Not Your Typical Christmas Flicks

Dec 26 2011

Who cares about Home Alone or It’s a Wonderful Life? Sometimes, among all the forceful cheer of Christmas, we secretly yearn for the dark Christmas movie. While you’re home loafing on your parents couch this holiday, we thought we’d offer you a cheat sheet that exists beyond the obvious movie realm. Here’s our countdown of top films. Whip out those Netflix passwords.

(10) TRADING PLACES

(Trading Places. Remember when Jamie Lee Curtis was hot?)

We presume you enjoyed this back in 1983, but we’d like to point out, Trading Places is not only a Christmas movie, it’s a New Year’s Eve movie, too. Remember when Saturday Night Live alumni used to make incredible films (and there’s two in this one, Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy). The film also bridges the economic chasm between the 1% of America, and the rest of us – a cinematic triumph for Occupy Wall Street – plus we love the rich jerks, Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy, who make a bet to traumatically alter 2 mens lives… for one measly dollar!

(9) SANTA SLAY

(Santa Slay Comes to Town)

Not for the faint of heart, Santa Slay’s hero goes rogue, and looks like he went to the gym. What Darth Vadar is to a fallen Jedi, is exactly what evil Santa is to the original myth. Truth be told, the horror is cartoon-ish, played by professional wrestler Bill Goldberg. The film is created by Writer/Director David Steiman, once Brett Ratner’s former assistant. Brett also takes credit as Producer. What a great ex-boss!

(8) EDWARD SCISSORHANDS

(Tim Burton’s Masterpiece, Edward Scissorhands)

On our list of favorite Tim Burton movies, we vote Edward Scissorhands #1. It’s one of those movies you can watch again and again, always catching a beautiful new nuance. Danny Elfman’s score catapults this to ethereal level. Other than the fact that the film takes place during Christmas, it has a charming theory on the origins of snow. When people describe a film as “hauntingly beautiful,” this is what they’re talking about.

(7) EYES WIDE SHUT

(Couples therapy during Christmas in Eyes Wide Shut)

After finding out about his wife’s adultery fantasy, Dr William Hartford (Tom Cruise) gets curious to play the field. We spend the next 2+ hours watching the Doctor flirt with disaster, but no dice. He even cons his way into an exclusive underground movement (ok, it was a sex club). It threatens his marriage and possibly throws him into the middle of a murder mystery. We especially chose this to be on our Christmas film list due to the intense couples therapy conversation that takes place inside a toy store aisle, just a few steps away from their daughter. Together, they manage to complete their Christmas shopping, while coming to a sort of understanding as a couple – that’s productive.

(6) BETTER OFF DEAD

(Better of Dead is the most quoted movie on this list)

One of the taglines for this film is “Insanity doesn’t run in the family, it gallops”. At least one of our readers will be going home this Christmas to get their cheeks squished by a family member, not unlike the crazy neighbor’s mom trying to teach English to the French foreign exchange student. There are far too many memorable moments and characters in this film to list them all. We will however give a shout-out to the unforgettable newspaper boy – the menacing “2 Dollah’s” boy. Do yourself a favor, and rent this classic. It never gets old.

(5) REINDEER GAMES

(Charlize Theron’s first Christmas movie, Reindeer Games)

If you can’t drag your family out of the home to see Charlize Theron’s Young Adult this holiday, just dig up an earlier Christmas flick starring the South African beauty. John Frankenheimer (1962’s Manchurian Candidate) directs her earlier in her career with Ben Affleck as the love interest. Reindeer Games begins with Ben Affleck’s character getting out of prison and Charlize’s character waiting for him to meet in a cheap hotel room to have lots of catchup sex. It’s the perfect yuletide fantasy for any lonely boy who doesn’t have a family to go home to – at least for the first act. The movie takes a few dark turns (but we’re not one to spoiler alert).

(4) SANTA KLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS

(Science Fiction meets Santa Klaus in Santa Klaus Conquers the Martians)

The 1964 film is credited as one of the worst films ever made (doesn’t that make you more curious to see it?). The film centers around the children of Mars who are depressed because they have no Santa Klaus. The Martians then invade earth, discover a Santa on every street corner, then get led to the North Pole by 2 human kids. Eventually, Santa makes it to Mars with the kids and creates a mechanized workshop to make toys for all the Martians. The humans want to go back home though. You’ll have to see the end for yourself.

(3) CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT

(Modern Day Career Woman in 1945’s Christmas in Connecticut)

Starring Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan, Christmas in Connecticut is a story built on lies. Stanwyck plays a food writer for a housekeeping magazine who fibs about being the perfect housewife. When her boss and a returning war hero invite themselves over for a traditional family Christmas, she’s stuck trying to prove herself and make them believe her intricate story. We just love this tale of a 1945 career woman faking Martha Stewart skills.

(2) SCROOGE, A CHRISTMAS CAROL

(The first cranky Christmas anti-hero, Scrooge, A Christmas Carol)

Sure we’ve all seen the awesome Bill Murray do Scrooge, but have you seen the original? Though there have been many versions of Charles Dickens’ novel, this British film is usually considered to be the definitive version. Scrooge, A Christmas Carol (1951) stars Alastair Sim as the villainous Ebenezer Scrooge. The movie is a depiction of true self discovery and change.

(1) LESS THAN ZERO

(Our favorite hot mess of 1987, Less Than Zero)

The first and most badass dark Christmas flick we recommend is Less than Zero. Why? It stars badboy turned happy ending Robert Downey Jr, one of the finest actors of our generation. The film has some snobby rich LA dysfunctional families during Christmas. After so many years, it’s fascinating to watch Robert Downey descend into his alter ego. He once told the Guardian, “Until that movie, I took my drugs after work and on the weekends. Maybe I’d turn up hungover on the set, but no more so than the stuntman. That changed on Less Than Zero. I was playing this junkie-faggot guy and, for me, the role was like the ghost of Christmas future. The character was an exaggeration of myself. Then things changed and, in some ways, I became an exaggeration of the character. That lasted far longer than it needed to last.” We’re happy you’re back Robert! Thanks for an awesome performance.