As Christmas draws closer and closer, there is no shortage of holiday-themed films available for viewing on television, cable, Netflix or what have you. The problem however, is that for those people looking for a fresh cinematic Christmas fix, they are pretty much forced to choose between an umpteenth re-telling of A Christmas Carol or It’s A Wonderful Life or a cookie-cutter tale of someone who is: unhappy/unlucky/uncaring whose life gets changed for the better through the Christmas miracle of: falling in love/adopting a puppy/falling in love with an adopted puppy.
So, for those people who want to ditch the same old boring family fare, here’s a short list of some edgier Christmas flicks you can view to spark up your seasonal viewing (as well as make you thankful that you’re not having a Christmas like any of the ones depicted).
Black Christmas (1974)
Forget schlock like Silent Night, Deadly Night – if you’re looking to add a little creepiness to your Christmas, seek out the 1974 chiller Black Christmas. The premise is simple – college girls staying in their sorority house over the holidays are taunted and stalked by an unseen killer – but director Bob Clark (who would later revisit the holidays with more seasonal fare via A Christmas Story) serves up such tension and unsettling imagery that it will stay with you well into the New Year. (Please note however, that if you happen to come across the 2006 remake, what you’ll get is a more by-the-numbers slasher flick that spends far too much time giving an unnecessary back story to the killer and then chooses body count over any real plot or character development for the rest of its running time)
The Ref (1994)
In this wickedly funny film, a thief (Denis Leary) takes a married couple hostage in their own home when he bungles a burglary on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately for him, they’re the most dysfunctional family in the neighbourhood and he has to pretend to be their marriage counsellor when their relatives show up for the holidays. Fortunately for the viewers, the bickering family is played deliciously by Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis, Christine Baranski and Glynis Johns.
Ray Liotta stars as a serial killer being transported on a Christmas Eve flight who tries to hijack the plane when it gets disabled after heading into a massive storm. Turbulence is implausible, over-the-top and thoroughly enjoyable. Liotta chews the scenery with gusto while Lauren Holly does her best to channel Airport 1975’s Karen Black as the flight attendant who is tasked with saving the day (not to mention landing the plane). From the gratuitous Christmas decorations in the flight cabin (seriously, that has to be some kind of safety violation, right?) to the non-existent passengers (I know Christmas Eve/Day flights are usually the least-busiest flights of the holiday season, but there are only eight passengers booked on this film’s 747. EIGHT), this is one flick you need to turn off your brain to enjoy, which I highly suggest you do. If you like disaster films, cool set pieces and big slices of cheese, then be sure to add this one to your Christmas wish list.