Movie list: Christmas not Christmas
It's that time of the year again. Merrymaking, friends, family, gift giving, eating and drinking - Christmas is most definitely upon us.
But if you're weary of full-on festive cheer yet still want to give a nod to the season, fret not. Here are eight movies that are set during Christmas, but keep the tinsel in the background...
Available on Netflix and iTunes ($4.98 to rent in HD)
Don't let cute little furball mogwai called Gizmo — nor the movie's Christmas setting fool you — this is anything but cute.
In short, the titular gremlins from this 1984 comedy horror classic are the evil mutated "offspring" of Gizmo that wreak havoc on the peaceful town of Kingston Falls during Christmas.
Despite their cartoony looks and antics, the gremlins - which spawn from a mogwai that has been fed after midnight and reproduce on contact with water - are a murderous, mean-spirited bunch who leave death and destruction in their wake.
In one scene, the protagonist's mum dispatches three gremlins in the kitchen - the first in a blender, the second gets stabbed to death while the third explodes in a microwave.
Oh, and an old lady meets her doom on the pavement outside of her home - after a gremlin sabotages her stair lift to superboost it sending her skyward. The erroneous cute rep was bolstered by the goofy - though great fun - sequel.
Available on iTunes ($9.98 to buy, $4.98 to rent)
The debate has raged on long and hard, but let's face it, Die Hard isn't going to provide much Christmas cheer. (Editor's note: I'll take this over Miracle on 34th Street any day).
A hostage situation, gun fights, bombs, explosions, action scenes and copious amounts of swearing - hardly the language that would coax Saint Nick down the chimney.
And if that wasn't enough to dampen the Christmas mood, watching baddie Hans Gruber in action will inevitably remind you of Alan Rickman's demise at the start of the year.
Yippie Ki Yay...
Available on iTunes ($19.98 to buy, $4.98 to rent)
The movie that inspired producer Joel Silver to set Die Hard at Christmas.
This action flick — about the unlikely partnership between suicidal ex-Special Forces Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and veteran homicide detective Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) — was penned by Shane Black, who has made a signature of setting his movies during the Yuletide season.
You might want to check out Black's other "Christmas" movies like Robert Downey Jr-reviving Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and this year's highly under-rated The Nice Guys.
While the film ends off on a good note, the rest of the movie is anything but cheery.
Available on Netflix
The holiday rom-com ensemble responsible fro a spate of similarly holiday-themed group schmaltz fests.
The first festive strike against Love Actually goes against its title - there isn't a mention of Christmas in it unlike its copycats such as New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day.
There are some decidely dodgy moments that are passed off a sweet. The entire thing has a sickening amount of saccahrine.
Most notably, Andrew Lincoln playing that semi-stalker who's secretly in love with his best friend's wife. He's so off-putting you rather spend time with Lincoln's more famous alter-ego, the highly-strung, seldom-bathed zombie-killer Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead...
While the saving grace is Bill Nighy's washed-up rock star, there's also Hugh Grant dancing, Martin Freeman (Bilbo) naked and Colin Firth being Colin Firth to contend with.
And lastly, there's Alan Rickman again - playing a family man who gets caught cheating by his wife.
It really is less about Christmas and more about love...in a creepy sort of way.
Available on iTunes ($9.98 to buy, $4.98 to rent)
Before he became an alt-adult, Macaulay Culkin shot to fame as a child star playing Kevin McCallister, who defends his home single-handedly from two bungling burglars in Home Alone.
While the movie is undoubtedly hilarious, have you actually stopped to think that if this weren't a comedy, Kevin would be one of the most violent and sadistic eight-year-olds ever?
Some of Kevin's ploys to keep the crooks out involve dropping a hot steam iron on one man's face and setting the other's scalp alight with a blowtorch.
Violence like that might be shrugged off in cartoons like Tom And Jerry, but that's enough punishment to send someone on a trip to the ICU, if not straight to heaven...
Of course, the film would not work today. Everything would be solved in five minutes with a call on the mobile.
Available on Netflix and iTunes ($19.98 to buy, $4.98 to rent)
Superhero toys might make good presents for kids, but they're not exactly the right source material for a feel-good, cheery Christmas movie.
Especially for a grim character Batman.
Back before Ben Affleck, Christian Bale and Val Kilmer (ugh, Bat-nipples...) donned the mantle, Michael Keaton played the Caped Crusader for a second time in 1992.
Despite Gotham City covered with snow and a massive Christmas tree, the movie was darker than many expected, or f rumours are true, than the studio wanted.
...Did Batman just set that thug on fire with the Batmobile?!
But hey, Christopher Walken at his most -Walken, Danny Devito as the most-scuzzy Penguin possible and Michelle Pfeiffer rocking the catsuit.
Iron Man 3
Available on iTunes ($21.98 to buy)
It's a superhero film.
It's directed and co-written by Shane Black.
Yes, it's set at Christmas.
No, you will not feel your heart grow three sizes.
Yes, it is great. It even has decidedly anti-schmaltz moments.