You guys started this, I’m here to finish it. First the geek-o-sphere would not shut up about Die Hard (1988) being a Christmas movie. It’s not too late to get your John McClane Christmas tree ornament, by the way.
Then the one-and-only Angry Video Game Nerd said “Well, then that means I can call Batman Returns (1992) a Christmas movie too!” And he did just that:
This touched off a whole spate of copy-cat posts that have stormed the Internet this year, with list upon list of Christmas movies that aren’t necessarily about Christmas. Well I can play that game too!
Furthermore, because I am the world’s geekiest movie expert (come on, let me have that!), my list of unusual Christmas movie picks will simply be all of (1) incredibly weird stuff you’ve never heard of, or (2) those last few movies that nobody but me thought to rate as a Christmas movie.
It’s hard to believe that this cheesy, greasy Z-lister only got released in 1989. As Cthulhu is my witness, I could have sworn that that videocassette-hosted trailer wasn’t a minute younger than 1983. Anyway, this is “Action International Pictures” (a name drawn randomly from the generic studio names hat) with Elves (1989), a stupidly gruesome horror movies about little green fiends who “aren’t working for Santa anymore!” See, most lists put Gremlins (1984) in this slot, but even though Elves sucks, it still beats Gremlins.
“Oh,” I hear you saying in your sarcastic hipster voice, “A Santa Claus movie on a Christmas movie list. How original.” No, you have no idea! This is mostly Satan‘s movie, who gets the most screen time as he tries to stop kids from believing in Santa. Santa has a North Pole workshop equipped with a giant lips machine. Santa consorts with a Merlin-like wizard. Santa has a whole United nations of kids from every country with him, in a formal pageant. MST3K and Rifftrax both covered it. Yes, THAT Santa Claus!
Ha, I already got this one! Told you I’d get back to it. Yes, Christmas is all over this movie, because Brazil is an everything movie. Christmas even steers the plot in places; Sam attends his mother’s holiday party which is how he meets Mr. Helpman, and Sam also suspects that Jill Leighton’s package of “heavy Christmas presents” is actually a bomb. However, most Internet lists which show you the scene with Sam and Santa Claus are actually clueless because that scene was cut from the movie.
Watch: ? (seriously, even the pirates don’t stock this)
What do you want? It’s by the band The Flaming Lips, who cranked out a pile of albums despite the fact that most of you know them for their one-hit wonder “She Don’t Use Jelly.” This is like their own band’s version of The Wall. It’s about exactly what it says on the tin, Christmas on Mars, complete with a Martian Santa.
Watch: YouTube (free – if anybody charges you money to watch this movie, sue them)
This movie is horrible! Really horrible! It’s one of those times when I was compelled to watch a movie by the whims of a client (you didn’t think I worked this gig for the glory, did you?) and have retained psychological scars ever since. The whole thing is a commercial for a dreary amusement park that closed, but the excuse plot is that Santa’s sleigh is “stuck” in Florida beach sand (all 1 millimeter of it) and the Ice Cream Bunny (NOTE: NEVER seen on screen with ice cream!) has to come bail him out. Santa in this movie is an idiot with gross sweat under his armpits.
The one “set during Christmas without being about Christmas” movie everybody forgets. John Travolta is an angel, backed by this amazing cast including Andie MacDowell, William Hurt, Bob Hoskins, Jean Stapleton, and Teri Garr. Tragically underrated (5.7 on IMDB! Outrage!), this movie is so misunderstood. Geeks back away from it because it has a romance (but it’s not really a romantic comedy), Christians protest it because it’s not a sappy Hallmark religious tract, and everybody else shuns it because Travolta was becoming a Scientologist nutball when it came out. This is a hilarious and balanced Eastern Zen movie if you give it a chance. It has the same attitude towards love, angels, and religion that, well, Die Hard has towards Christmas.
Does it get any weirder than PeeWee Herman, months shy of the famous scandal which ended his (mainstream) career? There’s many other weird Christmas movies with geek street cred we could put here, but why not pitch another one you probably forgot existed? It’s a star-studded (for the ’80s) TV special, not a movie, but still.
Bring out the “Bah!” in your Humbug, with the best realization of the legendary anti-Claus we’ve seen yet. Krampus is a character we look forward to seeing more of in the coming years, especially since this holiday could stand to be taken down a notch or two. This movie pulls no punches, even with an uneven tone that wobbles between genuine horror and just goofy shenanigans. The attack of the evil gingerbread men is worth the price of admission alone.