H-Man’s 12 Flicks of Christmas

Jack Frost 1997

12. Jack Frost (1997)- What better way to get into the Holiday spirit than with this campy horror flick about a killer snowman? Yes, is it cheesy as hell, some would even say it’s bad. And truth be told, it is, but it’s most definitely fun-bad, and where else will you ever see Shannon Elizabeth getting banged by a snowman?

11. Die Hard 2 (1990)- Bruce Willis is back as the un-killable cop John McClane in what is essentially a retread of the first movie’s plot (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). Like the original, this one is set on Christmas Eve, only this time, it’s set in a proper, snowy Christmas-y setting, thus giving it all a more Christmas-y flavor as McClane lays waste to many a terrorist. Sadly, the pacing isn’t as tight, and the villains not as memorable, but that icicle to the eyeball is still a fine Holiday delight.

10. Die Hard (1988)- Man’s man New York cop John McClane is trying to reconcile with his estranged wife in L.A. during an office Christmas party, when some heavily armed euro-trash terrorists, led by the super suave Hans Gruber, crash the merry affair. Now it’s up to McClane and his dirty undershirt to save the day. A stocking stuffer packed with C-4 and a shitload of attitude, this is the Christmas movie for guys who hate Christmas movies, and all the yuletide sap that comes with them. Yippee Ki Yay, Motherfucker!

9. Batman Returns (1992)- A malformed, freak newborn gets chucked into the river by his parents, where he winds up in the sewer, grows up into the grotesque, obese Penguin, and hatches a plan to kidnap the children of Gotham City and drown them in the murky sewer… Merry Christmas! For his second Batman film, director Tim Burton goes all out with his dark sensibilities, turning Gotham City into a pitch black, Gothic fantasy land, and setting it on his favorite snowy holiday. Nightmarish, fetishistic, and weird, this is a Holiday flick for those who get a little too joyous this time of year, and need to be taken down a peg or two. It is perhaps the most depressing Christmas movie ever, but it’s intriguingly bizarre and visually stunning, and the sight of Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman licking herself all over is something I’ll happily treat myself to on any holiday.

8. The Nutcracker (1977)- This one has been a Christmas tradition for as far back as I can remember. It’s really nothing more than a photographed stage ballet, but the sets are beautiful, and even a non-ballet enthusiast, like myself, can see that the dancing, by Mikhail Baryshnikov and The American Ballet Theatre, is nothing short of exceptional. Watching these waifs spin and fly through the wonderful wintery sets is truly a sight to behold. As for my personal favorites, the battle between the toy soldiers and the rats is epic, and the Mouse King’s gigantic beer belly still makes me laugh.

7. Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)- No, not that charmless, joyless Jim Carrey bastardization from 2000, I’m talking about the splendid original animated special, which has about 10 times the heart and Holiday spirit of the Carrey fiasco, and is only about a fraction as long. This tale of love overcoming bitterness is told in Suess’ incomparably witty, rhyming prose, with Boris Karloff’s perfect narration and some truly unforgettable tunes. A Christmas must.

6. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)- Much like Die Hard 2, this is more or less a shameless retread of the original, with precocious little brat Kevin now spending Christmas all alone in the Big Apple, instead of his comfy suburban home. Basically follows the plot of the original beat for beat, except everything is done bigger; the booby traps for the burglars are more elaborate, as is the “Angels with Dirty Souls” prank, and writer John Hughes lays on the sap extra thick towards the end, particularly with a subplot involving a homeless bird woman. It goes on too long, but it’s still a lot of fun, and no one grins like the Grinch better than Tim Curry.

5. Home Alone (1990)- A modern Christmas classic about a snot-nosed brat who is accidentally left home alone when his ridiculously large family goes overseas for the holidays and the kid is forced to defend his house from a pair of not-so-bright burglars who try to break in. This is one of those that came along when I was just the right age for it (9-years-old), and it’s been on my Christmas watching list ever since. Yes, some out-of-place sentimentality about family and forgiveness does get shoehorned in for the finale, but it’s still the perfect movie for getting into the spirit of the Holidays.

4. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)- A timeless, All American Christmas classic. Director Frank Capra at his finest. Star Jimmy Stewart at his finest. Need I say more… just a bit. I have an unusual sentimental connection to this one. My freshman year of high school, the drama club actually performed a stage version of this for the winter play, and I was the sound effects guy who, inexplicably, attended every single rehearsal even though I wasn’t in the play and had no need to. It was the beginning of my serious interest in dramatic arts… which of course led to my serious obsession with cinema. Anyhow, it was a story I instantly fell in love with and never grew tired of, and now it’s impossible to imagine Christmas without it.

3. The Ref (1996)- Those who like their holidays with a slightly darker tint really need to check out this criminally under-rated black comedy about an on-the-run burglar who kidnaps a married couple on the verge of divorce on Christmas Eve and finds himself caught in the middle of their endless bickering. The writing is sharp as an ice skate, the humor is scathing, and Denis Leary’s bitter comedic schtick has never been better. It does kind of fall apart by the end, but up till then, it’s so brutally funny that it just doesn’t matter. Besides, where else can you see a piss drunk Santa get punched the fuck out…

2. Bad Santa (2003)- … perhaps I spoke too soon. Here we have the Christmas movie that made Rick Swift blush and convert to Christianity. This Santa Claus is piss drunk all the time and doesn’t give a good Goddamn if you’ve been naughty or nice. He’s also a foul mouthed, chain smoking burglar who likes to ball fat chicks in the Big and Tall section of whatever department store he’s casing that year. Any parent who would let their young child sit in this guy’s lap needs to have their head examined. Definitely not a Christmas comedy for the whole family, and for many, this one is way too profane to stomach, but for the H-Man… I can’t think of many movies that have ever made me laugh harder. It may be crass, it may be creepy, but it is an absolute fucking riot. It even shows a bit of heart at the end, proving that this Santa ain’t so bad, after all.

1. A Christmas Story (1983)- Maybe this one has an unfair advantage, in that it has “Christmas” in the title, and it plays on an endless loop on Christmas Day, but all that notwithstanding, this is THE Christmas movie. The one that kids and adults alike can love and cherish. Even though I didn’t grow up in the 1940’s, I could still relate to young Ralphie and his plight in so many ways; accidentally saying “Fudge” in front of my parents, the desire for a BB gun, being denied said BB gun because I would “shoot my eye out,” being given clothing I hated but was forced to wear (though nothing as bad as a garish pink bunny suit). This is THE Christmas movie because there is so much truth in it, and it speaks to all of us… and it makes us all laugh. It just gets better with each passing year, and if you watch only one movie this Holiday season, make it this one.

 


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