Five offbeat holiday movies to add to your seasonal rotation

click to enlarge Anna and the Apocalypse: A zombie holiday flick with heart.
Anna and the Apocalypse: A zombie holiday flick with heart.

How many times have you watched A Christmas Story or Elf? If these classics are a little stale, it's time to spice up your holiday movies. Add some cheese to your merrymaking with these offbeat movies that will leave you baffled, amused and horrified.

ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE (2017)

Please everyone in the room with a heartfelt and funny Christmas musical about a zombie apocalypse.

What it's about: Anna has big plans for after graduation. But before that can happen, she has to survive the zombie outbreak in her small Scottish town during the holidays. What starts off as a generic musical bounces into zombie territory quickly as a group of misfit teens fight to reunite with their loved ones.

Why it's great: Anna and the Apocalypse doesn't take itself too seriously, but there are underlying threads of social pressure and parental disappointment that come off as genuine. I will recommend this from now on. (Amazon Prime)

STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL (1978)

Star Wars fans like to argue about what the best movie in the franchise is, but true fans know the correct answer is the Star Wars Holiday Special.

What it's about: It's Life Day on the Wookie planet of Kashyyyk, but Chewbacca's holiday plans are interrupted when the Empire intercepts the Millenium Falcon. If that sounds exciting, you will be disappointed to know the rest of the movie is just filled with a bunch of weird, totally unrelated crap.

Why it's great: Jefferson Starship! Upsetting Wookie costumes! An animated segment debuting Boba Fett! Don't tell me this isn't canon. (YouTube)

FATMAN (2020)

In Fatman, Santa Claus is real. Unfortunately, he is portrayed by disgraced actor Mel Gibson.

What it's about: A rich little boy on Santa's naughty list decides to exact his revenge by hiring a hitman. An increasingly disgruntled Chris Cringle broods away in his workshop. He's also contracting with the U.S. military to develop electronics.

Why it's great: The showdown at the end is just good old-fashioned-action-movie fun. Critics trashed this movie, and for good reason, but I'll watch any movie with a gun-wielding Santa Claus. (Peacock)

SANTA AND THE ICE CREAM BUNNY (1972)

If your holiday celebration involves drinking games, this movie is perfect. Any scene with a grotesque costume: CHUG!

What it's about: Santa's sleigh gets stuck, and children try to help, but instead get sucked into listening to Santa tell the most boring story ever about a girl who, in turn, listens to an audio recording of the story of Thumbelina. A story within a story within a story. Stupid!

Why it's great: What the hell is an ice cream bunny and why does it drive a fire truck? Why does it only show up at the very end? None of this movie makes any sense — its biggest selling point. (Tubi)

DEADLY GAMES AKA DIAL CODE SANTA CLAUS (1989)

If you ever wanted a grittier version of Home Alone, this French thriller may be more than what you're looking for.

What it's about: In an effort to contact Santa, a little boy accidentally invites a murderer dressed like Saint Nick into his home. The ensuing home invasion is no more believable than anything Kevin McCallister encountered, but it is bloodier. Spoiler alert: The dog dies.

Why it's great: Full disclosure, I didn't make it through this one. But lovers of '80s euro trash and Christmas horror will most likely enjoy Deadly Games for its excessive violence and honest-to-god spooky Santa. (Shudder, Amazon Prime) ♦

Banff Mountain Film Festival @ Panida Theater

Fri., Jan. 21, 7 p.m., Sat., Jan. 22, 7 p.m. and Sun., Jan. 23, 6 p.m.
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