.
"Shit, Billy!" I yelled in annoyance.
Like a cowering child, Billy covered his ears. "What the fuck is that!"
The violins overwhelmed us. I couldn't focus, I couldn't think. I was too paralyzed by those ferocious strikes to even turn the wheel. I felt my entire head about to burst from those unwavering strings.
"Just put it back on NPR!" I yelled.
Crouching down, Billy couldn't move. Horror and panic had conquered my baby's warm smile.
Amidst the onslaught of the howling violins, I hit the steering wheel's radio button. We were back on NPR.
The Big Band sound felt like a burst of fresh air after being trapped underwater. Even when they were playing "Jingle Bells..." one of my least favorites. "Oh God..." I said. Relieved, I leaned back in my seat.
"Goddamn," Billy muttered. He leaned up, more weary than a surviving soldier. "That was fucking nuts."
Before I could respond, "Jingle Bells" descended into the violin madness. Somehow, the fiddlers were louder and more frenetic than ever. The shrill strings sliced into our ears like a scream of sliding blades. The same fucking notes on repeat.
Alarmed, both me and Billy covered our ears. But the violins were more inescapable than any Christmas song... and more deadly.
"Change it!" I screamed. The violins cut through my blockade of flesh to shatter my ears. To shatter my sanity.
With the speed of a panicking paramedic, Billy retrieved his phone. "I'll put on Pandora!"
"Hurry!" I felt like I was tied to a chair with all the violinists camped right beside me.
"Shit!" Billy yelled. He showed me his phone. The screen stuck on a permanent Pandora loading page. "It's not working!"
I gave Billy a harsh shove. "Put on something!"
Lunging forward, Billy turned the radio knob. Like an A.D.D.-music-addict, he ran through the catalog of stations.
But each one was more of the same. A disturbing pattern featuring a few seconds of a cheesy Christmas track whether it was "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Christmas At Ground Zero" or Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" before the violins ate it alive. Like a demonic orchestra was following us around. An orchestra determined to imprint its sick symphony into our ravaged minds.
I didn't have time to comprehend the sheer insanity. Not with my mind torched by the bombastic violins. With one hand pressed to my ear, I used my other hand to make the right on to Whigham Dairy. Into the valley of darkness.
"This is crazy!" Billy cried.
Shivering, I kept my eyes on the two-lane blacktop. The violins kept our frozen ears ringing... any louder and I feared my eardrums would explode like bursting ice.
Helpless, Billy kept scanning the stations. "It's everywhere! Why the fuck are they playing it!"
I saw two blinking lights on the side of the road. The blinking as rapid as the violins.
Finally, Billy landed on 95.5. Pure country radio. Rather than a Yuletide favorite, we were stuck with Kenny Chesney's "She's Got It All." And much to our delight, Kenny never got replaced by this orchestra of the dead.
"Hey, it's still on!" Billy exclaimed.
As I got closer to those lights, I slowed down. Like a lighthouse near the sea, those blinking taillights were all I could see in the night. "Don't jinx it," I muttered to Billy.
Billy started singing along to Chesney. In all his obnoxious glory. He was only slightly more tolerable than the violin's wails. I still had no idea how Billy knew all the words...
Normally, I would've told him to shut the fuck up. But not when I got closer to that car: a Ford Explorer smashed into a telephone pole. Its taillights about the only thing going unscathed on the crushed smorgasbord of broken glass and mangled parts. Scattered blood decorated the vehicle like a new paint job.
Horrified, I stopped next to the Explorer's remnants. Not just to ogle the damage, but to see if there was anything I could do.
Turning, Billy saw the vehicle in all its damaged glory. "Oh shit..." he said, unease interrupting his "performance."
Focused, I turned Kenny down to a whisper.
Billy rolled down his window.
Like a breeze off the ocean, cold air swooped in. But we weren't just shivering from that...
A closer look at the vehicle revealed a corpse sitting in the passenger seat. Due to all the smashed windows, we got a clean look at the man's pulverized face... nothing more than a mask of pulpy flesh at this point. That blood-stained airbag sprawled across him may as well have been a body bag.
"Oh God..." Billy said in horror. Not a sliver of a smile was on his face anymore. Billy's karaoke show was over.
Through the quiet night, I could hear the faint violins. The fearsome fiddles...
I grabbed Billy's arm, terrified. "Do you hear that?"
Billy listened up. Cold breath flowed from his mouth in an intense rhythm.
There they were. The inescapable violins. They haunted us like the Banshee's wail.
Curious, I leaned in closer toward the passenger's side window. I traced the fiddles all the way to the Explorer.
Through the darkness, I could see the car's radio still on. Still on 98.9. The Christmas station. All I could think was the station had been hijacked... as if Olivia Edmond herself had tampered the holiday classics with her most distorted vinyl...
"It's in their car too," I told Billy.
Billy's nervous eyes followed my gaze. "What the fuck, man..."
A loud hit on the driver's window scared the shit out of us.
Startled, we both turned to see a frantic woman banging on the glass. Red lines streamed down the window like flowing raindrops.
"Help!" she screamed. "Help us!"
Before I could open the door, Billy shined his iPhone's light toward the window.
And I was glad he did...
The woman had scratches and clawmarks all over her face. Some of them clearly from the accident... and some of them clearly self-inflicted. Crimson poured from the wounds like erupting volcanoes.
The rest of her body resembled a half-completed jigsaw puzzle. Segments of flesh missing here and there. Her clothes drenched in blood.
With the desperation of an asylum patient trying to break out, her bleeding hands kept pounding the glass. "Make it stop!" the woman cried. "The violins, make them stop! Please!" I saw tears collide with all her blood.
"What the fuck do we do!" Billy yelled.
Frozen in fear, I just stared at the woman. All while the violins kept playing and taunting me.
Crying into the night like a dying wolf, the woman staggered back.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Billy reach for the door handle.
One harsh grip from me stopped him in his place.
Billy struggled to pull away. "Margot-"
"Stay here, Goddammit!" I commanded him.
Nervous, Billy stayed put. No smile, no jokes, no singing. He knew I meant business.
Just a few feet away, the woman sunk to her knees. The overflowing tears and blood made her guttural screams sound like she was yelling underwater. "Make it stop! Please!" she bellowed. Her hands slid all along her face. All into the blood.
Me and Billy just watched with helpless eyes. The violins a hypnotic soundtrack to the eerie scene.
I heard Billy turn up the country station in a desperate move to offset the maddening violins. Tim McGraw's "Grown Men Don't Cry." The corny melody felt like pain medicine from those fiddles...
Still screaming into the night, the woman scratched and clawed at her face. And she dug in deep... her fingernails like shovels.
Even from here, I could see the skin dangling off her cheeks. The winter breeze blew all the strips of flesh around like they were part of a Christmas windsock.
I felt Billy snatch my shoulder. "Just fucking go!" he yelled.
With that, I drove away from the carnage.
Before disappearing down Whigham Dairy Road, I stole a glance out my rearview mirror.
The woman was still there kneeling in the same spot. Long stretches of skin hung off her face like snakes off Medusa's hair. Her hands continued making a flurry of harsh tugs against her own face.
I could hear the woman's anguished cries even over Tim McGraw. Her voice more piercing and louder than those violins.
Billy rolled his window back up. The heater quashed the cold air, but we were still shivering. And we stayed quiet the whole way to Great Wall. Both of us too terrified to speak.
The radio stayed on 95.5. Billy and me never changed it.
Finally, we reached downtown Newton. And I wished we never did.
The square was a Yuletide massacre. Crashed cars lined up all along the streets. Dead bodies piled up in a gazebo like it was a pit grave. Corpses were sprawled across all the figurines as if the fake reindeer were carrying them.Even a decapitated man was entangled in Christmas lights like he was caught in a spiderweb. All the thick blood gave the Christmas lights a much darker glow.
"Jesus Christ..." I said in horror. I had Tim McGraw in my ears and a Newton bloodbath before my eyes.
Billy pointed me toward Great Wall. There was a parking space right behind my parents' truck. "Pull in there!"
Once we parked and hopped out of the car, I realized the common denominator for all this horror. The speakers downtown were all playing the same station: 98.9. The speakers were louder than I'd ever heard them before, turned up as if
Newton was hosting a death metal concert. Every five seconds, the violins' cries erupted over The Ronettes's "Frosty The Snowman." Like an intermittent distress signal that was never going away.
Snatching my arm, Billy led me to Great Wall. "Come on!"
My terrified eyes stayed on the square. The site was like a horrible battlefield. The manger scene now complete with a real deceased baby lying before the Mary figurine.
Near the restaurant's front doors, Billy helped me avoid stepping on a family of corpses. All the bodies had their faces clawed off as if they'd been attacked by a herd of birds. All of their own flesh stuck under their fingernails like gruesome sticky paper.
Amidst such carnage, the amplified Christmas music played like a sick joke. That is until the violins came roaring back. Their screeching strings a vicious stab to my ears and mind.
Billy pulled me in close. "Don't look, Margot," he said in a soft tone.
Inside, Great Wall was quiet and warm. Like a shelter from the madness lurking outside.
Thankfully, bland 1940s Big Band music rather than holiday standards played on the restaurant's speakers. Just Sinatra, Lena, and some instrumentals. I realized we weren't safe because we were inside... we were safe without the Christmas music.
My mom and dad were the only customers here. Besides the Chinese family who owned the place, we were all alone. I ran up and hugged mama. No one had any idea what was going on... neither mom nor dad had seen the graveyard outside. The restaurant owners looked just as confused as well.
My parents had been waiting for us for well over thirty minutes... well before Olivia Edmond was executed by lethal injection. They were just glad we were okay.
A chorus of vibrations shattered through our weary victory. Everyone checked their phones in unison like the iPhone addicts we were.
All of us had an emergency notification. For Residents Of Newton, Georgia: Please Stay Indoors. Newton Radio Stations Hacked. Do Not Listen To The Radio. Repeat. Do Not Listen To The Radio.
I couldn't help but chuckle. The pitiful laugh of a helpless asylum inmate.
The restaurant owners then locked their doors. And together, we stayed put in Great Wall until morning. Warm but uncomfortable from fear. All while the swing music CD played... such soothing music to the ears. Too subtle to be cloying Christmas pop and too pretty to be those monstrous violins. Olivia would've been proud...
For the next few weeks, all of the local radio stations were cut off. Specifically the Christmas stations. Newton officials offered us no real, logical answer. And they didn't need to. Not when they said reports of the stations being hacked didn't occur until 7:06 P.M.
Everything was just fine before 7:05 on that fateful December night. The Christmas lights were brighter than ever. The decorations gaudier than ever. And the Yuletide music louder than ever. But then Olivia Edmond died. And even since then, no one can play their holiday favorites within the Newton city limits.
Believe me, I've tried. And so has everyone else. The radio, Pandora, YouTube. Even caroling. The music will start, but then those violins will kick in. Those piercing violins from the world's most malevolent swing band will get you. And they'll give you a Christmas remix from Hell. And once you listen to those strings for too long... then what I saw on Whigham Dairy Road and the square happens.
Deep down, I know the truth. Olivia Edmond got her Christmas wish. And now over a year later, the entire town has given up on ever hearing their holiday music again. Sure, the lights and decorations are still up... but like an antiquated silent movie, those exhibits have no life without a soundtrack. A soundtrack we'll never hear because The Scrooge Killer won.
So if you want to hear "Jingle Bells," "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," or even "Christmas At Ground Zero" stay away from Newton. Whatever you do, don't play these favorites in our town. Hell, don't even hum them. So far this December, I haven't heard a soul attempt to play these holiday anthems. And when you get to Newton, I suggest you do the same.
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