Christmas is a magical season, it brings families together to huddle around the fireplace and watch some heartwarming holiday movies. They make us smile gleefully with cheery resolutions and reunions. Christmas has a darker side though; don’t eat those pretty red holly berries as they are poisonously deadly. Try not to choke on your candy canes as I spin these cute holiday movies on their head and expose their dark underbelly. Here are the top ten holiday movies (that are a lot darker than you think).
1. Home Alone
Child neglect, psychological abuse and endangerment, disfigurement and attempted murder of special needs individuals.
In the 90s times where simpler, psychological abuse was just good old fashioned, social, acceptable bullying. Actually that is exactly how that movie starts too! Granted it takes a scene or too for the real onslaught of cruelty directed at a diminutive blonde boy to pick up, but it gets there. After treating Kevin (the main character that is a tender 8 years old) like a subhuman, the family wakes up in a panic to fly to Paris for Christmas and Kevin is forgotten like a $2 toothbrush. When two very intellectually challenged criminals try to break into the house, Kevin sets up a series of traps that would make any murderous sociopath turn Christmas tree green with envy. Even though they get burned, hit with heavy objects in the head multiple times and get impaled on nails, by traps Kevin’s set, they keep trying again and again. If you’re not smart enough to leave a house after a sociopathic 8 year old has burned the top of your head with a blow torch, I’m going to assume you were held back three times in fifth grade because you were ‘special’.
2. A Wonderful Life
Desperation, depression, unethical and ruthless business practices and suicide
So there isn’t exactly a suicide scene in this classic Christmas movie, but it gets pretty close. It’s almost as if this movie is a love song to every cynic in the world. It basically starts with overall nice guy and do-gooder George Bailey contemplating suicide. Why you ask inquisitively? Because a nefarious fat-cat developer and competitor of Bailey’s company ‘hid’ an $8000 deposit that could land Bailey in jail and undo his company. Sounds more like an Aronosfky film to me.
3. A Christmas Carol, which ever version you like
Regrets, the worst possible scenario where a young disabled boy dies, ghosts and the dead
OK, so Dickens wasn’t exactly a bubbly chap that floated around Victorian England in a ruby red carriage. You have to consider the period though. This was before anesthetic (which still didn’t stop them from doing surgeries), during the time of Jack the Ripper and while people were taking ‘death portraits’ (if your stomach is strong enough click on that link, and good luck). This cheerful story is about a heartless capitalist, an impoverished father that works for him and his disabled child. For good measure Dickens decided to have the miser’s partner’s tortured soul visit him in the middle of the night and tell him his fate is not going to be much different. Holiday cheer done the Victorian way!
Child abandonment and psychosis
This is a more recent entry to the holiday classics mix. Elf is about an abandoned child that was adopted by St. Nick himself, but after many instances of him out growing his elfish digs he is sent to New York to seek out his father. His father refuses to acknowledge him and antics ensue. Take a delusional man that was abandoned by his father and was kicked out of his childhood home and you have the recipe for a great Christmas flick.
5. Miracle on 34 street
A drunken Santa, consumerism, grandiose delusional disorder and a jaded, cynical 6 year old
A strong (and heartless) career woman replaces a drunken down-trotted Santa with one that believes he is truly the jolly fat man himself. Amidst rampant consumerism, ‘crazy’ Santa tries to convey the true meaning of Christmas. Because a Christmas movie can’t be without mental illness, he is committed to the Bellevue Insane Asylum (it was around the ‘50’s and that’s what they called them) by an incompetent company Psychologist. To top everything off, it features a six year old so jaded and cynical she could make a nihilist cry.
6. A Christmas Story
Bullies, accidental self-mutilation, fire-arms for children and anger management issues.
This movie rotates primarily around Ralphie, a young boy that wants a BB gun (pellet gun) for Christmas. You might think that I was a little extreme with the accidental self-mutilation, but there are actually two separate occasions of this in the film. One is the reoccurring ‘you’ll shoot your eye out’ excuse for Ralphie’s parent not buying him the gun. The second instance is when his friend Schwartz is dared to lick a metal pole, gets stuck and is forced to rip his tongue from the frozen metal. Oh, and did I forget to mention the scene where Ralphie completely loses it and literally pounds his bully’s face into a bloody pulp? Aaaah, good wholesome holiday entertainment.
7. The Nightmare before Christmas
Kidnapping, high-jacking and dead things.
This movie is about a skeleton that high-jacks Christmas and gives the kids centipedes, cockroaches and spiders instead of presents. Oh, and he also kidnaps Santa and sticks him in a sack to do so.
8. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer
Disturbing movement and social exclusion due to being physically impaired
Let’s just ignore for a moment the jerky, disjointed stop motion animation reminiscent of the Ring movie. This is the story of a young Rudolph that is ostracized from his entire species because of a physical flaw. What a great message for Christmas!
9. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Physical harm, electrocution, inept parenting and fire hazards galore
This movie is about a lovable goof that endangers anyone around him. There are multiple occasions of accidental fires and at least one case of electrocution. Bodily damage is always appropriate around the holiday season, all those days off give you a chance to recuperate.
10. Bad Santa
Questionable adult-child interactions, drunken Santa (yes another) and grand larceny
I know that a few of you are going to protest because the point of this movie is that he is a horrible Santa. Protest all you want, though, because it’s a movie about a drunken ex-con degenerate that works as a Mall Santa to commit grand larceny. Throw in a child with a horrible single mother that gets verbally abused by the main character and you have a Christmas Classic in the making!
What is your favorite holiday film that I have ruined for all eternity? Let me know in the comment section below!