Sick of The Santa Clause and Jingle All The Way? Bored of Home Alone and Die Hard? We round up the best alternative Christmas movies you can watch in 2016, from bad taste comedies and weird little indie gems to suitably disturbing Xmas horror films.
Christmas movies, eh. Seems like every year we end up watching the same old holly jolly films. And while the likes of Muppet’s Christmas Carol will never grow old, and as amazing as Die Hard still is after dozens of viewings (and now a fitting Alan Rickman tribute, RIP), it’s nice to freshen things up with a brand new Christmas playlist.
Which is why we’ve cobbled together our favourite alternative Christmas flicks that you might not have seen before. Here’s our pick of the best and weirdest Christmas horror movies,
Best alternative Christmas movies: Horror films
Nothing gets us in the holiday spirit like a bunch of severed heads roasting on an open fire. That’s why we always get stuck into a bunch of chilling horror flicks every Christmas, with the following topping our list.
Gremlins is of course one of the all-time classic Christmas flicks, but we’ve seen it so many times that our DVD is worn out. Thankfully Krampus is a brilliant alternative, and one of the best horror comedies to emerge this decade. A small boy’s anger at his dysfunctional family inadvertently unleashes the super-creepy Krampus, who terrorises the hapless household with the help of some horrifying beasties. Gingerbread men have never been more scary.
Black Christmas (1974)
Another victim of the Hollywood remake machine is this superb and sinister slasher film from the 70s. Black Christmas – the original – still sends chills down our spines, with some truly nasty moments lurking within. But despite that, there are some pretty damn funny one liners to lighten the mood.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
This Finnish delight from 2010 is a deliciously dark blend of horror, fantasy and action, where a Lapland excavation reveals the true story behind the legend of Santa Claus. As a horror movie it works on pretty much every level, with its tongue stuck right through its rotten cheek. Definitely worth a watch, although it can be tricky to track down.
Tales From the Crypt (1972)
The original Tales from the Crypt flick from the early 70s was an anthology of horror tales, one of which featured Joan Collins on the run in her home from a psycopathic Santa. If that’s not worth a watch,weI don’t know what is.
For more killer Santa action, check out Silent Night, Deadly Night. It’s dumb and far from one of the best slashers out there, but there’s enough gratuitous gore and nudity to make it an entertaining post-pub watch.
Best alternative Christmas movies: Comedy films
The Christmas comedy movie selection is surprisingly strong, but if you’ve watched Scrooged, National Lampoon and Bad Santa every year, you’re probably able to quote them in your sleep by now. Here’s our pick of the best Christmas comedies you might not have seen, at least for a while.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is definitely one of those so-bad-it’s-good movies, and great entertainment after a few pints of Rosy Nosy on Christmas day. If you have a band of sarcastic relatives who love to tear into terrible flicks, this one will have you creasing. And if not, there’s a Rifftrax version that you can laugh along with instead.
Trading Places remains one of the best Eddie Murphy comedies, thanks in part to his excellent chemistry with Dan Ackroyd. This mismatched pair find themselves swapping lives at Christmas time, with the homeless Murphy suddenly rich and respected and the rather posh Ackroyd dumped on the wintery streets. Thankfully Jamie Lee Curtis’ stripper-with-a-heart-of-gold is at hand to take him in.
Terry Gilliam’s utterly bonkers Brazil is difficult to explain in a single paragraph, but is well worth seeking out for fans of off-the-wall comedies. The cast is absolutely stunning, featuring Bob DeNiro, Bob Hoskins, Peter Vaughan, Jim Broadbent and Terry’s mate Michael Palin. Bureaucracy has truly never been more hilarious; nor has Christmas, for that matter.
Honourable mention: Family Man, starring Nic Cage. This charming little comedy gives us only brief glimpses of ‘Crazy Nic’, but is still plenty funny and has some real heart.
Best alternative Christmas movies: Action films
After a massive helping of pigs in blankets and Christmas pud, you’ll need a fast-paced, ultra-bloody action movie to keep you awake. Here’s our pick of the best Christmas action movies that aren’t Die Hard.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Forget Iron Man, this (or perhaps Weird Science) is Robert Downey Jr’s best movie – and Val Kilmer’s for that matter. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is an action comedy set in LA, and sees Downey’s criminal-turned-actor paired up with Kilmer’s disgruntled private dick as they try and solve a murder case. The Christmas backdrop is incidental, but screw it; this movie is miles better than most festive dross and well worth kicking back with.
A Christmas action movie where the hero is suicidally depressed? Yep, the original Lethal Weapon is pretty bleak at times, which you might have forgotten thanks to the more comical later offerings. But the ever-maniacal Gary Busey helps to liven things up and this still ranks as a solid slice of violent 80s action.
Not the most festive of films, but a Christmas massacre near the film’s beginning means it still counts. LA Confidential is a solid adaptation of James Ellroy’s brilliant noir detective novel, even if large parts of it are tinkered with – in particular the supremely tense ending.
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Rams. This darkly humorous Icelandic drama features two bickering brothers, who are at each other’s throats during a sudden, tragic sheep crisis. It’s not necessarily set at Christmas, but the icy landscapes will definitely have you reaching for the hot chocolate.