Welcome to Flavorwire’s streaming movie guide, in which we help you sift through the scores of movies streaming on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and other services to find the best of the recently available, freshly relevant, or soon to expire. This week, we’re all about the Christmas spirit, with an assortment of ten holiday movies and TV shows for your Yuletide viewing. Check them all out after the jump, and follow the title links to watch them right now.
If you can get past the downright disturbing nature of co-star Vera-Ellen’s skinniness (seriously, take a look at this movie if you think anorexia is a modern phenomenon), this is one of the most delightful movies in the Christmas cinema canon; it’s warm and winning, the byplay between Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye is sharp, and the songs (“Sisters,” Rosemary Clooney’s “Winter Wonderland,” and of course the title track) couldn’t be better.
Comedy franchises seldom peak in their third installment, but that’s exactly what happened in 1989, when the Griswold family (contrary to the title) stayed home for the holidays for funniest film in the series. The comic set pieces are priceless, the supporting cast is aces (including the very young Johnny Galecki and Juliette Lewis), and Chevy Chase is at the top of his game — particularly in his immortal “Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?” rant.
From its debut season, and the first appearance of our old friend Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo, South Park’s holiday episodes have always been, to say the least, memorable. This compilation collects seven of the show’s Christmas favorites, including three appearances by Mr. Hanky and one from, erm, Charles Manson.
The cinematic gimmick of an evil Santa has been tried before, and usually not very successfully; maybe, in retrospect, it was just one of those things that we had to look for overseas. The 2010 Finnish film Rare Exports is a sly fantasy in which the original Santa Claus is a decidedly fiendish supernatural being; that same year, the Dutch film Sint (released here as Saint Nick) reimagined Saint Nicholas as a typical slasher villain in order to sly send up the conventions of the genre. Both are outrageous, weird, and consistently funny — on purpose, even.
This jaw-droppingly bad 1959 family movie from Mexico concerns Santa’s battle with “Pitch,” the favorite demon of Lucifer, who is sent to Earth to ruin Christmas and enslave the children of the world. Sounds more like one of those horror movies, eh? At any rate, the result is a film so mind-bogglingly ill-conceived and poorly executed that about the only way to sit through the whole thing is with the help of Mike Nelson and the Mystery Science Theater 3000 ‘bots, who memorably roasted it in the 1993 episode embedded above.
Last week, we told you about Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, the abysmal 1964 family stinker that’s so thoroughly loathsome, it was roasted not once, but twice by the MST3K folks—once in 1991 on the original show, and again in 2008 by creator Joel Hodgson’s spin-off troupe, Cinematic Titantic. That skewering is available (as most of CT’s shows are) on Hulu, and is one of the funnier holiday specials out there.
Tim Burton produced and Harry Selick (Coraline) directed this darkly funny and visually striking Christmas musical fantasy, which imaginatively merges the iconography of Halloween and Christmas via the story of Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon, but sung by the film’s composer, Danny Elfman), who opens a portal from “Halloween Town” to “Christmas Town.”
This 1985 Disney live-action effort is, we’ll admit, a little on the corny side (it is, after all, a mid-’80s Disney movie). But it’s a decidedly sweet and likable picture, with plenty to recommend: a terrific Mary Steenburgen performance, a brief turn by a young Sarah Polley, and the sight of Harry Dean Stanton, one of our favorite weirdo character actors, playing it (relatively) straight as, no kidding, a Disney angel.
Any Gen-Xer worth their salt wanted nothing more, in their younger days, to be one of the Cosby Kids (or, at the very least, the Huxtable Kids); after all, with their second-hand clothes and sketchy-neighborhood preferences (these kids hung out in a junkyard, for heaven’s sake), they were the original hipsters. Anyway, this 1977 special finds Fat Albert and the gang getting into the holiday spirit by helping out a distressed family — and, as Cos always promised, there’s music and fun, and you just might learn something, etc.
That’s what we’re watching online this holiday season — what about you? Share your recommendations in the comments!