8 Alternative Christmas Films

Christmas is soon upon us, and we now find ourselves knee-deep in holiday specials. But if you find The Sound of MusicToy Story, and Harry Potter unfathomable (having a Christmas scene does not a Christmas movie make), ABC Family and Hallmark nauseating (hear, hear!), and the traditional fare boring (looking at you, Die Hard), I have a bevy of weird and alternative titles at the ready.

  • The Silent Partner (1978)
    Elliott Gould tries to stop a bank robbery planned by the mall’s Santa and played by Christopher Plummer. I present a clip below in my effort to make this one in a classic. (Amazon Video)
  • Reindeer Games (2000)
    Dennis Farina, Gary Sinise, Ben Affleck, Isaac Hayes, and Danny Trejo are among the cast in this explosion-filled film featuring a group of santas robbing a casino. (Amazon Video)
  • The Tower (2012)
    I’ll let IMDb handle this one succinctly:”A Christmas Eve party at a luxury residential building takes a horrific turn when a fire breaks out.” (Amazon Video)
  • Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
    In this Finnish film, the true Santa is excavated from his icy grave and proves to be less saintly than believed. (free on Amazon Video with a Tribeca Shortlist subscription)
  • Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1965)
    This science fiction comedy is a classic in its own right, thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000. (Amazon Video, Hulu)
  • Santa Claus (“Santa Claus vs The Devil”) (1959)
    Rated with even less prestige than …the Martians, Santa fights the devil with the aid of the wizard Merlin. (Amazon Video, Internet Archive, and occasionally TCM)
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
    Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer star in this under-the-radar noirish comedy which has since inspired a quiet, cult following and fanfic. RDJ is a petty thief who unwittingly poses as an actor auditioning for a role and is paired with Kilmer’s private investigator as he investigates a possible suicide. (Amazon Video)
  • Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
    The least weird of the bunch, except that it stars Dudley Moore as a kind, then scheming, then conciliatory elf. Nevertheless, my sisters were forced to watch this in the Crying Room of the theater, and never let me forget it, so I would be remiss to leave out my first film.

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