10 Offbeat Christmas Movies You Can Stream Online

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Thanksgiving is over, the last of the leftovers have been consumed, Black Friday has come and gone, and it’s just about time to start cueing up the Christmas movies. And, y’know, there’s something to be said for spinning the annual favorites — your Christmas Vacations, your Christmas Storys, your Wonderful Lifes, your Die Hards. But if you’re in the mood for something a little off-the-beaten-path (and don’t mind streaming somewhere other than Netflix), here are a few less predictable Christmas flicks.

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Perpetually underrated director Doug Liman made this stop on his way from the low-budget Swingers to the franchise launching Bourne Identity, helming a gleefully energetic action/comedy with three interlocking stories. It was unfairly dismissed at the time as a Pulp Fiction rip-off, and while screenwriter John August undoubtedly mainlined a bit of Tarantino somewhere along the way, he and Liman’s picture has a comic ingenuity and spirit all its own. And while its Christmas setting is mostly casual background (such as the “Mary Christmas” rave where its stories intersect), it does offer up a shirtless Timothy Olyphant in a Santa hat, if you go for that sorta thing. (via Amazon Instant Video)

Gremlins

If you’re feeling a little too jolly this Christmas season, pause long enough to revisit Joe Dante’s 1984 horror/comedy classic—a ruthless satirical indictment of materialism, the holidays, and small-town America. And while it was notorious at the time for its boundary-pushing comic violence (which contributed to the creation of the PG-13 rating), its grisliest images are imagined by the viewer, as co-star Phoebe Cates tells the horrifying story of exactly why she hates Christmas so very, very much. (via iTunes)

The Nightmare Before Christmas

This 1993 stop-action family horror/comedy is too often listed as Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, a proprietary credit handing altogether too much authorship to Burton—he’s credited as producer and story writer, but the picture is undeniably the work of director Henry Selick, who would go on to make James and the Giant Peach and Coraline. Here, he concocts a cheerfully dark and endlessly hummable hybrid of Halloween and Christmas movie, and one that plays equally well at either end of the holiday season. (via Netflix)

The Thin Man

W.S. Van Dyke’s 1934 franchise-starter is several great movies at once: great murder mystery, great screwball comedy, great New York movie. And it’s also a little bit of a Christmas movie — set in the season, with Nora Charles (the lovely Myrna Loy) making her first appearance mismanaging a mountain of Christmas packages and their dog Asta. It’s a pretty light excuse to rewatch The Thin Man, but who needs an excuse anyway? (via Amazon Instant Video)

Brazil

There’s nothing like Christmas decorations and jingle bells to serve as ironic counterpoint for the serious business of action or sci-fi — hence the holiday settings of such non-Christmas movies as Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. But few films so adroitly employ that irony as well as Terry Gilliam’s 1985 dystopian masterpiece, a dark comedy of Orwellian proportions featuring a particularly memorable visit from Santa Claus. (via Amazon Instant Video)

The Long Kiss Goodnight

Action writer/director Shane Black has a bit of a calling card: he loves setting his movies during the Christmas season, going back to his first big hit, Lethal Weapon. This 1996 amnesia action thriller starring Geena Davis (then the wife of director Renny Harlin) and Samuel L. Jackson is, true to form, chock full of Yuletide, with little touches like a Christmas light-ed action scene and a holiday parade that leads directly to Davis accidently blowing her cover. (via iTunes)

Iron Man 3

After The Long Kiss Goodnight, Black went on a long hiatus before roaring back with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, unsurprisingly set during the Christmas season (and featuring Michelle Monaghan as Santa’s sexiest helper). When that movie helped put Robert Downey Jr. back on the map, and Downey repaid the favor by suggesting Black write and direct the third Iron Man movie, his enthusiasts chuckled that he was finally doing a movie he couldn’t set at Christmas. Joke was on us; Iron Man 3 is indeed another Christmas flick, with a dispute over holiday gifts providing a fine running joke for Tony and Pepper’s relationship. (via Amazon Instant Video)

Blackadder’s Christmas Carol

Two days before Christmas 1988, between the third and fourth series of the popular BBC comedy Blackadder, the makers of that show created this one-off spoof of the most durable of holiday tales. The twist is that, in true Blackadder form, it told the story in reverse: it begins with Ebeneezer Blackadder (the great Rowan Atkinson) as a man so kind, giving, and generous that everyone walks all over him, and only visits from the holiday spirits can save him from himself. The result is dark, funny, and brisk (a mere 42 minutes)—in other words, superior in every way to co-writer Richard Curtis’s more famous holiday work, the loathsome Love Actually. (via Netflix)

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Santa Claus

MST3K only did two full-on Christmas episodes, but boy, were the both of ‘em beauts. This season six episode spotlights the inexplicable 1959 Mexican family holiday movie Santa Claus, in which St. Nick and the devil (a red bastard named “Pitch”) battle for the soul of a sad little girl named Lupita. It’s the worst kind of pandering kiddie trash, but Mike and the ‘bots make a real meal out of it. (via Amazon Instant Video)

Cinematic Titanic: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

But the better known of MST’s Christmas flicks is, not incidentally, one of the worst movies ever made: the screeching 1964 family movie Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, a film so cloying and awful that it was not only riffed by Joel and the ‘bots on the Satellite of Love, but two more times by Joel’s spin-off project Cinematic Titanic and Mike’s Rifftrax. Wait, you might think. Is any movie so bad that you can make fun of it in three different ways? Yes, friends. This one is. (via Hulu)