Having bitched about Christmas on the internet like a true millennial alpha male in the first bah humbug! piece, I’ll spare you that diatribe this time. But please go and read that if you haven’t already. It’s a collection of Christmas specials from TV (and one radio one) which you’ll like and I won’t get you a present if you don’t. In fact, consider these two articles your gift from me, there you go! I’d quite like a PS4, please.
I can be a grumpy sod sometimes and when Santa’s due I get about fifty times worse. However, I do love a film, so I’ve assembled a little list of festive films for fans of the slightly subversive. They’re all set during the holiday season, some are more well known than others and all of them I enjoy.
There’s even a wildcard – gotta’ love a wildcard.
Die Hard (1988)
“Ho ho ho, now I have a machine gun.”
Pretty obvious pick this one, but it’s always nice to remind yourself there was a time when Bruce Willis made good films. If you don’t know the plot to Die Hard, you’ve either been living in a cave or are too young to see the film. If you’re too young, watch it anyway because as Detective John McClane, Willis is fantastic.
Alan Rickman (his film debut!) is also brilliant as terrorist Hans Gruber, who takes a Christmas party hostage at the Nakatomi Plaza in New York, in the snow. The action is awesome, there’s humour and it’s not really about that day at all.
Bah humbug! rating: More of a nice change from Home Alone, with blood and guns. 4/10
Bad Santa (2003)
“Why don’t you wish in one hand and shit in the other. See which one fills up first.”
Billy Bob Thornton playing a drunken, foul-mouthed mall Santa, who robs places with a dwarf and has an idiot kid trailing him whom he hates – what’s not Christmassy about that?
Now fifteen years old (time flies), Bad Santa is still as flat-out offensive as it was back then, when I still thought only good of Christmas and my family still liked me. There’s snow in it, too.
Bah humbug! rating: It’s offensive, rude, crude and lewd, but deep down, Bad Santa has a soul. 7/10
“You say you hate Washington’s birthday or Thanksgiving and nobody cares, but you say you hate Christmas and people treat you like you’re a leper.”
A young boy (aww) is given a cute pet (aww), takes it back to his sweet family (aww) and their lovely home (aww) in small-town America. AWWWWW IT’S ALL SO FUCKING CUTE.
Oh, but then the pet reproduces faster than bunnies at an orgy and they all turn into hideous green monsters which then eat most of the town. Yay! Christmas is back! Gremlins is one of those brilliant eighties practical effects films which shouldn’t have made the mainstream, but sort of did because it mixes so many elements beautifully: comedy, family, horror, snow.
If you don’t love Gizmo then we can’t be friends.
Bah humbug! rating: Even grandmas aren’t safe in Gremlins, it’s the offspring of the loveable and the malevolent and every bit as fucked up as you might expect. 8/10
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
“Watch your mouth! It’s Christmas-time, so let’s act like it.”
Ah Finland, home of the, erm, Fins. Got there in the end. Yes I know, I was awful at geography but I’ll tell you what I do like – world cinema.
Rare Exports, exported from Finland, has many of the ingredients of your classic Christmas film. Or as I like to call it, sanitised bullshit for the unthinking festive consumer. Santa, reindeer, father and son relationship, snow.
Only it’s dark. Really dark.
Because when he appears, Santa looks like he’s been living rough, huffing glue and wanking into a cup for food scraps. He’s also homicidally off his god-damned rocker, though who can blame him after all those rim shots. Sorry not sorry.
Bah humbug! rating: It’s dark, it’s crackers, it’s subtitled, I love it. 8/10
“Don’t open your door tonight, it might be the ‘evil’ Saint Nick.”
Another international effort, so if you don’t do too good with the words, well, then you’re unlikely to have made it this far into the article. So yeah.
Who better to cover Christmas than the Dutch? Apparently, Santa has a genuinely disturbing presence (and this bit is not overly falsified for the film) in Holland. Saint is the only pure horror on the list, but it has that cheeky, knowing, yes-we-too-are-aware-this-is-ridiculous tone to the carnage.
Bah humbug! rating: I honestly can’t decide if it’s a one or whether Saint goes all the way to eleven. But hey, it has dildos, so make your own mind up, you deviant.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
“You don’t get it, do you? This isn’t “good cop, bad cop.” This is fag and New Yorker. You’re in a lot of trouble.”
Murder and mystery abound in Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It’s hilarious, set at Christmas like most of his films and I promise if you liked The Nice Guys you’ll enjoy this. There isn’t any snow, but it was made thirteen years ago starring Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer, so I dare say there was plenty of white powder going around.
Bah humbug! rating: This one’s an obscure entry because really, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is only set at Christmas rather than about it. Great escapism though. 3/10.
Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
“C’mon, you big overgrown goldfish, come to Jake!”
I know right, you’d forgotten it was set at Christmas too! Or (and this is much more likely), you haven’t seen it because everybody says it’s awful. Well, I’m here to tell you that everybody lies to you, the slippery shit bags.
Jaws: The Revenge has Michael Caine, Mario Van Peebles and most importantly, a massive fucking shark that eats everyone. It’s set in the Bahamas, so there’s plenty of sand. Just pretend it’s snow.
Bah humbug! rating: Jaws: The Revenge is by far the worst film on the list, but it’s so bad it’s good in my eyes. Plus, it has a great white shark getting revenge for our rampant destruction of its natural environment. Even if technically the shark is made of plastic and therefore part of the problem, not the solution. I don’t know- 1/10?
Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
“I’d always had nightmares, but now the ghosts didn’t wait for me to sleep.”
Bringing Out the Dead is, believe it or not, a Christmas film. Not one most people know, though it is a Scorsese film and fewer still will know that it’s a very subtle reworking of A Christmas Carol. I’m not being facetious, it really is.
Heavy drinking, burned out Frank (Nic Cage) is assigned three different paramedics to work alongside him as they navigate a, quite frankly, utterly depressing, but crucially snowy, New York. There’s gallows humour, but while probably the best, this is also bar far the most depressing film on this list.
Bah humbug! rating: Even I’m saying don’t watch this at Christmas like I did last year. I still haven’t recovered. Saying that, I can’t stress enough how utterly brilliant it is. A full on 10/10.
Just Friends (2005)
“You and I are gonna be the greatest musical manager team since Jessica Simpson and her father only you and I get to “mreow” and they can’t, ’cause it’s illegal. I looked it up.”
I’ve loved Ryan Reynolds since Van Wilder came out, way back when, so all you Deadpool n00bs jumping on the RyRey bandwagon as he’s never called, can do one.
Why is Just Friends a wildcard entry, you ask? Because this is a list of alternative Christmas films and this is about as bloody festive as I get. It’s a rom-com for goodness sake. I shouldn’t like this, but it has Ryan Reynolds and he’s hilarious and handsome and funny and good-looking. It really is a great watch, with plenty of snow and it also stars Amy Smart and Anna Faris who are both utterly side-splitting.
Bah humbug! rating: 0/10. Just Friends is very funny, has mass appeal, is quite sweet and I need to go and be sick now.
Bah humbug! And have a wonderful Christmas everyone!