What makes a Christmas movie?

Walk along the high street and the lights are shining brightly. Enter the shops and there are gifts everywhere and cheery music is playing. Go back home, put on the TV and the adverts are reminding us. And to top it all off the big red sugary refreshment truck is making its way around the country. It can only mean one thing, Christmas is well and truly here.

As it wouldn’t be Christmas without watching some festive feature films we here at Hellfire HQ we’ve been pondering a question for the past few days. What is the best Christmas movie of all time?

What constitutes a Christmas film?

To list all of my favourite Christmas films would take more than one article so I racked my brains to name just a few that stand out. But before I delve into the winter wonderland of cinema I have to consider one major issue. Should a Christmas film be about Christmas or can it be just set around the festive season?.

Take Die Hard (1988) for example. Sure, it’s set around a Christmas party in the Nakatomi Plaza but blowing stuff up, killing German terrorists and throwing them out of 30th floor windows doesn’t really inspire me to whip out the chestnuts and eggnog.

For me a Christmas movie is all about that feel-good factor. It’s the time of giving, the time for families, the time for gorging on turkey, roast potatoes and pigs in blankets. And chocolate, lots of chocolate. And preferably some snow! But we have to all agree that Die Hard is still a great watch whether it be a Christmas film or not. Yippee ki-yay!

One example that undoubtably calls itself a Christmas film, and appears near the top of every list, is Home Alone.

It’s on TV every December (along with Mary Poppins which has no relevance to Christmas whatsoever – but that’s a separate article altogether) and tells the story of a young Kevin McAllister (Macauley Culkin) who is left behind when his family go on a festive vacation to France. When Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern respectively) try to burgle Kevin’s house hilarious mayhem ensues. You guys give up or are you thirsty for more?

Love Actually‘ (2003) is another film that makes it onto our list of festive favourites. Starring Hugh Grant as the British Prime Minister, Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead) and Liam Neeson (I will find you and I will kill you!) ‘Love Actually’ follows the plight of eight couples dealing with their tumultuous love lives around Christmas in London. And not forgetting Bill Nighy’s ultimately forgettable bastardisation of Wet Wet Wet’s ‘Love is All Around’.

Christmas Classics

To me nothing says Christmas more than an old festive classic.

A Christmas Carol is a prime example. There have been many adaptions of the Charles Dickens classic. Perhaps the most famous was Alastair Sims’ portrayal of Ebeneezer Scrooge in the film ‘Scrooge‘ (1951). Other notable versions including Sir Patrick Stewart playing the lead in ‘A Christmas Carol’ (1999) and even Eastenders/Ultimate Force’s hard man Ross Kemp in the 2000 movie of the same name. In a nutshell (chestnut perhaps?) ‘A Christmas Carol’ tells the story of a man who hates Christmas but he is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve who show him the error of his ways. Bah humbug!

Another worthy inclusion is ‘Miracle on 34th Street‘ (1947) which spawned a masterful remake in 1994 starring Richard Attenborough. Miracle is about a man, Kris Kringle, who is employed as a department store Santa Claus. Kris later turns out to be the real Santa Claus himself. (Sorry, spoiler alert!).

Seasonal Slashers

Of course an article about Christmas movies wouldn’t be complete without the customary festive horrors. From Krampus to Black Christmas to Christmas Slay (which, coincidentally we’re screening the UK Premiere at our Christmas Special “Ho Ho Hellfire 2” on 27th December) the season has gore aplenty.

To many to choose from

So there you have it. I listed a few of my favourite festive films but to choose one above any other would be a serious injustice to the whole festive genre. I’m going to open it up to you. What is your favourite Christmas movie and why?