Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Non-Traditional Christmas Movies List

Christmas time is all about traditions: the Christmas tree, mistletoes, wrapping presents, baking cookies, hanging the Christmas stockings, family get-togethers, etc. But sometimes, don't you wish you could just say, "Bah! Humbug!" to it all and just crawl under the coffee table and wish that all the holiday stresses would just go away? When it comes to holiday movies, there are plenty of traditions to adhere to as well. You have films like It's a Wonderful LifeA Christmas CarolWhite ChristmasA Charlie Brown ChristmasA Christmas Story or even Scrooge. But for those who just want to buck tradition for the fun of it, here is my list of non-traditional Christmas movies for your viewing pleasure:

The first movie on my list has got to be Die Hard. When Detective John McClane sends a bad guy he just killed down the elevator with the immortal words, "Now I have a machine gun. Ho-Ho-Ho!" scrawled onto his sweatshirt, you just know the real fun is just beginning. The first in a series of 4 really good action flicks, Die Hard starts with some really bad dudes crashing an office Christmas party and taking hostages. However, what they didn't realize was they had the best cop in New York City trapped inside the building as well. Bruce Willis made the role totally his own, battling all sorts of bad guys with just his resourcefulness and plenty of bravado. A must-see holiday action classic. Also look for Ben Affleck's Reindeer Games if you like your Christmas to be full of gunfights and double-crosses.

Next up is probably one of the most anti-Christmas movie ever made, Bad Santa, starring the indomitable Billy Bob Thornton (the ex-Mr. Angelina Jolie) as the worst mall Santa this side of the Mississippi. Playing a miserable conman named Willie, Thornton and his little helper, Marcus (played masterfully by Tony Cox) robs department stores during the Christmas season while disguised as (not-so) jolly Saint Nick. But things turn South (or North, depending on who's perspective) when Willie reluctantly befriends a rotund kid (Brett Kelly)
who might just be the most gullible person in town. For better or worse, Bad Santa is one of the most enjoyable and darkly funny movie to watch during the holiday season. I might even go as far as describing this movie as sweet. Go figure!

Now it is time to venture into the demented mind of Tim Burton, who envisioned a Christmas, if it was helmed, not by a jolly fat man in a red suit but the king of Halloweentown, Jack Skellington. Yes, in Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, the horrors of Halloween replaces all that is good about the holidays. Toys that attack and eat children, Christmas trees that burst into flames, etc, etc. Yes, you name it, we have it all here. The handmade puppets used for the stop-motion photography is so detailed and gorgeously done, it's a darn shame they will never be used again. But we'll always have The Nightmare Before Christmas, one of the most endearing tales of holiday misconceptions and thinking you can always do a better job! Ho! Ho! Ho!

Help! Killer furry animal thingies on the loose! Those tiny Mogwais are so adorable, aren't they? Well, at least until you accidentally feed them after midnight, that is. That is when all hell breaks loose and they turn into the dreaded gremlins and ruin Christmas for an entire town! Gremlins (directed by Joe Dante, screenplay by Chris Columbus and executive produced by Steven Spielberg) is a fun comedic romp for all ages. It might be a tad scary for those who are below 5 years old but the older young 'uns should enjoy it. And since we are talking about children's movies here, how about the Macauly Culkin Christmas classic, Home Alone? It is probably worth the price of admission just to watch Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern get outwitted by a little boy named Macauly.

Now we move into the Christmas horror/serial killer territory with Black Christmas (1974 version plus the 2006 remake). The story of a sorority house full of gorgeous college girls who are stalked and then killed by a serial killer over Christmas break must be the dream of all grindhouse moviemakers. And that's probably why they made it twice! While the remake may be more polished and gory, the original had an atmosphere of dread and creepiness going for it. Either way, you can't miss......that is if you are into those kinds of things.

Finally, we have the most controversial anti-Christmas movie of all time, Silent Night, Deadly Night. It caused a national uproar when it was released back in 1984 but has since enjoyed a cult following (don't they all?) among horror film enthusiasts. The plot is probably one of the crazier ones out there but it sure does a great job living up to its grindhouse credentials. After watching his parents murdered by a thief in a Santa suit, young Billy Chapman (Robert Brian Wilson) is sent to a Catholic orphanage where he is in turn abused by the iron-fisted Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin). All grown up, Billy finally snaps when he is required to wear a Santa suit as part of his job and goes on a killing spree like no other! "You see Santa Claus tonight, you better run boy! You better run for ya life!" Ahhhh......Christmas time, you gotta love it!

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