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Film Flops

Humbug: The Five Worst Christmas Movies

If you’ve already had your fill of seasonal good cheer, you might be ready for some Chinese water torture, in cinematic form. With that somewhat perverse alternative in mind, here are Editor John Farr’s picks for the five worst holiday movies ever.

1) Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964)
The worst of all Yuletide features could well have been directed by Ed Wood, which admittedly gives it a certain camp value. It seems the Martians (dressed in outfits that would have wowed ’em at Studio 54) are distressed that their kids are stuck on the earthly TV programs beamed in by their satellites. In particular, they envy our holiday traditions. Solution: kidnap Santa Claus and establish Christmas on Mars. The cute premise is undermined from the outset by a deadly combination of idiotic script, amateurish acting, and ultra-cheapo sets and effects. Mind-numbingly dreadful.

2) Deck The Halls (2006)
In this pitiful waste of celluloid, an obnoxious new neighbor named Buddy Hall (Danny De Vito) moves across the street from Christmas enthusiast Steve Finch (Matthew Broderick) and treads on Steve’s yuletide turf when he decides to put enough Christmas lights on his house to be seen from space. This torturously unfunny clinker will drain all your holiday spirit and leave you in a state of mute disbelief, with only one question on your mind: how could these talented, well-established actors have said “yes” to this dreck?

3) Silent Night, Deadly Night Parts 1& 2 (1984/1987)
Seamy, shamelessly exploitative double-header exposes the depths to which Hollywood will sink to make hay out of the holidays. In the first, a boy named Billy witnesses his parents’ murder by a deranged intruder dressed as Santa and, in adulthood, ends up modeling the intruder’s behavior by going on an extended slashing spree. Ho, ho, ho! In the execrable sequel, we learn Billy actually has a brother (who knew?) intent on carrying on the family tradition.

4) The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t (1966)
In Rosanno Brazzi’s astoundingly cheesy children’s film from Italy, a cranky old miser named Prune (a scenery-chomping Brazzi) buys the North Pole and decides to evict Santa because of his lifelong antipathy towards children and Christmas. Santa enlists the help of do-gooder lawyer Sam Whipple (a creepily saccharine Paul Tripp) to foil Prune’s dastardly plan. Ineptly mounted and punctuated with some laughably bad songs (sample lyric from Prune: “I’m glad you’re mad I’m bad!”), The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t thus becomes the movie that should never have been.

5) Jack Frost (1998)
Full disclosure: I am no Michael Keaton fan. But watching this strange, corny mess was not a total waste of time—at least I discovered my gag reflex still works. The pitch meeting for this misfire must have been memorable: a pre-occupied dad (Keaton) gets killed in a car accident one Christmas Eve, and comes back as a talking snowman, planted on his family’s lawn, to make amends for the past neglect of his son. The nail in the coffin for this hokey outing may be the snowman figure itself (created by the Jim Henson people), who looked more ghoulish than cuddly. Though hardly in the holiday spirit, I must confess I couldn’t wait for Keaton’s Jack Frost to speak his piece and melt.

- John Farr



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