15 Non-Festive Films That Are Technically Holiday Movies


If you’re anything like me, the same five holiday movies that run every year just aren’t enough to quench that festive thirst so deeply embossed on your very soul. You need more than that. If you are like me, you deserve more than that. You are also not wearing any pants.

The general rule for holiday films is that they must at least take place around the season, right? And so, if we simply twist that logic to say that “takes place during the holidays = holiday movie”, then there’s a lot of fun to be had the next time mom and dad come caroling. Just go right ahead and pop in one of the following…

15. Eyes Wide Shut


This is probably the most festive film that involves orgies, right above Caligula. The very first event of the film is a Christmas party in which the host’s sex-guest ends up ODing all over the place.

Sex, confession, prostitution, secret societies, HIV, and Christmas shopping with the kids are roughly the order of some of the highlights of this movie. Because that’s what you get when you combine Stanley Kubrick with the holidays. It’s either this or Vincent D’Onofrio blowing his brains out in a bathroom.

14. The Ghost and the Darkness


Man, cats are the worst. Mine keeps pissing in my clean clothes whenever I leave her alone. Every time I use the toilet she crawls through the laundry chute and stares at me like a gargoyle until I’m done. It’s unnerving. I guess she’s not eating me though, so that’s a plus.

While this film takes place within nine months, we learn that the drawn out hunt is actually a holiday activity when Jesus impersonator Michael Douglas points out early in the last lap that it is December. Lion would make for an impressive holiday feast. Of course on the flip side of that, so would Val Kilmer. So really no matter what happens it’s win-win.

13. Jaws: The Revenge


The Bahamas are a jarring place to celebrate the holidays/get eaten by a great white shark. You don’t associate either of those things with the tropics, however the festive clashing of bright red against the vast blues resulting from both events would be a pretty festive sight.

I’m never going to understand the hate toward the Jaws sequels. There’s even that unconfirmed Michael Caine quote, “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However I have seen the house that it built and it is terrific.”

Sure, they are terrible, but there are worse things for a movie to be, for example: sharkless. If you ask me, what we need is a fifth. Let’s dive into the abyss with this one.

12. Batman Returns


The beauty behind a Tim Burton Gotham City is that even if you live in poverty, your apartment still looks awesome. Also – it is by far the easiest city for blue-collar crime; everyone who might care is too distracted by that week’s spectacle. Just imagine trying to get a cop’s attention for a case of shoplifting when there’s a bird-guy riding a giant rubber ducky around the city and stealing babies.

I always imagined that in the Batman universe, Gotham is literally the only city having these issues – which makes it an embarrassment, but also an attraction. Like, there’s some goth kid in Dupont Indiana who just can’t wait to turn 18 because of this place.

11. Die Hard


Die Hard is the obligatory “Christmas but not Christmas” movie on these lists, and because of that I am required by movie-nerd law to include it here. I am, by no means, knocking the tradition, mind you. Don’t get me wrong here – every December it’s customary in my house to drop at least one German off of our roof to bring in the festivities, but I’m just starting to wonder if Die Hard Christmas is becoming too mainstream and commercialized, you know?

Maybe I’m becoming disillusioned by it all. Just the other day I swung from a fire hose and it didn’t even manage to hold my weight! I’m even starting to wonder of John McClane ever existed in the first place! No… No he is real. I know that in my heart.


10. First Blood


You know, this entire film could have been avoided if these guys just opened up a little more. “Hey guys, could you not shave me? I kind of had a bad experience in Nam.” Bam! Movie over.

Come to think of it, this is pretty much the issue with every action film. It’s just a bunch of dudes who are bad at expressing their emotions shooting at another bunch of dudes who are bad at expressing their emotions – or in the case of Predator it’s a camouflaged repressed hunter alien that probably is just trying to prove itself to its father or something. The point is, next time just talk it out.

9. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang


It’s hard to picture a world where Robert Downey Jr. isn’t charming, but it did exist. It was called In Dreams and no one watched it. Coincidence? Hardly. No, what would be the point of watching this guy not sarcasm the pants off of everything in the cloud of his cigarette smoke? That would be like watching Hulk Hogan read.

Fun fact: The director of this film, Shane Black, wrote all of the Lethal Weapons, as well as Last Action Hero, and my personal favorite – The Last Boy Scout. How’s that for epic? Oh, he also has only directed one other film, Iron Man 3. Fingers crossed for at least one shirtless electro-shock torture scene!

8. In Bruges


Lighting-wise, this movie is festive as shit. Seriously, it’s so warm and cozy, like a one hundred minute long tourism video for the city. If it weren’t for all the fuzzy gougers bucketing down on you and spraying up blood every which way it would be vacation Eden. Then again, what’s Christmas without blood and pain? It is, after all, celebrating a day of birth – and that stuff is disgusting.

Maybe I’m naïve, but Bruges is how I imagine every town in Belgium looks like. Cobblestones and big pointy churches, outdoor cafes and warm pubs… ridiculous amounts of cocaine. It’s a romantic whimsy, I know, but it keeps me warmhearted to dream.

7. Lethal Weapon


Celebrating the holidays in Los Angeles is like camping out in your backyard as a kid. It’s adorable to watch the effort but is stunted by artificiality. If you haven’t cried next to a sludge-buried car tire, then you aren’t doing the holidays right. End of discussion. Maybe this is why the cops are all gritty and suicidal over there, since they don’t have actual problems like goddamn invisible road ice they end up making up their own issues.

It’s just hard to feel bad for Mel Gibson as he cries himself to sleep half naked in a breezy beachside trailer when I’m sitting here trying to figure out if you can microwave dishtowels for warmth.

6. 12 Monkeys


As far as time travel holiday stories go, it’s pretty much just this and A Christmas Carol, right? Very different stories, however both benefit if you put Bruce Willis in them (hint hint, Hollywood). I like how it’s a good idea to send prisoners back in time. Next they should start using them as doctors.

You know that Terry Gilliam’s next film is coming up? It’s about a computer hacker played by Christoph Waltz who is trying to scientifically solve the meaning of humanity in a dystopian future world with robotic sex-workers and cyber-suits that allow for the virtual inward journey of the soul. So just your standard Hollywood film. No need to get excited or anything.


5. Prometheus


If it meant seeing Idris Elba act holiday-gitty I’d totally take a snake to the face. Wait, that came out wrong. The point is all the horrific death in this film is pretty much equaled out by this one moment of holiday joy, even if it isn’t particularly cheery. Christmas in space sounds terrible – almost as bad as celebrating it in L.A. – but you make the most of what you got, and this dude’s Charlie Brown tree is a shining example of that.

I wonder if at any point when that guys face was burning off it occurred to him that this is how he is bringing in the New Year. It’s gotta be a weird realization as you’re grappling down the side of alien wreckage toting a psychotic robot head that everyone back home is soaking up champagne while tossing confetti around like a bunch of drunk Rip Taylors at that very same moment. I honestly don’t know which situation is more flattering.

4. The Night Of The Hunter


Leaning… Leaning… safe and secure from all alarms…
Leaning… Leaning… leaning on the everlasting arms…

Forget caroling, I just like to go out at night and sit on people fences singing this.

Technically this film spans a few seasons, but it ends on a Christmas miracle, as in it ends with an old woman shooting a child predator with a shotgun during Christmas time, followed by the subsequent lynching-mobbing of said predator.

While one of the themes of this film seems to be that children “abide and endure” there should probably be a footnote amending the statement to recognize the help of a blunderbuss-toting Superman crone as part of said endurance.

3. American Psycho


Patrick Bateman really is the Grinch if the Grinch were human and unable to psychologically decipher whether or not he actually committed a brutal decapitation of Cindy Lou Who or just fantasized about it. Quick tip – if you’re not sure you’ve killed somebody check under your fingernails for blood; that’s the hardest place to clean that stuff out of.

The whole crazy gets kicked off right around the holidays when Patrick attends a Christmas party with his girlfriend. After that it’s hard to tell how many days pass, but I’d like to think that “Feed me a stray cat” was actually the result of Santa magic bringing an ATM to life, only to find out that ATMs are assholes.

2. Brazil


Terry Gilliam should have his own holiday special, perhaps a remake of Rudolph where Santa Claus ODs on heroin and the elves leave his bloated corpse lying around pretending that he’s still alive. Really when you look at the color scheme in his films, he’s already half way to being festive. Fear and Loathing is like a two-hour Christmas tree.

Brazil does a good job at pointing out just how psychotic we all are, especially during the holiday season. It points out how surreal our traditions really are; a man in a big red suit, huge beard, and fluffy hat doesn’t really stand out in a Terry Gilliam film – so what does that say about us?

1. Psycho


Yeah, dude – this takes place during the holidays. The very beginning text states that the first scene takes place on December 11th, and you can even see a few decorations here and there at the beginning. How festive.

Now here’s a question: had Norman not been caught, how adorable would Christmas have been for that guy? Imagine it! Hot coco by the fire, maybe a tree, mother all donned up in her best dress – possibly even wearing a Santa hat! Can’t you see it? I can just picture Norman sitting at the gingerbread man adorned piano, covering both voices in an epically disturbing duet rendition of O Little Town of Bethlehem. Adorable.

David is a video editor, writer, and movie fanatic. After graduating from Full Sail University he now spends his days in Western Massachusetts working as a freelance article and sketch writer, as well as a comedy workshop moderator for Cracked.com. (Click Here to View David's work on Cracked.com) He enjoys over-analyzing movies, punk rock, and referring to himself in the third person.

Read More from David Christopher Bell
Get Film School Rejects in your email. All the cool kids are doing it:
Previous Article
Next Article
Reject Nation
Leave a comment
Comment Policy: No hate speech allowed. If you must argue, please debate intelligently. Comments containing selected keywords or outbound links will be put into moderation to help prevent spam. Film School Rejects reserves the right to delete comments and ban anyone who doesn't follow the rules. We also reserve the right to modify any curse words in your comments and make you look like an idiot. Thank You!