This is the second part of our alternative Christmas movie list. What makes them alternative? Well, they have all the makings of a Christmas movie in terms of setting, or characters, but they aren’t your typical “White Christmas” type movie. That doesn’t mean these aren’t good movies. In fact, I am arguing the opposite. And I’d also like to see these being brought into Christmas in a more real way. So when someone says – what’s your favorite Christmas movie? You can answer with Bad Santa, and not be judged for not choosing White Christmas.
Trading Places has all the elements of a good Christmas movie: a Christmas setting, the underlying fable about money not being important and of course love and family (even if it is the unconventional kind). Oh, and Santa – a drunk and depressed, salmon-stealing Santa. This movie stars Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, and Jamie Lee Curtis. They play some pretty shady characters, but compared to the sinister millionaires, these guys end up being the heroes of the film. You can watch Trading Places right now on Now TV.
Gremlins introduced the world to Gizmo – the cute ball of fur you shouldn’t get wet, expose to bright light or feed after midnight. Of course, these rules were broken, which gave us both comedy and horror in this movie. You can watch Gremlins on Amazon Prime. And you won’t be disappointed.
This takes the idea from A Christmas Carol and makes it more entertaining thanks to Bill Murray’s character, Frank. Frank is an egotistical and sardonic television producer. Frank must go through his redemption with the crude, cigar smoking Ghost of Christmas past. In addition, he meets a ball-busting ghost of Christmas Present and an ominously creepy Ghost of Christmas Future. You can watch Scrooged on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Now TV.
Bud, a lonely insurance drone, loans his conveniently located apartment to various company managers for their extramarital affairs in exchange for a fast-track ticket to the top of the corporate ladder. The bad stuff hits the fan at the office party on Christmas Eve when he discovers the object of his own affection, Fran, is his boss’ mistress and Fran then discovers she is one of many from his gossiping secretary and overdoses on sleeping pills. There is a happy ending. We promise. You can stream the Apartment on NowTV.
Silent Night, Deadly Night
There is nothing holy about this film. It’s about an ax-wielding Santa, so this is not one for the kids. But it does put a completely different spin on what Santa does to the badly behaved. Kind of. It’s more to do with the psychological effects of witnessing your parents getting hacked to death by a man posing as Santa. But it does involve skewering a girl on the antlers of a mounted antelope head. If you’re into macabre movies, then this is for you. You can currently watch this one on Netflix.
Iron Man 3
Shane Black delivers yet another festive action movie, reuniting with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang star Robert Downey, Jr. for this superhero sequel. In the wake of The Avengers, Tony Stark’s wrestling with PTSD; but his trials don’t let up, as he’s challenged by a terrorist mastermind calling himself the Mandarin. Black’s flair for action-comedy shines through the mechanics of the multimillion-dollar studio machine, and while some of his decisions may have outraged comic book fans, they’re of a piece with his own oeuvre. The undoubted highlight is Ben Kingsley’s take on the villainous Mandarin, which has to be seen to be believed. Iron Man 3 can be streamed on Netflix.
It’s a Wonderful Life
It’s a Wonderful Life is a traditional Christmas movie, but the fact that it’s about attempting suicide makes it part of our alternative list. There are so many good quotes from this movie but I won’t bore you with them. I will also say that this movie helped inspire a Christmas song by The Killers, called Boots. The movie itself isn’t your typical Christmas movie, but it’s worth a watch. You can stream It’s a Wonderful Life on Now TV and Amazon Prime.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
I feel like most of my Christmas’ resemble a Griswold vacation in some way. Chevy Chase once again leads the Griswold clan in a bungling family adventure, themed as the title suggested – think obnoxious relatives, faulty Christmas lights and, er, SWAT teams. “Yule crack up!” promised the posters. And yes, third time around Chase and co are still more than capable of raising a chuckle. You can watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on Amazon Prime – and you need to, ASAP.
Who else would you want to see coming down the chimney but Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman? OK, American Psycho doesn’t exactly have a big helping of festive goodwill but throw in some mistletoe, reindeer antlers and a pot-bellied pig and everyone’s favorite serial killer turns on the Christmas charm like a pro. This movie is available to stream on Shudder.
Bad Santa 2
It’s not often that a sequel arrives a full 13 years after the first film, but Bad Santa 2 did just that – and while the world might have moved on since 2003, Billy Bob Thornton’s misanthropic safe-cracking Santa hasn’t. He’s still the disgusting deviant drunk we met in the first Bad Santa, and with nothing to show for his life of crime, his thoughts have turned to suicide – until he gets a package from a certain little person with a ticket to Chicago and the promise of one hefty heist. Cue reunions, binges, fist fights and things that are unmentionable on a family website. Bad Santa 2 can be streamed on Amazon Prime.