The Spotlight: Non-Traditional Christmas Movies

When you’re tired of another rendition of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol or another Santa Clause movie starring Tim Allen, here’s a list of some unique movies that take place during the holiday season but don’t necessarily star the “big man.”

  1. Gremlins (1984. 106 minutes. Rated PG)

This movie brings fond memories of my mother running around the house saying “Jessica-Cuck Cah,” a play on one of Gremlin Stripe’s signature lines. Randall Pelzer (Hoyt Axton), a salesman, brings home a creature called a Mogwai he bought from an oddities store for his son Billy’s (Zach Galligan) Christmas present. There are only three rules he needs to follow: don’t feed him after midnight, don’t get him wet, and avoid sunlight. Much like any kid who promises to be responsible for the beloved pet he/she desires, all three of those things happen, which gives birth to a mean race of creatures called Gremlins that tear up the sleepy town of Kingston Falls. This is my favorite Christmas movie of all time. Why? Because it’s not really about Christmas, and for about two years after seeing this movie, all I ever wanted was a Gizmo of my own. They look suspiciously like Furbees, no?

This movie is mostly a comedy, except for Billy’s girlfriend’s (Phoebe Cates) monologue about why she hates Christmas, oh, and a few deaths. I always think of this movie when I hear Johnny Mathis’ “Do You Hear What I Hear?” one of my favorite scenes and a great example of what anyone should do during a horror movie.

  1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993. 76 minutes. Rated PG)

Forget claymation Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Halloweentown makes Land of the Misfit toys look like Toys ‘R Us. Jack Skellington (Danny Elfman) is sick of the same old holiday in Halloweentown every year. While emo lamenting on his fate, he stumbles upon a forest leading to worlds of different holidays. He concocts a plan with the help of boogeyman, Oogie Boogie, to kidnap Santa Claus and take over his job. The inhabitants of Halloweentown take over the job of the elves, scarring Christmastown children for life, all the while singing catchy tunes.

This movie works for Halloween or Christmas, but sadly, it is never played 24/7 on a channel for either holiday.

  1. Die Hard (1988. 131 minutes. Rated R)

“Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.”

John McClane (Bruce Willis), NY detective, comes home for his estranged wife’s company Christmas party when a group of terrorists crash the scene and hold the entire Nakatomi Plaza building hostage. It is up to John to singlehandedly save the day and reconcile with his wife. In his first film, Alan Rickman’s nails it as bad guy terrorist Hans GruberOne of Bruce Willis’ best performances with witty dialogue and action scenes aplenty. It is a good homage to epic 80’s “real man” action flicks where a guy gets the crap kicked out of him, but will never stop.

  1. Home Alone (1990 103 min Rated PG)

Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) is accidentally left home alone while the entire family leaves for vacation to Paris. Winners of the parents of the year award step forward please. This is probably most kids’ wildest dream. Besides eating tons of junk food and watching too much TV, Kevin masterminds a plan to thwart two robbers (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) planning on looting the neighborhood during Christmas. Much like an elongated Three Stooges episode, Kevin combines Magyver skills with Rube Goldberg machines to teach the robbers a comedic lesson.

  1. Better Off Dead (1985. 97 minutes. Rated PG)

Lane Meyer (John Cusack) is dumped by his girlfriend, works at a dead end job, and pretty much hates life this holiday season. He thinks if he wins an upcoming ski race he can win his girlfriend back. This is one of my favorite John Cusack films and it contains some of the WORST Christmas gifts I have ever seen. I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired to buy Peter Struzziero something special for Christmas after this one.

  1. Money Train (1995. 103 minutes. Rated R)

John and Charlie (Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson) are back again after their camaraderie debut in White Men Can’t JumpAs two transit cops, John constantly tries to bail Charlie out of trouble. Woody’s latest scheme is to rob NYC subway’s Money Train during the holiday season. This one doesn’t require too much thought, it’s just a funny action movie, and a much better pick than downers Les Miserables or Anna Karinana this year, with a not too bad performance by young romantic co-star Jennifer Lopez, a refresher from a long line of bad Rosie Perez appearances.

7. Brazil. (1985. 132 minutes. Rated R)

I discuss this movie at length in an earlier post. This movie is like a cerebral Idiocracy. Something Ray Bradbury or George Orwell would love and each year it gets closer and closer to the would be future we could give ourselves if we keep making BAD choices.



Author: Jessica

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