10 Christmas Films You Never Knew You Needed To Watch

Top 10 alternative Xmas films or…the ten you never knew you needed to watch! Top 10 Films takes a look at a bunch of Christmas movies you may have overlooked…

Christmas is well and truly coming, and for most that means one thing: movie marathons and brandy-soaked fights over the remote control. Faced with a seemingly unstoppable barrage of Christmas movies, it’s sometimes difficult to navigate our way through the flurry of cinematic delights and find something for the whole family. A group showing of Love Actually has become as ingrained a part of the festivities as cutting the turkey, but inevitably there will be occasions during the holiday when we want something different – perhaps the renegade thrills of Die Hard or Lethal Weapon, or the subversive smarts of Elf and Bad Santa. Or perhaps, for the truly intrepid explorer of the genre, something truly anarchic may be in order.

Welcome to the world of the Alternative Cult Christmas Classic. Off-the-wall gems in which professional wrestlers wear Santa outfits; Italy takes on Charles Dickens, and red shirt stains are often something a little more sinister than spilt mulled wine. Forget It’s A Wonderful Life, can anyone say they truly understand the message of Christmas until they’ve seen comedy-caper Santa With Muscles? Running this month on both Sony TV and Sony Movie Channel, Hulk Hogan plays an evil self-made millionaire (from flogging his muscle-building protein supplements naturally) who wakes up one day believing that he is Father Christmas himself. Sporting Santa’s trademark hat and less familiar red tank-top, Good Saint Nick is packing some serious guns.

And in fact, the weapon-wielding gift-giver is actually a common trope of this particular subgenre. Vengeful Santas can be seen in Silent Night, Deadly Night, Black Christmas, and the pun-tastic Santa’s Slay, delivering more than mere lumps of coal to those who have made their Naughty Lists. Comedy-wise, we’ve also seen hilarious duo Harold and Kumar enjoy their very own White (Castle) Christmas in one of the more improbable 3D films of recent times, while the Michael Caine-starring Muppets Christmas Carol arguably improves on the literary classic it’s based on. And as the latter film proves, award-winning acting talent (knights of the realm included) are not afraid to put their considerable skills towards the cult Christmas classic: Bill Murray, Kevin Spacey, Steve Martin, Juliette Lewis, Ben Affleck and countless others have brought festive cheer to television boxes around the world.

Let’s use our lists to wish for many more (Vin Diesel in XXX-Mas? Russell Crowe and Russell Brand in Santa With Russells?). Come all ye faithful and enjoy an Alternative Cult Christmas Classic this winter. And to celebrate a genre that is all killer, no stocking filler, we present the 10 Christmas Films You Never Knew You Needed To Watch…

Silent Night, Deadly Night (Sellier, 1984)

Silent Night Deadly NightChildren, cover your eyes! Offended parents famously picketed this slasher film when it was released in 1984 because it portrays Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) as a toy-store Santa Claus who goes on a rampage and axes people to death while still in his Santa garb. Four sequels prove that this truly has become a Cult Christmas Classic.

The Elf Who Didn’t Believe (McDonald, 1997)

the-elf-who-didn't-believeIn what could easily act as the prequel to popular movie classic Elf, this cult favourite tells the story of Elmer, one of Santa’s elves that sadly doesn’t believe in Christmas. When he flees from the North Pole, he is taken in by an orphanage and does everything in his power to become a regular little boy. Will Ferrell eat your heart out.

Mixed Nuts (Ephron, 1994)

Mixed Nuts, Steve MartinLunatics, paranoid social workers, Christmas tree stealers, and a dead body make Nora Ephron’s Mixed Nuts a definitive off-kilter alternative Christmas movie.

Santa With Muscles (Murlowski, 1996)

Santa-With-Muscles‘Watch out, he’s got a Candy Cane!’ With a cast including WWE favourite Hulk Hogan and a fresh-faced 12 year old Mila Kunis, what’s not to love about this forgotten festive treat? Released in 1996, this comedy tells the story of a scrooge-like health food guru named Blake (played by the acclaimed Hulk Hogan) who winds up on the run from the cops when a paintball session goes wildly awry. Disguising himself as a Mall Santa, a blow to the head leaves him with amnesia — and thanks to an “elf” who can use some money, he is subsequently convinced that he’s the real Santa.

Santa’s Slay (Steiman, 2005)

santas-slayBored of the same old happy Saint Nick? Maybe a black comedy Christmas horror is more your type of film. Santa’s Slay stars former professional wrestler Bill Goldberg (a trend might be emerging here…) who plays the devil’s son who lost a wager with an angel and is forced to spend 1000 years playing Santa. But when the wager is up, good old Santa isn’t so joyful anymore, and he decides to make up for lost time by starting on a killing spree.

In Bed With Santa (Sundvall, 1999)

inbedwithsanta_christmas-filmEvery Christmas party needs a good family argument, and with In Bed With Santa they are guaranteed exactly that. In what has to be one of the worst ideas in Christmas party planning history, Swedish house wife Sara decides to celebrate the Christmas season by inviting round her three ex-husbands and their families. But as the booze kicks in, families start fighting, and secrets come to the fore.

It’s Never Too Late (Ratti, Italy, 1953)

It's Never Too Late, 1953, Italy
This is Italian filmmaker Filippo Walter Ratti’s attempt to bring Scrooge into the modern era, losing the name Ebenezer in favour of greedy old man Antonio Trabbi. You can see influences of this film in Richard Donner’s 1980s update Scrooged.

The Ref (Demme, 1994)

The Ref, Denis Leary, Kevin Spacey, Suburbia In Peril,For every film that holds Christmas up as a time for twinkly fireside sentimentality, there is another that is all too eager to present it as a rusty barometer with which to gauge all that is wrong in our lives. The Ref (1994) is a perfect example, in which burglar Denis ‘Yo-Ho-Ho!’ Leary forces bickering yuppies Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey to enjoy the festive season. At gunpoint. Sometimes that’s what it takes…

Ernest Saves Christmas (Cherry III, 1988)

Ernest Saves ChristmasAnother Ernest movie. This one finds the unlikely hero saving Christmas after several mishaps leave Santa late for the party after a brief holiday to Florida.

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (Webster, 1964)

Santa-Claus-Conquers-the-MartiansIf you don’t know this holiday classic, all you have to know is that involves Santa, a group of kids, Mars, robots, Pia Zadora and stock footage that was also used in the opening credits of “Dr. Strangelove.” Bonkers. Word of warning: you will start singing the soundtrack in the presence of others. About as far from Love Actually as you could possibly get…

Watch The Elf Who Didn’t Believe and Santa With Muscles on Sony Movie Channel and Sony Entertainment Television throughout December at the following times:
Santa With Muscles – Thursday 19th December, 3:50pm
The Elf Who Didn’t Believe – Monday 16th December, 4pm

The Elf Who Didn’t Believe – Thursday 19th December, 3pm; Friday 27th December, 2:40pm
Santa With Muscles – Sunday 15th December, 2:35pm; Friday 20th December, 3pm

Discover More Great Christmas Movies on Top 10 Films:
Top 10 Christmas Films of the 1980s | 1990s | 2000s
Top 10 Crazy Christmas Film Titles |
Top 10 Film Versions of A Christmas Carol |
Top 10 Alternative Christmas Films

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  1. Avatar
    Mette Reply

    Oh, I’ve always been wanting to watch Silent Night Deadly Night. And In Bed With Santa sure sounds interesting – you had me at the title!

  2. Avatar
    Pete Turner (@ilovethatfilm) Reply

    I watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang for my alternative Christmas movie this year. Could Rare Exports make it on this list?

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  5. Avatar
    Evan Crean Reply

    Surprisingly The Ref is the only film on this list that I’ve seen. Guess this is one of the few times where I’m more into the mainstream stuff than cult. Seems like you picked a pretty good assortment of flicks though.

  6. Avatar
    Grotesque Ground Reply

    Interesting list! I would definitely add “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” though, a really weird movie which I predict may become a cult Christmas classic.
    I made a similar list, focusing on the grotesque aspect. I considered some of your propositions actually (Santa Claus and the Martians? MUST be good!) but finally picked up different movies. It seems there are lots of Christmas movies to choose from! Forget “It’s A Wonderful Life,” indeed.

  7. Avatar
    Marc D. Reply

    Santa Claus: The Movie and One Magic Christmas

    Both from 1985, both classics.

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