Christmas is one of our favorite Holidays here at SciFiPulse. So we thought it would be a cool idea to share our favorite festive movies. So we have each listed our Three favorite movies that are set around Christmas Time and have a Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror theme to them. We will also mention a fourth movie as our honorable mention.
This 1946 movie from director Frank Capra starred the late Jimmy Stewart. Who much like Tom Hanks was renowned for playing the everyman type of character. In the film. Stewart plays the part of George Bailey, who after losing his father winds up running a Buildings and Loans company. A sort of credit union that helps working-class people buy their own homes. When his Uncle Billy loses the Buildings and Loans money. George becomes suicidal and gives up on life. Thankfully some heavenly intervention comes Georges’s way in the form of a trainee Angel called Clarence. When George wishes that he had never been born. Clarence shows him what life would have been like for his friends and family had he never lived.
To my mind. It’s a Wonderful Life is the ultimate Christmas movie. Firstly, it starts off by introducing us to the town and George Bailey and really lets you get to know him. Secondly, the film then pulls the rug right from under you and deals with some pretty dark material for a movie that was made in the 1940s. Finally, it’s about people, relationships, multiculturalism, and Family. Granted many of the social mores in the movie are old-fashioned. But the film’s message is timeless.
In the final scene where the town comes out to help George and his family out with donations. You see people from lots of different races. And pretty much most of these people had pretty decent roles in the film too. This shows us the best in people. It shows us what the spirit of Christmas is really all about.
My second choice is Gremlins, which was released back in 1984. When traveling salesman and inventor Randall Peltzer gets his son Billy a little creature called a Mogwai. Billy falls in love with it and names him Gizmo. Subsequently, a series of events cause Billy to accidentally break some of the rules in regards to caring for his Mogwai and all hell breaks loose when Gizmo has a brood of very naughty Mogwai. In a very short time. Gizmo’s children become destructive creatures known as Gremlins, which create havoc in Billy’s small town.
Directed by Joe Dante. Gremlins has been a favorite film of mine for years. When it was released here in England. The film caused quite a bit of stir in regards to the sequence where Billy’s mother kills one of the Gremlins by cooking it in the Microwave. The film is both festive and fun and has elements of horror to it, but it is more of a knockabout slapstick sort of affair. It’s great fun and the sequence of the Gremlins singing while watching Snow White still gets a laugh.
For my final pick. Have gone with ‘The Christmas Chronicles’, which stars Kurt Russell as a modern and more hip take on Santa Claus. When Kate and her older Brother Teddy try to capture Santa on film. They suddenly find themselves whisked away on an adventure across America as they try to help Santa locate his Reindeer. Things go wrong though when Santa is arrested for car theft and Teddy gets into trouble when trying to get Santa’s sack of toys back.
This film is great fun for all the family and features some of the cutest CGI Elves you’ll ever see.
My Honorable Mention
For my honorable mention. I have chosen Shazam, which is second only to Wonder Woman as one of the best movies that has come out of the DC Universe and Warner Bros Studios. The film manages to give us a Superhero origin story and retain the fun factor of the genre. Zachary Levi is perfectly cast as the titular character and manages to pull off a great comedic performance of a Shazam getting used to his powers.
Additionally, Levi is supported by a brilliant cast, and Mark Strong was brilliant as the film’s villain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. Furthermore, the movie is set during the Christmas holidays, which was kind of weird because I saw it in the Spring. That said. It is one I never fail to rewatch during the festive holiday period.
As a child of the ‘90s, I would be doing my generation and myself a great disservice if I didn’t include The Muppet Christmas Carol. Narrated by Gonzo in the role of Charles Dickens, this film retold a story of corruption, love lost, and ultimate redemption.
Michael Caine is sensational as Ebenezer Scrooge. He sells Scrooge’s reaction to the spirits and the old miser’s journey back to the light with subtle brilliance. Furthermore, this film’s great strength is its ability to turn on a dime from being light-hearted to being silly to being poignant to being terrifying to being hopeful and joyous at the last. Some special people have made this film, and it stands the test of time as being one of the greatest and well-loved Christmas films ever made.
The scene in the park with the pigeon lady (Brenda Fricker) at the end of this film is what cements its spot on this list for me. I can remember crying my eyes out when Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) gives the pigeon lady the second turtledove. This film was gilded by a sense of magic and kindness that all other Home Alone films never quite manage in my opinion. Additionally, we can even interpret Donald Trump’s brief cameo at the end as a retroactive redemption arc of sorts, although it must be said that he was only playing a part.
Furthermore, Tim Curry is entertaining as the rather dim-witted and snotty concierge of the hotel that Kevin checks into. It must be said that the re-use of the joke about Kevin’s parents (John Heard and Catherine O’Hara) sleeping in grated on me when I first watched the film. Nevertheless, this remains a beautiful and touching Christmas film.
Possibly the silliest Christmas film out there, but entertaining despite (or perhaps because of) this. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s somewhat demented quest to buy his son a Turbo-Man action figure for Christmas takes him to some weird places. Among these are a counterfeit toy factory staffed by people dressed as Father Christmas and a radio station at which the star of Terminator suits up as Turbo-Man and attempts to deliver the toy to his son himself.
Surprisingly, there is a moment of genuine emotion during Schwarzeneggar’s scene with David Adkins at Mickey’s Diner. Adkins makes us feel for his character Myron, whose dad didn’t buy him a Johnny Seven OMA. In keeping with the film’s Christmas theme Myron is vindicated at the end, as Schwarzeneggar’s Howard Langston gives his rival the coveted Turbo-Man doll. Jake Lloyd, as Schwarzeneggar’s on-screen son Jamie, gets a sweet if schmaltzy line at the end of the film: “I’ve got the real Turbo-Man at home.”
My first pick’s a movie I didn’t see until I was an adult. The magic of it worked just the same on me, though. Mary Steenburgen is Ginny Grainger, the central protagonist. Though in some ways the films belongs to Elisabeth Harnois. Both are good in it, especially Harnois, considering her young age. Harry Dean Stanton is good in it too; as are the rest of the cast.
The theme is what you really watch the film for. It has a really special “feel good” quality; unsurprisingly. it’s a Disney film. Crucially, the film doesn’t sugarcoat the effects of poverty on people. How it can be especially tough at Christmas. It’s perhaps a bit unfair that Ginny, the mother, gets the role of “the Grinch”. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying this delightful film. It certainly doesn’t stop me from watching it every year. For those of you with a Disney Plus subscription, good news. You can watch it there. Yay!
The definitive onscreen version of Ebeneezer Scrooge. Alastair Sim is astounding as the most famous miser of all. What he captures is the gripping drama of the story. Whilst it’s child friendly, the film isn’t made for children. Certainly not children alive today, anyway. The bleakness and stark conditions of the times are laid bare. It’s not sugarcoated. A far cry from “Disney” magic. A psychological undercurrent runs through Sim’s performance. His near manic state at the end of the film is terrifying in its own way. The work of a truly gifted actor. Other highlights include effects that were finely executed, given the limits of the day. They still stand up, considering.
I remember watching this film as a child. My dad made sure I, my sister, and my brother did. It’s a fine take on what’s probably the most famous Christmas story of all. With the exception of the birth of Jesus. I was scared by the dark-cloaked figure at the end of the film. The last spirit (of Christmas Future). Entirely covered over. So powerful is Sim’s portrayal that even as a child I soon forgot that the film was in black and white. Other versions exist. Many. But this version is the greatest. By some distance. I watch it every year. Without fail.
Nothing is magical in the same way that The Snowman is. Simple animation with exceptional music. The comedy is also simplistic. But in the best way. It draws out emotion and relies on slapstick, in animated form. beautiful storytelling, as The Snowman, comes to life . . .
The big scene of the movie is when the main song begins to play. As the boy and The Snowman lift into the air, the soundtrack is absolutely breathtaking. Everything has been silent up until that moment. Then, it bursts into glorious sound, in truly memorable ways.
I was born the same year The Snowman came out. It was adapted from the book of the same name. I don’t know how old I was when I first saw it. What I do know is this: I wept my heart out. That final scene . . . Such powerful imagery captures in silence what no words can. Again. this is very much one that has stayed with me. I still get the same feeling of magic as I hear that song. Incredible to believe that it will soon be 40 years old. None of the charm has been lost. It just never feels old. An absolute classic Christmas tale.
My Honourable Mention(s)
I’m allowing myself to choose both. Both are Christmas movies. Furthermore, both fit into the now larger franchise as one separate entity. Every movie after has a different feel. Whilst their status as Christmas films is often the subject of debate, the facts are that they’re set at Christmas. On Christmas Eve. A famous meme declares: “It’s not Christmas until you see Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) screaming, falling to his death”. Yep. That settles it. Die Hard is a Christmas movie. As for Die Hard 2, it’s got snow in it! Lots of the stuff. What more could you want, to make it count as a Christmas film? John Mclane (Bruce Willis) himself in a full Santa suit?
Anyway, we reckon that John Mclane is actually an angel. Of sorts. These movies are the only ones I’ve picked without a fantasy element. In the strictest sense. But we figure that John Mclane must at least have God onside. How else would he single-handedly off all those bad guys? He may not fit on top of a Christmas Tree, but John Mclane is definitely our Christmas angel. What a legend he is!
The first film is all the more poignant now, given that Alan Rickman passed away in 2016. His performance was a classic, overtly theatrical “English villain” portrayal. For anyone who’s still arguing that neither movie is a Christmas movie, we only have one thing to say. Yep. You guessed it . . . After thinking long and hard about it, we’ve finally settled on this: Yipee-ki-yay, motherfucker! What else?
Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
A movie that is a zombie musical set during Christmas feels like a movie that is trying too hard to be cool, but Anna and the Apocalypse doesn’t have to try to be cool because it is amazing. The musical numbers don’t suck and it has some genuine scares. But more than that, this movie has heart that makes it perfect for the Christmas season.
Anna and Apocalypse stars Ella Hunt as the titular character, and make no mistake about this, Ella Hunt is a movie star in the truest sense of the term. Watching this movie is watching the next big movie star come into existence.
There have been several stories presenting Santa Claus as a monster, but few do it as well as Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. Filmed in and set in Finland, Rare Exports centers on people discovering Santa Clause frozen in a block of ice. With Santa almost freed of his ice prison, his elves (which also look like old white men) awaken. The elves begin stealing heat generators to speed up the process of freeing Santa. The elves also kidnap all of the town’s children so that they can feed them to Santa. This movie is a wild ride.
Additionally, made with just $2 million, Rare Exports is an example of how to do a lot of great filmmaking with a limited budget. And take note of the movie’s great cinematography; the landscape shots of Finland are beautiful.
A Christmas Horror Story (2015)
An anthology movie with four short stories in it, the film’s backbone is William Shatner as a drunk radio DJ talking about strange disturbances that are being reported to him. Each story has a different horror flavor but they are all packed with action, frights, and a ton of Christmas.
If you want a Christmas horror story with some variety, A Christmas Horror Story gives you four tales to enjoy.
So there you have it. Our Christmas movie picks. Do you agree with our choices? Or do you have a few suggestions of your own? Feel free to comment with your own Christmas movie picks.