It’s Christmas time and we all know what that means!
That’s right, It’s a Wonderful Life for the 9000th time, The Santa Clause, Miracle on 34th Street, Santa Claus the Movie, A Christmas Carol, all those familiar favourites being trotted out as they have been every year since recorded history began. But what if you wanted to kick it up a notch? What if you wanted to walk on the wilder side of Christmas, and we don’t just mean Die Hard, no no no. Perhaps we can tempt you with something a little… darker? A little… bloodier? For your consideration – Five Alternative Christmas Movies.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
This Finnish Horror movie tells the tale of “Joulupukki”, a figure from Finnish folklore who travelled in a sleigh and wore red robes, and along with the Coca-Cola company helped shape our modern-day version of Santa. This is a dark little tale of reindeer mutilation, Saami burial mounds, monsters trapped in ice and Santa’s army of elves. Elves that are most definitely a far cry from their cute, harmless, cuddly appearance in modern-day Christmas tradition. Make sure you’re never rude, naughty or foul mouthed within view of one of these elves unless you want this Christmas to be the last you ever see. With blood, violence, occasional removal of body parts, and lots and lots of somewhat creepy old men, this is a very different take on Santa than you’ll find anywhere else.
We’ve already covered Scrooged in detail and we do recommend checking out our Throwback 30 on it. Scrooged is a re-telling of the traditional Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, but this time with the part of Scrooge being played by Bill Murray as Frank Cross, a greedy TV executive who thinks nothing of stapling antlers to the heads of mice if that’s what it takes. He is visited by the ghost of his former mentor who warns him that he will be visited by three spirits to help him mend his ways. In this version the Ghost of Christmas Past takes the appearance of a taxi driver, the Ghost of Christmas Present is a violence-prone fairy, and the Ghost of Christmas Future is a more traditional Grim Reaper-esque figure in a hood and cloak. Funny, scary, heart-warming; this is a great antidote to the usual Christmas schmaltz, delivering all your Christmas cheer along with a heaping of sarcasm and cynicism.
This is one of Joe Dante’s most enduring films. A story of bad decisions, broken rules, Christmas wishes, Santas in chimneys, and heaps and heaps of gory, gratuitous violence, Gremlins is already well on its way to being a Christmas classic. Telling the story of Billy Peltzer and his strange “Mogwai” pet, Gizmo, this introduced us to the three rules that have become iconic. Never get him wet, never expose him to sunlight and never, EVER feed him after midnight. Quite how that last one works when it’s always midnight SOMEWHERE is never entirely explained, but just go with it. Apparently Mogwai are sensitive to local timezones. Rated PG at the time, the movie does contain some amazingly graphic scenes of gore, with special mention needing to be made of the microwave scene, and the fountain scene. The controversy at the time over the violence led to the creation of the PG-13 rating so just bear that in mind if watching with younger children.
Black Christmas (1974)
Loosely inspired by real life events, this is the story of a sorority house at Christmas who first receive threatening phone calls, and then are stalked and killed one by one. One of the earliest examples of the slasher movie genre, this film is filled with plenty of creative and gory kills and is even cited as an influence for John Carpenter’s iconic Halloween. If you like your Christmas carols to be accompanied by a mounting bodycount, then this is the film for you. It’s also got a hell of a cast, with Keir Dullea (2001, 2010), John Saxon (Enter the Dragon, Nightmare on Elm Street) and Margot Kidder (Superman, The Amityville Horror). (There’s also a 2006 remake, if you’re into that kind of thing.)
Santa’s Slay (2005)
In the first four minutes of this film we have death by eggnog, dog bed, turkey leg, table leg, and Christmas tree ornament, along with one of the briefest James Caan appearances ever. This is a gloriously over the top and silly film starring Bill Goldberg (of WWE fame) and in this film Santa is actually the immaculately conceived child of Satan, who has been forced to deliver presents to kids for the past 1000 years but is now free to resume maiming, murdering, mincing, mutilating and any other M word you can think of (Except that one. Stop that. This is a Christmas list!). This is not a serious movie, this is not a clever movie. This is a movie where Santa kills people with menorahs and zambonis. What more could you ask for in an alternative Christmas movie?
Check out our Yule-Scream for more dark Christmas movies!