Here are just a few films to add to the list this festive season.
Better Off Dead (1985)
Imagine you’re a teenager in the mid-’80s, it’s almost Christmas and your partner has just broken up with you. This is the beginning of fun and silly 1985 film Better Off Dead, directed by Savage Steve Holland and starring John Cusack.
Set in the glorious 1980s, the film kicks off with Cusack’s character Lane being dumped by his girlfriend.
To give you a feel for how goofy this movie is, Lane’s brother is eight years old, yet can build high-powered lasers and spaceships. At one point in the film, Lane hallucinates a dancing/singing burger at his fast-food job. This scene alone makes the film worth watching. It also stars the always hilarious Curtis Armstrong, who some might know as Metatron from Supernatural.
Better Off Dead is a fantastically outrageous film, which turns completely stupid situations into hilariously entertaining spectacles. Definitely not your traditional Christmas flick, but certainly a fun one.
The Thin Man (1934)
The Thin Man is a Christmas movie in exactly the same way Die Hard is a Christmas movie – they both take place at Christmas. Based on the novel of the same name by legendary author Dashiell Hammett, the film introduced the world to the dynamic power couple that was William Powell, as the wisecracking Nick Charles, and Myrna Loy, as his equally fantastic wife, Nora Charles.
The movie enjoyed widespread success and spawned five sequels, each one adding to the previous wit and banter of the duo. The Thin Man kicks off with the married twosome visiting New York from LA, to spend the Christmas holidays. Nick himself is a retired detective and Nora a wealthy socialite, however, they both get caught up in a mystery. A businessman, the titular Thin Man, was supposed to be home for Christmas, but has vanished under mysterious circumstances. The rest of the movie plays out in classic hard-boiled style, with healthy doses of comedy mixed in.
Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964)
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a long time, but that’s what makes it amazing. The entire premise of this film is that martian children watch too much Earth television and their parents are concerned. The parents visit their planet’s 800-year-old wise man, who states that the children of Mars are growing frustrated due to the strict upbringing they all have.
The children are educated by way of machines feeding information directly into their brains, disallowing them the freedom to be individuals and think for themselves. The parents and wise man decide that in order to allow children to be themselves again, Mars needs Santa Claus.
The rest of the movie plays out as you might think, the Martians travel to earth to kidnap Santa, bring him back to Mars and have him bring toys to the children. At the same time, one of the Martians disagrees with this plan, and repeatedly tries to kill Santa.
It’s a good movie to watch with friends and enjoy laughing at the absurdity of this spectacle. The one aspect that is impressive, is this movie happens to be the first documented appearance of Mrs. Claus in a film.
Yes, this movie regularly appears on lists of the worst movies ever made; yes, it’s goofy and yes it’s not that well made — but it’s certainly good for a laugh and an entertaining night.
The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
The Golden Age of Hollywood is my favourite era of Hollywood’s history, seeing the birth of many amazing films and actors, including my all-time favourite actor, Humphrey Bogart and another actor who I admire, Cary Grant.
This era featured many classic movies, such as Bringing Up Baby, Ben Hur, Spartacus and Casablanca. It also featured some classic Christmas movies – It’s A Wonderful Life and Miracle On 34th Street, being prime examples. Though lesser-known, The Bishop’s Wife is another of these classic movies, showcasing the comedic talent of Grant.
The film follows a bishop who prays for help to fund a new cathedral and the angel (played by Grant) who comes to his assistance. The angel eventually develops romantic feelings for the bishop’s wife, resulting in a hilarious display. The movie closes with Christmas, so it’s definitely a fun one to watch with the whole family.