Are you like us and tired of watching the same old Christmas movies every holiday season? Each year it begins with It’s a Wonderful Life, which airs right after Thanksgiving. Sure, it’s a classic film, but—SPOILER ALERT— you can only watch George stick it to Ol’ Man Potter so many times. Then there’s “A Christmas Story,” “Elf” and “Miracle on 34th Street.” All are popular movies that have grown into a tradition. At Man Crates, we pride ourselves on going the extra mile at holiday time. So we poured the egg nog, passed around the Jerky Cane and got to watching some of the lesser-known Christmas flicks (with one exception). Without further ado, because who ever really wants more ado, here are our 10 favorite holiday movies you’ve probably never seen.
10) Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
A noir/comedy from Lethal Weapon screenwriter Shane Black that delves into the seedy underbelly of Hollywood during the holiday season. Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer exchange witty banter throughout and Michelle Monaghan holds her own as the struggling actress with something to hide. This movie flopped at the box office, which is a shame because it’s funny and clever and has better twists than Westworld.
9) The Dead
Somehow this is not a zombie Christmas movie starring Jean Claude Van Damme. But, it’s fun to watch with friends and family who think it is. Just keep telling them to keep waiting for the big pay-off at the end when Angelica Huston starts eating people. John Huston’s last film is actually a wonderful retelling of James Joyce’s classic short story. Start a fire and pour a tall glass of whiskey to get into the proper, highfalutin mood of this one.
8) Reindeer Games
Let’s file this under the “So Bad That It’s Kinda Good” category. John Frankenheimer’s final film (coincidence?) really wasn’t the disaster that the reviews made it out to be. Just don’t go into this expecting Citizen Kane. Instead, pretend it’s a Lifetime Original, and you’ll find this a rollicking action flick starring a young Ben Affleck (no Boston accent or Batman marble mouth here) and the always fetching Charlize Theron. Plus, it has Gary Sinise with one of the worst hair choices in cinematic history.
A snappy and acerbic winter tale that reveals what happens when young, upper-class white yuppies stop acting polite and start getting weird. The verbose script from Whit Stillman would make an episode of Gilmore Girls jealous, but it still holds up well 25 years later. The wardrobes though…yikes. So many baggy sweaters.
6) The Muppets Christmas Carol
Adding Muppets to a stuffy, old English tale that everyone knows by heart is just a smart move all around. Michael Caine stars in this one because he was contractually obligated to star in 40% of all movies from 1985-1993.
5) Silent Night, Deadly Night
The story of a sad orphan turned department store Santa who goes on a killing spree. Think of it as a bizarro Annie. This cult classic from 1984 was originally titled “Slayride,” which is also a pretty fine title. You will probably never look at department store Santas the same way ever again. There have been three sequels, but watch this first or you will be totally lost.
Okay, it’s not a hidden gem at all. We don’t care, it rules and it’s going on this list. Yippee Ka-yay. And, yes, Diehard is a Christmas movie. There’s a company holiday party and everything.
3) Mixed Nuts
An oddball comedy about a bunch of nut jobs in need of psychiatric help that somehow works, thanks to excellent performances from Steve Martin and a then-unknown Liev Schreiber. The cast also includes Adam Sandler. Ever notice how each Adam Sandler movie is just slightly worse than the one that preceded it?
2) A Midnight Clear
Loosely based on a true story from World War II, German and U.S. soldiers call a temporary truce to celebrate Christmas while fighting in France in 1944. Includes a vintage performance by John C. McGinley and, of course, Gary Sinise again.
1) We’re No Angels
Could Humphrey Bogart really do comedy? Of course he could. Bogie could do it all. On Christmas night, three prisoners escape from Devil’s Island to a small town in France and hilarity ensues. Of course it does!
PRO-TIP: Once you’ve cleared all of these noel-inspired nuggets out of your queue, put down the remote and pick up a game. We’ve got three crowd pleasers conveniently bundled in the Game Night Crate.