These days, malls are festooned in Christmas decorations by October and Starbucks has their Yuletide mugs out before the leaves have even turned. Last year, a new version of A Christmas Carol opened in early November and on TV, A Christmas Story played for 24 solid hours on Dec. 25. It’s easy to get Christmased-out long before the big day rolls around. There’s too much tinsel, too many in-your-face Santas, but for movie fans it is possible to get a taste of the holidays without having to watch James Stewart contemplate suicide.
Here’s some Christmas movies for people who don’t like Christmas movies.
There are dozens of Christmas horror films with names like Silent Night, Deadly Night, but they are still too Christmassy for this list. I’m thinking more along the lines of American Psycho—who can forget Wall Street serial killer Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) wearing reindeer antlers?—or the Christmas Eve viral outbreak that ravages the planet in I Am Legend.
Lots of action / crime movies use Christmas as a setting, so much so that Die Hard and its sequel, both set on Christmas Eve, are regularly played as part of TV Christmas marathons. Others you may have forgotten are Lethal Weapon—Jingle Bell Rock plays during the opening credits—Goodfellas—The Ronettes sing Frosty the Snowman during a Christmas party, and later Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) gives his wife a wad of bills as a Christmas present—and L.A. Confidential, which opens on “Bloody” Christmas, 1951 when dozens of policemen beat seven incarcerated Latino men.
You Sleigh Me—Kringle’s Comedy
Looking for holiday laughs? According to Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, in Heaven it is Christmas every day, complete with dancers dressed as sexy Santas. In Trading Places we first see Dan Ackroyd, drunk, dressed as Santa on a bus, eating crusted food stuck in his beard. Even more alarming is Ferdinand the duck’s exclamation that “Christmas is carnage” in the movie Babe.
Let’s face it, Christmas brings up a whole gamut of emotions, not just love and goodwill, and that’s precisely why Yuletide scenes are so effective in dramas. Far From Heaven, the Todd Haynes film about family secrets uses a drunken Christmas party to unveil some hard truths and, of course, without the Christmas scene in Citizen Kane there’d be no Rosebud mystery.
Non-Chritsmassy Christmas Movie Quotes:
From Life of Brian
“We are three wise men.”
“Well, what are you doing creeping around a cow shed at two o’clock in the morning? That doesn’t sound very wise to me.”
From American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman
“Hey Hamilton, have a holly jolly Christmas. Is Allen still handling the Fisher account?”
From Babe’s Ferdinand the duck
“Christmas is carnage!”
From L.A. Confidential’s Sid Hudgens (Danny Devito)
“It’s Christmas Eve in the City of Angels and while decent citizens sleep the sleep of the righteous, hopheads prowl for marijuana, not knowing that a man is coming to stop them! Celebrity crimestopper Jack Vincennes, scourge of grasshoppers and dopefiends everywhere!”
From Driving Miss Daisy’s Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy)
“If I had a nose like Florene’s, I wouldn’t go around wishing anybody a Merry Christmas!”