You’re probably familiar with iconic Christmas movies like It’s a Wonderful Life and Elf. Maybe you’ve got a soft spot for animated classics like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Usually films like these are intentionally sappy and offer some sort of moral in the spirit of the holiday season. See, the world wouldn’t have been better off if you were never born. See, even the evil hermit who steals all the gifts can learn the true meaning of Christmas.
But what if you’re much more interested in explosions and superheroes and even more explosions? Fret not. Before you cue up the latest Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, take a look at few of these more action-packed alternatives. You could say they pack a punch!
Die Hard (1988)
So, I obviously have to start with the most obvious choice here, right? Anyone who says Die Hard isn’t a Christmas movie can go ahead and take a leap off Nakatomi Plaza with Hans Gruber. Empire even named John McClane’s heroic effort as one of the top 100 greatest movies of all-time! Yippee ki-yay, Father Christmas!
Now, as great as Die Hard might be, as beloved a film as it may be, my all-time favorite choice for unconventional Christmas flicks has to be Gremlins. This comes from the golden age of cheesy horror (if you can even call this horror), coupled with a healthy dose of 80s comedy. Who else wanted a mogwai for Christmas? And did you know that Howie Mandel was the voice of Gizmo?
Lethal Weapon (1987)
Iron Man 3 (2013)
We don’t normally associate the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with the holiday season, per se. But then you’ve got Iron Man 3 with the Christmas setting. Indeed, co-screenwriters Shane Black and Drew Pearce said they picked the Christmas setting intentionally to heighten the sense of loneliness in the film. And you could say the suit lights up like a Christmas tree, right?
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
You know, I’ve always had something of a strained relationship with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Visually, the films are always remarkably striking, but there’s just something about them that rubs me the wrong way. And that same creepy feeling persists through Edward Scissorhands, described as “the story of an uncommonly gentle man.” I mean, he makes snow for crying out loud.
Rocky IV (1985)
When it comes to the Rocky franchise, which has now spawned a whole Creed spinoff with Michael B. Jordan, it doesn’t get much better than Rocky IV. This is the one with Soviet boxer Ivan Drago, played brilliantly by the legendary Dolph Lundgren. As predictable and cliche as it may have been, we all feel pretty triumphant when Rocky saves Christmas again!
Batman Returns (1992)
“Jingle bells! Batman smells! Robin laid an egg! The Batmobile lost a wheel and the Joker got away.” Well, the Joker isn’t in Batman Returns, but this is Gotham City during the holiday season. In this Tim Burton era of Batman flicks, Michael Keaton plays the title role and he’s joined by Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny DeVito as the Penguin. The contrast between the film’s dark tone and the bright holiday setting is certainly something to behold.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Okay, I’ll admit that I’ve never actually watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. But this is another movie that takes place during Christmas and it’s got Shane Black and Robert Downey, Jr. again. Apparently Shane Black loves the holiday setting. Have you watched this murder mystery involving a thief playing an actor?
End of Days (1999)
To be fair, End of Days doesn’t really belong on a list of Christmas movies. It culminates more on New Year’s Eve than it does on Christmas Day, but the wintry setting is appropriate for the coming of the apocalypse, right? Now it’s up to Arnold Schwarzenegger to protect a young woman from Satan (not Santa) and his unholy advances.
Merry and Bright?
It’s not the giving. It’s not the getting. It’s the loving. Now get outta here and watch one of these holiday classics with your loved ones. Did I miss one of your favorites? Let me know via the comments below. And keep the change, you filthy animal.