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Alternative Christmas Films: Festive films without the schmaltz

Published by Luanna Soderholm

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You know the situation. Christmas day. Someone demands that everyone watches a Christmas film. Your heart sinks. Two hours of saccharine, heart-warming drivel await. But why not salvage the situation and stuff the DVD with something festive that’s naughty, not nice?

The Nightmare Before Christmas – an Animated Alternative

The Nightmare Before Christmas is the perfect antidote to jolly Santa tedium. Animated corpse Jack Skellington brings joy to the world by hijacking Christmas and arranging the abduction of grumpy jobsworth Santa. Christmastown is far better without its ungrateful figurehead, even if Jack’s idea of a present for the kids is a severed head or a ravenous giant snake.

Die Hard Action

As Die Hard is set around Christmas you can easily justify watching Bruce Willis gunning his way through Nakatomi Plaza with a free conscience. It’s even got carols in it. With bloodshed, explosions and swearing, of course.

Gremlins – Horror for Kids

Gremlins offers seasonal cheer through a rowdy mob of self-reproducing reptilian Muppets. These little blighters sabotage an old lady’s stair-lift to launch her into orbit, cause pile-ups by tampering with traffic lights and mug Santa. In return they are maimed, run over and exploded in microwaves. Phoebe Cates even gets to explain why she hates Christmas, recalling how they found her father’s body decomposing in the chimney, dressed as Santa.

Shock Tactics in Female Trouble

A cruel Yule also awaits tubby transvestite Divine in Female Trouble when her parents don’t buy her expensive cha-cha heels. She trashes the Christmas tree and leaves home. Subsequently raped (by Divine himself in a carefully edited piece of bad taste) she teams with a variety of degenerates and goes on a killing spree. And you thought getting a pair of socks was bad…

Not Christmas Carol – Day of the Beast

Christmas is traditionally a time for ghost stories, but ditch Scrooge (Muppets or not) and plump for Spanish splatter comedy Day of the Beast instead. Evil will be born on Christmas Day, forcing Father Angel to sin for the righteous; taking drugs, listening to heavy metal and pushing blind people down stairways in order to see the anti-Christ and kill him. But he means well.

Santa’s Dark Side

The Santa Claus of Silent Night, Deadly Night is someone more disturbing than the guy with the mangy beard who works the grotto at Woolworth’s. It’s the heart-warming tale of an abused orphan who dons a Santa suit and goes on a bloody rampage, at one point jumping in front of a toboggan, axe in hand, and decapitating the rider. Creepy Santas terrorise a small child in City of Lost Children, and one stalks Joan Collins in Tales from the Crypt.

Christmas Fear

You’re not safe indoors either. In The Root of All Evil mutant Christmas trees with glowing green eyes and nippy roots don’t just drop needles on your carpet – they seek world domination! There’s more horror with a killer at large in a sorority house in Black Christmas, arguably the first slasher film – and recently remade.

Bad Santa

Forget Dickie Attenborough in Miracle on 34th Street, the finest cinema Santa is Billy Bob Thornton in the crass but brilliant Bad Santa. He swaggers, drinks and swears his way through grotty grottos, terrorising the kids and planning elaborate robberies with his cranky elf sidekick.

There are plenty of alternatives to even the most obvious festive fare. Enjoy!

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