It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, White Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, A 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:
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!