Last year, Screenjabber gave you 10 Alternative Christmas Movies to watch over the festive season. Now we are back with 10 more films that won’t be on the usual Christmas movies watch list. So get you eye baubles around another set of movies that will give you a different spirit this festive period.
We’re No Angels (1955)
Long since forgotten, We’re No Angels stars Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, Aldo Ray, Joan Bennett & Basil Rathbone. Directed by Michael Curtiz (Casablanca), this Christmas crime comedy features Bogart in a very rare comedic role as one of three prison escapees who help out the family they are staying with during turbulent times. The three leads have highly amusing chemistry between them, a bromance before it was called that. The film veers between screwball comedy, light-hearted drama and slightly raunchy (for the time) romance. A twist on the three wise men Christmas tale, this is a punchy, quick-paced comedy of yesteryear.
Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984)
London-set Christmas horror that follows Scotland Yard police officers as they try to track down a crazed killer dressed as Santa. It's a gruesome B-movie that has more than enough Santas killed in different ways that will make you wonder if anyone is left to play the jolly fat man. But these Santas are lowly street trash. The film almost pointing out that we can do away with these worthless drunks, drug users & prostitutes and still have a Happy Christmas. Grimy and low budget, this film doesn’t have an '80s B-movie charm. Instead, it’s a more seedy and violent skin-flick horror.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Another killer Santa movie – just what is it about trying to make something nice into something naughty? A teenager embarks on a killing spree (hot topic alert) after being abused by a Mother Superior (another hot topic alert). Upon US theatrical release, Silent Night Deadly Night was picketed by parents who thought the depiction of a killer Santa was not a positive message for kids. But who was allowing their kids to see this sleazy and rather filthy movie without supervision? Sneering dark humour and the multitude of bar humbug Christmas killings enforce the fact that the film makers don’t really like this time of year. The story soon loses itself and ends up being a non-stop killing spree with little reason behind some of the deaths. Classed as a “controversial classic” by the distributor, and considering the two tough subject matters in the storyline, this isn’t a fun slasher movie. But if you fancy grimy and bleak then Ho Ho Ho this one is for you.
Christmas Holiday (1944)
A Christmas film noir that has Gene Kelly and Deanna Durbin try and shake off their wholesome, clean image for a shot at a crime movie. Directed by legendary film noir movie maker Richard Siodmak. Gene Kelly as a Psychopath was too much for audiences at the time of release and Kelly’s estate have tried to suppress the movie. Durbin is delightfully bunny boiler-esc but also gets to sing a couple of songs. The film also shows the couple going to midnight mass on Christmas Eve, a rarity indeed. Themes of prostitution, self punishment, incest and sexual desire are not what you’d expect to see in a Gene Kelly Christmas movie.
Human Capital (2013)
The official submission of Italy for the 2015 Academy Awards. Two families come together when a cyclist is hit on Christmas Eve in this intertwining film. Riches and greed consume both families and the movie peels layers off each one to see what truly is underneath. Human Capital was criticised for pointing its finger at the decadent north of Italy as it lives in its social and political bubble. Death, blackmail, greed, corruption and capitalism – what more could you ask for in a Christmas movie?
The War Game (1965)
This bleak and utterly depressing BBC docu-drama might not feel like it's set at Christmas. But at one point there is a wizened and dust covered older gentleman manually spinning a record to get it to play through a speaker so a group of survivors can listen. The song? Only one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time – Silent Night. If you are feeling too festive then this fall out of Nuclear War movie will bring you back down to Earth and make those sprouts taste all the more bitter.
Rocky IV (1985)
Everybody loves a good montage, and Rocky IV is the champion of montages. With the added bonus of them set in snowy Russia during the Christmas period as The Italian Stallion trains hard and ruthless for his fight against Ivan Drago. Who schedules a boxing match on Christmas day? Rocky Balboa that’s whom, and the whole world tuned in to watch.
Once in Russia, Rocky and his team set about training the old fashioned way – running through the snow, pull-ups in large barns, relaxing to the sounds of the Chipmunks singing Christmas songs. Most of these moments are seen in montages and for a film that is 91 minutes in length, it has 29 minutes worth of them. Right at the end, a very beat-up Rocky still has enough strength to wish his son Merry Christmas – ahhhh what a lovely touch. If his face didn’t look like road kill.
A Christmas Carol (1971)
Charles Dickens' classic tale has been given the big screen treatment time and again; however this little known gem of a version keeps getting overlooked. Director Richard Dickens produced the animation in the style of 1800s engravings. Giving it a beautiful yet haunted look. It features the voice talents of Alastair Sim, Michael Redgrave and Diana Quick. It is the only Dickens film adaptation to win an Oscar.
Wild Card (2015)
Ever wanted to see Jason Statham fight a bunch of guys whilst The Drifters sing “White Christmas” over the top? Then this is the film for you this Christmas time. Jason also gets to deck a few guys using just a spoon. Oh, and there is a shot of The Stath in a Santa hat that is worth the boredom of the rest of the film alone. That’s the only reason this film is on the list, I’ll repeat it again – Jason Statham! In a Santa hat!
New Year’s Evil (1980)
As soon as Christmas is finished we all look to celebrate bringing in the New Year and what hopes & dreams we may accomplish in the next 12 months. New Year’s Evil has the parties, but it also has killings. This slasher movie makes interesting use of killing in different time zones during the countdown to New Year. We get to see the killer very early on in his full form, but this is more about finding what his motives are. All the usual tropes of the pre-video nasty days of the '80s are here and it’s all very obvious in its storyline. This is more a goofball slasher than a full blown horror.