** I started writing this on December 23rd, then the booze and cheese got me, and I have only just started to come back to life. This post was originally longer and it was going to be brilliant. Perhaps even a viral sensation, but alas it just wasn’t meant to be…Christmas wins this round.
The holiday season does have a certain tacky charm to it. The funky ornaments, the slightly annoying songs and the return of Christmas 24 (the best/worst movie channel in the history of the world). Timeless classics such as A Hobo’s Christmas are all well and good, but much like the songs, it does get a bit samey after a while.
I love Elf, I love The Muppet’s Christmas Carol and all the other conventional films for this time of year. However, this year I went in search of more. I yearned for something a little bit different, so I vowed that my ‘run-up-to-xmas-movies’ would be a little out of the norm (with the exception of a few. Traditions in my house are unlikely to be the same in your houses…we are strange).
Forget everything you thought you knew about Christmas and read on…
Bernard and the Genie (1991)
An absolute Howlett (BloggyBalboa’s last name ^.^) family tradition is to watch this gem of a BBC television movie. It hasn’t aged well and the jokes are very of the time, which would be why it hasn’t been put back on television. To be honest, I don’t understand half of the stuff they say about British politics and the has-been household names that get totted about. I understand the jokes though, jokes are funny.
The narrative follows Bernard (Alan Cumming) as he falls hard on his luck near Christmas. His girlfriend has gone with all the furniture, he is sacked by his money-grabbing boss, Charles Pinkworth (Rowan Atkinson) but he finds an unlikely friend in a wish granting genie (Lenny Henry).
Discovering a genie quite by accident, Bernard is a bit skeptical at first, but soon starts making wishes like they were going out of fashion. Perhaps the best Christmas present to give a scorned man whose life has been turned upside down, is an unlimited amount of wishes.
The best part of this movie is watching the absolute drip that is Bernard Bottle hang out with a raucous and outrageous genie, who teaches him about living his life to the fullest and in turn gets taught a few lessons of his own. With all the warmth of a freshly lit Christmas pudding and all the fiery kick of trying to eat the pudding before the fire has gone out, this movie will have you crying: “They don’t make ’em like they used to!” I have shown this movie to everyone I have ever met, and it never fails to disappoint, so climb out of your comfort zone and dip yourself in 90’s nostalgia. You won’t regret it.
Die Hard 2 (1990)
Die Hard has become the ‘uncoventional Christmas statement movie,’ which means people have been really mulling this one over on social media for the past five years and I am sick of it. Fuck Die Hard. Fuck your alternative Xmas ideals, I’m going to one up you and say that I think Die Hard 2 is my new festive film of choice.
Die Hard 2 is like the forgotten member of the franchise. People seem to skip right over this one and go straight for Die Hard with Vengeance. Anyway, I digress with memes and ranting. For those that have no idea about Die Hard 2 (basically the entire Facebook population), it puts John McClain (Bruce Willis) in another life or death situation on Christmas Eve. While waiting for Holly at Washington Dulles airport, John finds himself in another terrorist situation. A group of highly trained, ex-army nutters take control of the tower and start downing flights (British flights, full of Brits). It’s up to John to stop them.
Die Hard is obviously very festive, as festive as it can be, but Die Hard 2 has snow. Real actual snow. It has a naked man doing martial arts in his hotel room but alas, no Argyle. The point is, they’re both set at Christmas and I am choosing the second one because I need a break from Hans Gruber, just for a little while.
Another brilliant Howlett tradition is, Ronald Neame’s Scrooge. Making a musical event out of Charles Dickens is always up there in my books. The show is stolen by a (very unexpected) performance from Albert Finney, who had gone in the opposite direction from his Alfie-esk role in Saturday Night Sunday Morning. Seeing him playing the old miser Ebeneezer Scrooge, a money lender who has grown too greedy will be a welcomed surprise to all.
On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his old partner Jacob Marley (Alec Guinness) who bares a warning. If Scrooge carries on with his avaricious ways he will end up in Hell for all eternity, wearing a gargantuan chain representing all his wrong-doing. Scrooge dismisses Jacob’s claims, so he sends three ghosts to visit him and try to change his mind before Christmas morning.
While this film looks a bit old and a bit crap, I can promise you it will delight audiences young and old. Although the Jacob Marley song with all the ghosts in the sky may not delight the children, it may scare them shitless. My mum had this recorded on video off the T.V and that part was expertly edited out to avoid any extra excitement on Christmas Eve… It has elements of comedy, but it’s the best kind of comedy, the kind where you laugh with it and then laugh at it because it can be a bit old and a bit crap at times…but in the BEST way. There is serious romance and drama, and some of the catchiest and best songs you can imagine. You can always turn it off and put on the Muppets if it isn’t for you, but give it a try. You might surprise yourself.
Black Christmas (1970)
I ended up watching Black Christmas specifically for this post and I gotta say, it freaked me out and cracked me up simultaneously. It is the most bizarre horror movie I have ever seen.
Black Christmas follows a fucking nutcase, who breaks into a sorority house on Christmas Eve and decides to prey on the girls and their boyfriends. There were so many scary bits about this film but I personally think it’s one to watch when everyone has had a few and in the mood for a good piss take.
Mrs. Mac is a total legend, she is so brilliant I am basically telling you to watch this film for her. Skip to all the bits with Mrs. Mac and turn it off if you like. This women brushes her teeth with booze, glugs from a bottle out the toilet only to swill it around her mouth and spit it out. She calls the cat a prick. She says ‘B forrrrr BOOOOZE’ and tonnes of other beautiful things. There are so many unhygienic and nonsensical things going on with Mrs. Mac but I think we can all see she is drunk to the point of insanity, and we wouldn’t have her any other way.
We also have Olivia Hussey who cannot hear a bloody thing, Margot Kidder who gets a kidder drunk and ‘the fallatio joke’ that slowly builds. It builds so much that by the time the punchline happens, you are laughing like a maniac with John Saxon and all the other cops….
It isn’t even Christmas anymore so if you fancy squeezing some of these unconventional capers in before NYE then be my guest! Happy holidays.