December Twenty-Fifth is nearly upon us, and while the TV networks, movie theaters, and school pageants try to get everyone in the giving mood, there is a sinister side to the yuletide.
Those fleeting hours of cellophane-shredding euphoria will require a measure of pain and sacrifice. Between now and Christmas morning there is the gauntlet of jammed parking lots, psychotic families, and maxed-out credit cards.
With the endless loop of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas (is You)” pumping us full of sweetness and light, it’s nice to sit down with a movie that pumps the holiday spirit full of lead.
Without further ado, here is Screencrave’s list of quality entertainment that is worth the green when you’re seeing red.
Constantine is the archetypal Anti-Christmas movie; cruel, extremely sacrilegious and a plot hinging on the birth of the Anti-christ. For once Keanu Reeves’ flat-lining screen presence actually works in his favor, after all being doomed to Hell is a genuine buzzkill.
On Christmas morning the idea of a puppy bounding into the room with a bow seems like a perfectly good idea, however the truth is that a pet makes a horrible gift. Socks, scotch or Jenga will never chew your running shoes or shit on the couch. A pet is not a present, it’s a burden; and the movie Gremlins is prepared to go to hilarious lengths to remind you of that fact. Chaos reigns. People die. If the young and restless kids are begging for an animal to call their own, screen Gremlins first.
8. Die Hard 2
The indictments aren’t as subtle as its amazing predecessor (seriously), but it does flip a big middle finger at the concept of holiday travel. This time John McClane is stuck at the airport, fighting mercs who hold a runway and a sky full planes hostage. There’s less holiday cheer this go-round and the bad guys are blander than fake snow. However, Bruno still manages to immortalize one special grunt via the business-end of the sharpest, sturdiest, icicle in movie history.
7. The Ref
Denis Leary, author of “Why We Suck,” has a few choice words for the most wonderful time of the year. The Ref can often be spotted in bargain bins or on the dvd racks at truck stops, drug stores, or supermarkets but don’t let the stigma hold you back from experiencing a cracking cranky yarn.
6. Lethal Weapon
Christmas is synomous with depression which is the perfect segue into the life of suicidal cop Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson). Before Gibson took a one way ticket down bat shit crazy hit me with a crazy I hate jews stick lane his prickly exchanges with Danny Glover’s Sgt. Murtaugh were and still are priceless. Speaking of taking a trip down I’m so fucking crazy I snort cocaine off my dog lane, Mr Busey’s pain shrugging (method acting?) performance as Mr Joshusa is kick ass-tastic.
5. Home Alone
Eliminate blood from the equation and it is amazing how much ball-busting, maniacal violence can be committed in the name of family entertainment. Home Alone is not a kids’ movie. Home Alone is “Die Hard” masquerading as a kids’ movie. For the record, tragic burglars Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) are shot, impaled, bludgeoned, branded, set on fire, slammed into a brick wall at high speed, and knocked the fuck out with a snow shovel before getting mercifully arrested. The only thing more ridiculous than the PG rating is how eerily plausible it all seems with precocious Macaulay Culkin as the mastermind. Keep the change you filthy animal.
4. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
For fans of black comedy and dime novels, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is the cinematic equivalent of Christmas morning. Enough memorable performances and quotable lines to last you a whole year. Chances are new Downey Jr fans haven’t seen this yet so sub it in for “It’s a Wonderful Life” this xmas and you’ll get to see Michelle Monaghan spend the third act in a barely-there Mrs. Claus getup.
3. Bad Santa
The viciousness of Terry Zwigoff’s offbeat character study is more metaphysical than literal: less about murder than it is about killing the spirit of Christmas. Like stabbing it in the back and leaving it to bleed out in the Best Buy parking lot.
Billy Bob Thornton’s safecracking “Mall Santa” Willie is so incredibly depraved that he makes otherwise reprehensible behavior (drinking before 10 AM or screaming at children) appear tame by comparison.
2. Batman Returns
The hypocrisy of Christmas, particularly as a time of joy and forgiveness, repeatedly comes under fire, from the origins of the Penguin to the fate of Gotham tycoon Max Shreck (Christopher Walken). But the stand out moment is reserved for the Bat and the Cat, their double-lives undone by a single piece of mistletoe.
1. Die Hard
The greatest action movie ever made also throws a string of begrudgingly intelligent jabs that hit Christmas right between the eyes. The more turgid flourishes tend to stand out; the sleigh bells in the soundtrack, the corpse in a Santa hat, or Alan Rickman serving up enough ham to feed a homeless shelter as Teutonic uber villain Hans Gruber. (“Now eye haff ah ma-sheen gun…Hoh. Hoh. Hoh.”).
Watch it again for its running ironic commentary on the carelessness, the hedonism, and the exploitation of the season.