A few Christmas movies for those looking to break the same-old holiday tradition
When it comes to the annual list of Christmas movies to watch, there are always the standards and classics, but sometimes it's worthwhile to break from the traditional stuff.
This week featured the release of "Violent Night," which I'm hoping becomes a modern classic much like 2020's "Fatman," where Mel Gibson stars as a gun-toting Santa Claus fending off his workshop from assassins. It's movies like that which make it sort of a fun tradition to find movies that break from the traditional holiday norm we've grown accustomed to.
These are a few Christmas and Holiday films I'll be watching this year, which you might want to seek out yourself if you're looking for something a little different this year.
1. The Ref
I'm pretty sure I mentioned this one last year, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't deserve another recommendation.
"The Ref" from 1994 stars Dennis Leary, Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis in what I consider something of a bizarro version of "Christmas Vacation."
The film centers around cat burglar Leary, who takes a couple hostage while escaping from police. However, the couple turns out to be way more dysfunctional than he anticipated. One of the funniest quotes is when Leary says, "Great, I just kidnapped my parents."
The rest of the family later arrives for Christmas dinner, creating even more chaos and crazy antics. It's a hilarious 1990s holiday film that's often overlooked but is just as entertaining as many others from that time.
It's also one of those movies where after watching it, I asked myself, "Why didn't I see this one sooner?" That's the sign of a good movie, in my opinion.
2. Die Hard 2: Die Harder
This might be somewhat of a controversial choice, given that the first sequel of arguably the greatest action movie of all time is often written off as one of the worst in the series.
One of the great arguments each year is debating whether or not "Die Hard" is a legitimate Christmas movie (it is). That's all well and good, and the film is always a must-watch each December, but many of us might forget the second one is also a Christmas movie.
"Die Hard 2" brings the action from Nakatomi Plaza to a New York airport, where Bruce Willis' John McClain character must face off against terrorists who have taken the place hostage.
While it can never measure up to the original's greatness, it's still an entertaining movie, and serves as a nice break from those of us who've watched "Die Hard" a million times. There are gunfights, explosions, tension and even Dennis Franz and his classic Chicago accent as the bumbling police chief.
Sure, it's not the first one, but it's still pretty good for what it is.
3. Silent Night, Dealy Night Part 2
I can't have a non-traditional list without including a B-grade horror movie.
The "Silent Night, Deadly Night" series is a pretty wacky franchise that's grown in notoriety and popularity over the years. The first one was even banned from a lot of theaters way back in 1984 due to its depiction of the loveable Santa Claus as an ax-wielding villain.
Then came the second film in 1987, and now stands as one of the great "bad movies" of the time.
It's not a good movie, but it's certainly a fun one. If you can get past the fact that half the movie is nothing but flashbacks and footage from the original, it's an entertaining, schlocky experience worth having for fans of the genre.
If you're familiar with the popular "Garbage Day!" meme, this is where that little gem comes from.
4. Batman Returns
With 2022 being a year which brought us a new Batman film, it's always fun to dive into the movies of the past, one of which has a particularly cool holiday theme worth revisiting.
Tim Burton's sequel to his classic 1989 "Batman," while often looked at as an inferior continuation of the story, is still a fun and enjoyable chapter in The Dark Knight's original saga. With multiple villains like The Catwoman, The Penguin and even Christopher Walken's Max Schreck character, there's lots to enjoy as far as imagery and characterization.
Batman is also one of those few superheroes who fits very well inside of a wintery Christmas theme, and with Burton's classic early 1990s direction it's still a beautiful film to watch on a snowy night.
5. The Gold Rush
This might not qualify as a Christmas movie per-se, but it's one you want to watch the week after leading up to New Year's Eve.
"The Gold Rush" from 1925 was the film which director, writer, actor and composer Charles Chaplin considered his personal favorite, and definitely ranks among his best.
The movie follows Chaplin's classic Tramp character as he takes part in the Gold Rush, hiking through the snowy mountains of Alaska in search for fortune and glory. There are classic Chaplin slapstick and pantomime segments, such as the famous "Dance of the Dinner Rolls," the chaotic snowstorm that blows his cabin onto a mountain ledge, Chaplin in a chicken costume and being so hungry that he eats his own shoe.
The heart of the story is his love for the character Georgia, and how the small town comes together to celebrate the New Year together. It's one of the better silent film classics worth checking out for sure, and a great way to ring in the New Year.
Jay Powell is a reporter for The Daily Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JayPowellCDH.
This article originally appeared on The Daily Herald: A few Christmas movies for those looking to break the same-old holiday tradition