My favorite Christmas Tradition isn’t the tree selection, decorating it, or the music, the gift giving and/or receiving. My fav is to watch Die Hard and Die Hard 2: Die Harder, actually! 2017 will mark silver anniversary of this tradition. That’s right! The 25th consecutive year of watching Die Hard and Die Hard 2: Die Harder at some point in month of December.
You’d think (if you knew me) it would be something lively activity neighborhood Christmas caroling with my friends. Nope!
My Favorite Christmas Tradition
It didn’t start out that way, though. My high school best friend, Chris, had bought me one of the greatest Christmas gifts ever! It was the two VHS cassette tape of each movie, and it was packaged like the Nakatomi Building, too. I loved it instantly as I am a ginormous fan of Bruce Willis, and those movies.
Once I’ve completed my favorite Christmas tradition, I might move on to other Christmas movies. But I’m not referencing the classics like Miracle on 34th Street, It’s A Wonderful Life, etc – I mean all the other non-traditional movies. I’m a grip #salty with my mother’s passing days before Christmas some 20 years ago, so pardon my aloofiness to the holiday spirit.
Now we’ve cleared Christmas, here are the top 10 non-traditional Christmas I like to watch, and my review of teach. In homage to David Letterman, I’ll start with number 10…
#10 The Nightmare Before Christmas
Tim Burton’s stop-motion animation flick succeeds in systematically corrupting the very essence of Christmas, thanks to main character Jack Skellington’s grisly re-imagining of the holiday. More Day of the Dead than Christmas movie, the king of “Halloween Town” stumbles upon alternate universe “Christmas Town,” which inspires him to bring the holiday spirit back home and, oh yeah, kidnap Santa Claus (a name Jack interprets as “Sandy Claws”).
Unfortunately, Jack’s macabre imagination is an awkward fit for Santa’s cheerful occupation, and results in unsuspecting children receiving terrifying gifts like shrunken heads under the tree, and “Sandy Claws” being gunned down from the sky. Thankfully, Jack’s unsuccessful usurp of Santa’s hard-to-fill shoes is forgiven, and we get a delightfully creepy duet with Jack and his rag doll boo, Sally. Christmas love in Halloween town, be still our dark hearts!
#9 Edward Scissorhands
Directed by none other than the mind behind Porky’s and A Christmas Story, Black Christmas was the brain child of Bob Clark. The 1974 proto-slasher flick features a killer sneaking into a sorority house during a Christmas party, takes up residence in the attack and makes breathy phone calls before murdering whoever he can, keeping their bodies with him up in his sanctuary. Margot Kidder stars as Barb. Maybe this is the movie that drove her crazy.
#8 Trading Places
Also in the category of fantastic 80s comedies comes this John Landis-directed gem. Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd have their life circumstances switched in this social satire that’s as relevant in today’s recession as it was during 1983’s yuppie boom. It touches on race, class, wealth, and oh yeah – it’s hilarious. These are two SNL stars making the leap to the big screen perfectly, as the unraveling Aykroyd plays the perfect straight man to Murphy’s street hustler. Rated R. Christmas tie-in: The end of the film plays out at the company Christmas party.
#7 Bad Santa
Here’s probably the raunchiest comedy to be set in the holiday season. Thorton’s the most, vile ill-tempered mall Santa ever. He and his “elf” Marcus (Tony Cox) are casing the place for a Christmas Eve robbery for goodness sake! Luckily one of the original “kings of comedy” Bernie Mac as the place’s security chief is on to him. BAD SANTA was the last live action feature film work from John Ritter (who hires the two cons) and the movie’s dedicated to his memory. Also memorable is TV “Gilmore Girl” Lauren Graham as a gal who really, really likes ole’ St. Nick! Really. This was the second fiction feature directed by acclaimed documentarian Terry Zwigoff (CRUMB).
#6 Lethal Weapon
With all the different holidays, parties, vacations and whatnot, December can be a crazy month. That chaos can lead to forgotten or missed details. That’s essentially what happened when Shadow Company didn’t cover their tracks well enough leading renegade cop Martin Riggs and his soon-to-retire partner Roger Murtaugh to investigate. While the main action doesn’t take place on Christmas, we do see all kinds of Christmas decorations in the chase scenes and the flick ends with Riggs heading over to the Murtaugh household for Christmas day after beating the living shit out of Mr. Joshua in the film’s climax.
#5 The Ref
In one of his first acting gigs, Denis Leary plays a thief on the run who breaks into the house of Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis, a married couple seemingly minutes away from divorce, to hide on Christmas Eve. This requires holding them hostage, dealing with their son who’s home from military school, hosting a bizarre holiday dinner with their extended family, and keeping Spacey and Davis from killing each other. Leary is at his acerbic best, iand it should be no shock that everything turns out all right in the end. The only reason this movie is ranked so low is because for many people, it is a traditional Christmas flick.
#4 Die Hard
“All right, listen up guys. ‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except… the four a**holes coming in the rear in standard two-by-two cover formation.” Warms the holiday heart, doesn’t it? NY cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) is invited to his estranged wife’s Christmas Party “by mistake” and goes up against Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). “Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.” While not exactly your traditional holiday movie, this 1987 actioner will add a little spike to your glass of eggnog.
# 3 Clue
This is one of those movies that I would watch repeatedly and, being a movie made in 1985, it still holds up as a great source of entertainment for me.
Based on the board game of the same name by Parker Brothers, the six suspects are invited to the mansion, presumably by Mr. Boddy, to a dinner party. The host later reveals they are all being blackmailed and wanted to get everybody together to confront the perpetrator. What follows is an intriguing, yet hilarious investigation to catch a murderer.
All the characters are hilarious; I love all the screams, finger-pointing, reenactments, motives and their investigations. I think John Morris’ terrific music score enhances the eerie and mysterious feel of a murder mystery movie. This movie constantly reminds you that there is a murderer on the loose and there are obvious suspects for you to look at!
I think the humor is just great, particularly Miss Scarlet’s acid wit. This is also one of those movies that you will find something new every time you watch it. There are some downsides in this film; I believe each famous room should be emphasized more, for example, a brief dance sequence in the Ball Room and a pool game in the Billiard Room. In addition, some results on the three endings created plot holes.
But overall, a fun comedy.
Gremlins did for Christmas what Halloween did for Halloween, made it even more terrifying. After his dad picked him up the adorable Mogwai Gizmo, Billy didn’t follow the core rules close enough and wound up exposing the sleepy little town of Kingston Falls to an army of little green murderous monsters intent on creating chaos at every turn. Thanks to some quick thinking, Billy, Gizmo and company use the Gremlins love of Snow White against them and their vampire-like aversion to light to save the day. Poor Kate just can’t catch a break on Christmas, can she?
#1 Die Hard 2: Die Harder
On a snowy Christmas Eve in the nation’s capital, a team of terrorist have seized a major international airport, and now holds thousands of holiday travelers hostage. The terrorists, a renegade band of crack military commandos led by murderous rogue officer, have come to rescue a drug lord from justice. They’ve prepared for every contingency, except one: John McClane, an off-duty cop seized by a feeling of deadly deja vu. The heroic cop not only has to battle terrorists, but also an incompetent airport police chief, the hard headed commander of the army’s anti-terrorist squad and a deadly winter snowstorm. The runways are littered with death and destruction, and McClane is in a race against time. His wife is trapped on one of the planes circling somewhere overhead, desperately low on fuel!
Die Hard 2 makes Bruce Willis look better and better. The role of John McClane is one filled with the fight for right and to trying to stop the bad guys. Again a lot of the stunts would have been done by Willis considering the professionalism of the man. Running all over an airport in a fierce snowstorm, fighting scenes on the wing of a real 747 jet and trying to save lives he has no attachment to, L.A. cop John McClane puts his body on the line, so justice is served and so did the actor Bruce Willis in my view to bring a great action movie back for a second time. Willis is one of my favorite!
As always, and if you’ve read this far without declaring tl;dr – be good like you should, and if you can’t be good, be good at what you do!
Mic drop *bOoM*