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One of my favorite holiday traditions revolves around watching bad, bad holiday films. There are so many of them! While there are some great holiday films, I want you to trust me there are far more truly miserable ones. Bad films can really make your holidays a joy, or at least they do it for me. Tune in to Shout Factory’s presentation of Mystery Science Theater 3000’s take on Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, where “Let’s Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas” can warm your heart with lyrics like: “And Santa can be/Our regular Saturday Night thing/We'll decorate a barstool/And gather 'round and sing/Oh/Let's have a Patrick Swayze/Christmas this year!
Well, I guess that won’t be joyful to everyone, but when I listen all I can do is laugh and have a rack of good memories about bad, bad Christmas films. There is good news for bad movie lovers in that there will always be more coming.
Some movies are so bad you wonder how they were ever put into production. Was Dudley Moore such a box office draw that making his awful 1985 Santa Claus really seemed appropriate? And was Richard Pryor so desperate for a role that he took on a film with creepy, racist overtones for a Christmas film in The Toy? Christmas with the Kranks? Oh my.
Don’t even get me started on Netflix romantic films designed to highlight Christmas, which are often terrible Hallmark-style romcoms that have very little actual romance, not a lot of comedy, and a whole lot of eyerolls.
Netflix’s Love Hard copies so many tropes you would wonder if it was written by a Google AI. In moments where it does work, like rewriting a Christmas carol, you can laugh (a little), but elsewhere, it becomes a long, long march to try and explain multiple levels of catfishing to find your one true love. Aw, how charming!
There are films that you can decide are real Christmas films, or not. Geena Davis appearing in The Long Kiss Goodnight is a “so bad it’s kind of enjoyable” Christmas film for me come the season. I have to admit, there are also films I know are bad, I really deep down know they are bad, but still, I will watch them, and on some level enjoy them for their badness and cheery nature. Films like The Christmas Prince, now up to the third film in the franchise.
Some films almost destroy a franchise. Who in the world greenlit A Christmas Story 2? All of the joy and fun of the first film is completely sucked out of a sequel that comes along nearly 30 years later that no one, absolutely no one, asked for in any way. We love the original. Please don’t ruin it like this.
Finally, if you can, find yourself a copy of the 1979 Star Wars Christmas Special and the Very Brady Christmas Television Special. Both are terrible, terrible classics that should be on your must-see list to raise some joy in your household. Well, at least in mine.
Unfortunately, some films go truly out of bounds. Eight Crazy Nights and The Hebrew Hammer take the telling of Hanukkah in a way to frame the Jewish holiday as an also-ran in the holiday season, a pretty offensive narrative, but hey, the decision to go there seems to get green lit. If you are looking for a good Hanukkah film, it is shocking but one of the few might be on Disney+ with The Full Court Miracle.
What kind of films do you enjoy around the holidays?
What are you working on in your local area
to move our progressive agenda along?