What is the most popular Christmas film? Is it “Elf?” Disney’s “The Santa Claus?” “A Christmas Story?” Well, none of that will be found in this list as these forgotten, yet impacting movies may have skipped the top of other Christmas movie lists because they celebrated Christmas a bit differently than traditional holiday movies. However, they have not failed in entertaining or even reminding many of the joys of the holiday season in their special ways. For this reason, the top three unconventional Christmas Movies will be listed in this article, because they deserve recognition, too. With mainly the theme of Christmas in common, these three movies were derived from separate genres and had different ratings.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas,” starring Danny Elfman as Jack, the King of the Pumpkin Patch, who is in charge of his town of witches, skeleton men, ghouls and other Halloween-themed beings, holds the number three spot on the list. After countless years of scaring, Jack has grown tired and lonesome and yearns for something new, something different. While in the forest one night, he stumbles upon trees with symbols of holiday seasons, one of which was Christmas. Jack was amazed by what ‘Christmastown’ had to offer. He was so fascinated that he decided to bring the tradition home. He returned and gave instructions to have everything just like Christmastown; he even commanded to kidnap Santa Claus, so that he could be the jolly old’ fellow himself. No more scaring, no more King of the Pumpkin Patch, now it was joy, Christmas lights, reindeers and delivering precious gifts to the kids of Christmastown. However, this plan did not pan out as Jack expected as the citizens of Halloweentown were genuinely scary. Halloween was all they knew and loved. It was not until after delivering the presents they made, that Jack realized this, as the gifts were not the usual Christmas gifts at all. Sally, an admirer of Jack, tried to convince him that this ‘Christmas’ plan would not end well, however, he failed to heed her warning. With Santa entrapped by Oogie Boogie and the kids of Christmastown upset on the night before Christmas, Jack had an ultimatum. He had to undo what was done, in an attempt to save Christmas. This Tim Burton musical animation, with its catchy tunes, peculiar-looking characters, slight humor, engaging visual effects and overall experience has contributed to the inevitable appreciation developed for this Disney flick.
At number two is everyone’s favorite miserable Santa, Billie Bob Thorton, stars in the 2003 dark comedy, “Bad Santa.” This movie is about a promiscuous drunk, and his fellow con man, played by Tony Cox, who reunite once a year to work as mall Santa and his little helper by day but turn to mall thieves by night. The two move to Phoenix for a job. It is here that they meet Gin, head of security at the Phoenix mall, played by the late Bernie Mac, who scams them into getting a big heist done and to then earn the majority of the profit. Along the way, ‘Santa’ meets an insecure, inquisitive, bullied boy, who he later crashes with, as the only other person around in his imprisoned father’s mansion, is his senile grandmother. On a daily basis, ‘Santa’ is patronized with unanswerable questions by the lonely ‘Kid’ as the boy is so affectionately called by Santa. By the end of the movie, Gin is killed by Marcus and his girlfriend. Kid got his pink elephant, though bloody from Santa’s police chase, and Mrs. Claus stays by the house to look after Kid after the passing of his grandma. What’s most important is that Santa learned a valuable lesson about loyalty/friendship, even though it meant beating up some kids. This R-rated movie, though not one to sit and enjoy with the whole family, is still worth the watch. With
occasional banters, anti-bully advocacy, an odd lesson on friendship, and overall ridicule on the character of Santa Claus, “Bad Santa,” has indeed left its mark and so earns appreciation.
Taking the top on this list of unconventional holiday movies is none other than “DIE HARD!” This 1988 pg-13, action-packed movie stars the legend, Bruce Willis, as John McClane, a New York cop, who visits his wife and kids in Los Angeles. Invited to his wife’s office party by Japanese owner Mr. Naktomi, John’s first stop is the Nakatomi Plaza, where the party was being held on the 30th floor. While Mrs. McClane was giving a speech, John cools down after a heated argument they had over the separation. Little did the partygoers know that they would soon be under siege by Hans and his group of 11 other European terrorists. While holding the thirty plus people hostage, John managed to escape without being noticed. After he witnessed Mr. Nakatomi’s murder, a blow to the head, the five foot plus barefooted John McClane started taking down the giant thieves one by one. The funny thing is, while all of this is going on, Argyle, John’s limo driver, is having his own party in the building parking garage, completely oblivious to the lockdown. With the aid of a walkie-talkie, throughout the movie, John can communicate with a cop on the outside and the criminals taking over. In the end, single-handedly infiltrating the plan of 12 terrorists, saving a bunch of strangers, and still finding time to spend with loved ones, John McClane truly represented the Christmas spirit. With missiles, bad guys, bodies being thrown out of windows, a damsel in distress, machine guns, tanks, and explosions, not to mention the nerve-wracking fighting scenes, “Die Hard” definitely fulfilled its role as an action movie, and even started a series with three more movies. In addition to a smart-mouthed broker, a bit of comedy and romance, European accents, verbal reference to other great American movies and actors (Rambo, Rocky etc), legendary catchphrases like “Yippe-kiyay ….”, and multi-award nominee and winner Bruce Willis, this movie has definitely earned it’s number one spot at the top of this list.
Honorable Mentions include “Scrooge” (1988), “Gremlins” (1984), “Lethal Weapon” (1987), “Batman Returns” (1992), “Eyes Wide Shut” (1999), and “You’ve Got Mail” (1998).