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The grumpy Christmas movie marathon

December rolls around, and you’re ready to throw some Christmas films into your DVD player. But what happens when you get burnt out on It’s a Wonderful Life and viewing How the Grinch Stole Christmas for the hundredth time? You might find yourself becoming a little bit cynical. When that happens, these alternative Christmas movies might be more up your alley. Here are six great Christmas movies that have hints of the vulgar and the macabre. 

25 December 2015, 10:22am
Edward Scissorhands
Edward Scissorhands
The Nightmare before Christmas
The Nightmare before Christmas
Batman returns
Batman returns
The Long Kiss Goodnight
The Long Kiss Goodnight
Gremlins
Gremlins
Rare Exports
Rare Exports
Bad Santa
Bad Santa
5. Bad Santa (2003) 

Bill Murray was supposed to play the title role before he backed out at the last minute – now that certainly would’ve been interesting – but things worked out for the best, as Billy Bob Thornton gives one of his most uproarious, memorable performances, playing a department store Santa who hates his life until befriending a young fat slob. Directed by Terry Zwigoff (Ghost World), the movie is possibly the most profane Christmas film ever made. It’s also one of the funniest! 

4. Rare Exports (2010) 

This sleeper hit from Norway will certainly put a quirky difference in your Christmas movie marathon. A young boy named Pietari (Onni Tommila) and his friend Juuso (Ilmari Järvenpää) think a secret mountain drilling project near their home in northern Finland has uncovered the tomb of Santa Claus. However, this a monstrous, evil Santa, much unlike the cheery St. Nick of legend. When Pietari’s father (Jorma Tommila) captures a feral old man (Peeter Jakobi) in his wolf trap, the man may hold the key to why reindeer are being slaughtered and children are disappearing. How’s that for a change of pace?!

3. Gremlins (1984) 

Now we go darker into a mischievously entertaining romp that is as funny as it is disgustingly scary. It’s hard to believe Chris Columbus, of all people, wrote this piece, especially considering he went on to direct the more wholesome family Christmas entertainments Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. 

Phoebe Cates and Zach Galligan star, under the direction of the underrated director Joe Dante. A great game would be to put this movie on with the grandparents around and just tell them you’re putting on a Christmas movie. Time how long it takes for them to run screaming out of the room! 

2. The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) 

It’s difficult to convince people that one time many years ago Geena Davis made a really awesome action heroine. Many might instantly veer their attention to that mid-90’s debacle Cutthroat Island, but before Davis leapt into obscurity, director (and Davis’s ex-husband) Renny Harlin managed to direct her in one more movie, 1996’s The Long Kiss Goodnight, written by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon), and co-starring Samuel L. Jackson. 

Forget the Christmas atmosphere, which is present throughout most of the film – this is just one great action flick. If you’re an action fan and have never checked this one out, you should do yourself a favour and find a copy this holiday season. 

1. Edward Scissorhands (1990), Batman Returns (1992), and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) 

What better alternative Christmas programming is there than a Tim Burton marathon? Burton must be a fan of the holiday, given that three films he made in the early 1990’s (Nightmare Before Christmas he wrote the story for and produced, not directed) all revolve around Christmas. Edward Scissorhands is the best, mixing comedy, drama, horror, and just plain weirdness, with Johnny Depp appearing in his first of many Burton collaborations. 

Batman Returns is the best Batman film next to The Dark Knight, partly because the lugubrious gothic atmosphere has the cheery Christmas holiday always lurking as a backdrop. And then there’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, so charmingly ghastly that it’s become the alternative must-watch Christmas movie every year, the modern companion piece to How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

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