Not every Christmas movie needs to be ostensibly "christmasy." In fact, quite a few manage to be more than one or the other, incorporating mature themes and adult messages for older audiences. While these might not always be the most family-friendly films around, there's no denying the holiday heart and soul of these classics.
Gremlins is widely considered to be one of the best Christmas movies ever – right up there with It's a Wonderful Life. True to its claim, the film follows the story of a boy who learns the true meaning of Christmas...while accidentally unleashing a homicidal horde of monsters that terrorize the town.
While it might not sound very Christmas-themed, the message of the movie is quite clear. Christmas is a time for people to come together and really embrace one another – be it in fellowship or cowering in fear of a monstrous mob...
Lethal Weapon (1987)
Murtaugh (played by Danny Glover) might have been too old for this cops and robbers nonsense, but he was never too old for Christmas. No one is! Everyone thinks that Lethal Weapon is just another buddy cop film, but if you really read between the lines, you learn that it is probably one of the most profound Christmas classics around – right up there with A Charlie Brown Christmas.
There's the moral struggle inherent to the human experience shown in rare form in this holiday classic as well as themes of redemption. And, at the end, around the Christmas tree, Riggs (Mel Gibson) gives Murtaugh the greatest gift of all – the hollow-point bullet Murtaugh was originally going to use to commit suicide. Few films come close to capturing to true spirit of the season like Lethal Weapon.
Die Hard (1988)
Christmas is a time of forgiveness and new beginnings, and that's what Die Hard is really all about. Sure, there's a plot involving terrorists taking over Nakatomi Plaza, but the whole reason John McClane is even there in the first place is to reconcile with his estranged wife!
McClane even engages the terrorists in some holiday whimsy, leaving them a note that he has, indeed, procured a machine gun from one their men. Ho ho ho.
Santa with Muscles (1996)
This forgotten film is sorely missing from the pantheon of classic Christmas movies, and it's a real shame. The only thing better than a Christmas movie starring the Hulkster is absolutely nothing!
For anyone who might have missed this blockbuster, it's a tale as old as time. Hulk Hogan doesn't want a speeding ticket so he hides in a mall and disguises himself as Santa. However, things take a turn for the wacky when he hurts his head and starts believing he's the real Santa…with muscles! Add to that a story about an evil scientist trying to destroy an orphanage to uncover some magic crystals and God only knows how this gem slipped through the cracks.
Santa's Slay (2005)
Mr. America Thunder Lips Hulkamania wasn't the only pro wrestler to don the Santa cap. Bill Goldberg also portrayed the jolly fat man in a contemporary classic known as Santa's Slay. Much like Rare Exports, Santa's Slay was an introspective journey into the darker origins of Jolly Old St. Nick.
Like, did you know that Santa was originally a virgin birth caused by Satan himself? Neither did I until I saw this heartwarming classic. Turns out Santa lost a curling match to an angel and was forced to deliver presents for a thousand years. Bill Gold, as he was known in the ring, really brings his A-game to this legendary role, reminding us all of the true origins of Santa.
Some people like to joke around when talking about movies like these. However, it is our hope that you will give these truly festive films a chance when you've had enough of Jimmy Stewart threatening to jump or kids sticking their tongues to poles. Sometimes the greatest gift of all is the one you aren't expecting and that's exactly what you'll get with these "Christmasy" classics.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kevin Fischer is a freelance writer and contributor for Examiner.com. With a passion for TV, technology, sports, movies and music, Kevin is best considered as entertainment-enthusiast. In addition to keeping up with his favorite programs, teams, gadgets, and celebrities, Kevin enjoys going to concerts and exploring his musical talents. Check out his Examiner page or Tweet him @KevinTFischer