Alternative Christmas Films

Black_christmas

For this year’s Christmas post I thought I would try and produce a list of my favourite alternative Christmas films.  By alternative, I mean films that are either set during the Christmas period and are not actually typical Christmas films persay, or those that are so downright dark that they offer little in the way of Christmas cheer.  I find these to be so much more rewarding than those that are currently being broadcast on the Christmas 24 television channel.  So, here we go.  This is by no means exhaustive, further additions are welcome.

Black Christmas (Bob Clark, 1974)

“If this movie doesn’t make your skin crawl…it’s on too tight”.  I watched this last night and was again reminded just how terrifying this film is.  I am sure that it is the prank telephone calls that I find so unsettling.  

Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988)

In previous years, I have posted about my Christmas Eve ritual of watching Die Hard.  It really isn’t Christmas until the end credits of the film start and Vaughn Monroe sings Let it Snow.

Cash On Demand (Quentin Lawrence, 1961)

Released for the first time on DVD earlier this year as part of the Hammer Icons of Suspense DVD Collection, this excellent thriller pits Peter Cushing, the manager of bank, verus Andre Morrell, a cunning bank robber who has kidnapped Cushing’s wife and child.  Set two days before Christmas Eve, this tightly scripted and engrossing thriller is certainly worthy of greater attention (sadly I can find no trailer online for this gem).

Gremlins (Joe Dante, 1984)

I had forgotton just how good a film Gremlins is.  I caught the last 45 minutes on television earlier in the week, having not seen it since I was five.  Darkly humourous and brilliantly directed by Joe Dante.  Having Phoebe Cates in the film doesn’t hurt either.

LA Confidential (Curtis Hanson, 1997)

Based on the true ‘Bloody Christmas’ controversy of 1951, this endlessly rewatchable film captures a seedier side of Christmas.

Lethal Weapon (Richard Donner, 1997)

Not a favourite film but still an enjoyable action romp set during Christmas. 

The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)

There is no snow to be found in this bleak Nick Cave scripted Western. 

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (Shane Black, 2005)

Shane Black, writer of Lethal Weapon, continues his obsession with setting films during the Christmas period in this criminally underrated comedy thriller. 

Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this Kubrick thriller.  Dark and witty in equal measures.

Bad Santa (Terry Zwigoff, 2003)

Didn’t do anything for me but nevertheless a different representation of Santa to the one we are used to.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (Charles E. Sellier Jr, 1984)

“Naughty!”  The best of the ‘mad Santa on the loose’ Christmas films.  Certainly delves into the so bad it’s good category. 

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vaction (Jeremiah S. Chechik, 1989)

My favourite Christmas film of all.  I find it rather ironic how Clark Griswold’s bulb covered house has become so common place in many British neighbourhoods.  This one has it all.  The unwanted family guests, irritating neighbours, elderly parents discussing their illnesses, tearful memories of Christmas past and, of course, everything going wrong for Clark Griswold.

So there you have it, a list of alternative Christmas movies.  I am sure that there are many more, feel free to add any that come to mind.

And here is Clark W Griswold wishing you all a very Merry Christmas 2010.

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