Non-Traditional Holiday Movies

I will fully admit that for the most part holiday music and movies drive me up the wall. It could be that they get played from before Halloween until after Martin Luther King Jr. day. It could be the many, many years in band that we played renditions of them in parades in freezing weather. Not sure. I do know that my brother and I started finding non-traditional holiday movies at an early age after being exposed to the movie Scrooged countless times. And thankfully my husband is of the same mind when it comes to holiday movies- the more non-traditional the better. We’re not talking National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, either; that counts as a straight up holiday movie, even though I can sit through one viewing of it. For me, non-traditional holiday movies are ones that you wouldn’t normally count as a holiday movie, because winter holidays aren’t the main theme. I’ve pulled my top five below, but I bet you can name many more.

BATMAN RETURNS (1992): Starring Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer, people don’t think of Batman Returns as a holiday movie, yet the entire movie is set against a backdrop of Christmas. You have the giant Christmas tree lighting and people fighting over holiday shopping. You have the holiday ball, and Penguin stealing the first-born boys while the parents are dancing away. You even have Catwoman saying that she might save a life for next Christmas. Yet there’s action and plots and comic adventure. Definitely an untraditional Christmas movie.

GREMLINS (1984): I always see Gremlins listed as a Halloween movie because of the terror and the havoc the green goblins play on the town, and it’s true that Gremlins is one of the movies that changed the MPAA rating system and gave us the PG-13 rating (along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). What tends to be forgotten, however, is that Billy gets Mogwai (the brown and white fuzzy creature from which all the trouble stems) as a Christmas present from his dad. An ill-advised Christmas present is the start of the devastation of the town- a lesson for those thinking of giving puppies or other types of pets for the holidays without really thinking it through.

DIE HARD (1988)Starring the great Alan Rickman and Bruce Willis, Die Hard gets played as an action/adventure movie over and over again. Yet at the start of the movie, Bruce Willis is flying from New York to California to see his ex-wife and kids for…wait for it…CHRISTMAS. And where is his wife? At the company Christmas party, where Alan Rickman and his cohorts take over. With Alan Rickman playing one of my favorite villain roles, I love watching this just for him.


RISE OF THE GUARDIANS (2012): While it didn’t do that well in the theaters, my tweens and teens will watch this movie over and over so it seems to be a real winner in a library setting, especially with crafts that match or coloring sheets. And anytime Santa can be an action hero with tattoos is awesome. When Pitch Black decides that he wants to take over the world, the Guardians (Santa, Easter Bunny, Jack Frost, and others) must stop him before the light goes out over the whole world. Voiced by Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Chris Pine, and Jude Law.

A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993): Another one that gets play more on Halloween than at Christmas time is A Nightmare Before Christmas, which is really misplaced. The story is really about how Jack, burnt out on doing the same thing over and over for so many years, decides to takes over Christmas. However, he and the citizens of Halloweentown can’t get it right because they’re not meant to do Christmas, they’re made to do Halloween. He finally realizes that his calling is Halloween, not Christmas, and gets Santa on his way to save Christmas before it’s too late. It’s also a story of losing your way in life and finding it again.


These are ones that I really love but don’t fit within the Non-traditional Holiday movie category because they’re actually Christmas movies or have one section that is holiday related.

THE REF (1994): A small time crook gets caught in a town curfew, so takes a dysfunctional couple hostage just as their family is coming over for Christmas dinner.

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE (2001): This is, I think, my favorite of the entire series of movies, and not just because it ends on a happy note. They actually show all the seasons in Hogwarts, and the Christmas scene is just beautiful.


THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL (1992): This is still one of my favorite renditions of A Christmas Carol by Dickens that I’ve seen, and I’ve always been partial to the Muppets. Replacing Marley with Statler and Waldorf, and replacing the narrator with Gonzo and Rizzo just makes the movie for me.

EMMETT OTTER’S JUG BAND CHRISTMAS (1977): I watched this one over and over when I was a kid, and fell in love with it. Emmet and his mother are dirt poor and can barely scrape together anything, but there’s a contest to win big, if only the band they might put together could win. However, to put the band together means destroying the washtub and other things that are their only means of support.


These are a few of my favorites.  What are yours?

One response to “Non-Traditional Holiday Movies”

  1. I would also add Lethal Weapon to that list – that, Die Hard, and Nightmare Before Christmas are my family’s xmas movie staples. ^_^


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: