Dreaming of an Alt-Christmas: Forget the classics; stream these less-than-insufferable holiday movies instead

By on December 20, 2017



There’s no phrase less clever in December than “Die Hard is my favorite Christmas movie.” A few years ago it might have been worth a few chuckles but, like so many other things on the Internet, it’s been completely beaten to death. What was at one time a sign that you were a film nerd has become an anthem embraced by jock dorks who are just too God damn manly to like soft Christmas movies like It’s a Wonderful Life. Of course modern America doesn’t want to embrace the Christmas classics of the past; there just isn’t enough violence in them.

The whole thing is very weird. No one is obligated to like Christmas movies, but if you’re going to try and be cool by liking something untraditional, you could at least try and get creative with it. We get it, Die Hard Guy, you’re from the Internet; I’m sure the next thing on your to-do list is to share your “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” hot takes.

So no, Die Hard isn’t the most interesting alternative Christmas movie. Here are eight films, in no particular order, that you can champion instead without being insufferable. They’re all available to rent or buy in iTunes or Google Play so you don’t even have to interact with someone who might have the nerve to tell you “Merry Christmas!” You’re welcome.

The Night of the Hunter

Christmas Connection: It’s celebrated at the end.

Charles Laughton only got to make one movie in his lifetime, but it’s one for the ages. It includes one of the most memorable acting performances of all time, Robert Mitchum’s Reverend Harry Powell, which you’ve probably seen parodied or referenced a time or two. In 2008 it was voted as the second best film of all time, so maybe watch it as a gift to yourself.

Rare Exports

Christmas Connection: Santa Claus isn’t always a hero.

Horror movies set during Christmas are nothing new, but of that genre Rare Exports is the most interesting one you’ll find. Taking the Santa mythology to the extreme, Rare Exports is a horror about what would really happen if were naughty come Christmas time. No spoilers, but it’s got one of the best film endings of all time.


Trading Places

Christmas Connection: Things go real bad for one character at a Christmas party.

Do you miss 1980s Eddie Murphy? I miss 1980s Eddie Murphy. To this day I’m not 100% sure happens at the end of the movie when they’re trading frozen orange juice contracts, but I know that in the end the good guys win, so that’s something. And it happens in the same universe as Coming to America, as an added bonus.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

Christmas Connection: It starts with a holiday party.

Before he became Iron Man, Robert Downey, Jr. killed it in Shane Black’s directorial debut. Not quite your average noir flick, it’s one of the best detective romps you’ll find and the dialog is killer all the way through. If you enjoyed Iron Man 3, another Downey/Black collaboration, this is going to knock your socks off.

Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny

Christmas Connection: What part of “Santa Claus” do you not understand?

There are a lot of bad Christmas movies out there — and Hallmark just keeps making more and more — but few are as hilariously bad as Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny. When Santa’s sleigh gets stuck in the sand in Florida… you know, I can’t even finish that sentence in anyway that will make sense. Just know there’s a bunny in a fire engine that helps save the day. Take your viewing up a notch by getting the Rifftax version, which is hilarious.

Batman Returns

Christmas Connection: Any movie featuring Christopher Walken throwing Christmas presents is worth your time.

Back before movies featuring Batman had to be uncomfortably dark, Tim Burton was adding his particular brand of whimsy to the Bat-verse. His Batman movies are better than you remember, and better than Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises if we’re being honest. Plus, Pee-Wee and Simone play The Penguin’s parents, which if a movie nerd fact that’s way more interesting than anything you’re quoting right now.

Rocky IV

Christmas Connection: Rocky ends the cold war on Christmas Day.

Rocky I is a good movie, even if it really didn’t deserve the Academy Award. Creed is one of the best movies of the last five years. Creed 2 is going to feature the son of Ivan Drago, apparently, which means you’re going to have to give Rocky IV a rewatch anyway. And what is Rocky IV? Incredibly silly, mostly, but a fun watch that happens to climax on Christmas Day. Rocky defeated communism on Christmas Day, and that’s way, way, way more exciting than anything John McClane ever did at Nakatomi Plaza. PJH


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