Burned out on your 6,578th viewing of How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Planning on hanging yourself if forced to watch It's a Wonderful Life one more time this holiday season?
Tons of cult classic movies focus on the holidays. Some of the best/worst cult movies ever are based on Christmas, and horror movies galore use Christmas and the holiday season as an ironic backdrop.
Here's a look at our eight favorite cult holiday movies.
Silent Night, Deadly Night - A cult classic for the holidays, and one of the more popular Christmas themed horror movies.
A 1984 slasher holiday film, Silent Night Deadly Night is an early example of the now-standard horror/Christmas film. The movie focuses on a crazy murderer driven to insanity by a childhood experience in which he watched a man in a Santa Claus suit kill his parents. Silent Night Deadly Night hits all the high points of the holiday horror genre: gore, comedy, and lots of holiday-themed visuals. Pay attention towards the end of the film--the final scene is one of the creepiest and coolest of any movie in this often overlooked holiday movie genre.
Everyone's favorite holiday movie earns cul" status because of how it became popular. A Christmas Story is based on the short stories and anecdotes of Jean Shepherd, a radio and TV personality probably best known for his work on this cult holiday classic. But A Christmas Story nearly flew completely under the radar. Released just before Thanksgiving 1983, the country's general distaste for holiday movies at that time earned the film plenty of negative reviews and slightly better than average performance at the box office. Word of mouth, the emergence of movie rentals, and the sheer joy built into the movie led to its eventual status as the go to holiday movie, and A Christmas Story is still rebroadcast during the holidays on major cable networks. Now considered the best movie of 1983, A Christmas Story started life as a real box office sleeper, earning it cult movie status.
The hybrid Halloween/Christmas movie is a true rarity, and Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas is another holiday classic that very nearly didn't make it to the big screen. Burton worked with Disney on The Nightmare Before Christmas, though the film was described as a stepchild project of Disney, mostly because Disney execs thought their core audience wouldn't be interested in the movie. The Nightmare Before Christmas is popular among audiences of all types, a Christmas movie and Halloween movie embraced by children and adults alike. The movie itself is beautiful, the songs are endearing, and the story sweet enough that any scary images in the movie are easily overlooked. Perfect viewing any time of the year, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a modern holiday standard.
More holiday horror, and another movie from Bob Clark, director and writer behind A Christmas Story. Black Christmas is decidedly different from A Christmas Story, focusing on a series of murders at a sorority house during the Christmas season rather than the childhood adventures of the average American boy. The biggest star in the film is Margot Kidder, future star of Superman. Black Christmas is one of the best looking horror movies of the 70s, with lots of point of view shots from the perspective of the killer, shot by attaching a 35 mm camera to the camerman's back as he crawled around the set. A beautiful example of what horror holiday movies and holiday cult classics can be.
The trailer for the original 1974 Black Christmas, another cult classic holiday horror film.
Santa Claus: The Movie was supposed to be a mega hit. The film's budget was unprecedented at the time: nearly $50 million. The studio spared no expense on Santa Claus: The Movie, stuffed to the gills with expensive costumes and special effects. The movie was made in 1984 and 1985, and the success of other recent holiday movies (including cult hit A Christmas Story) convinced the filmmakers that holiday movies could bring in big bucks at the box office, but this didn't prove true for Santa Claus: The Movie. The film made just over $23 million at the domestic box office, not even half the film's total budget. John Lithgow and Dudley Moore star in this so-bad-its-good cult classic about Santa Claus and . . . well, not much else.
This obscure slasher film from 1980 gained a cult following thanks to director John Waters statement that Christmas Evil is his favorite holiday movie of all time. Considered by some to be the first holiday horror movie, beating out Silent Night Deadly Night by a full four years. Christmas Evil contains many elements of the Christmas themed horror movie that would be copied time and again, including a deranged killer driven to murder by childhood experiences involving Santa Claus. In the case of Christmas Evil, a young boy sees a man dressed as Santa Claus having sex with his mother, and this drives him into an anti-Santa rage later in life. Incidentally, the killer is played by Brandon Maggart, best known as the father of model and musician Fiona Apple.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - A cult classic Christmas movie comedy starring Chevy Chase. Fans of the 1980's will love this.
This film makes our list of cult holiday classics not because it wasn't a mainstream success but because over the years, the film hasn't really aged well, and is now more of a hit among fans of ironic homages to 80s culture. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is more of the same from the National Lampoon series of films--Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid, and the rest of the Griswold clan are here celebrating the holiday spirit in true Griswold fashion. There's nothing unique here, just a goofy holiday movie. Cult movie fans love it for its strong 80s flavor and corny jokes.
Francis Ford Coppola produced this truly bizarre claymation holiday movie based on a William Burroughs story. The Junky's Christmas is far from your traditional holiday movie, telling the story of heroin addict looking for a fix during the holidays--a junky who (eventually) learns the true meaning of Christmas. How he learns the Christmas spirit is as bizarre as the claymation look of The Junky's Christmas--when the addict secures a stash of morphine just in time for Christmas Eve and rents a cheap motel room, he hears groaning and moans of pain from the next room. Finding a young man suffering from kidney stones, the junky selflessly injects the sufferer with his morphine. When he returns to his room, he finds he's been granted "the immortal fix" by the spirit of Christmas, a heroin high free of charge. A cult hit for so many reasons, not the least of which is the bizarre holiday/drug hybrid that's rarely seen on the big screen.