10 Best Not-Christmas Christmas Movies

Getting sick of the same old Christmas specials every year? The holiday season works its way into more movies than you may think, give one of these movies a try.

10.) Screwed

Rusty P. Hayes: Sweet Jesus! We kidnapped a turd!

Screwed is not going to win any awards for screenwriting or acting, but it has its own charm. This dark comedy starring Norm McDonald, Dave Chappelle, and Sarah Silverman that most people probably skipped back in 2000 is about a chauffeur who attempts to kidnap his boss's dog for ransom, but instead ends up kidnapping himself. The Christmas elements are barely there, but those with a sick sense of humor will love Danny Devito as the undertaker accomplice.

9.) Psycho

Norman Bates: Oh, we have 12 vacancies. 12 cabins, 12 vacancies.

Unobservant viewers may miss the subtitle at the beginning of the film that states that the murderous events that are about to unfold happen in mid December. Apparently the city in which Alfred Hitchcock was filming would not take down the christmas decorations, so he shifted the story's time of year to accommodate.

8.) Lethal Weapon

Roger Murtaugh: Remarks like that will not get you invited to Christmas dinner. Martin Riggs: My luck's changing for the better every day
Most people love the Lethal Weapon movies for the crazy young Mel Gibson, but I  have always loved them for Danny Glover's performance as the endearing sidekick.  The movie takes place at the end of the year and there is even a gun fight in a christmas tree lot.  Hollywood put up their Christmas decorations three months early for the filming of this movie, remember this is when the world actually liked Mel Gibson. That is right - towns accommodated Mel Gibson, but not Alfred Hitchcock.

7.) The Shining

Stuart Ullman: Physically, it's not a very demanding job. The only thing that can get a bit trying up here during the winter is, uh, a tremendous sense of isolation. Jack Torrance: Well, that just happens to be exactly what I'm looking for. I'm outlining a new writing project and, uh, five months of peace is just what I want.
The Overlook Hotel is a lovely vacation spot in the Rocky Mountains, unfortunately during the Christmas break the area gets too cold and weather too dangerous for visitors, so they close the hotel for the season and hand the keys over to Jack Torrence. Jack is just a simple writer looking for some time to work on his novel and to spend with his family, except the hotel doesn't allow anyone to stay in it and live.  The Shining is the only movie to ever really scare me and could be the most anti-Christmas movie on this list.

6.) Trading Places

Billy Ray: When I was growing up, if we wanted a Jacuzzi, we had to fart in the tub.
Forget what they may be like today, Trading Places features Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphey at their peak.  The scenes that feature a drunk filthy Ackroyd are the embodiment of Christmas joy.

5.) Brazil

Santa Claus: What would you like for Christmas? Little girl on his lap: My own credit card.

A family is sitting down to enjoy a silent night around the Christmas tree when their apartment is raided by police who drag the father off in a body bag for questioning. That is one of the opening sequences of Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam's science fiction opus Brazil. It is pretty obvious while watching the movie that Gilliam could not make a movie version of 1984 so created his own story, which i ultimately prefer.  It is a nice touch to set a spend- crazy capitalist future gone wrong during the Christmas holiday. If you haven't seen this movie yet, do yourself the favor and watch it, it still holds up.

4.) Ghostbusters II

Janine Melnitz: So, do you live alone? Louis Tully: I used to have a roommate, but my mom moved to Florida.

Alright, I'll admit that the plot of Ghostbusters II deals more with New Years Eve, but it still takes place in my favorite place/time, New York City during Christmas time.  Plus, nothing says holiday fun like ghosts kidnapping children to steal their bodies to take over the world.

3.) Batman Returns

The Penguin: I could really get into this mayor stuff. It's not about power, it's about reaching out to people - touching people - groping people!
If I wanted to, I could fill this list with Tim Burton movies that use christmas, but I decided to focus on a movie that I feel consistently gets forgotten.  With all the hype over The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger blah blah blah blah, I rarely heard anyone talk of Danny DeVito as The Penguin, a performance so unsettling and pitch perfect it is hard to see where the character starts and the actor ends.  The movie starts with a Christmas tree lighting ruined by sewer-dwelling circus freaks and ends with an army of penguins with bombs strapped to their backs marching to purge Gotham city of everything living... Merry Christmas Gotham!

2.) Die Hard

John McClane: Got invited to the Christmas party by mistake. Who knew?
The basic plot of Die Hard could have happened at any time of the year. It is a formula that had been done before it and a million times after, a heist movie plain and simple. The difference is that Die Hard happens on Christmas Eve and it is from the point of view of the manliest man to ever walk on glass with no shoes on. If not for the Christmas setting, we would never have "Now i have a machine gun. ho ho ho" or a perfectly empty Nakatomi Plaza for Hans to kidnap and John McClane to throw dead bodies at Carl Winslow from.
The networks seem to have realized that Die Hard is as much of a Christmas classic as A Charlie Brown Christmas, as my family has now made it almost a tradition to watch Die Hard on television during Christmastime. Only problem with watching John McClane on network television is all the curses are gone and if I wanted to watch that I'd watch Live Free or Die Hard.

1.) Gremlins

Billy Peltzer: It's the creatures! Sheriff Frank: [angered] Ah, the creatures. Billy Peltzer: The creatures are making it look like an accident!
I love this movie. It is the perfect blend of humor, pure horror and Judge Reinhold.  Few may know that it was written by Chris Columbus, who would go on to direct the first few Harry Potter movies.  Never seen Gremlins? Then I do not think we can be friends, but I can sum the plot as this:  the greatest Christmas present ever goes horribly wrong.  The setting of a small town during Christmas is one that has been seen so many times in film, but never has it been used as a landscape for so much death and destruction. I would go as far to say that without Christmas, this movie would have been horrible... I think Gremlins 2 speaks to that (although it has its own charm). Gremlins also features the darkest most disturbing monologue you will ever hear in a Christmas movie when Kate describes why she hates Christmas. It is cut out of most network and even cable airings because it is THAT disturbing.  Want to see why I love this movie, watch this clip here:

Oh and one last thing about Gremlins, Howie Mandel did the voice of Gizmo. That is right, the bald host of Deal or No Deal did the voice of one of the cutest things ever.


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5 Responses to “10 Best Not-Christmas Christmas Movies”

  1. Jesse the Space Cowboy December 3, 2008 at 2:42 pm #

    I remember being fairly traumatized by the “why I hate christmas” speech… It pretty much made it not a kids movie

  2. Amanda December 7, 2008 at 8:51 pm #

    i recently saw Gremlins for the first time (i know! i know!) and was disturbed beyond belief during Kate’s story. ugggh.

  3. dad December 14, 2008 at 6:05 am #

    very clever Bran! I love the gremlin video at the end!

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