?Even the most die-hard Christmas fans must get sick of the schmaltziness that comes along with many of the holiday fare shown on television, right? Even the best ones like Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story and Elf can only stay fresh for a few viewings leading up to Christmas, so we’ve compiled a list of other less traditional movies based around the holiday that facilitates gift giving, family gatherings and drunken arguments. There’s a whole world of holiday movies out there with equal parts Christmas, comedy, craziness and/or carnage to take that holiday edge off. We’ve tried to avoid anything that gets actual, regular play over the holidays, which is why you won’t find traditional “non-traditional” Christmas flicks like The Nightmare Before Christmas in here. Everything else — the forgotten, the violent, the not-Christmas-y enough — is fair game.
10) The Ref
In one of his first acting gigs, Denis Leary plays a thief on the run who breaks into the house of Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis, a married couple seemingly minutes away from divorce, to hide on Christmas Eve. This requires holding them hostage, dealing with their son who’s home from military school, hosting a bizarre holiday dinner with their extended family, and keeping Spacey and Davis from killing each other. Leary is at his acerbic best, iand it should be no shock that everything turns out all right in the end. The only reason this movie is ranked so low is because for many people, it is a traditional Christmas flick.
9) Jack Frost
Jack Frost is, without a doubt, one of the best worst movies around and definitely the winner in the Christmas sub category. The flick features a wise-cracking mutant snow man viciously murdering the denizens of a place called Snowmonton. The movie thankfully doesn’t take itself too seriously, but revels in its Christmas-y nature with murder implements including icicles, sled rails and ornaments. Yes, the film also features Shannon Elizabeth in one of her first movie roles getting banged to death by the titular snowman who forms himself around her in the bathtub, but seems to be missing his carrot nose…
8) Lethal Weapon
With all the different holidays, parties, vacations and whatnot, December can be a crazy month. That chaos can lead to forgotten or missed details. That’s essentially what happened when Shadow Company didn’t cover their tracks well enough leading renegade cop Martin Riggs and his soon-to-retire partner Roger Murtaugh to investigate. While the main action doesn’t take place on Christmas, we do see all kinds of Christmas decorations in the chase scenes and the flick ends with Riggs heading over to the Murtaugh household for Christmas day after beating the living shit out of Mr. Joshua in the film’s climax.
7) Silent Night, Deadly Night
Some folks have a rough time around the holidays, but none moreso than Billy Chapman, who holds the record for shitty Christmases. See when he was 8, his vegetable of a grandfather came to his sense long enough to tell Billy Santa only likes good children and hates bad ones. As if that wasn’t weird enough, on the way back from the nursing home, his parents were murdered by a guy dressed as Santa. Later in life he’s tormented by orphanage-running nuns who are also obsessed with the ideas of naughty and nice, but things get really bad when the 18 year-old Billy is forced to wear a Santa suit at his toy store job which sends him into a murderous rage. From there, it gets bloody and weird. As an added bonus, keep your eyes peeled in the toy store scenes where you can see the original Kenner Jabba’s Palace playset!
6) Batman Returns
Sometimes Christmas gets ruined by getting one too many pairs of socks and other times because Uncle Al gets a little too drunk and starts telling everyone what he really thinks of them. That’s nothing compared to Christmas in Gotham City which inspires freaks from the Red Triangle Gang into the streets to jump out of a giant present, ruin the Christmas tree lighting and pave the way for the most unlikely mayoral candidate of all time. It also helped inspire a crazy broad to run around town in a skin tight suit, so it can’t be all bad.
5) Edward Scissorhands
Man, that Tim Burton sure loves Christmas doesn’t he? You’ve already got Batman Returns on the list and he wrote and produced the classic stop motion animation A Nightmare Before Christmas, but that’s not all when it comes to his unique brand of Christmas cheer. Edward, a weirdo created by a dying scientist, first arouses suspicion in the suburban community of the Boggs family and later murderous rage, but in the end he finds himself a life partner in Kim. And what better match than a pale immortal with sharp hands and a girl. Let’s hope they don’t get too frisky and lose themselves in the moment.
4) Black Christmas
Directed by none other than the mind behind Porky’s and A Christmas Story, Black Christmas was the brain child of Bob Clark. The 1974 proto-slasher flick features a killer sneaking into a sorority house during a Christmas party, takes up residence in the attack and makes breathy phone calls before murdering whoever he can, keeping their bodies with him up in his sanctuary. Margot Kidder stars as Barb. Maybe this is the movie that drove her crazy.
3) The Ice Harvest
A legitimately good dark comedy, The Ice Harvest features a pair of thieves played by John Cusack and Billy Bob Thorton who have pulled off a two million dollar heist on Christmas Eve only to get trapped in town thanks to a wicked ice storm. Things go from bad to worse, poor decisions are made and things don’t go quite as planned, but them’s the breaks around the holidays.
2) Die Hard
Holiday office parties are the best! The boss gets liquored up, coworkers hook up in closets and international terrorists take over the building holding everyone hostage! Wait, that last one doesn’t sound like much fun, unless you’re watching it instead of living it. Bruce Willis’ 1988 classic finds NYC cop John McClain attempting to surprise his estranged wife on Christmas Eve and instead punches, kicks and yippee kai yas his way to saving the day. The worst part about the whole thing? After all that effort probably didn’t even get a Christmas present the next day because he didn’t call ahead!
Gremlins did for Christmas what Halloween did for Halloween, made it even more terrifying. After his dad picked him up the adorable Mogwai Gizmo, Billy didn’t follow the core rules close enough and wound up exposing the sleepy little town of Kingston Falls to an army of little green murderous monsters intent on creating chaos at every turn. Thanks to some quick thinking, Billy, Gizmo and company use the Gremlins love of Snow White against them and their vampire-like aversion to light to save the day. Poor Kate just can’t catch a break on Christmas, can she?