God knows how many hours I’ve spent stuck on the couch watching A Christmas Story, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and How the Grinch Stole Christmas with my family throughout the years. I would always try to escape to the farthest corners of my bedroom, but the snarky cackle of Scut Farkus always found a way to force itself through the cracks around my door and into my head. It was my own hell.
Now, I’m older and free from the tyranny of the classic Christmas movie. This is a new list—a list opposed to everything we grew up watching. This is a list for every innocent soul who finds themselves stuck in their hundredth rewatch of It’s a Wonderful Life between two mouth-breathing aunts. This is for you, you poor, poor thing. May you find some comfort in these films. Good luck.
The Star Wars Holiday Special
After the explosive success of Star Wars, some genius had the brilliant idea to make a spinoff that added the one crucial aspect missing from the summer blockbuster: Christmas. Created without much input from creator and director George Lucas, the Holiday Special is the dark stain on the permanent record of Star Wars. Its legacy endures as the most painful face palm moment in franchise history. Lucas even went so far as to once say, “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.”
In a variety-show format, the story follows Han Solo and Chewbacca to Kashyyk, the Wookie home world, for the annual Life Day celebration. We get introduced to Chewy’s family, Itchy, Malla and Lumpy, as well as fan favorite Boba Fett in his own animated segment. The highlight of this Christmas spectacle is when Princess Leia sings the Star Wars theme song. With words.
To be honest, it’s all pretty awful. Think Star Wars The Ewok Adventure bad. It’s campy, the acting is terrible and the writing is even worse, but as atrocious as it is, there’s just something to love about it.
Before the dark ages of Batsuit nipples, Tim Burton helmed two fantastic movies about the Caped Crusader. Michael Keaton stars in his second and final adventure as the Dark Knight in Batman Returns, which pits him against a grotesque and mutated Oswald Copperpot, a.k.a. the Penguin, who rises up from Gotham City’s sewers with an army of the adorable arctic critters he takes his name from. Batman has to stop the bad guys and save Christmas (or to save the city’s firstborns from drowning in a pool of toxic waste—however you want to look at it).
If you’re looking to escape the grit of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy for something a little more whimsical, then this is the place to turn. It blends everything we loved about the Golden Age of Detective Comics with classic Burton charm, and the end product is simply joyous.
Randall Peltzer gives his son Billy a little furry Mogwai named Gizmo for Christmas under three conditions: never expose it to sunlight, never get it wet, and, most importantly of all: NEVER FEED IT AFTER MIDNIGHT. Of course, the first thing Billy does is spill water on poor Gizmo, making it multiply into more devious fur balls. The tricksters con Billy into feeding them after midnight, which turns them into evil reptilian monsters. When the little devils get loose, it’s up to Billy and Gizmo to set things right and save the town.
Gremlins is easily the cutest and most light-hearted movie you’ll find on this list. If you want to break away from the monotony of the yearly ABC Family movie marathon with the family, but still want all the classic Christmas charm, this is probably the one for you. Besides, Gizmo is so dang adorable.
Yipee-ki-yay! What? Were you expecting something different?
All New York cop John McClane wanted was to patch things up with his estranged wife at her work’s Christmas party at Nakatomi Tower. Instead of fixing the relationship over holiday shots and party crackers, twelve terrorists take over the building and McClane has to run and gun his way through fire, glass, explosions and bad guys to save his wife.
Not only is it the best Christmas movie around, it’s everything we love about cheesy, shoot-em up ‘80s action films. While Arnold may be known for some great one-liners, Bruce Willis is king cheese in this one. And there is something to be said about a Bruce Willis with hair…