We all have our favorite holiday movies.
For me, "Holiday Inn" and "White Christmas" are traditions, largely because I grew up in Spokane, Wash., the hometown of Bing Crosby. ("Holiday Inn," made in 1942, is a tough watch in 2013, since it includes a stereotyped black maid character and a Lincoln’s Birthday dance number done in blackface.)
Some of us can’t make it through December without one viewing of "It’s a Wonderful Life" or turning on TBS’ 24-hour Christmas Eve/Christmas Day marathon of "A Christmas Story" while wrapping those last gifts.
But, when the wear-and-tear of the holidays starts to take its toll, a movie watcher might want to see something that takes the shine off the tinsel. Thankfully, there are movies that appeal to our inner Grinch and let us indulge in Christmas’ dark side.
Here are nine anti-Christmas movies, most available on home video in one form or another, that will let you release your holiday stress to make your Christmas a little more merry after:
"Bad Santa" (2003) » Can’t believe it’s been 10 years since Terry Zwigoff’s comedy thumbed its nose at St. Nick in the most shocking ways — with Billy Bob Thornton as a foul-mouthed, boozing department-store Santa working a scam with his partner-in-crime elf (Tony Cox) and ending up caring for a troubled kid (Brett Kelly). Hide this one in the same place you keep the presents you don’t want the kids to find.
"Blackadder’s Christmas Carol" (1988) » Rowan Atkinson’s nasty schemer is reimagined as a Dickensian good guy who learns the meaning of being mean at Christmas. Regulars Tony Robinson, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Miranda Richardson and Robbie Coltrane all take roles, along with Miriam Margolyes and Jim Broadbent as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
"Die Hard" (1988) and "Die Hard 2" (1990) » If there are two things that add to December consternation, it’s the office Christmas party and holiday air travel. These action classics add terrorism to both situations and bring in Bruce Willis’ tough-as-nails cop, John McClane, to wipe out the bad guys and deliver pithy one-liners.
"Gremlins" (1984) » Joe Dante’s action comedy, about little fuzzballs that get wild when fed after midnight, is an object lesson on why giving a pet for Christmas is a bad idea.
"Iron Man 3" (2013) » Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has a tough Christmas, with a terrorist destroying his Malibu mansion and forcing him to go underground to uncover a murderous plot.
"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (2005) » It’s Christmastime in Los Angeles, but for thief-turned-actor Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr., again) and private eye Perry van Shrike (Val Kilmer), the miracle will be them surviving when they investigate a murder. Bonus: Michelle Monaghan looks really hot dressed as Santa’s helper.
"Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale" (2010) » Where do all those mall Santas come from? You won’t be asking that question after you see this cringe-worthy horror movie from Finland.
"Reindeer Games" (2000) » Director John Frankenheimer’s final movie, starring Ben Affleck as an ex-con getting tangled up in a casino heist with Charlize Theron, got trashed when it was released. But it’s actually not half bad, especially after a few egg nogs.
Sean P. Means writes The Cricket in daily blog form at www.sltrib.com/blogs/moviecricket. Follow him on Twitter @moviecricket, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/seanpmeans. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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