There are so many alternative movies you can watch on or around the Christmas period rather than being stuck with the same old same old… How many times have you watched Elf (and right now let me be open and say that I absolutely hate that film), Jingle all the way (which is actually not too bad), Christmas with the Kranks, the Polar Express, Miracle on 34th Street (which again I cannot stand) or Deck the Halls? I’ll even throw in some slightly off kilter movies like the Nightmare Before Christmas, Bad Santa or the Grinch… you know, those with a slightly different take on the holiday!
What I want to list here are those movies which have just enough Christmas in them to let you get away with watching them in them over the Christmas period, but not quite enough that you feel like you’re sitting in a vat of Christmas cheese while doing so… and I’m going to start with the 2 greatest Christmas movies ever made!
1 – Die Hard
This is not a Christmas movie… it’s THE Christmas movie and in our house it is a holiday tradition to watch a Die Hard marathon… including the 4th and 5th films yeah – what can I say, I like them! It’s at a Christmas party and some one comes out of the elevator in a makeshift Christmas jumper… What more do you want for it to qualify?
2 – Die Hard 2: Die Harder
Again… Do I really need to explain this one? It’s the eve of Christmas back in the day where you could smoke in the airport, there’s snow… It’s Christmas – lighten up!
3 – Gremlins
There’s no doubting that this is a Christmas movie – the main character of the movie, the title character in fact is literally a Christmas present from a crappy parent who just gets the first cool thing he gets his hands on at the last minute without any research… We’ve all been there, although usually with better results, or at least less devastating results than this holiday encounter.
There are 3 simple rules to owning a Mogwai and they really are very easy – don’t get them wet, don’t expose them to bright lights (especially sun light) and never feed them after midnight. Now I do think that last one is a bit ambiguous – when can you start feeding them again? This is all too much thought and we see a bunch of crazed Mogwai causing havoc across the city in a Christmas setting and even hear stories of how someones dad climbed down a chimney dressed as Santa and well… Didn’t make it back out!
4 – Better Watch Out
It’s a weird film this one… There’s a little kid who I guess has barely started puberty and he’s got the hots for his babysitter and tries to seduce her. There’s a pretty elaborate plan which involves basically terrifying her in to sleeping with this child. Needless to say it doesn’t work and this turns in to a full on revenge flick with some pretty incredible kills and injuries… Oh and it’s set sort of roughly around Christmas.
5 – Batman Returns
Batman Returns gives us something which blokes of my age remember very fondly… Growing up with the best cat woman we have so far had on screen – and I’m not claiming that Michelle Pfeiffer acts the part better than Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises (although she definately does a better job than Halle Berry), but has there really been a better cat woman costume in a Batman movie? This catwoman is bordering on being downright filthy, and we thank you mr Burton! I do bet that things got pretty uncomfortable in Michael Keatons Batsuit – that thing looks restricting!
However it also brought us the reason why I couldn’t watch this movie in my earlioer years – I thought that the Penguin played by Danny DeVito was and still is one of the most genuinely terrifying Batman villains of all time. Being a Tim Burton movie this really paints Gotham in a very fantastical and disturbing light where you’re waiting for Johnny Depp to jump around from any corner at any second. It really is a great addition to the Batman movie collection.
But what’s it got to do with Christmas? Uhmmm it’s set around Christmas of course! There is snow, Christmas parties, giant Christmas trees, people in Santa style outfits and the whole of Gotham feels a little bit like it was plucked from the Grinch movie… It certainly looks like Christmas and a lot of people think that it has all the workings of a feel good Christmas romp! I see a film where a disfigured child is thrown in to a sewer to be raised by penguins (I know right?), only to return many years later, looking many times more disgusting and scary than anything else which has come out of a sewer plotting to kill all of Gotham’s first born sons… Merry Christmas!
6 – Anna and the Apocalypse
Now, when I said alternative Christmas movies, I didn’t necessarily mean you’re going to love them all – although admittedly I know that a lot of people do thoroughly enjoy Anna and the Apocalypse. It’s a strange sort of take on the zombie genre this one as it takes a little bit of Shaun of the Dead, adds in a little dash of the tv show Skins and then tries to sprinkle in a little dash of High School Musical or Glee from a twisted salt shaker where the lid comes off and dumps the whole load in.
I hate musicals with an absolute passion so it sucks for me that my son has just discovered the joy of Disney… But do want it left firmly out of my zombie movies thank you very much.
It’s absolutely a Christmas movie though – what could be more Christmasy than running through a Christmas tree warehouse, picking up a giant candy cane along the way and eventually beating zombie elves to death with it?
7 – Night of the Comet
We start this film 11 days before Christmas so there are plenty of jolly little references or things to see in what is otherwise essentially a cult zombie movie (with I must say a very original idea of how the zombies come about – space radiation rather than a virus) which has basically nothing to do with Christmas!
8 – Rocky IV
Ok saying this is a Christmas film is quite a push I know, but there’s a ton of snow! The revenge match between Rocky and Drago after Drago kills Apollo Creed in the ring happens on Christmas day, which seems pretty unlikely but it has happened before! back in 1950 there was a professional boxing match between Sugar Ray Robinson and Hans Stretz in Frankfurt. Oh and Rocky does manage to say Happy Christmas to his son on the other side of the world through the tv which is a great Christmas message!
9 – Shazam!
This is another one of those films which does just have a very loose connection to Christmas in that it’s set at a time around Christmas and some of the action goes on in a Christmas fair but other than that you can be forgiven for actually even noticing that Christmas is happening. It was never really intended as a Christmas movie, that’s why it came out in the summer, but the underlying tones of the film about growth, responsibility, sharing and family just work really well in a Christmas setting and while watching the tv in the holiday season.
10 – Krampus
In mythological terms the Krampus is a half goat, half demon creature who is essentially the anti Santa and rather than giving presents to good kids, hands out punishments to bad kids in places like Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy and Slovenia. There are plenty of places where adults care kids in to being good at the same time as bribing them to be good around this time of year… I wonder if showing both those barrels actually does anything ti make them better? What the Krampus doesn’t do however is kill the kids.
Not in this movie! Krampus along with a barrage of evil elves, living gingerbread men and mutant living toys are out for blood when people loose their Christmas spirit, firmly beating the belief in all that is good about the holiday back in to families and leaving them torn apart and broken in the process. I’m not just talking about the families but the family members too – this Krampus is insanely violent!
So remember to be nice to one another!