The holiday season is upon us once again, and you know what that means: It’s time to watch all the holiday movies until your eyes bleed out their sockets! With cable channels like Hallmark and Freeform counting down the days until Christmas with made-for-TV nonsense and Harry Potter marathons, we thought we’d get in on the fun and offer up a holiday marathon of our own.
Here are our top ten holiday movies currently streaming on Netflix! (Incidentally, these are the only ten holiday movies on Netflix that we’ve actually covered on the podcast.)
This one’s at the bottom (top, whatever) of our list, because not only is maybe 15% of it actually about Christmas, it’s also pretty terrible to boot. Imagine if you assigned a class of first-year film students to group up and make gimmicky shorts based on the holiday of their choice. Now imagine if those shorts were remade by actual working filmmakers and Kevin Smith. Parts of it are bafflingly terrible, other parts are simply misguided, and only a couple actually work as horror shorts. Only seek out this anthology horror film as a last resort.
I’m frankly at a loss for words as to why anyone thought we needed a sequel to Bad Santa, let alone 13 years after the fact. It’s mean-spirited, which should go without saying, but at a certain point all the bitter hatred that exists between these characters just becomes miserable to watch. The only saving grace in this slapdash grease fire of a movie is that Brett Kelly 100% commits to his role as Thurman Merman all grown up. He’s a beacon of joy in an otherwise mirthless waste of time.
For when you absolutely, positively have to have some talking dogs up in your Christmas experience, there’s Santa Buddies. It’s an embarrassing experience all the way around, but if you have little ones around the house… You know what? No. I won’t say, “You could do worse.” You could always do worse, but dear lord, you could also do so, so much better. There are four other films on this list more appropriate for your kids than Santa Buddies, and while one of them will probably put them straight to sleep, none of them will force you to suffer the indignity of watching puppies engage in casual racism or breakdancing.
7) HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (2000)
The sun may be shining and the powder may be bitchin’, but that’s no excuse for Ron Howard’s 2000 remake to be such a damn eyesore. It’s the kind of gaudy Hollywood nightmare that only gets made thanks to piles and piles of cocaine, and as such kinda represents the end of an era. Lord of the Rings would come a year later and show us how much easier and less obnoxious this stuff can look when you take it seriously and run it all through a computer. If there’s an upshot to Grinch 2000, it’s Jim Carrey’s gonzo performance, and even then, a little Carrey goes a loooong way.
Your mom’s favorite Christmas movie has never NOT been on Netflix, and chances are, even though it’s been on TV twice a week for the last fifty years, she’ll still put this on to hum along to “Snow” or “Sisters” or any of the other goofy Irving Berlin tunes littered around this movie. For real though, they just plain don’t make movies like this anymore, and while the plot is pretty inconsequential and sitcom-y, the musical numbers are mostly excellent. It’s all just so… White.
5) THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993)
Here we go. Everyone’s favorite animated bi-seasonal holiday musical certainly has its charms, and will definitely get the nostalgia synapses firing for all your millennials out there. Jack Skellington may be the Pumpkin King, but even he can’t resist the warm holiday glow of Christmas. There’s a lesson here about knowing your role and not ruining someone else’s good time, but the songs are so catchy and the animation so vibrant that you would be forgiven for not realizing it.
Bad Santa is the quintessential angry Christmas movie, starring Billy Bob Thornton as Willy Soke, a perpetually drunk, depressed, angry mall Santa Claus. Willy’s game is robbing a new mall each holiday season with the help of his elf Marcus. But this time, Willy accidentally befriends the hopelessly delusional Thurman Merman (see #9), who causes this grinch’s heart to grow a size or two purely by accident. Where the sequel constantly stumbles over its own dick, the original hits its target every single time.
An underrated 90s gem, The Ref gets down to the heart of the one thing we all hate about the holidays: Family. The Ref pits fast-talking burglar Denis Leary against Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis as a pair of neurotic, bickering WASPs. When the whole family arrives for Christmas dinner, Leary puts on the persona of a marriage counselor and we’re off to the races. Amplified by the fact that the family is forced to undergo therapy at gunpoint, the truth bombs this movie drops could be seen from space. Well worth a look if you’re feeling under the gun from the relatives this season.
Perhaps the most subversive holiday offering on our list, Gremlins is one of those stealth Christmas movies on the level of a Die Hard or Batman Returns that most people love, and still others vehemently refuse to acknowledge as a Christmas movie. Look, the gremlins go Christmas caroling! Billy Peltzer gets a mogwai as a Christmas present, disobeys the three rules and then all hell breaks loose. It’s no secret that the movie’s setting is a jet black parody of Bedford Falls from It’s A Wonderful Life, but what puts Gremlins over the top is its willingness to mock everything Normal Rockwell stood for.
1) CHRISTMAS AT PEEWEE’S PLAYHOUSE (1988)
Christmas at Peewee’s Playhouse combines the pure-strain silliness of Peewee’s Playhouse with the unbridled glee of a kid at Christmas. Cartoons? Check! Fruitcake? You got it! A (probably) drunk KD Lang singing Christmas carols? Yup, we’ve got that too! A dozen guest stars show up to celebrate the holidays with Peewee, including Magic Johnson, Little Richard, Cher, Grace Jones, and a whole host of other people who I assure you were actually famous in 1988. It’s everything a demented man-child could possibly want from a Christmas special, and we here at Christmas Creeps can’t possibly recommend it enough.
Happy Holidays, and happy watching!