Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra…

Since it’s the Holiday Season I thought I’d compile a short list of some of my all-time favorite Christmas movies. This list doesn’t include all of my favorites; just a few of the flicks that I make sure to watch at least once every holiday season.

Silent Night, Deadly Night

I love 70s and 80s horror movies, especially the bad ones. So how could I resist a Christmas themed slasher flick? This movie is one of those gems that leaves you wondering “how did this get made?” About a boy raised in an orphanage who goes on a killing spree dressed as Santa Claus, “Silent Night, Deadly Night” has the perfect balance of blood, gore, and bare breasts, not to mention plenty of Christmas cheer.

One of my favorite parts is the toy store that Billy, the killer Santa, works in. It’s like a time capsule of Holiday Wish Lists of the 80s. Jabba the Hutt, a Dewback, Krull the board game; all toys I would have had on my Christmas list when I was 5-years-old.

He knows if you’ve been bad or good…

Batman Returns

The first Batman came out when I was 8-years-old. That movie combined with reruns of the Adam West Batman and the Super Powers cartoon ingrained Batman in my mind from a very young age.

When “Batman Returns” was released in the summer of 1992, needless to say, I was very excited. Many wouldn’t think of this film when talking about Christmas movies, but I remember at 11-years-old thinking how odd it was that a movie set during the holidays was released in summer. So I’ve always thought of “Batman Returns” as a Christmas movie.

Many consider “Batman Returns” to be a lesser film. And I’ll admit there was a point in time when I agreed. But upon further viewings and analysis I’ve come to really love this movie. Throughout Batman’s 70+ year history in comic books there have been many different interpretations of the character. Exploring different artists’ and writers’ take on Batman is one of the things I enjoy the most about comic books. Film is another medium that gives us the opportunity to explore different interpretations of characters and stories.

“Batman Returns” is very much Gotham City through Tim Burton’s eyes. It’s as if Warner Bros. said to Burton “do whatever you want,” and he did. I’ve come to appreciate and love “Batman Returns” not really as a Batman movie, but more as a Tim Burton movie. Combined with Danny Elfman’s signature music this film screams Tim Burton. It’s filled with so much dark, black & white, spirally Tim Burton-ness.

For me “Batman Returns” was also a movie full of introductions. It was in this movie that I was introduced to and became aware of Christopher Walken. His performance as Max Shreck is one of my favorites of the whole movie. As usual, his line delivery is both extremely entertaining and quotable.

And of course, I was introduced to Michelle Pfeiffer. Her Catwoman is one of those characters that had a big impact and has stayed with me since childhood; you show this image to any 11-year-old boy and he won’t think girls are icky anymore.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

This film really needs no explanation. Beloved by children and goths alike. Not only is this one of those movies that I’ve loved since childhood, but it’s one of the greatest Christmas classics in Film/Television history.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” takes its place beside the Rankin/Bass classics “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” & “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”

Can I be in-de-pen-dant too?

Gremlins

“Gremlins” is one of those movies that feels like a warm cozy blanket on a cold winter night. Like so many other all-time favorites, this movie not only entertains but brings back great childhood memories. My brothers and I watched it over and over again. I remember my brother having a bendable Stripe action figure, and a jigsaw puzzle of Gizmo riding the pink Barbie Corvette through the department store. Gremlins cereal was consumed in large quantities in our house, and I still have my Gizmo doll.

I was always a sucker for cereal box toys and mail-away offers.

Unlike most Christmas movies, that are all warm and fuzzy, this one has monsters!

80s staples Corey Feldman and Phoebe Cates. A more conservative role compared to her performance in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Jingle All the Way

Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman? How can you go wrong? Admittedly I’m a big Arnold fan. I’ll watch anything with him in it, so my endorsement of this movie might be a little biased. 2 out of 3 of Arnie’s previous comedic outings were successful, Twins & Kindergarten Cop. I’d be so bold as to say “Jingle All the Way” is too. Any time you can watch Arnold Schwarzenegger in ridiculous, holiday hijinks, that’s a thumbs up! Add to that the performances of Sinbad, Jim Belushi and the late, great Phil Hartman, and you’ve got one hell of a comedic holiday thrill ride.

“Jingle All the Way” also marks the first and best performance of Jake Lloyd’s career. A few years after this film Jake would go on to portray young Anakin Skywalker in “The Phantom Menace.” And we all know how that turned out.

As a lifelong toy collector I too understand the frustrations of the hunt and the thrill of victory. Fortunately I’ve never had an opponent as crafty and cunning as Sinbad in my never ending search for Batman action figures.

The Exorcist

“The Exorcist” for Christmas? Hell Yes! “The Exorcist” is the one film that has the honor of being on 2 of my favorites lists. It’s also on my Halloween movie list, so I watch “The Exorcist” at least twice a year.

This movie is on my list of Christmas movies simply because the first time I ever saw it was on Christmas Eve. I was at an age that common sense would tell you was way to young to be watching a movie like this. But that’s what you get when you have older brothers and cousins. It was at our annual family Christmas gathering; a tradition long since forgotten. Late on Christmas Eve my cousins, brothers, and I had a mini movie marathon. Our Christmas double-feature consisted of “Amityville II: The Possession” & “The Exorcist.”

Those family Christmas gatherings were lots of fun when we were younger. I always get a feeling of nostalgia when I think about them. I think that’s why I’ve come to associate “The Exorcist” with Christmas. The movie not only completely terrifies me but it’s also a reminder of happy childhood and family memories.

And if I remember correctly, Regan does mention Jesus a few times in the movie, and Jesus was born on Christmas, ergo “The Exorcist” is a very fitting Christmas movie.

A Christmas Story

Last and definitely not least; I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this movie. “A Christmas Story” is as much a tradition as Christmas itself. It’s full of so many great moments, too numerous to list. This movie is the cinematic equivalent of comfort food. Like a Rockwell painting come to life, giving us a humorous look at the traditional All-American Christmas.

What a creep.