Posted at 2:30 p.m., Dec. 8, 2015

Christmas Carnage

A majority of people this season, along with myself, will breakout and wipe the dust off of those films that only run through the DVD player for that special time of the year, Christmas. Besides viewing the traditional movies for the holiday season with the family, I manage to squeeze in a few others I watch when I get a little tired of seeing the same thing over and over again. So, for those looking for something different to see this winter, I have compiled a list of my alternative, or should I say rather obscure, list of films that aren’t Christmas movies per se, but are set during the most wonderful time of the year.

1. Edward Scissorhands (1990) (PG-13):

Even though the Christmas season doesn’t start until its third act, wonder, awe and the spirit of the holiday are in every frame of this early fairy-tale from director Tim Burton. Starring in the role that launched his career, Johnny Depp plays Edward, a mild-mannered and light-hearted Frankenstein that becomes a suburban neighborhood’s popular attraction. That is, until he is viewed as dangerous by his deformity and casted out as a freak among the town. It is only with the love of Winona Ryder’s Kim that he is seen as truly unique and among the chaos, he gives the town and especially her the gift of their very first snow. Twirling like an angel in the snowflakes from Edward’s ice sculpture, Ryder is perhaps the purest embodiment of the pleasure, joys and hope that Christmas has to offer.

2. Die Hard (1988) (R):

Probably the ultimate celebration in yuletide joy, this late-80s action flick will have you cheering this holiday season. It stars Bruce Willis as John McClane, an average-Joe, New York cop visiting his wife in Los Angeles for Christmas. While there, he finds everyone taken hostage by foreign criminals attempting to perform a heist in one of Los Angeles’ major skyscrapers. What follows is a wild ride as McClane tries to calm things down in the ultimate Christmas party.

3. Trading Places (1983) (R):

What was 48 Hrs. (1982), Beverly Hills Cop (1984), and Coming to America (1988) missing? Why Christmas, of course! This early-‘80s, buddy-movie classic pairs Eddie Murphy with Saturday Night Live co-star Dan Aykroyd just in time for the holidays. Murphy stars as a sharp-witted street con who switches positions with a supercilious investor, played by Aykroyd, as a bet by two cold-hearted millionaires that each one will take on one another’s lifestyle. What ensues is guaranteed hilarity of wagers and gags, but more importantly a story of—wouldn’t you know-friendship.

4. Batman Returns (1992) (PG-13):

The second Burton film on our list can only be Michael Keaton’s return as the caped crusader. The sequel to 1989’s “Batman” has our Dark Knight costarring with Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito as Cat Woman and The Penguin, who wreak a funhouse of havoc in and around the darkest depths of our hero’s hometown all within a beautifully shot Christmas setting. Oh yeah, don’t forget Christopher Walken as “Gotham’s very own Santa Clause.”

5. The Shop Around the Corner (1940) (Passed):

I bet you didn’t know Jimmy Stewart stared in another Christmas movie besides It’s A Wonderful Life (1946), did you? Six years before that Frank Capra classic, Stewart stared alongside Margaret Sullavan in this film about two gift shop employees who can’t stand one another, but as Christmas Eve approaches, unknowingly fall in love as each other’s anonymous pen pal.

6. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005) (R):

In this underrated neo-noir from Lethal Weapon (1987) creator Shane Black, a murder mystery bring together three individuals to crack the case. With glorious Los Angles at Christmastime as its backdrop, this hilarious romp delivers clever dialogue and plot and includes Robert Downey Jr. as a movie-obsessed thief, Val Kilmer as a gay detective and Michelle Monaghan in a Santa suit. What more could you ask for this Christmas?

7. A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas (2011) (R):

The holidays are nothing without certain traditions and for Christmas, there always needs to be a Christmas tree. But in this stoner comedy, best buds Harold and Kumar are in search of the perfect tree after Kumar burns down Harold’s father-in-law’s prized spruce with a joint. Rolled up with a delightful fracas of craziness, this movie shows that traditions aren’t as important as being around family for the holidays.

8. In Bruges (2008) (R):

This moral tale finds two hitmen, a guilt-stricken Ray and his wise partner Ken, in Bruges, Belgium, waiting further instruction from their boss after a job gone wrong. Even as Colin Ferrel’s Ray doesn’t find the city that enlightening, Brendon Gleeson’s Ken has his life enriched with the beauty of Bruges at Christmastime. That is until their ruthless mob boss Harry, played by Ralph Fiennes, has other plans for the two of them and they learn that sacrifice is the ultimate gift.

9. The Ref (1994) (R):

In this holiday satire, a profane burglar (stand-up comic Denis Leary at his best) takes an even more profane well-to-do suburban couple (Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis) as his hostages on Christmas Eve. In the middle of their family struggle, we learn a lesson: Count your blessings because with all the cynicism and squabbling, its best to leave miracles and sentiment at the door.

10. Rocky IV (1985) (PG):

When your friend’s life is taken by the baddie overseas, what do you do? Challenge him to a boxing match on Christmas! After Rocky’s best friend Apollo Creed is in a match that (SPOILER!) sends him to his grave, the Italian Stallion decides to fight the ruthless Russian that did the deed: iron man Ivan Drago. Rocky (Sylvester Stallon) comes to the heart of Russia to fight Drago (Dolph Lundgren) and delivers a gift of 15 pile-driving boxing rounds of revenge.

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