Christmas is a time of Zen, when you think about it. For every Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle® you get, you’re also sure to receive the box with Aunt Clara’s custom-made, double-knit, pink felt bunny suit. So it goes that for every A Christmas Carol produced by a movie studio, there will undoubtedly be 8 more The Santa Clauses, starring TV’s Tim Allen. That’s enough to turn any holiday meal into heartburn.
Making Torture Fun
It’s most likely official that you’re going to have to endure some variant of holiday torture with the family this year. Why settle for ordinary? Let’s make things interesting.
Here are the top 7 recommendations for the most unsettling holiday films ever. Treat your family and rent them, download them or buy them. Some good news is, if you actually plan on buying some of these, they will probably be in the Super Bargain Bin alongside Batman Forever and that American Idol movie with Justin and Kelly. But trust us when we say, “Each of these movies have something special for your over-stuffed loved ones this holiday season.”
Santa Claus (1959)
Santa Claus, high above the North Pole in his cloud-borne castle equipped with more surveillance devices than the Homeland Security Department, prepares to deliver presents on Christmas night. But Pitch, a demon sent by Satan to prevent Santa from delivering presents to the children of Mexico has other plans.
Santa teams up with Lupita, the most boring child on the planet, who wants nothing more than a doll. He also brings a young boy whose parents are wealthy but never spend time with him. See? Even in Mexico rich people got it rough. Pitch begins to get the best of Santa and the good kids, so Santa does the only logical thing to help thwart his foe – he recruits the help of the powerful wizard Merlin! Satan = pwned!
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
How’s this for subtext? Martians, upset that their children have become obsessed with TV shows from Earth which glorify Santa Claus, decide there’s only one logical thing to do: INVADE EARTH. So they send 2 red-faced grumpy guys named Voldar and Lomas to do the dirty work. If that’s not enough, these extraterrestrial terrorists decide that they should just kidnap Father Christmas and hold him for ransom. But how do they find him? Luckily, they find two stupid kids who have no problem selling out St. Nick and the location of his North Pole hideout just for asking!
This movie presents the audience with two odd premises:
1. Santa is one bottle short of being a total wino.
2. Apparently any random child knows where Santa’s workshop is.
Babes in Toyland (1986)
During a Christmas Eve blizzard, Lisa travels to Toyland in Wizard of Oz-like fashion as young bridezilla Mary Contrary is about to marry mean, old Barnaby Barnacle despite the fact that she loves Jack Be Nimble. Lisa tries to stop this terrible wedding because Barnaby wants to stage a hostile takeover of Toyland. Lisa, Mary and Jack ask the Toymaster for help, but he can’t help them because Lisa doesn’t believe in living, talking toys. Yes, that’s right. By Lisa’s system of reasoning:
• Warping time and space via teleportation? Yes!
• Talking toys? Ridiculous!
Drew Barrymore has the starring role as Lisa Piper, Keanu Reeves emerges from The Matrix to inhabit the body of a horrible actor as Jack-be-Nimble and stork-style karate master Pat Morita scares every child within reach as The Toymaster. This perfect storm of perilous production choices should keep the room quiet and awkward for at least 2 hours. Enjoy the silence!
Black Christmas (1974)
Many consider this evil gem “The First Slasher Flick” in movie history. Jason Voorhees wouldn’t hack his way through Camp Crystal for at least another 5 years. Don’t find slasher flicks all that unsettling? How about adding a screaming and moaning pre-Superman Margot Kidder into the mix? Oh no! The killer is terrorizing her sorority house! “Come on girls! We can’t let this meanie overcome our spunk and spirit during this time of caring and sharing!”
Suffice to say, it doesn’t end well for most of them.
Surviving Christmas (2004)
Put the “fun” in dysfunctional for your family. This movie has a miraculous central scene. It’s hard to convey the yuletide joy one feels while watching Tony Soprano pound a shovel through Ben Affleck’s hairpiece on his front lawn as Christina Applegate cowers in the car. By most reports, half of this film was improvised on the spot because no one involved could make much sense out of the original script. Oh yeah, this is supposed to be a comedy.
Jack Frost (1996)
Not to be confused with Michael Keaton’s tickling tear-jerker, this movie may have it all if you harbor any sort of snowman fetish. The central character is a serial killer snowman named (did you guess yet?) Jack Frost. Jack works through his issues by shooting deadly icicles, decapitating a kid with a sled blade, using his carrot nose to get busy with American Pie’s Shannon Elizabeth and even killing a victim by turning her into a rotting Christmas tree. Worried about watching this around the little elves of the family? Worry not. Although there’s tons of blood and a nude scene, the cast makes quite an audible effort to refrain from using any obscenity. There’s lots of “hecks” and “darns” and “goshdangit’s!” Hollywood leads the way again for solid family values!
The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
This one is a seriously rotten treat. Word has it that Rumsfeld ordered this to be shown on a running loop at Guantanamo. It’s also very hard to find, because it’s not for sale. So if you want to treat your family to 97 minutes of schmaltzy, canned-applause 70s star power, you’re going to have to pirate this variety hour from your favorite underground video network. Fortunately, this one is so notorious that it probably won’t be hard to find.
How bad is it? Wrap your space noodle around these trivia tidbits:
• The script originally penned by Lucas, was secretly rewritten by random studio executives at least 4 times before shooting commenced. When Lucas saw it, he had no idea what was going on and was mortified.
• Princess Leia sings the special’s closing song, set to John William’s Star Wars theme music - badly.
• At that point in time, it was the most expensive TV variety hour ever produced. It cost over 1 million space bucks to make.
• It was actually named “The Worst 2 Hours of Television Ever Made” by a panel of professional critics. Think about that for a minute. Wow.
• In 2006, Conan O’Brien surprised his guest Harrison Ford with questions about the special and a short clip from the show. Before the end of the segment, Ford walked off the stage in disgust.
Still not convinced? Fine. Try Bea Arthur playing a bartender who sings “Good Night, But Not Goodbye” to the aliens in the cantina band as segue to a song by Jefferson Starship filmed in 3D. And that’s not even the weirdest thing that happens.