I enjoy Christmas just as much as the next person. Santa hits up the mall and it’s always fun to see how many children are terrified to sit on his lap. Mariah Carey gets to experience a comeback every year around this time and someone always releases a terrible holiday album to cash in on the season.

One thing I have never been a fan of is Christmas movies. There seems to be an ongoing theme in most of them that teaches the audience that “nothing is more important than family” that makes me cringe (even though I love my own family).

One movie that falls into that category that I actually enjoy is “The Family Stone.”  The plot is nothing unique, following an uptight city girl who meets her boyfriend’s eccentric family. What I really take to this film is that it doesn’t find its humor in crazy hijinks like other holiday films. Its humor lies in the reality of family dysfunction and the imperfections of being a person.

I’ll never forget watching this in the theater and the teenage girl next to me didn’t comprehend that the gay couple were indeed a couple. One man was white and the other was black and she was confused throughout as to what the black guy was doing at the house. She whispered to who I am assuming was her boyfriend, “maybe he’s adopted.” This concept of a diverse family was still new at the time, but the movie doesn’t shove any of it into your face “Modern Family” style.

With that being said, I am a horror fan always and there are some gems out there for the Christmas holiday to be enjoyed. Here are three of my favorites and each is completely different from each other for varied tastes:

A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

What makes this movie so great is that it is questionable for conservative parents if this film is actually appropriate for children and I’m sure has given some nightmares. Jack Skeleton, the pumpkin king, suffers an existential crisis in Halloween Town until he discovers another world that celebrates Christmas. Catchy songs and still amazingly horrific visuals bring a smile to my face with this. The mayor, however, is still my favorite character.

CHRISTMAS EVIL

A little boy is traumatized by seeing Santa play naughty with his mother leading him to grow up as a mentally unstable loner who feels the need to separate the nice from the naughty. From some of the descriptions out there and, even some of the cover art, this sounds much like “Silent Night, Deadly Night,” but it is far from it. “Christmas Evil” plays more of a psychological stand point in the genre and, even though violence ensues, I would never classify this as a slasher flick. The film lets you watch a man fall into madness that no one can understand and is rather sad to see. John Waters endorses this film heavily and is even featured on a commentary track on the blu-ray release. Highly recommend it for those who enjoy something a little more dark.

BLACK CHRISTMAS

As a rare someone who gets excited for remakes, I am NOT recommending the remake of this horror classic. The 1974 version is all you need to see and still holds up well today. I rewatched this two days ago and it’s amazing how creepy it still is. One thing I can’t emphasize enough about this movie is that it not only has strong female leads, it doesn’t have any nudity or sex on display to help sell the movie. Even the violence isn’t gratuitous. Around Christmas time, the sorority sisters get creepy phone calls and are unaware of a menacing presence always watching them. There’s plenty of scares and humor (the house mother is my favorite) to hold your attention and deserves to be traditional viewing. If anything in this movie reminds you of something you’ve already seen, then know “Black Christmas” set the standard for several popular franchises (especially a key scene towards the end involving tracing a call).

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