Best Deranged Christmas Flicks
Blood, guts, tits, despair and loving angels flood my television screen around Christmas time. I’m a tad off-balanced; my taste fires towards the subversive and I like my Christmas movies slightly more unhinged than A Very Brady Christmas. I don’t think I’m alone and I doubt I’m the only one dreading another 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story (an admittedly great atypical Christmas movie, but 24 hours is a smidge past overkill).
So while little Teddy and Beverly Sue are snuggled in their beds with visions of Wii gaming systems dancing in their heads, here are some of the “Christmas” movies spinning in the Frank family DVD player during the holidays. Some you may love, some you may hate, but at least it isn’t The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause.
I’m counting down here, but (with the exception of number 1) the order is almost arbitrary. This isn’t a true “Top 10 Best Deranged Christmas Flick” list (notice the absence of Silent Night, Deadly Night), nor is it exactly my favorite Christmas films of all-time (half of them just happen to be set during the month when baby Jesus gets to shine). Again, it’s just a selection of films that tend to make their way to my TV during this time of year.
Director Danny Boyle does a PG family film like only Danny Boyle can: awesome soundtrack, clever visuals, and plenty of gonzo verve. During the holiday season, two brothers find a bag of stolen cash that literally fell from the sky. The younger of the kiddies is either a prophet or utterly insane as he carries on conversations with several Saints who persuade him to be charitable with the divine cash while his older, Gordon Gecko wannabe brother is all about using the moola for ventures in capitalism. Of course, the Lord Almighty didn’t drop the money on the kids from the heavens and the burglar is still looking for it – yes, I’m hinting at shades of The Night of the Hunter here, which is always a big hoorah in my book.
Christmas Message: “God doesn’t rob banks!”
Do I really need to explain this one? Danny Elfman rocks the catchy soundtrack as Jack Skellington kidnaps Saint Nick and decides to Halloween-up the 25th of December – results include an increase in holiday monster attacks and some poor youngster receiving a severed head for a present. This is a Tim Burton production (although contrary to popular belief, he did not direct it), so it’s more macabre than a visit to a third-world hospital while drunk on eggnog and tripping on peyote.
Christmas Message: If you’re flying in a sleigh on Christmas Eve and you’re not Santa Clause, the U.S. military will rain hellfire upon you.
Through the scheming of two evil wealthy geezers, conman Eddie Murphy switches social classes with aristocrat Dan Aykroyd. For straight, non Sci-fi comedy, Trading Places has always won my vote as the best comedy of the ’80s. Whip-smart, chock full of great characters, and funnier than your grandmother grinding to Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz, the film is a showcase for two comedians at the top of their craft. Plus a gorilla prison rapes the principal from The Breakfast Club. Oh and it takes place during Christmas and New Year’s. Best Christmas-related scene: A sloshed Aykroyd, dressed in a Santa suit so grimy it makes Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa look like a metrosexual, pilfers a whole smoked salmon and harbors it in his soiled beard.
Christmas Message: During the holidays, stick it to The Man. It’ll make you look good and feel good.
Christmas is mainly a background setting in writer/director Shane Black’s hilarious, irony-drenched send up of film-noir, action chestnuts, and Hollywood in general (I’m not even going try to explain the complicated plot on this one). But hey! We get to witness a stoned (in character only) Robert Downey Jr. waltz through a Christmas party tailored to the tastes of Marilyn Manson as Michelle Monaghan gives us a very bonerific Christmas by appearing in a smoking hot Santa’s Helper outfit. This is one of those gems just waiting for a cult audience.
Christmas Message: “Your fucking present is you’re not in jail.”
Like The Nightmare Before Christmas, this one practically needs no introduction. A cuddly little creature spawns some hellish brothers that wreck havoc in a small Norman Rockwell sort of town on Christmas. Funny. Gruesome. Satiric. And it contains the greatest tale of how a kid discovered there was no Santa.
Christmas Message: Leave climbing down chimneys for St. Nick. He’s a professional.