Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Now I have a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho.

Today we're going to start with a question. What do the above ten movies have in common?

If you want to study the picture and work it out for yourself, you ought to stop reading now.

Like, right now.

Because I'm about to give you the answer.

They are all set (or have key scenes set) during Christmas.

It's relevant, see? It's a time of year where we imagine settling down in front of a roaring fireplace with loved ones and family members to watch a tonne of films on television. But a lot of the films we end up watching are the ones being broadcast on the main TV channels - often characterised by schmaltzy, saccharine, storylines where Santa Claus is a real person and Jingle Bells plays loudly in New York department stores.

So if you're after something a little different, check out this list of movies for alternative Christmas viewing. In all of them we get to see Yuletide without the elves, without Santa Claus and without the mushiness. And in at least one of them Bruce Willis has a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho.

Ten Alternative Christmas Movies

Die Hard (1988)
This is an obvious one. It's action packed, funny, original and has Bruce Willis at his very best. A lot of people watch this film every single year. And they're unlikely to stop any time soon - because you know what they say about old habits.

Gremlins (1984)
Is this a monster flick? Kind of, but there's definitely more than one critter, and although not very big, they're mischievous, nasty, little buggers. Setting it in what appears to be a homebaked American village during the holiday season, worthy of a place in It's a Wonderful Life, just adds to the eventual chaos.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Great cast, acid sharp script, brilliant characters and a beautifully twisted plot. All of which is centred around a murder at Christmas. Extra fun if you're a Raymond Chandler fan.

Batman Returns (1992)
Back before Chris Nolan rewrote the way superhero movies worked, there were a couple of excellent Batman films made by Tim Burton. The second one was set in a snowy Gotham City, offering a little extra juxtaposition for the creepy bad guys.

The City of Lost Children (1995)
Okay, so although I promised you films that don't feature Santa Claus, he's in this. And not just one. There's a whole room full of them. But being such a darkly inventive science-fiction film you never come too close to any schmaltz.

12 Monkeys (1995)
Bruce Willis again. Does he have a machine gun? You'll have to watch it to find out. But director Terry Gilliam's twisted time-travel film keeps you as confused as the protagonist, slowly revealing the plot, until an ending where you realise all the threads have come together. Look out for the Christmas moments.

Prometheus (2012)
This prequel to the Alien movies is almost entirely set at Christmas. Did you know that? Props to Pete 'The Chef' Cook for pointing it out. Apparently there's a scene where a Christmas tree makes it abundantly clear. I have no recollection whatsoever, and it's not quite good enough for me to want to watch again right now. But the visuals are utterly fabulous so I'm sure I'll get round to it soon.

I Am Legend (2007)
When a virus causes mass panic on the streets of New York City at Christmas, the resultant, mutated inhabitants look less like the vampires of the original book and more like zombies. But it's the change to the ending that really infuriated the fans. That said, it's still a pretty decent movie. Certainly more so than the earlier Charlton Heston adaptation, The Omega Man. And who doesn't love Will Smith?

First Blood (1982)
The Rambo films were pretty silly. A bare chested Sly Stallone obliterating America's enemies with a rocket launcher and a heavy machine gun probably torn from a tank. All pretty silly except the first one, where he's forced to use his black ops survival skills against good ol' yankee cops. An exciting film dealing with PTSD, the dislocation of veterans returning to society, and what it's like to sew yourself back together after a vicious fall. Look out for the decor in the Sheriff's office. It's that which tells us the film takes place at Christmas.

L.A. Confidential (1997)
In one of the opening scenes Russell Crowe's brawny, hard-as-nails detective pulls the Christmas lights off a bad guy's roof. From then on the film takes you deeper and deeper into LA's criminal underworld of the 1950s. And with Guy Pearce's scrawny smarts we are shown a shift of ideologies between the old world and the new. Based on the book by James Elroy.

1 comment:

  1. An excellent post Mr Tenebris. An original take on the Christmas film list - not something we see a lot of. Pete asked me to share this link with you - just to confirm his (and now your) statement regarding the Prometheus tannenbaum.

    Just one more suggestion for your list: American Psycho. Patrick Bateman takes a break from his extra-curricular activities to attend a Christmas party given by his fiancée. Boom.

    Happy new year to everyone within eyeshot of this. Here’s to a fantastic 2016 filled with movies, comics, models and (just a bit of) mayhem.