Anti-Christmas

by karlee1981 | created - 07 Jul 2014 | updated - 3 months ago | Public

Movies taking place at Christmas that are guaranteed not to leave you jolly.

These are sorted by genre; Drama, Action/Thriller, Crime/Mystery/Noir, Comedy, Horror, TV

I'm not counting movies where only a scene or two or only an early segment of the film take place around the Holidays. It has to be at least a good chunk of the movie and/or the big climax.

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1. The Lion in Winter (1968)

PG | 134 min | Biography, Drama, History

1183 A.D.: King Henry II's three sons all want to inherit the throne, but he won't commit to a choice. They and his wife variously plot to force him.

Director: Anthony Harvey | Stars: Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, John Castle

Votes: 27,905 | Gross: $22.28M


What shall we hang, the holly or each other?


Henry examines his wrapped present:

It's heavy... Oh Eleanor, you've brought me my tombstone! You spoil me!

2. Brazil (1985)

R | 132 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

88 Metascore

A bureaucrat, in a retro-future world, tries to correct an administrative error and becomes an enemy of the state.

Director: Terry Gilliam | Stars: Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond

Votes: 180,797 | Gross: $9.93M

3. Fanny and Alexander (1982)

R | 188 min | Drama

100 Metascore

Two young Swedish children experience the many comedies and tragedies of their family, the Ekdahls.

Director: Ingmar Bergman | Stars: Bertil Guve, Pernilla Allwin, Kristina Adolphson, Börje Ahlstedt

Votes: 54,138 | Gross: $4.97M

4. Tangerine (2015)

R | 88 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

86 Metascore

A hooker tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart.

Director: Sean Baker | Stars: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian, Mickey O'Hagan

Votes: 24,857 | Gross: $0.70M

5. Ordinary People (1980)

R | 124 min | Drama

87 Metascore

The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son.

Director: Robert Redford | Stars: Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Judd Hirsch, Timothy Hutton

Votes: 44,348 | Gross: $54.80M

6. The Apartment (1960)

Not Rated | 125 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

94 Metascore

A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.

Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston

Votes: 153,335 | Gross: $18.60M

While the ending is happy and heartwarming (...spoilers, I guess), the sequence taking place at Christmas is anything but.

7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

R | 133 min | Drama

83 Metascore

A criminal pleads insanity and is admitted to a mental institution, where he rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients.

Director: Milos Forman | Stars: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Will Sampson, Michael Berryman

Votes: 870,459 | Gross: $112.00M

8. The 400 Blows (1959)

Not Rated | 99 min | Crime, Drama

A young boy, left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.

Director: François Truffaut | Stars: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Claire Maurier, Guy Decomble

Votes: 97,739

9. My Night at Maud's (1969)

GP | 105 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

The rigid principles of a devout Catholic man are challenged during a one-night stay with Maud, a divorced woman with an outsize personality.

Director: Éric Rohmer | Stars: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Françoise Fabian, Marie-Christine Barrault, Antoine Vitez

Votes: 9,642

10. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

R | 159 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

68 Metascore

A New York City doctor embarks on a harrowing, night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery after his wife reveals a painful secret to him.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Todd Field, Sydney Pollack

Votes: 285,778 | Gross: $55.69M

11. Wake in Fright (1971)

R | 109 min | Drama, Thriller

88 Metascore

After a bad gambling bet, a schoolteacher is marooned in a town full of crazy, drunk, violent men who threaten to make him just as crazy, drunk, and violent.

Director: Ted Kotcheff | Stars: Donald Pleasence, Gary Bond, Chips Rafferty, Sylvia Kay

Votes: 9,322 | Gross: $0.05M

12. Die Hard (1988)

R | 132 min | Action, Thriller

72 Metascore

An NYPD officer tries to save his wife and several others taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

Director: John McTiernan | Stars: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson

Votes: 752,851 | Gross: $83.01M

13. Lethal Weapon (1987)

R | 109 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

68 Metascore

Two newly paired cops who are complete opposites must put aside their differences in order to catch a gang of drug smugglers.

Director: Richard Donner | Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Mitchell Ryan

Votes: 227,483 | Gross: $65.21M

The first of several movies written by Shane Black that are scattered throughout this list.

14. The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

R | 121 min | Action, Crime, Drama

44 Metascore

A woman suffering from amnesia begins to recover her memories after trouble from her past finds her again.

Director: Renny Harlin | Stars: Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Yvonne Zima, Craig Bierko

Votes: 70,179 | Gross: $33.33M

Shane Black

15. Batman Returns (1992)

PG-13 | 126 min | Action, Crime, Fantasy

68 Metascore

Batman returns to the big screen when a deformed man calling himself the Penguin wreaks havoc across Gotham with the help of a cruel businessman.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken

Votes: 263,572 | Gross: $162.83M

16. In Bruges (2008)

R | 107 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

67 Metascore

Guilt-stricken after a job gone wrong, hitman Ray and his partner await orders from their ruthless boss in Bruges, Belgium, the last place in the world Ray wants to be.

Director: Martin McDonagh | Stars: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ciarán Hinds, Elizabeth Berrington

Votes: 376,322 | Gross: $7.76M

17. Three Days of the Condor (1975)

R | 117 min | Mystery, Thriller

63 Metascore

A bookish CIA researcher finds all his co-workers dead, and must outwit those responsible until he figures out who he can really trust.

Director: Sydney Pollack | Stars: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, Max von Sydow

Votes: 45,069 | Gross: $41.51M

18. Stalag 17 (1953)

Not Rated | 120 min | Comedy, Drama, War

84 Metascore

When two escaping American World War II prisoners are killed, the German P.O.W. camp barracks black marketeer, J.J. Sefton, is suspected of being an informer.

Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: William Holden, Don Taylor, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss

Votes: 49,406

19. The Wild Geese (1978)

R | 134 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

A British banker hires a group of British mercenaries to rescue a deposed African President from the hands of a corrupt African dictator.

Director: Andrew V. McLaglen | Stars: Richard Burton, Roger Moore, Richard Harris, Hardy Krüger

Votes: 11,100

20. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

PG | 142 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

61 Metascore

James Bond woos a mob boss' daughter and goes undercover to uncover the true reason for Ernst Stavro Blofeld's allergy research in the Swiss Alps involving beautiful women from around the world.

Director: Peter R. Hunt | Stars: George Lazenby, Diana Rigg, Telly Savalas, Gabriele Ferzetti

Votes: 75,795 | Gross: $22.80M

21. Blast of Silence (1961)

Not Rated | 77 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A hired killer from Cleveland has a job to do on a second-string mob boss in New York. But a special girl from his past, and a fat gun dealer with pet rats, each gets in his way.

Director: Allen Baron | Stars: Allen Baron, Molly McCarthy, Larry Tucker, Peter Clune

Votes: 3,552

22. The Thin Man (1934)

TV-PG | 91 min | Comedy, Crime, Mystery

Former detective Nick Charles and his wealthy wife Nora investigate a murder case, mostly for the fun of it.

Director: W.S. Van Dyke | Stars: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan, Nat Pendleton

Votes: 25,154

23. Lady in the Lake (1946)

Approved | 105 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery

The lady editor of a crime magazine hires Philip Marlowe to find the wife of her boss. The private detective soon finds himself involved in murder.

Director: Robert Montgomery | Stars: Robert Montgomery, Audrey Totter, Lloyd Nolan, Tom Tully

Votes: 4,772

24. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

R | 103 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

72 Metascore

A murder mystery brings together a private eye, a struggling actress, and a thief masquerading as an actor.

Director: Shane Black | Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan, Corbin Bernsen

Votes: 207,894 | Gross: $4.24M

Shane Black

25. The Ice Harvest (2005)

R | 92 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

62 Metascore

A shady lawyer attempts a Christmas Eve crime, hoping to swindle the local mob out of some money. But his partner, a strip club owner, might have different plans for the cash.

Director: Harold Ramis | Stars: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Connie Nielsen, Lara Phillips

Votes: 22,779 | Gross: $8.82M

It's a perfectly fine bleak Film Noir. The problem is that it was marketed to the masses as a wacky comedy (every humorous moment from the movie is in the trailer).

26. Cash on Demand (1961)

Not Rated | 89 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

A charming but ruthless criminal holds the family of a bank manager hostage as part of a cold-blooded plan to steal 97,000 pounds.

Director: Quentin Lawrence | Stars: Peter Cushing, André Morell, Richard Vernon, Norman Bird

Votes: 1,512

27. Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)

R | 94 min | Comedy

77 Metascore

Born on the original Christmas in the stable next door to Jesus Christ, Brian of Nazareth (Graham Chapman) spends his life being mistaken for a messiah.

Director: Terry Jones | Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam

Votes: 350,530 | Gross: $20.05M

28. The Ref (1994)

R | 96 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

A cat burglar is forced to take a bickering, dysfunctional family hostage on Christmas Eve.

Director: Ted Demme | Stars: Denis Leary, Judy Davis, Kevin Spacey, Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.

Votes: 22,646 | Gross: $11.44M

It's like Christmas Vacation and American Beauty had a baby. Not a perfect movie. It's biggest flaw is a subplot that, thanks to a last minute change to the film's ending, seems to be simply forgotten half way through (and thus probably should've been edited out entirely).

29. Black Christmas (1974)

R | 98 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

65 Metascore

During their Christmas break, a group of sorority girls are stalked by a stranger.

Director: Bob Clark | Stars: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon

Votes: 30,601 | Gross: $4.05M

A great film and the originator of the slasher genre (though I suppose that's not really something to be proud of).

Yes, there are plenty of Christmas-themed horror movies out there. I'm only putting good ones on MY list. Deal with it.

30. Better Watch Out (II) (2016)

R | 89 min | Comedy, Crime, Horror

67 Metascore

On a quiet suburban street, a babysitter must defend a twelve-year-old boy from intruders, only to discover it's far from a normal home invasion.

Director: Chris Peckover | Stars: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould, Aleks Mikic

Votes: 26,540 | Gross: $0.02M

DON'T WATCH ANY PREVIEWS. DON'T READ ANY DESCRIPTION LONGER THAN ONE SENTENCE. THEY GIVE TOO MUCH AWAY. Just look at the Rotten Tomatoes score and jump the f@(k in!

%91 on Rotten Tomatoes

My biggest complaint; the movie our protagonists were watching should've been Black Christmas. 'The calls are coming from inside the house' would've been great foreshadowing!

31. Krampus (I) (2015)

PG-13 | 98 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

49 Metascore

A boy who has a bad Christmas accidentally summons a festive demon to his family home.

Director: Michael Dougherty | Stars: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman

Votes: 59,201 | Gross: $42.59M

32. A Christmas Tale (2005 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 71 min | Horror, Thriller

In 1985, in a coastal town, the friends Koldo, Peti, Tito, Eugenio and Moni stumble with a woman dressed like Santa Claus trapped in a hole in the woods. While to boys go to the police ... See full summary »

Director: Paco Plaza | Stars: Maru Valdivielso, Christian Casas, Roger Babià, Pau Poch

Votes: 1,505

Culminates with an axe-wielding criminal in a Santa suit chasing a gang of kids through an abandoned amusement park at night! ...Why are you still sitting there?

33. Christmas Evil (1980)

R | 100 min | Horror, Thriller

A toy factory worker, mentally scarred as a child upon learning Santa Claus is not real, suffers a nervous breakdown after being belittled at work, and embarks on a Yuletide killing spree.

Director: Lewis Jackson | Stars: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull, Andy Fenwick

Votes: 5,443

80% on Rotten Tomatoes Please go look at the film's Wikipedia and Rotten Tomatoes pages to see some professional reviews.

I guess I can understand why (sneer) IMDb voters gave this movie such a low score. They were drawn in by a premise and a poster that seem to promise a gory holiday romp, and instead were treated to a slow-moving psychodrama about a stunted, naive man being gradually pushed to his breaking point, then stripped of his ideals and illusions. They didn't appreciate the sad tone, skilled writing and direction (at least for a low budget horror movie), or the Psycho-esque suspense, wherein a murderer encounters obstacles which make law-abiding audience members worry for his safety and his success.

Light-years better than Silent Night, Deadly Night.

34. P2 (2007)

R | 98 min | Crime, Horror, Thriller

37 Metascore

A businesswoman is pursued by a psychopath after being locked in a parking garage on Christmas Eve.

Director: Franck Khalfoun | Stars: Rachel Nichols, Wes Bentley, Simon Reynolds, Philip Akin

Votes: 30,606 | Gross: $3.99M

Don't ask me why it has a %35 on Rotten Tomatoes or 37 on Metacritic, I think it's a perfectly decent kidnapped by delusional loner/escape/cat-and-mouse game/ suspense movie. Like a violent lowbrow Misery or 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Roger Ebert gave it 3 of 4 stars

35. Rare Exports (2010)

R | 84 min | Adventure, Fantasy, Horror

71 Metascore

In the depths of the Korvatunturi mountains, 486 meters deep, lies the closest ever guarded secret of Christmas. The time has come to dig it up. This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus.

Director: Jalmari Helander | Stars: Jorma Tommila, Onni Tommila, Peeter Jakobi, Tommi Korpela

Votes: 25,049 | Gross: $0.26M

36. A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

Not Rated | 99 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

49 Metascore

Interwoven stories that take place on Christmas Eve, as told by one festive radio host: A family brings home more than a Christmas tree, a student documentary becomes a living nightmare, a Christmas spirit terrorizes, Santa slays evil.

Directors: Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan | Stars: William Shatner, George Buza, Rob Archer, Zoé De Grand Maison

Votes: 8,846

The stories vary wildly in both quality and tone. It's no Trick 'r Treat.

It has a %78 on Rotten Tomatoes (though I think that's being generous)

37. Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1972)

PG-13 | 91 min | Horror, Thriller

A demented widow lures unsuspecting children into her mansion in a bizarre "Hansel and Gretel" twist.

Director: Curtis Harrington | Stars: Shelley Winters, Mark Lester, Chloe Franks, Ralph Richardson

Votes: 1,361

38. The Children (2008)

R | 84 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A relaxing Christmas vacation turns into a terrifying fight for survival as the children begin to turn on their parents.

Director: Tom Shankland | Stars: Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell Moore, Jeremy Sheffield, Rachel Shelley

Votes: 16,559

%73 on Rotten Tomatoes

39. Dead End (I) (2003)

R | 85 min | Adventure, Horror, Mystery

Christmas Eve. On his way to his in-laws with his family, Frank Harrington decides to try a shortcut, for the first time in 20 years. It turns out to be the biggest mistake of his life.

Directors: Jean-Baptiste Andrea, Fabrice Canepa | Stars: Ray Wise, Lin Shaye, Mick Cain, Alexandra Holden

Votes: 24,899

40. Calvaire (2004)

Not Rated | 88 min | Horror

52 Metascore

Marc, a traveling entertainer, is on his way home for Christmas when his van brakes in the middle of a jerkwater town with some strange inhabitans.

Director: Fabrice du Welz | Stars: Laurent Lucas, Brigitte Lahaie, Gigi Coursigny, Jean-Luc Couchard

Votes: 11,200 | Gross: $0.00M

...Yowza. ...Yow. Za.

41. Inside (2007)

R | 82 min | Horror

Four months after the death of her husband, a woman on the brink of motherhood is tormented in her home by a strange woman who wants her unborn baby.

Directors: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury | Stars: Alysson Paradis, Jean-Baptiste Tabourin, Claude Lulé, Dominique Frot

Votes: 35,755

All the Yowzas. All of them. In the world.

After watching this I swore to never watch another French Horror movie again. Of course I did.

42. Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)

R | 81 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A man inherits a mansion, which once was a mental home. He visits the place and begins to investigate some crimes that happened in old times, scaring the people living in the region.

Director: Theodore Gershuny | Stars: Patrick O'Neal, James Patterson, Mary Woronov, Astrid Heeren

Votes: 3,675

It's true, it ain't Shakespeare. But any patient fans of spooky mysteries should get some enjoyment out of this atmospheric proto-slasher.

43. The Day of the Beast (1995)

R | 99 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

Bent on committing as many sins as possible to avert the birth of the beast, a Catholic priest teams up with a Black Metal aficionado and an Italian connoisseur of the occult. Now, he must become an unrelenting sinner. Is there still hope?

Director: Álex de la Iglesia | Stars: Álex Angulo, Armando De Razza, Santiago Segura, Terele Pávez

Votes: 16,451 | Gross: $0.02M

Wacky horror-comedy

44. Gremlins (1984)

PG | 106 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

70 Metascore

A boy inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.

Director: Joe Dante | Stars: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, John Louie

Votes: 187,715 | Gross: $148.17M

45. Treevenge (2008)

16 min | Short, Comedy, Horror

Christmas trees ripped out of their forest plan revenge against people enjoying the holidays.

Director: Jason Eisener | Stars: Jonathan Torrens, Sarah Dunsworth, Maris Morgan, Jayden Taylor

Votes: 2,228

It reminds you why the short film is still a vital necessary. I can just imagine the kind of cheap, stupid, schlock we'd get if they'd tried to stretch this to feature length.

46. Home for the Holidays (1972 TV Movie)

73 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

6.6