We’ve all done the fun thing of mentioning movies like Die Hard or Lethal Weapon that are technically Christmas movies. But here at Robot’s Pajamas, we like to dig deeper. Here are ten genre movies (sci-fi, horror, superhero, etc.) that are set during Christmas. It’s pretty easy to forget any of these are set during Christmas because it’s not at the forefront, but they are. In no particular order, here are the ten you’ve probably seen but don’t think of as Christmas movies!
Terry Gilliam’s 1985 dystopia film follows Sam Lowry trying to do a good deed at Christmastime in a consumer-driven totalitarian, bureaucratic world that relies on poorly-working and weird machines. When a government error causes the wrong man to be executed by the state (a fly lands in a typerwriter and makes one letter look different in a name) Sam takes the bereaved family a refund check to help improve their holiday.
Billy Peltzer is given a Mogwai from his father for Christmas. Of course things go wrong and it reproduces and the new Mogwai turn into evil little gremlins. They cause chaos across town. They sing Christmas carols, Phoebe Cates tells a bizarrely horrific tale about a past Christmas. But when you think of Gremlins, you think of cute little Gizmo or the Gremlins causing trouble at the bar. It’s easy to overlook that it’s all set during Christmas.
8. Batman Returns
There’s not necessarily a super-important reason for the Batman sequel to be set at Christmas but the super dark version of the holiday season for Gotham does help add a weird visual style which is perfect for a Tim Burton film. Penguin attacks Gotham during a Christmas-tree lighting ceremony early on. The Christmas decor stays up the rest of the movie and it all culminates in killer penguins launching missiles to destroy the city.
7. Edward Scissorhands
Before Batman Returns, Tim Burton tackled Christmas with Edward Scissorhands. Edward is an unfinished creature (a la Frankenstein) taken in by the friendly Boggs family. His dangerous scissorhands keep him from acclimating and being welcomed by most of society but he uses his hands to carve a really sweet ice sculpture during the holidays. Everything goes to crap shortly after that so Edward’s Christmas is only “okay.”
6. Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3 takes place during Christmas. The season is given a gloomy, dark, snowy depiction which helps visually represent Tony Stark’s post-traumatic stress disorder that he understandably developed following the massive battle in Avengers and his near-death experience. There’s some Christmas songs, a goofy gift for Pepper Potts and some rad gift giving to a kid that helps Tony lay low and hide out. Oh, and it was directed by Shane Black who also wrote the movies Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodnight and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang which are all set at Christmas. Four Christmas movies? Dude likes the holiday I guess.
5. 12 Monkeys
Another Terry Gilliam movie about a horrible future and another set at Christmas. Bruce Willis plays Bruce Willis, who travels back in time to the present, which happens to be Christmas-time, to stop a plague that ruins everything. But the time travel gave him amnesia so it’s really hard for him to remember what to do. A great movie and if you keep your eyes open, you’ll see folks dressed as Santa in the background of a couple scenes.
4. Dead Zone
Christopher Walken is in a car accident and when he wakes up, he has a new power. When he touches people, he can see their future. He is branded a freak for his supposed visions and tries to live a quiet life as a tutor. This is all set during Christmas. A local sheriff asks him to help and his old girlfriend visits with her toddler son. What a swell Christmas for him.
3. Ghostbusters 2
Yup, Vigo the Carpathian tries to conquer the world at Christmas. The Ghostbusters don’t exchange gifts or anything and New York City isn’t covered in snow for a white Christmas, but it is set then. You can see during the scene where they pilot the Statue of Liberty with a Nintendo controller that people are wearing winter gear and the stores are decorated in wreaths and fir trees.
Solider. You know, the 1998 sci-fi film by Paul W.S. Anderson starring Kurt Russell as an outdated soldier, who teams up with scavengers on an abandoned trash planet and ultimately protects them against the corrupt general and his new, genetically enhanced super soldier. The scavenger colonists celebrate Christmas with Russell before initially exiling him (they change their minds when they realize he’s awesome).
1. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
It stars the only guy to play James Bond only once, George Lazenby, who many didn’t care for. Nevertheless, it’s frequently cited as one of the best Bond films. It’s a bit more down to Earth than most, featuring arch-enemy Blofeld with the (by Bond standards) low-key plan to release a killer virus and extort world leaders over it. Blofeld has a huge mansion in Switzerland and Bond heads there, falling in love with a criminal’s daughter (who he legit quits his job for and marries at the end of the movie!). The Switzerland scenes featuring Bond wooing Teresa (Diana Rigg) are some of the most powerful in the movie. And Switzerland during the holidays looks super-beautiful.