Home > Holidays, Lists > Alternative Holiday Movies: Part One

Alternative Holiday Movies: Part One

December 4, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

by Wes

Inevitably, around this time of year, the corporate masters shovel regurgitated holiday crap down our throats in the form of classic holiday movies. A Christmas Story was great the first 12 times I watched it as a teenager. Now that it’s on TBS for 24 hours straight, everyone believes they’re being original by saying that it’s their favorite alt-Christmas movie. Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol, and It’s a Wonderful Life are all fine movies on their own, but the world isn’t all Disney and saccharin. “Finally, the angel got his wings”… Screw you, I say. Here is a list of some of the better off-beat holiday movies for those of you with a sense of humor and a taste for the darker shades of life.

First up is one of my personal favorite movies that I fell in love with immediately during its release in 1984: Gremlins. It’s a classic tale of what happens when you wait until the last minute to buy someone a present. Or is it about following the rules? Oh well I’ll leave that for you to decide. For me, this movie was side-splitting and kind of morbid at the same time. There are several gruesome death scenes that you feel bad laughing about, a heart-wrenching story about the heroines father, but the protagonists eventually triumph in this first Amblim Entertainment outing (curse you Spielberg!). Speaking of Spielberg, he considered giving this to then relatively new director, Tim Burton. He passed this film to Joe Dante instead because he was concerned that Burton at the time had yet to direct a full length movie. This movie has some of the most humorous little monster scenes ever, which are rumored to have spurred horror schlock houses to create movies such as Ghoulies and Critters. Both of which are worth watching if you’re in the mood for cheesy rip-offs.

Next on this list of deviant holiday movies that I like is Die Hard. Released in 1988, it’s kind of like a modern take on the old Westerns. You actually feel bad for our hero who is just trying to get home for the holidays but eventually gets in the way of some outlandish terrorist plot. Bruce Willis really makes this movie series for me. He’s just hammy enough to fake one into believing he could actually do all his stunts blind-folded while smashed out of his mind on Seagram’s wine coolers. Plus, this is the start of Alan Rickman’s wonderfully portrayed villain career staring as Hans Gruber. I believe he was made to be a villain from start. Good action, well timed quips, and a one-liner that I get to taunt a fellow Streetlight employee with—When Hans Gruber asks our hero for some detonators, Willis as McClain replies, “Go fuck yourself, Hans” [love ya dude!]—, make this a staple movie for me. This movie (and the series) is a must for people who long for a movie where the hero takes a serious beating, only to save the day at the end of the film. Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.

Following such a great franchise, Batman Returns is considered by many a comic book nerd to be a travesty of comic justice. It’s campy. It’s goofy. For most, it’s the reason they hate Tim Burton. However, I consider it one of my favorite holiday movies. Set in mythical Gotham City, Batman takes on the Joker Penguin as played by a wonderfully creepy Danny DeVito and his army of attack penguins. And thank you Tim Burton for giving the fetish community a new staple Halloween costume as worn by Michelle Pfeiffer. Meow! Robust with violence and sexual overtones, this movie was never really meant to be a family movie, which is fine with me. At the time in 1992, the comic book industry was getting darker in spirit, thanks to comic book writers such as Frank Miller, Warren Ellis, and Alan Moore. You get a high five if you spot an incognito Pee Wee Herman in the movie but you get extra bonus points for realizing that Christopher Walken’s character was named after the silent era actor to portray Nosferatu!

Following my love for cheesy movies, Ghostbusters 2 is another take on the spirit of Christmas. See what I did there? Released in 1989, it stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis (please come back to comedy!), and Ernie Hudson as they all take on the evil spirit Vigo who feeds of the negative emotions in New York City during the Christmas season. And you thought this was all about being nice to each other! Feeling the pressure of success from the first movie and the hit cartoon TV series The Real Ghostbusters (as there was another hit cartoon TV series that beat the movie company to the cartoon title rights), Aykroyd, Ramis, and Ivan Reitman were reluctant to write this movie as the first was written to be conclusive. Ghostbusters 2 was filmed at the height of Bill Murray’s and Dan Aykroyd’s stardom. They could do no wrong, especially with all the wonderful one-liners in this movie. However, the one line that sticks out in my juvenile and perverse mind was spoken by the Dr. Janosz Poha after being possessed by the evil goo: “They will come from behind… Ah, ah… why am I drippings with goo?”

Speaking of career heights, The Ref is next on my list of not your normal holiday movies. Starring Dennis Leary and Kevin Spacey, this 1994 dark comedy is about how dysfunctional every family can be. Leary was coming off his recent stint on MTV spots and his famous stand-up comedy special No Cure for Cancer. The director wanted him specifically to play this sarcastic thief who plans to rob a rich family’s house but the cat-burglar gets caught in the middle of a family that hate each other. I really enjoyed watching Kevin Spacey attempt to be a wimpy husband and father in this movie. He’d just finished with Consenting Adults and Glengarry Glen Ross which were far too serious for me at the time. The acting is good, the writing is funny, and the ending isn’t too sappy. I highly recommend this dark comedy for anyone tired of the same ol’ Christmas movie.

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