Well, the holidays are just around the corner, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking forward to this season. When I think of Christmas, I think of family — and by that I mean drinking, bickering, fighting, secrets and spending time with creepy Uncle Ned. But, I also think of Christmas films — mostly because they help me forget about spending time with Uncle Ned.
In general, when we think about Christmas films we think of the classics like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Miracle on 34th Street” and “Die Hard.” But that’s not what this list is about. These are the films that make you regret Christmas, even more than spending time with your family and finding out that you’re actually adopted after your mom, drunk off wine coolers again, decides to get in a fist fight with your dad’s boyfriend. Enjoy.
1. “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” (1964): First off, I still can’t believe this movie exists. It’s like the “Human Centipede” in the sense that you can’t imagine somebody actually conceiving the idea, let alone convincing other presumably rational, thinking people to fund, shoot and distribute it. At least the “Human Centipede” had a human centipede in it. This movie is just an irredeemable mess.
The Martians look like Kazoo from “The Flintstones,” only more cartoony and fake. There’s even a Martian with a giant Freddie Mercury mustache, which goes to show just how little the filmmakers gave a shit. Of course, that’s until you see the cardboard robot that looks like it was made by 2-year-olds who’d never seen a robot before. And I can’t forget to mention the polar bear that looks like someone’s wearing a costume their grandma knitted while suffering from arthritis, dementia and Bell’s palsy.
The main Martians (the “heroes”) even kidnap two kids from Earth to help find Santa. At one point they are so confused about why they are sad that they have to remind themselves that they KIDNAPPED these little kids and forcibly took them MILLIONS of miles from their homes.
And don’t get me started on the character Dropo, the odious “comic relief” who is so grating it’s almost like he was some sort of government experiment designed from the worst parts of Andy Dick, Dane Cook and Rob Schneider.
You know what the worst part is? We don’t see Santa conquering jack squat! He’s more passive than a stoned Gandhi. Not once does he raise a hand against a Martian, not even to make some badass one-liner, like “You’re on my naughty fist!,” or “Santa Claus is coming … to kick your ass!”
2. The “Star Wars Holiday Special”: Yes. This actually happened. It’s so bad even George Lucas hates it. He went so far as to call it an abomination to the “Star Wars” mythos and said he’d personally like to find all the VHS tapes in existence and smash them with a sledgehammer. Mind you, this is coming from the guy who created Jar Jar Binks.
Now, you may ask, how can you make a Christmas special when “Star Wars” is set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? Well, hypothetical person, that’s because it doesn’t have Christmas per se, but rather “Life Day” as celebrated by Chewbacca and his Wookiee family (and if you don’t know what a Wookiee is, I hate you because you are worthless and have probably had more girlfriends than I have). Chewbacca then proceeds to interact with his sitcom family, who actually sit on a couch and watches TV and bickers — only they keep talking in that garbled bark speak, so it becomes incomprehensible and immediately annoying.
One of the most surreal things about this project is that the entire cast actually got involved. Harrison Ford actually talks and bickers with this hairy version of “All in the Family” facsimile like he’s some sort of washed-up guest star on a show that thankfully doesn’t really exist. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are even in the mix, and Fisher actually sings a song to the beat of the original “Star Wars” tune! But wait, there’s more! Bea Arthur sings with the aliens from the cantina! Jefferson Starship is a holographic band. It’s altogether depressing.
3. “Home Alone”: How can anyone not think of this movie when thinking of terrible Christmas movies? While it undoubtedly, and unfortunately, has some enduring images permeating throughout pop culture (like the shaving scene), it is still a giant lump of coal to anyone forced to endure it. It is paradoxically full of sappiness and sadism. This is definitely a let-down for screenwriter John Hughes, who beforehand redefined teen movies with films such as “The Breakfast Club” and “Sixteen Candles.” On the other hand, director Chris Columbus has yet to discover any talent (see what I did there? I’ll go kill myself now). And let’s not forget the cast. We have our two main villains played by a mugging, cartoony Daniel Stern and a neutered Joe Pesci, using the fact that they’re in a “kid’s film” as some sort of excuse to not put in any effort. I’ve seen paraplegics put more effort in jogging than their performance.
But what about the role that made Macaulay Culkin both famous and depressingly typecast? Well, to put it bluntly, he’s annoying. He’s so annoying. And why this film is famous is beyond me. Who does this film even appeal to? It’s too kiddie and immature to entertain adults, and it’s too violent and mean-spirited for kids. Maybe kids at the time put themselves in the main character’s shoes? But that’s even more disturbing, because take away the consequence-free cartoon physics that somehow allow Stern and Pesci to be bludgeoned and burnt with no lasting marks, like they were flesh-and-blood Wile E. Coyotes, and you essentially have a kid-friendly “Saw” film. Doesn’t that just scream Christmas?
So there you have it, the worst of the worst. I assure you there are more bad Christmas movies, but these are the ones that were special in their badness. They are the Übermensch of bad Christmas movies, standing alone as special and nihilistic. They might not intend to be so, but the fact they were created shows there is no hope for humanity and proves we are nothing more than fleshy husks waiting for oblivion and nothingness. Merry Christmas, Santa Barbara.