Not Quite of this World Christmas Movies

12 Days of Alt Christmas Viewing — #8 Christmas in Alternative Realities

I started these lists of holiday movies last year but by day #7, I was overwhelmed. I don’t what I meant by “12 Days” anyway— as if you were going to watch 5+ movies a day. But I’m picking up where I left off because I’m sure I’m not the only one that could use some escapism this year. This theme is my favorite one. Past themes/lists are here.

Rare Exports
(Jalmari Helander, 2010)

One of my all-time favorites — I am giggling just thinking about this movie. On Christmas Eve in Lapland, something has been unearthed in an archaeological dig. Herds of reindeer are slaughtered, then children start disappearing. A group of reindeer ranchers set out to capture whatever is wreaking this devastation… I can say no more. Tee hee hee. Beautifully shot, dead-pan acting, wry humor, and — I hate to say this, but — it’s everything last year’s Krampus was not. [Amazon Video / Netflix DVD]

(Terry Gilliam, 1985)

If George Orwell’s 1984 was an Ealing Comedy, scripted by Kafka and Vonnegut, with Ufa set design, and Robert De Niro … The story behind this film just proves the cynicism of the film itself. And, Christmas. Just thinking about it makes me nostalgic for the 80s neon dystopias. Can you believe we thought that was bad?!?! We had no idea reality tv was on the horizon. [Annoyingly, this isn’t on Criterion’s FilmStruck but is included in an Amazon SeeSo subscription. I loathe subscription services.]

Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton, 1990)

I like how a John Watersesque 50s suburb is plopped down next to a Burton gothic mansion. I could make a case for this being Burton’s best film ever. I won’t because I have a tree to decorate, but I could. Vincent Price, Dianne Wiest, Alan Arkin, Johnny Depp, Wynona Ryder, Anthony Michael Hall… [Amazon Video]

Batman Returns (Tim Burton, 1992)

Speaking of yearning for an earlier age of neon dystopias… I actually miss Michael Keaton as Batman, and I am not alone. I know this film is awkward, but it has its greatness. Here’s an inspired historical recap and yuletide deconstruction by David Crow at Den of Geek! [Amazon Video / HBO]

Babes in Toyland aka March of the Wooden Soldiers (Gus Meins & Charles Rogers, 1934)

Before MGM’s The Wizard of Oz (Fleming, 1938), there was Hal Roach’s Babes in Toyland (MGM distributed). It doesn’t have the Technicolor, or Judy Garland, but it does have Laurel and Hardy, elaborate sound stage sets, cast of hundreds, and all manner of head-scratching, nursery rhyme mash-up, wackiness — like a pig-napping with sausages as evidence. It’s not really a Christmas movie, except that it’s about toys and was shown on television for years as a holiday movie. Still charming in a quaint ole way. Note:  It was colorized in the 90s which adds another layer of historic interest. I would look for either the original cut of the bw (not tv cut), or the colorized restoration. [Amazon Video]

This was remade by Disney with Annette Funicello, Tommy Sands and Tommy Kirk.


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