Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Unconventional Christmas Movie Picks: So Bad It's Good, Kitsch, Horror and More

If it's never been obvious, Christmas isn't my thing like Halloween is. I don't do much gift-giving, since I like to do things for/make stuff for friends and family year-round without a special ceremony about it. But I do love the lights (my apartment is currently bedecked in more than I've ever had up, it's gloriously colorful and tacky), the kitsch, excuses to craft..and even some of the movies. Especially of the weird or scary variety!

The following are some unconventional Christmas movie recommendations. Some have Christmas a backdrop, others mix Christmas, horror, and black humor. (Note: This post has videos that don't show if you're viewing this via e-mail, so click through if you'd like to watch a couple of full-movies)

The Christmas Tree- "'The Room' of Holiday Specials" -CR, Movie Critic 



The Christmas Tree is an animated special that's so bad...it's basically The Room of animated Christmas specials! And I love it, every hilarious inch of it! The animation and line delivery is stilted and awkward, the plot strange to the point of surreal absurdity. It makes the PERFECT watch for a bad-movie holiday party. I hope I can have a little gathering and show it with friends this year. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube via the video above! Make it a special tradition for years to come.

Batman Returns- Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Robin Laid An Egg...

Gotham will never look more like a Gothic Hallmark Card...

The Prince of Darkness himself, Tim Burton, actually has two favorite holidays. Halloween...and Christmas. It's easy to forget amid the amazing and entertaining performances and overall super-dark vibe that Batman Returns takes place during Christmas; complete with trees, snow, and kisses under mistletoe. Watch it for the light and dark sides of the season. Batman Returns is one of my favorites of ALL the Batman movies (including the Nolan ones). It looks stiff upon re-watch in a post-Matrix action movie world but the color, costume design and shot composition makes up for it! Beautiful. They don't make them like this anymore.

Child's Play- "You stupid **** you filthy **** I'll teach you to **** with me!" - Chucky

No. Do NOT give me this creepy-ass doll for Christmas. 

Chucky himself, a tiny titan of horror mascot recognizability, started as a Christmas gift. Child's Play is goofy, dated, and practically impossible to be scared of, but I love this kitschy flick. The legit creep factor from "is the doll alive or not" is abandoned and all true horror goes out the window, but I can't not enjoy a movie that mocks 80s cartoons and toy trends for kids (the doll design specifically references My Buddy Dolls with a little Teddy Ruxpin thrown in...and a heaping helping of uncanny valley creep-factor) Fun fact: this movie had a 9 million dollar budget and went on to earn over $44 million!

Bad Santa - "You know, I think I turned a corner. I beat the **** out of some kids today. But it was for a purpose. It made me feel good about myself. It was like I did something constructive with my life or something, I dunno... like I accomplished something."


Despite some kernels of kindness to sweeten the bitterness, this movie is dark! It's not for the faint of heart, it's for the fellow watchers that are "meh" (or worse) about the false "goodwill" shoved down your throat during the holidays. I saw it for the first time last year and know it will be my go-to every year henceforth. Marketed as a typical low-brow pervy comedy, most of the laughs are at the expense of greed, consumerism, alcoholism and even clinical depression/abusive childhoods! The biggest laughs are from such a dark movie taking the same beats as your typical Miracle on 54th Street style holiday specials, it lampoons the genre masterfully. It's truly funny and more clever than meets the eye.

Edward Scissorhands- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligiri Meets 1990s Florida Whoville


Edward Scissorhands is a classic, but oddly enough, doesn't seem to be the huge common-knowledge Christmas classic that it should be. Every inch of it is artfully crafted to resemble a Christmas storybook-meets-German Expressionism film. It's legitimately heartwarming, heartbreaking, quirky, funny, and cute. If you forgot how good it was, or have some kids who haven't seen it yet, try it again this year. The snow-and-ice-in-Florida scenes look like a damn snow globe, the whole move is utterly gorgeous.

Gremlins- Thomas Kinkade Picturesque Village Meets B-Movie Creature Feature...in the 80s!


The most memorable thing about Gremlins is the "adorable" mogwai, Gizmo. (Me, I always preferred the more-reptilian Gremlins.) It can overshadow the fact that a lot of Gremlins looks like a Thomas Kinkade Christmas Painting. (If that sounds like hyperbole to Northern viewers, anything covered in snow looks like that for this nearly lifelong Floridian.) Gremlins is part schmalzy Christmas drama, part B-movie 1960s-style creature feature and every inch 1980s nostalgia.

Random note: Our long-haired Chihuahua has the same fur-pattern as this film's title mogwai, so we named him Gizmo! I can't watch this movie without thinking of our dog now!

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer- I have no words...


It's hard to believe a Christmas animated special was created just because of the famous Christmas country song by the same name! And of course, it's so very bad! The animation isn't as amazingly limited as The Christmas Tree, but it's still worth a watch for a laugh. IF you're a crazy person who loves watching weird obscure bad animation like me. You're out there fellow weirdos, right? Right.

Treevenge- 1970s Grindhouse Violent Exploitation meets...uh, Christmas...



Warning: severely violent! Treevenge is an award-winning short film where Christmas trees take gristly revenge on the humans that massacre them every year. It's modeled after 1970s grindhouse exploitation flicks and it emulates the look perfectly, even using the intro music from one of the most notorious titles from the genre.

More Unconventional Christmas Recs: Eyes Wide Shut, Black ChristmasDie Hard, The Nightmare Before Christmas

If you know of more weirdo Christmas movies, send me an e-mail! I hope you get a laugh at of some of these weirder ones! /Comments Off
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