With just a few hours left before the big day, it might be nice to sit back, relax and drink in the holiday cheer from your own silver screen. The problem is, not everybody is on the same page when it comes to making a good Christmas movie. Here are eight to avoid:
One Magic Christmas (1985)
1985 was an awkward year for Disney. One Magic Christmas is truly depressing and that takes forever to get to the “magic” part. Poor Ginny Grainger (Mary Steenburgen) has no Christmas spirit. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that her husband had just been shot and killed and her two children were kidnapped and drowned. Then, it turns out that the two kids are alive and well. Then, one child is kidnapped again and brought to the North Pole. Finally, with a bit of magic from Santa, all of the tragic events appear to not have happened after all, revealing it to be a “magic Christmas.” A Wonderful Life this is not.
The Santa Clause 3 (2006)
Disney got is right in 1994 with the Tim Allen comedy, The Santa Clause where an out-of-touch dad transforms into Santa Claus. In 2002, the studio tried out a sequel where Santa needs to find a wife. Not as good as the first film, it still features one of Hollywood’s best Christmas scenes. Then it happened: 2006’s The Santa Clause 3 where Santa is up against the jealous Jack Frost (Martin Short). He also needs to contend with his wife’s pregnancy, a visit by his ex-wife and new husband, and his in-laws. Nominated for five “Golden Raspberries” for worst film, the third time proves that it is no charm.
Written by Chris Columbus, directed by Joe Dante and executively produced by Steven Spielberg, what could go wrong? While “technically” not a “Christmas” movie, the story takes place during the holiday. Today, many stores carry the DVD of this movie alongside children’s fare, but this is no children’s movie. The biggest mistake a parent can make is buying a Furby and a copy of this movie. The comedy/horror film is about cute little critters that turn downright demonic with an over-arching message that “Christmas sucks.” The weirdest anti-Christmas part of the movies comes when a teenage girl tells her boyfriend that the reason she hates Christmas is because her father died while pretending to be Santa Claus. He broke his neck while climbing down the chimney. The film is filled with madness and mayhem with gremlins landing in blenders and blowing up microwaves. In the end, the town is saved but not after much damage. Merry Christmas everybody!
Batman Returns (1992)
Again, not a “Christmas” movie, but director Tim Burton, who appears to be a fan of Christmas with other movies (Edwards Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), does his best to destroy the holiday with a very dark storyline. The beginning shows a couple throwing their deformed baby into the sewer while it is snowing. Raised by penguins, he grows up to become Danny DeVito. Next in line is sweet and mousey Michelle Pfeiffer who gets thrown out of a window and left to die in the middle of the street. She becomes Catwoman. Later, Gotham’s “ice princess” who is tasked with turning on the lights of the town’s Christmas tree, is scared into jumping off a building and dies. She becomes dead. The movie gets a biblical-like treatment as the Penguin decides to kidnap all of the town’s first-born baby boys and drowning them.
Bill Murray took his turn playing a modern version of Scrooge as Frank Cross, a television executive. During the night, he is visited by New York cabbie (from the past), a fairy who likes to punch (from the present) and a very tall headless creature (from the future) in this uneven comedy. It is essentially the same “Christmas Carol” story with lines that should be a lot funnier and a plot that should have been paced faster.
Many have never seen this film and shouldn’t bother to. It is a Spanish film where Santa is up against one of Satan’s imps, Pitch. Pitch is seen encouraging children to do wrong and even sends in some “naughty” boys to trap Santa. The lines, acting and special effects are terrible. Since when has Santa become the opposite of the devil?
Santa Claus (1985)
This film is only half bad. Seriously. The first half of the movie tells an origin story about how Santa became Santa. It is actually quite charming that provoke feelings of warmth of watch an old Raskin-Bass television special. The second half of the movie is set in modern times where we meet Patch (Dudley Moore), the head elf who somehow gets mixed up with the wrong people. An evil toy producer wants to eliminate Santa to gain a larger portion of the market of toy making. The movie becomes stupid at this point with a whole different feel.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
Yes, this film really exists and is so bad it is good. It is responsible for Pia Zadora’s first acting gig too. In the film, Martians are not only green-skinned, but they only where green clothing as well. Other than that, the children and their parents act pretty much like earth-bound families. Mothers and fathers of Martian children are concerned for their children as they have become obsessed with television shows aired from earth. Apparently earth children are a bad influence. The green ones kidnap Santa and two children and the only way out of this pickle is to successfully spread Christmas cheer to the people of Mars. Of course, none of this would ever happen if Santa was already giving presents to good little Martians girls and boys to begin with.