10 Un-Merry Christmas Movies You Should Watch


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All the Scrooges, Grinches, and Wet Bandits out there are overlooked during the holiday season when it comes to entertainment. Not everybody wants to watch Santa teach some rich schmuck the joy of giving in every movie played during the first 25 days of December. For those who prefer to experience a wider range of emotions than joy and happiness, there is a selection of holiday movies, though definitely limited, that can fill you with terror, sadness, and everything in between. To avoid the very merry movies blasting at you from all sides, rent these 10 movies and take a break from the Christmas spirit.

  1. Mixed Nuts

    It's often said that the holiday season has the highest rate of suicides, but most people don't like to watch movies dealing with such a heavy subject. And even though this film does center on a suicide prevention hotline at Christmas time, it's not as depressing as you would think. Steve Martin heads up this zany comedy (are there any other kind for Martin?), playing the role of the director of the hotline who is facing money problems and a quirky staff. With a serial killer, a suicidal ex-con, and a transvestite Liev Schreiber, this isn't exactly a show you'll be watching with your kids, but you will be thanking your lucky stars that all you have to deal with on Christmas is your own dysfunctional family.
  2. Love Actually

    With an all-star cast of British actors and several different story lines, Love Actually has become a Christmas favorite around the world. Some of the love stories depicted are fairly merry, like the tales of overcoming a language barrier and winning a girl's heart through music. The movie overall, though, is bittersweet with many all-too-real portrayals of heartache. A marriage weakens, a man confesses to a love that can never be returned, and family issues destroy a relationship with an incredibly cute guy. If you're looking for a film that will both warm your heart and break it in the course of an hour and a half, Love Actually is definitely worth watching.
  3. Santa's Slay

    We can all appreciate a good play on words (even though this one mimics the movie-within-a-movie in Ernest Saves Christmas), and a film that involves a murderous Santa Claus makes it even better. This ridiculous horror-comedy gives new origins to Santa, who is a product of Satan and was forced to deliver presents for 1,000 years after losing a curling match. Yes, curling. His sentence was up in 2005, when this movie was released, and he kills everyone he can find with all kinds of holiday-themed methods. Santa Claus, in the deli, with the menorah! He does kill off Fran Drescher within the opening scene, so at least the film has that going for it.
  4. Rent

    What puts you into the Christmas spirit more than poor drug addicts and death by AIDS? Well, probably lots of things, but that shouldn't keep you from watching Rent this holiday season. The story starts on Christmas Eve as a group of bohemians is angry that they are being asked to pay rent when they were told they wouldn't have to. It's not exactly a happy plot, with people struggling with disease, death, and relationships, but the music is unbelievable and most of the original cast of the Broadway play reprise their roles in the film, meaning the voices will not disappoint. You'll have the songs stuck in your head for days — a welcome replacement to "Jingle Bells" and other overplayed Christmas tunes.
  5. The Christmas Shoes

    Most of us probably have an embarrassing story about hearing the song, "The Christmas Shoes," on the radio and crying in our cars. This made-for-TV movie is based on the touching song, and while corny, is just as much of a tear-jerker. The basic premise of the song and film is a guy standing in line at a store, feeling a bit Scroogey, and seeing a poor boy in front of him trying to buy shoes for his dying mother so she'll look pretty when she meets Jesus. You're getting a little choked up, right? There's a merry lesson to be learned about the Christmas spirit and some nonsense about love, but it won't make you any happier about how unfair life is. You'll come out of it sad and grateful for what you have.
  6. Black Christmas

    If you think Black Friday is scary, wait until you see Black Christmas. This 1974 film was remade in 2006, and either version is a great addition to your unconventional Christmas. A man who was seriously traumatized as a kid and ended up killing his mother (and making Christmas cookies out of her) escapes an institution and goes on a killing spree. The perfect target, of course, is a sorority house where naive girls keep ignoring horror-movie rules and go outside to check on the ones who left before them. You're bound to feel at least slightly better about your own Christmas after you see this psychotic holiday that cost a bunch of pretty girls their lives.
  7. The Family Stone

    Why does Hollywood keep giving us depressing movies dealing with death during the holidays? And why do we love watching them so much? In the beginning of the film, you think it's going to strictly be a romantic comedy. Sarah Jessica Parker's uptight character is meeting her fiance's tight-knit family for the first time and things don't go too well. When you find out that the mother, played by Diane Keaton, has cancer, though, the film has a depressing undertone. The family has to deal with change and loss and the idea of Christmas without their mom, something none of us wants to think about or be reminded of during the holiday season.
  8. Gremlins

    A strange, fluffy creature may seem like a good idea for a Christmas present, but it never ends well. Look at the Furby, for example. When a man buys his kid a Mogwai as a gift, even after being warned of the great responsibility and important rules that come with it, things obviously take a bad turn. The kid doesn't follow the simple guidelines and his new pet multiplies and the new ones turn into evil gremlins who terrorize the neighborhood. It seems like it would be fairly easy to kill these ankle-biters, but you probably wouldn't want to deal with it on Christmas. If you can convince your kid that the puppy they want is actually a gremlin, this movie might be very useful for having a happy, dogless Christmas.
  9. The Nightmare Before Christmas

    For Halloween and Tim Burton lovers everywhere, this movie is the best Christmas flick out there. Jack Skellington, ruler of Halloween Town, wants something new in his life, and after finding out about Christmas, decides he wants to take over the role of Santa one year. With the help of the town's citizens, he kidnaps Santa and delivers scary presents to all the children. The film's upbeat but certainly not what you would consider a traditional, feel-good Christmas film. If creepy monsters and crawly bugs make you squeamish, this probably isn't the holiday movie for you.
  10. The Ice Harvest

    You might associate the holidays with mobs at the mall, but it isn't too often that the actual mob is involved in the festivities. Two mobsters, played by Billy Bob Thornton and John Cusack, steal from the boss and have a hard time getting out of town on Christmas Eve because of icy roads. This isn't a light comedy, either — there's cruel murder, revenge, and betrayal involved. For dudes (or even girls) who are sick of watching Christmas films about puppies and Santa playing Cupid, this movie goes in a totally different direction and won't leave you feeling warm and fuzzy afterward.
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