10) Black Christmas
This Canadian slasher film from 1974 helped slice open a whole new genre, inspiring later films such as Halloween and Friday the 13th. With a deranged killer targeting a sorority house at Christmas time, this is not your typical feel-good holiday picture, but it’s a lot of bloody fun. Starring Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder as two of the tormented sorority sisters, and directed by Bob Clark, who happened to direct another classic on this list…
9) Bad Santa
Billy Bob Thornton stars in this dark comedy (emphasis on dark) directed by Terry Zwigoff (Ghost World, Crumb) as an alcoholic criminal who, along with his partner in crime, plays Santa Claus at a department store in order to pull a heist. Things get complicated when he falls for bartender Sue (Lauren Graham) and befriends a pathetic, overweight child Thurman (Brett Kelly) who thinks he’s the real Santa Claus. This film is able to ultimately deliver a message of love and redemption, but you will be laughing so hard along the way thanks to Thornton’s completely depraved performance.
Bill Murray is at his best when playing a charismatic asshole, and this ‘80s update of A Christmas Carol is Murray at his comedic peak. He plays a corrupt television executive who is shown the error of his ways by a series of “Christmas ghosts.” The humour is acerbic, and becomes quite dark at times, but Murray’s wry sarcasm and an amazing supporting cast provides the perfect amount of levity. With a heartwarming ending, it’s a Christmas film for everyone. The Rio Theatre is showing Scrooged on December 6th at 11 p.m.
Gremlins is another great anti-Christmas movie, and pretty much a beloved ‘80s classic all year round. Gizmo the mogwai gets wet and multiplies. The mogwai eat after midnight and turn into GREMLINS. Billy and his girlfriend Kate have to stop the gremlins from wreaking havoc on their town. Bonus trivia: did you know Howie Mandel was the voice of Gizmo? NEED I SAY MORE? The Pacific Cinematheque is playing this gem on Sunday, December 15 at 1 p.m.
6) Nightmare Before Christmas
This is the best holiday movie ever because it qualifies as both a Halloween and a Christmas movie, thus can be watched twice a year. Huzzah. From the brain of Tim Burton, the characters in this film are equally creepy and endearing. Stop-motion films are infinitely delightful, especially now that computers have dominated the world of animation for at least the past decade. Featuring an amazing soundtrack by Danny Elfman, you just can’t go wrong.
5) A Muppet Christmas Carol
This is not the best Muppet movie ever made (Muppet Treasure Island, HELLO!), but with Michael Caine playing Ebenezer Scrooge, plus the usual cast of characters, it’s still a great watch, obviously. Although the Muppets are the epitome of all things family-friendly, they’ve never seemed like they’re strictly for the kids. The humour is silly enough to appeal to the child in all of us, but the stories are universal and the characters appeal to everyone. Plus, it’s been done a million times over, but it’s always fun to see another take on A Christmas Carol. PUPPETS!
4) A Charlie Brown Christmas
This Christmas film is so beloved that you can now even buy a “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” in stores (yeesh, guys, just go forage for a branch!). Charlie Brown represents the underdog in all of us, and watching him struggle to feel involved with the spirit of the holiday when it’s all become so commercialized is still relatable. Plus, the soundtrack by the Vince Guaraldi Trio has basically become mandatory listening for the holidays.
3) How The Grinch Stole Christmas
No, not the Jim Carrey live-action film – the animated classic. This is another mandatory viewing every season. It’s sort of the perfect companion to Charlie Brown’s Christmas: Charlie Brown is searching for a Christmas without materialism, and the Whos down in Whoville have themselves a happy little Christmas even with everything in town being stolen by the Grinch. With valuable lessons, an unsavory main character, little Cindy Lou Who, and that gravelly-voiced song about the Grinch… it’s just great.
2) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
There seems to be a bit of a pattern here. All the best Christmas movies have great music, and Rudolph basically takes the cake. Burl Ives plays the narrating, singing snowman to vocal perfection. Rankin/Bass made a multitude of fantastic holiday classics with equally kicking musical numbers (The Year Without a Santa Claus has some great showtune-inspired numbers sung by the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser) but this is the most well-remembered and the most beloved. And for good reason, too! The animation is completely imaginative, and the characters are endearing. It’s one of those films you should never go a year without watching.
1) A Christmas Story
Bob Clark’s second holiday classic on this list is a lot more traditional but still a wry take on the season. Set somewhere in the 1940s, all Ralphie wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB Gun, with every adult he tells of his wish telling him, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” This movie is so much more than that, though. It takes us inside Ralphie’s world, through adventures with his friends, dares, fights, swearing in front of your parents, and shows the dynamic of a goofy but loving family. If you’ve got cable television, I’m sure there will be a 24-hour marathon of it some time this season. Let it warm your heart and bring a smile to your face. Happy Holidays!
By Carly Smith