Way back in the year 2006 A.D., a midst the Hyphy movement and Tower Records liquidation, I wrote a little somethin’ somethin’ about my all time favorite Christmas films. I had forgotten about this until a few weeks back when I saw National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for the first time. Yes, I know, I had no business making a list of favorite Christmas movies with such a blank spot in my catalog. Well, here’s the thing, I *thought* I had seen it. The deal is, my Dad’s been a Timberwolves season ticket holder since before the team existed, so during my grade school years while my parents were getting divorced, if the night I was with him fell on the night of a game we spent quality time by cheering them on together. As Christmas approached, they would play clips from Christmas Vacation in-between plays to get us all in a festive mood between Christian Laettner moodswings. After a decade of Clark Griswald repetition, I could have sworn I saw the film. This was not the case. Now that I’ve seen it, I have to agree that it’s a good movie, even if now I think it suffers from not enough scenes of Wally Szczerbiak dunking.
Regardless, I stand by my four-year-old feelings feelings toward the following films. All holiday classics, all warm the 36 chambers of my heart. So let’s look back together on the Christmas movies I could make it through before I was legally old enough to drink Egg Nog!
Killa Season’s Greetings!
Your loyal Facebook friend Chaz here. Tis the season, between Christmas and New Year’s, where the B and C list of Christmas films get shown. Most of these atrocities suck in the worst way, as any combination of the words “christmas,” “deck,” “holiday,” “snow,” “winter,” “Santa,” “present” or “Toyland” usually results in something truly vile to get that Christmas Ca$h.
But some of these are truly wonderful little gems who only see the light of day this time of the year. OK, perhaps that is stretching it, BUT, I can promise you that each of these are worth at least one viewing. So, let’s begin this sleigh ride through the septic tank! Jingle balls!
Christmas Evil (1980, Lewis Jackson)
I’ve never really been a huge fan of holiday themed horror films. While there are some certain gems that require annual viewing, but for every Charles Kaufman’s Mother’s Day or William Lustig’s Uncle Sam, there’s a dozen Valentines or April Fool’s Days. Christmas horror films are often the worst of these, with colossal wastes of time like Bill Goldberg in Santa’s Slay and the 1990’s VHS shot Santa Claws.
However, the first two starting off this list are legitimate “entries” in this genre. Christmas Evil, originally titled You Better Watch Out is far and away the best film on this list. A legitimate dark comedy about a toy-maker who has been obsessed with Santa ever since seeing a man in a Santa suit go down on his Mom as a child, he takes his double life as Kris Kringle a tad too seriously, bringing toys to the good unfortunate kids and slaughtering those who are naughty! F*** your miracle, this Massacre on 34th Street brings me FAR more cheer! Mostly because I love seeing a**holes get their come-uppens.
It’s also worth noting that the Santa figure here is played by FIONA APPLE’s father Brandon Maggart! Plus, “Home Improvement” guilty sexual fantasy Patricia Heaton has a cameo as an abusive single mother who SMACKS THE F***ING S*** out of her son! Those fun facts aside, this is a legit great film. Why aren’t you ordering this on Amazon right now? Probably because you are too busy watching…
Jack Frost (1996, Michael Cooney)
Everyone has that one moment in their life they wish they could revisit. For some, it’s their wedding night. For others, the birth of their first child. For me, it’s the cold December night my Freshman year of High School when I first watched Jack Frost.
NOT to be confused with the equally absurd Michael Keaton career killer about a boy whose father is reincarnated in the body of a snowman to help him get r-r-revenge on some bullies, this classic tells the tale of a serial killer who, on the truck ride to his execution, is part of a huge chemical accident where his DNA molecules are fused with snow. This leaves his standard physical form as manipulable as a snowman.
I vividly recall that wonderful night. The blizzard of 2000. Stars in my eyes as this waddling clunky snowman took his revenge on the family and friends of the cop who sent him to the chair in the first place. While Christmas Evil hones most of the truly clever inventiveness in terms of plot and character development, Jack Frost opts to keep concept simple with diverse execution. Christmas lights, Christmas trees, sleds, and just about every icon of the season is utilized in the barrage of over-the-top Mortal Kombat style Christmas fatalities. Did I mention Shannon “American Pie” Elizabeth is in this?
Yessa, she plays the Police chief’s daughter who meets her hilarious end in one of Cinema’s all time greatest love scenes:
Long story short, see this film! Even if you can only get the VHS with the fabulous hologram cover. But if Snowman-Rape is a little too intense for you this holiday season, than may I recommend:
Santa With Muscles (1996, John Murlowski)
Cabin Fever, the fine people who brought you Hulk Hogan as a toy store owner/assassin in Secret Agent Club, comes the immortal Santa With Muscles. Here, Terry “Hulk” Hogan stars as an evil billionaire who suffers memory loss, believes he’s Santa Claus, and befriends an orphanage that stands on the verge of being shut down by another evil entrepreneur and his evil team that even includes (their words, not mine) an “evil geologist.”
SNL alum Garrett Morris appears, as does Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake in YELLOW FACE as a kung-fu sumo. But the celebrities don’t stop there! Inexplicably, half of the future cast of “That 70’s Show” appear, including a cutie sexy 11-year-old Mila Kunis. Not-to-mention megastar Clint “Ice Cream Man” Howard. There’s some resolution at the end involving exploding crystals beneath the orphanage, but this flick is pretty brutal and I honestly doubt you will last that long. You’re more than welcome to prove me wrong, but please remember the tagline was “He went from Naughty to Nice, and now he’s putting Bad Guys on Ice!”
But perhaps you survive Christmas with the Hulkster and need some more steroid guzzling holiday entertainment, well then let me remind you of probably the most known film on this list:
Jingle All the Way (1996, Brian Levant)
Like everyone else who grew up in the Twin Cities, I claim to be in this film. Here, the unfortunate governor of California stars as a work-obsessed terrible father whose wife wants him to get the latest hottest toy, “Turbo-Man,” for his son as the most important Christmas gift of his young life. Putting off the shopping until Christmas Eve, Arnold becomes competitive with a rival father, a mailman (Sinbad, who won a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for his performance) and hi-jinks ensue!
As an added bonus, Phil Hartman plays Arnold’s neighbor who covets his wife HARD. You’ve never seen such Christmas coveting! Martin Mull also appears as the racist bigot host of KQRS-92 FM, Tom Bernard. If you’re from Minnesota (and if so, please bring me some Davanni’s) you’ll see this film as the perfect snapshot of what downtown Minneapolis looked like in the mid-90s.
Just remember as you watch Arnold stumble and bumble around, that this man gets to decide who lives and who dies in California. Yep, that guy punching out a reindeer had the final say in whether Tookie Williams was executed or not. That in mind, this film could someday be used as the greatest anti-voting propaganda ever created. That is, except for:
The Clipse’s Christmas in McDonaldland (2003, Craig Witte)
OK, this film doesn’t exist. I just really wanted to post this picture. But until you NYU film cadets choose to create this masterpiece, our only hope for some crack-centric Holiday fun is:
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964, Nicolas Webster)
Every Christmas film on this list owes a debt of gratitude to this, the grandpappy of all questionable Christmas flicks. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, involves the martians kidnapping Santa so he can bring Christmas to the children on Mars, until Santa (with the help of two small children) finally conquer them.
Originally introduced to me via the homies as Mystery Science Theater 3000, this film is astronomically bad. If any station you watch chooses to air this, you’re better off cutting your cable provider and committing suicide as you were born into a world no child deserves to live in. The aliens are annoying, the polar bears are CLEARLY people, and I think the select few who think Christmas should be about that Jesus guy may have the right idea.
The score is the only saving grace/final blow. “He’s fat and round and jumpin’ jimminy / he can fit down any chimminey!” goes “Hooray for (sic) Santy Claus.” Future star Pia Zadora also appears as a martian child, so if Pia Zadora’s your thing, I’d give this film my full recommendation. The MST3K version mentions my fallen mecca the Apache Plaza as well.
At any rate, I hope this exercise in season favorites has proven enjoyable for you. Please savor these season treasures while you’re still on Earth, because in Heaven they just play the first three Jaws movies all the damn time.