It’s the holiday season. No getting around that. The air’s supposed to be filled with laughter and cheer and the sounds of families getting together, expressing their love and swapping presents, right?
And the television’s supposed to be full of all of those holiday favorites – the Griswolds setting stuff on fire, George Bailey finding his purpose, Ralphie getting his tongue stuck on a frozen pole. Fun stuff, right? (…)
But what happens if you need an antidote to all that holiday goodwill? If you can’t take any of the saccharine sweetness anymore? If you can’t suffer through one more pinched cheek, colorful Christmas special or forced interaction with your Fox News-watching uncle, you can either drink to excess and pass out in the snow OR you can throw in one of these movies – some cinematic antidotes to the atmosphere of mirth and goodwill that comes into existence this time of year.
Oh, and Happy holidays, everyone!
Die Hard (1988) and Lethal Weapon (1987)
It’s a wonderful little bonus that two of the greatest action movies of all time have a distinct Christmas theme. John McTiernan’s Die Hard – the movie that spawned a sub-genre of action film, made Bruce Willis a legend, and gave us one of the greatest lines in film history – kicks off at a booze-fueled Christmas party in a Los Angeles high-rise and never, ever lets up after that.
Shane Black’s explosive Lethal Weapon team up has distinct Christmas touches throughout, from an opening shootout in a Christmas tree farm to a final holiday present – of a bullet. If you’re looking for something a lot more exciting than, say, Miracle on 34th Street, you could do a lot worse than these two.
Bad Santa (2003)
Billy Bob Thornton created a Christmas character for the infamous ages with his foul-mouthed, hard-drinking and shockingly promiscuous thievin’ mall Santa in Terry Zwigoff’s brilliantly funny feature. This is one of the most darkly hysterical American movies ever made – supposedly, Joel and Ethan Coen took a pass at the impeccable script, which explains a lot. Also memorable for being one of the last screen roles for John Ritter (RIP).
Black Christmas (1974) and Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
A pair of better-than-average slasher movies set at Christmastime. Black Christmas (directed by Bob Clark, who also did A Christmas Story) slices-and-dices a group of sorority sisters, while Silent Night, Deadly Night features a crazed killer in a Santa costume. The former is a better movie, while the latter is a bit more towards the MST3K angle. Still, effectivecounterprogramming for the really disturbed.
Rare Exports (2010)
If you want to see just one Finnish horror film that features an army of naked elves capturing the naughty children of reindeer herders to bring to a buried, evil Santa Claus, you really should make it this one. Oh, and it’s also a beautifully shot film, too.
The Ref (1994)
A caustic, bitter and very funny comedy-drama, with Denis Leary as a kidnapper holding a bickering couple (Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis) hostage during the holidays. The dialogue bites worse than an angry rattlesnake; it’s a great dichotomy to all of that “Christmas Cheer” stuff. Also, there’s a great slam on my native state (“Connecticut is the fifth ring of hell!”).
Santa With Muscles (1996)
Starring Hulk Hogan as the Santa with-ah, I can’t even finish the joke. Yeah. There’s no reason to EVER watch this (unless you’re a Hulkamaniac).
Didn’t get your favorite anti-Santa movie called out? Give it some props in the comments below.