Well, it’s that time of year – everything’s drawing to a close, and it’s time to settle down with some movies to forget about everything you’ve still got to do in the following year oh my God it’s so much. And we’re here to pick up where we left off – after our alternative Halloween movie list, we’ve decided to share with you our favourite unconventional festive flicks. To the list!
- Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Where would we be without a little horror at Christmas-time? Of all the spooky Christmas films I love – and there are many – this is one of my favourites. A twisted dark Finnish fantasy revolving around the creature from Finnish folklore who defined our modern interpretations of Santa Claus, it’s just a beautiful, lovingly made creepfest that has plenty to say about the way we have twisted the festive season into something wholesome and genteel despite some of the sinister origins of the iconography of the season.
It isn’t Christmas without a little melancholy, is it? And what better melancholy that this barely-required lesbian love story set in the 1950s. Lushly romantic, achingly heartfelt, and perfectly gut-wrenching, the Christmas setting is really just a way for the film to further subvert ideas of traditionalism, love, and celebration. And it’s also Very Gay, which is what we all need around this time of year, right?
3. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Die Hard isn’t the only Christmas-set thriller movie you should be checking out this year. Sure, you’ve probably already seen Shane Black’s classic pastiche of the noir genre, but there’s no better time to go back to it than this very festive season: tongue-in-cheek and witty, it’s exactly the kind of layered meta-commentary you need when you’re feeling intellectual as hell after reading all the answers to the quiz book so you’d beat your family at the post-lunch games this year, as well as being an intense slice of sly fun to boot.
4. In Bruges
I don’t think it’s news to anyone that In Bruges is one of the finest comedies of the last ten years, but it’s seriously underrated as a Christmas movie. And no, not just because it happens to be set at Christmas. Tis the season for deep introspection on your life over the past year, and In Bruges, amongst the superb comedic stylings on offer here, delivers that introspection. Colin Farrel and Brendan Gleeson, amidst the foul-mouth hyper-violence, are going through a bit of the good ol’ re-evaluating of their lives against the Catholic-steeped backdrop of the festive season in Bruges. Striking, sad, and utterly hilarious, this is what you need after the fifth mulled wine when you’re getting to that “listening to the albums you loved when you were a teenager” stage of drunk.
It’s a retelling of A Christmas Carol, with Bill Murray in it. What more could you possibly need? It’s only fair that we put something outrightly funny on this list, and (Muppet Christmas Carol aside, but you’ve already seen that six times this year, if you’re anything like me) this is the perfect Christmassy comedy to enjoy while you’ve swollen to twice your side on an entire selection box of chocolates. Featuring one of Bill Murray’s best comedy turns and directed by an on-form Richard Donner with a primo eighties feel to boot, it’ll leave you all warm and fuzzy (and a little creeped out, as all Christmas movies should).
6. The Dorm That Dripped Blood
Yes, there are a number of classic-horror era Christmas slasher movies to choose from for this slot, but this is the only one I’m particularly interested in. When I was a teenager, I mainlined this kind of cheap eighties slasher like it was the only thing keeping me alive. I watched this one Christmas when I was home alone, and it’s stuck with me ever since – following a group of students as they camp out at the dormitory over Christmas break, it’s claustrophobic, camp, and probably the most fun you’ll have screaming over a spiky baseball bat and an unfortunate father’s face. What’s not to love?
By Kevin Boyle and Louise MacGregor
(header image courtesy of Dread Central)