It’s that time of year again which involves decorating your tree, buying a turkey and finding a monstrous jumper you’ll never wear again. And of course, the television: sit down to the same old films, because who doesn’t love a Christmas movie? Yet, I tend to find there’s only so many times you can watch a green Jim Carrey steal Christmas, or burglars fail to murder Macaulay Culkin, or Jimmy Stewart go all suicidal.
And so, I present to you a non-traditional Christmas list, packed with films that you’ll struggle to find on TV programmes this year. If you are feeling festive but want something different, give these a try.
Die Hard 2 (1990)
Yes, we all know that Die Hard is one of the best Christmas movies ever, so why not choose its fun sequel. Admittedly, after the second Die Hard, the succeeding films in the franchise became more serious and progressively unremarkable. In the second film though, John McClane is back, this time waiting for his wife’s plane to land on Christmas Eve. Surprisingly enough, terrorists attack, and McClane must stop them, contending with airport workers and a hostile military in the process. It’s another slice of solid Christmas action, helmed by Bruce Willis in his best role and the ever-reliable-as-a-villain William Sadler as a rogue colonel.
Jack Frost (1997)
Not to be confused with the equally scary Michael Keaton snowman film of the following year (as it was by many parents), Jack Frost sees the eponymous serial killer become a killer snowman after an accident ensues with a genetics truck on the way to his execution. He then proceeds to seek revenge on the man who caught and arrested him. Maybe you don’t think a snowman could be scary – it this film, it’s less scary than you imagine. It’s as naff as it sounds, having crossed the line where watching it is a kind of camp pleasure. Plus, half the fun of horror films is in the deaths, and you’ll struggle to find ones as inventive as the ones in this film.
Better Off Dead… (1985)
Although the festive season has frequently served as framing for comedy films – including this year’s Office Christmas Party, which I guarantee with be rubbish – a lesser-known gem is this John Cusack vehicle. He stars as a high school student who is dumped by his girlfriend just before Christmas, making him suicidal. It sounds grim, but it only gets more bizarre and increasingly funny from then on. Cusack gives a typically charming performance, which makes it all the sadder that he reportedly hates this film. Even with this in mind, Better Off Dead… is better than a lot of 80s teen comedies.
Lethal Weapon (1987)
The original buddy-cop film, Lethal Weapon teams Mel Gibson, one of my favourites, with Danny Glover as mismatched partners who uncover a massive drug-trafficking ring (against the backdrop of Christmas, of course). There’s a reason this movie is as iconic as it is – it’s exciting and full of action, but also incredibly fun and frequently funny. Coupled with that, our lead pair share a rare and fantastic chemistry that led to three sequels.
The Children (2008)
I wanted to put in something from this century, and I was torn between last year’s Krampus and The Children, my eventual choice. The Children starts off as a nice family holiday before evolving into typical slasher fare, but with one difference – there’s something in the water, and the kids are the baddies. If your Christmas tends to involve family squabbles or just too much of your relatives, a bit of family butchering might be in order but, seeing as that’s illegal, this nicely-constructed horror flick is the next best thing.