So, there you are, you and the whole family gathered for Christmas — some are in the kitchen, making a ridiculously large meal, others are in the living room arguing over [Insert Name of Sports Team here] or [Insert Name of Political Talking Point Here], while the kids are running around, shaking presents, and generally trying to trip you as you’re going up or down the stairs, or maybe that’s the cat. In any case, it’s your job to figure out what Christmas-themed movie the family is going to watch later.
The problem? You’re tired of the same old same old. You don’t want to watch “A Christmas Story” or “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or even “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” again, ’cause every year it seems like the same old thing. But you don’t have any good ideas on what you might replace these standards with.
Well, never fear, I’m here to help. Below are twelve movies that are a bit off the beaten path, but maybe you are, too. So, with nods to Rudolph (who lights our way — all hail! all hail!), here are your Twelve Movies of Christmas. If I missed one of your favorites, feel free to list it in the comments below.
Scrooged — This one might already be making your list, so we’ll get it out of the way early. Why Scrooged? Because it’s Bill Murray, that’s why. Also, it’s not exactly the tender, heartburn-y version of A Christmas Carol you may remember from ill-spent Christmas Eves of your youth, but the souped-up-on scary ghosts version with, again, Bill Murray. Watch Scrooged on Netflix
Gremlins — There isn’t much better than settling in on a wintery Christmas evening and watching some gremlins lay waste to a pleasant, Norman Rockwell town. Also: Phoebe Cates. While Molly Ringwald was my go-to good-girl crush of the 80s, Phoebe Cates was the bad girl one. Well, her and Star, from The Lost Boys. But Cates wins. Fast Times at Ridgemont High, anyone? Of course. Buy Gremlins on Amazon
Rare Exports — Here’s the reason I made this list. If you haven’t seen Rare Exports, you should do everything in your power to do so now. No, I really mean now. Stop killing time reading this blog and go watch it. Sure, it’s subtitled. But all the best things from Scandanavia are. Like Ikea instructions. However, unlike Ikea furniture this movie doesn’t require any assembly. Just sit back and enjoy the Krampus madness as a young Danish boy discovers the true meaning of Christmas…bloodshed. Buy Rare Exports on Amazon
Hogfather — Hogfather is based on a Terry Pratchet Discworld book of the same name. Hogfather, the Discworld’s Santa, has gone missing and Death has to take over present delivery. Hijinks ensue. Buy Hogfather on Amazon
Love Actually — This one is on the list because you’ll want something to placate the romantics in your Christmas-movie-watching cadre. Herein we follow the romantic lives of several different couples during the Christmas season and find out what love is, er, actually. Also, Hugh Grant. That Hugh Grant is so loveable and hunky. Like a little, lost reindeer. This movie didn’t make me cry. I swear. Watch Love, Actually on Netflix
Monty Python’s Life of Brian — Remember the reason for the season…and then follow the misadventures of Brian, not-quite-the-messiah. I know, I know, this one is a stretch, and not just because he’s “stretched” out on the cross. Too soon? Sorry. Buy Monty Python’s Life of Brian on Amazon
The Nightmare Before Christmas — If you don’t have yourself some Tim Burton for Christmas, then what, really, is the point of Christmas? Also, if you like Halloween like I like Halloween, any excuse to watch Halloween-themed movies is a good excuse. Root for Jack Skelington as he tries to take over Christmas and things get out of hand. Watch The Nightmare Before Christmas on Netflix
Black Christmas — If you like your Christmas movies even more horror-y than The Nightmare Before Christmas, then I offer to you the classic movie about Christmas cheer … er, I mean shears … Black Christmas. Sorority girls meet killer Santa. Good family fun. And, hey, it’s got Margot Kidder in it, so it must be classy, right? Right? Buy Black Christmas on Amazon
Bad Santa — If you have the urge to kick the arse of the next bell-ringing Santa you see, this movie is for you. Don’t get it confused with Bad Grandpa, however. This one has Billy Bob Thornton trying to rip off a shopping center or some such thing. The other one has Johnny (How has that guy survived all these years?) Knoxville dressed up in an Old Dude outfit and pulling Candid Camera (a show your grandparents would have watched) pranks on folks around the country. Watch Bad Santa on Netflix
Lethal Weapon — You thought I was going to say Die Hard, didn’t you? But you already know that Die Hard is the ultimate action lover’s Christmas movie. That said, you’ve seen it sooooo many times. Why not take on the penultimate action lover’s Christmas movie, instead? Get a little holiday craaaazy with Mel Gibson — pre his real-life crazy. Buy Lethal Weapon on Amazon
Edward Scissorhands — Okay, okay, another stretch. But Christmas is in there somewhere, y’know; Ed was going to get real hands for Christmas, after all. Instead, though, he becomes the bane of waterbeds and hot air balloons everywhere. On a side note, has Johnny Depp ever been in a movie where he wasn’t wearing, like, a ton of makeup? And, no, the 21 Jump Street series doesn’t count. That was a tv series. I said “moooovie”. Buy Edward Scissorhands on Amazon
And, finally, your choice of either Rifftrax’ Santa Claus OR Rifftrax’ Santa Claus Conquers the Martians! — You have the option because, as of this writing, Santa Claus (the first one, a Mexican production with Satan, Merlin, and a ridiculously racist North Pole) isn’t yet available. But it probably will be soon. Until then, you can whet your apetite with a heartwarming tale about Martians who have lost their love of Christmas. And by “heartwarming,” I mean “heartburn-inducing”. But the riffers at Rifftrax make it all okay. Buy Rifftrax’ Santa Claus AND/OR Rifftrax’ Santa Claus Conquers the Martians at Rifftrax.com
Honorable Mention: Jack Frost — A serial killer is turned into a homicidal snowman. ‘Nuff said. Watch Jack Frost on Netflix
And there you have it, twelve (thirteen, with Jack) holiday movies worthy of the season. Pop a bag of popcorn, settle in under the mistletoe, and enjoy the sound of jingling bells and eggnog-overdosing uncles.
Happy Holidays, every one!
*Images at imdb.com and rifftrax.com (you can figure out the one that came from Rifftrax, surely).