My annual Alternative Christmas Movies list hits part seven. Normally by now the franchise has died a death and the films are going straight to the bargain basement bin. Not so with this list, or at least I don’t think so. Anyway, here are 10 more alternative Christmas movies for your festive viewing...
Arguably one of the greatest films ever made, Citizen Kane joins the ranks of alternative Christmas movies because the life-changing moment for Charles Foster Kane comes as a young child playing in the snow with his sled (what was its name?). As the snow drifts in his mother tells him he has to go with this man to the city. A heart-breaking moment early on, yet the pivotal moment in Kane’s career. Onward he would go to become a wealthy newspaper publisher. But that moment in the snow leaving his much-loved sled behind came to haunt him for the rest of his life and even more so on his death bed.
Subtle and not-so-subtle comedy strike at the heart of this Mexican film. Having played the Devil every year in the town’s nativity play, Agent Jesus Juarez is shocked to learn that the new pastor of the church has recast the role. What follows is a battle of good versus evil in a sort of Dumb & Dumber way.
The Christmas Martian
This 1971 French-Canadian film is like a rough Christmas homage to E.T. as two kids discover a spaceship has crash-landed in their small town. The kids vow to help the alien get back to his home planet. A quirky piece of filmmaking that at one point has the kids enter the spaceship and get buried under a relentless stream of Smarties (surely every kids dream?). It is a kooky, low-budget Christmas movie that has all the weirdness of an episode of Round The Twist.
Santa Clause (1959)
Another Mexican film on the list this year. This time Santa is close to delivering his presents to all the boys and girls. That is until the Devil dispatches his minion Pitch to foil Santa’s plans. If there is anything good to come out of this film it is that Santa has an all-seeing eye to keep track on all the boys and girls around the world.
The Day of the Locust
A bleak view of trying to make it on Hollywood in the 1930s. Karen Black’s Faye Greener plays William Atherton’s Tod Hackett and Donald Sutherland’s Homer Simpson like fools as she tries to ascend to the top of the Hollywood acting pile. At one point, Greener is seen at Christmas singing along to the songs on the wireless while laying on the bed eating a huge slab of Christmas cake and smoking a cigarette. This deeply cynical view of the film business is one of the best inside Hollywood movies ever made.
O’ Christmas Tree
This 30-minute animated short from 1994 is a rather entertaining story of Santa’s neighbours Iggy Lou Bear and Edgar Allan Snow (yes, those are their real names and yes, they are polar bears) who want to capture the spirit of Christmas from when they were young, so they decide to each steal a Christmas tree. The problem is that there is only one Christmas tree in the whole of the North Pole. A battle of wills ensues that plays out a bit like a looser Road Runner and Wile E Coyote cartoon.
The Christmas Shoes
Remember when Rob Lowe was a heartthrob actor? And then remember how good he was in The West Wing? Yeah, forget all of that because here he picks up a pair of red Christmas shoes that fell off the back of a lorry. But he doesn’t go all Youngblood on them. Instead, it turns out that a child needs them to make his mum happy at Christmas. Apparently based on the hit song and best-selling book (?), this is as Christmas Schmaltzy as they come.
The Wind In The Willows
Not strictly a Christmas movie. However, it premiered on UK television on 25 December 1995. A stellar voice cast of Alan Bennett, Michael Palin, Michael Gambon and Rik Mayall bring to life the much-adored characters Mole, Rat, Badger and Toad. So well received was The Wind In The Willows that Mayall went on to win an Emmy for his voicework as Toad. It is now seen as the definitive version of Kenneth Grahame’s book.
George Wendt and Shelley Long (blasts from the 1980s) play Mr & Mrs Claus, who are invited to a Christmas meal to meet their son’s in-laws. It’s like Meet The Fockers but with fewer laughs and more drippings of Christmas in every shot. In fact, there isn’t a scene that doesn’t involve some sort of Christmas imagery.