Saturday 8 December 2012

Top 5 Alternative Christmas Films


It's Christmas and so it's the perfect time to crack out all the classics; 'Muppets Christmas Carol', 'It's A Wonderful Life'...'Deck The Halls'!? You see the problem is that once you've watched the Christmas greats, there aren't actually many good Christmas films left out there. And that's when the alternative choices come to the fore. Why watch 'Jingle All The Way' or 'Christmas With The Kranks' when there are so many other amazing Christmas films out there? You've just got to know where to look. Let's start with my first recommendation in the number 5 slot;
5) Hansel and Gretel (2007)

Now Korean fantasy horror may not be your first port of call when searching for festive cheer but trust me, 'Hansel and Gretel' is all about the redemptive spirit of Christmas. The story revolves around a man called Eun-Soo who has a roadside accident and ends up being trapped in a dream-like house with a bizarre family who won't let him leave... I don't want to give too much away except to say that the children's belief in Santa Claus becomes pivotal in the latter half of the film and you can't get more Christmassy than that can you!? And if you're looking for more Korean horror to spice up your holidays then click here.

4) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Ok, so I know 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' is an obvious choice but it's for good reason; everyone fricking loves this film! The story of Jack Skellington trying to bring festive cheer to Halloween Town is Tim Burton at his very best. The stop-motion gives the film a dream-like feel that's timeless and Danny Elfman's soundtrack is incredible, with titles like 'Kidnap The Sandy Claws' and 'Oogie Boogie's Song' bringing the festive cheer. Did you know that Elfman also provided the singing voice for Skellington? 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' is the ultimate children's Christmas film for adults. And if you love this movie, then you should definitely watch Coraline, which was the next stop-motion movie that Henry Selick directed. It's just as good!

3) Children of Men (2006)

So some of you may be making an 'uh?' face upon seeing what's in the number three slot but trust me, 'Children of Men' has a clear Christmas message running through its depressingly dystopian vision of the future. This highly underrated British sci-fi was directed by the always incredible Alfonso Cuaron and features Clive Owen living in a world where no children have been born for the last 18 years. The world is on the brink of collapse and people are living without hope, until Owen's character meets a young woman called Kee who might be pregnant. The idea of an impossible pregnancy providing mankind with its salvation is not that far removed from the spirit of Christmas right? The US distributors evidently agreed, releasing 'Children of Men' on 25th December in the States to bring a more depressing view of Christmas to the masses. Just be warned, this is not one for the kiddies but it comes highly recommended. Watch it now! 

2) Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

In the number two slot we have one of the best Christmas films to come out in the last few years. 'Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale' is a Finnish film that explores the mythology surrounding Santa Claus, harkening back to old tales that suggested Father Christmas would much rather punish the naughty children than reward the good. Based on a short called 'Rare Exports Inc' from 2003, the film focusses on a boy called Pietari who notices that something is amiss when the town's reindeer herd is mysteriously killed and people begin to go missing. The film does a great job of combining its fairy-tale like atmosphere of childish wonder with darker moments of horror and violence. It's a monster movie and a dark comedy wrapped up in festive trimmings and the whole thing is just brilliant. You will never look at the Coca-cola Christmas adverts the same way again, believe me!

1) Batman Returns (1992)
So now we're at the number one spot and oh look, it's Tim Burton again! While I'm not a fan of his more recent work, I was obsessed with Burton back in the day and for me, 'Batman Returns' is easily one of his best. Before superhero films became popular again, this was the one to beat. Sure the more recent Nolan trilogy is brilliant and gritty etc. but with 'Batman Returns', Burton tapped into something special, exploring the more fantastical side to the Batman mythos in a way that only he knows how. In doing so, Burton also created the ultimate Gotham City, inspired by the classic German Expressionist films of the 1920s, which looks even more spectacular with its Christmas backdrop. The festivities throughout 'Batman Returns' lend more grandiose to the proceedings, heightening the fantasy elements to an almost absurd degree. Take Danny Devito's magnificently disturbed take on the Penguin. I love the scene where he gate crashes the Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the centre of Gotham. And what about Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman??!!! The scene where she breaks into the Christmassy department store and disposes of the guards is just stunning. Has there ever been a sexier villain? "Miaow". And for a look at more classic Tim Burton films, click here.  

So there we have it. My top 5 alternative Christmas films. Which one is your favourite? And are there any films that you think I should have included? Let me know by commenting, sharing and liking below! Merry Christmas!!!


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