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7 Christmas Movies That Aren’t Actually Christmas Movies

Victoria Newell

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Gremlins Christmas image
Warner Bros.

It’s that time of year again. Time to cosy up by the fire, eat warm cookies, drink eggnog, and turn your favourite Christmas movie on. But is your favourite holiday film actually a Christmas movie, or just a movie that somehow got looped into the holiday season? Does it deserve more views outside of Christmas time? Here are our picks for seven Christmas movies… that aren’t actually Christmas movies.

7. Steel Magnolias (1989)

This one is easy to mix up. Every major scene in the film revolves around a holiday; including Christmas. A common correlation between non-Christmas films and a Holiday viewing is if it’s gonna jerk a tear. It is also a film that you can watch with the whole family, and everyone will bond, which is another reason it might get a Holiday viewing. But Steel Magnolias is a non-Christmas tear-jerker to watch no matter the season.

6. Little Women (1994)

For the purposes of this article, I’m talking specifically about the 90s version with Winona Ryder. Little Women is another story that sort of has a Christmas vibe, and there are several Christmas/snowy set pieces. This version specifically tends to have more of a wintery feel. This story is not a Christmas story though. It follows the relationship and lives of the March family. It goes back to a classic rule; just because a movie has a Christmas scene in it, does not mean it’s a Christmas movie.

5. Gremlins (1984)

This one is unique because the marketing for Gremlins revolved around Christmas. It’s sort of about a Christmas gift gone wrong, so it’s easy to throw in with Christmas movies. But for a Christmas movie to be a Christmas movie, I would argue that it can’t be intentionally scary. The Christmas marketing was set up more as a shock factor, than to actually convince the public that Gremlins is a Christmas movie.

4. It’s a Wonderful Life (1947)

Okay, okay I know this one is controversial. It’s been a Christmas staple for so long! In truth, almost nothing to do with Christmas actually happens in this movie. The only Christmas thing there is the end, which is probably where the confusion comes from. It just so happens that the end of the movie happens to be on Christmas, and they close with a little bit of Christmas cheer. The rest of the movie follows George Bailey’s life and explores what makes every person’s presence special and meaningful. For that reason, It’s a Wonderful Life is not a Christmas movie, and deserves to be watched year-round.

3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

This is another long-standing debate, is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Christmas movie, or a Halloween movie? It certainly has it’s Christmas-viewers. The Disney Parks even outfit the Haunted Mansion in Nightmare Before Christmas decor for the holiday season. But I’m going to have to go ahead and call it a Halloween movie. While Christmas is a major theme, the story is about Halloween screwing up Christmas. 90% of the film takes place in Halloweentown, not Christmastown.

The theme of the movie is about learning to be content where you are, and that place for Jack Skellington is Halloween. Not to mention the soft-scary imagery and the very gothic soundtrack. I personally always get the bug to watch it around Halloween as well. This movie is best viewed from October-December. There’s even an argument to be made that this film could have a spot between the two holidays on Thanksgiving.

2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has definitely grown into a Christmas-season movie, but it’s unclear why. There is a big Christmas set-piece, but it’s not a major part of the plot. It had a Thanksgiving release, so it might have had some Christmas-time viewers in the theatre. But at the end of the day, I think it boils down to nostalgia. Most Christmas movies tap into a childlike nostalgia, remembering what it felt like to be a kid on Christmas morning.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone does not tap into a Christmas nostalgia, but it does invoke that child-like wonder. The most whimsical and innocent of the Harry Potter films, for people who grew up with the series, watching this movie is like coming home. Nearly twenty years after it’s release, most Harry Potter fans are all grown up, and watching this movie is an extremely nostalgic event. It can be best encapsulated in the last track of the film, Leaving Hogwarts by John Williams (the king of 90s nostalgia). It captures what it felt like to be a kid who still believes in magic- and that is what Christmas movies are all about. Nevertheless, nothing about Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone particularly screams Christmas, so it is not a Christmas movie. I’d watch it every day if given the chance.

1. Die Hard(1988)

Ah, Die Hard. Probably the biggest contender on the list… and to be honest the verdict is still out. While the film takes place on Christmas Eve, it doesn’t quite have a “Christmas Theme.” The point of the movie is to get John McClane (Bruce Willis) out of a tough spot, not to spread Christmas cheer. Most of the Die Hard cast has sided with the “it’s not a Christmas movie” argument. Bruce Willis himself declared that it’s not a Christmas movie “it’s a goddamn Bruce Willis movie!” While filming, the entire cast and crew have stated that they never viewed the film as a Christmas movie, nor was that their intent. So in this case, we’re gonna have to say that Die Hard is not a Christmas movie, just a movie set during Christmas. It deserves some plays outside of the Christmas season as well.


Now we can’t tell you what to do, so if you want to watch any of these films on Christmas Eve – go for it! At the end of the day, if a movie is a good movie, it’s a good movie and should be enjoyed on any given day. Just don’t go telling people that Die Hard is your favourite Christmas movie.


And that’s our list of Christmas movies that aren’t actually Christmas movies? Did we miss any? Have we ruined your Christmas? Let us know in the comments below.


Check our Home Alone what traps would’ve killed Harry and Marv article HERE.

Read IMDB information about Die Hard HERE.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Kirby Vennes

    December 12, 2020 at 4:56 pm

    i like this just right post

  2. Avatar

    sean emrick

    December 24, 2020 at 7:38 am

    So wait Gremlins isnt a Christmas movie because its intentionally scary? LOL Theres a whole subgenre of horror dealing with Christmas, not to mention all of the actual dark Christmas themed stuff that exists in the REAL world. You might want to look up Krampus, Perchta, Gryla and the Yule Cat just to name a few…theres probably as much horror in real world christmas-time folklore than during Halloween.

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9 Movie Remakes That Should Never Have Been Made

Aaron Phillips

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Total Recall 2012 image
Columbia Pictures

Let’s have a look at nine movie releases remakes that definitely shouldn’t have never been made to seen the light of day.

It seems that in recent years, Hollywood have run out of original movie ideas. There has been remake after remake of films that were initially successful. As it often the case, film execs decide to cash in and remake these films for a new audience.

Now, sometimes this works. Oceans Eleven; The Jungle Book and Woman in Black are some examples that come to mind.

But sometimes it can go spectacularly wrong. This can be due to poor box office sales or being critically panned by the critics. Or it could just be the fact that the writing is utterly diabolical.

9. The Omen (2006)

If you’re going to have a pop at remaking a horror classic, then you have to bring something new to the table. The David Seltzer-penned 1976 original is a horror classic. Brooding and sinister, it doesn’t rely on shock scares. Instead, it uses atmosphere; some fantastic actors; a great script and an Oscar-winning musical score. This remake from 2006 didn’t live up to its predecessor’s brilliance. In fact, there’s no good reason why it was made. The plot follows almost the exact same story as the original film. A large majority of the scenes are practically identical, which seems pointless. You can’t blame the cast as there was some fine actors involved – Mia Farrow, Pete Postlethwaite and Michael Gambon to name a few. But their acting skills were not enough to make this movie good.

It adds nothing new to the original story; it’s just the same film with a different cast. It did make a healthy profit at the box office ($120 million), but the critic reviews were not good for the reasons I’ve mentioned. Fan-reviewed websites also have pretty poor reviews for it, so don’t just take my word for it.

8. Robin Hood (2018)

There have been a few Robin Hood movies over the years. Some are better than others, but this remake from 2018 is truly terrible. There are many factors involved and the two lead men are fine actors, but just not in this movie. Taron Egerton and Jamie Foxx have a great filmography, but their ham acting is just cringeworthy here. Blame should also go to the script, which is cheesier than a large cheese pudding. There is plenty of action sequences, but the costumes and dialogue are all anachronistic. This all adds to the clunkiness of the whole debacle. It was also a box office bomb and universally panned by critics. If you want a good Robin Hood movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously, watch Robin Hood: Men in Tights from 1993.

7. Get Carter (2000)

The 1971 original is often hailed as one of the greatest movies of all time. A lot of that had to do with the charismatic Michael Caine as the lead character. A gritty Londoner out for revenge after the murder of his brother. In 2000 the movie was remade, but this time it’s set in Seattle with Sylvester Stallone as the lead character. The premise is still the same as the original film, but Sly Stallone kicking butts in Seattle just doesn’t have the same impact. Yes, there are some cool fight scenes and Sly does a good job on the acting front. But it doesn’t have the coolness or panache of the original. It just another Sly fronted action-thriller with little substance. Critics and audiences agreed, and it was universally panned. It also lost $40 million at the international box office.

Psycho (1998)

I’m going to open with the same point I made earlier in this article. If you are going to remake a classic movie, then be innovative and do something new. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 original is a masterpiece of creepy psychological filmmaking. Unfortunately, this 1998 remake failed to improve on any of that. Vince Vaughn played the Norman Bates character with Anne Heche playing Marion Crane. They do a fair job in portraying these iconic characters but bring nothing new to them. I guess seeing the film in colour helps bring a modern feel to it; especially as fake blood was used as opposed to chocolate sauce in the original. But interesting facts aside, it’s pretty much a shot-for-shot remake of the original.

Even the director Gus Van Sant admitted later it was an experiment to see if a shot-for-shot movie would work. It didn’t, as was proved by the critical and financial failure of the film. Then it barely made back half of its $60 million dollar budget. It was also given several Golden Raspberry awards for worst director and worst remake. This proves that you don’t mess around with Alfred Hitchcock.

5. Robocop (2014)

I remember walking into the cinema to watch this full of excitement. I left the cinema two hours later full of popcorn, but also full of disappointment. The original 1987 film is a cult classic. It’s mix of action; violence and satire made it one of the best movies of the decade. This remake from 2014 failed to hit any of those spots. Yes, it had some small elements of political satire and philosophical touches from the original, but little else. People with weak stomachs will applaud the lack of gore, but without it, the film seems too melodramatic. The updated effects make this remake look better, but the substance and excitement just aren’t there. Critics were overwhelming negative of the film too. There is also another reboot in the works. Why?!

4. The Fog (2005)

Enveloping fog has always been a good premise from a horror film. John Carpenter also thought so and made a creepy such film in 1980. The plot revolves around a mysterious fog that brings dead sailors to haunt and terrorize a Californian town. Sometimes the passage of time can allow for the special effects to improve, and it does here. But the gaps between the various grisly deaths are just dull. The characters are wooden, and you don’t end up caring when they meet their untimely demise. John Carpenter did produce this remake so it’s surprising there isn’t more depth to it. It did make a small profit at the box office but was universally panned by movie critics. If you do have to watch it just don’t engage your brain.

3. Total Recall (2012)

Another movie that tried to reboot an iconic sci-fi action film. 1990’s original was set on Mars and featured Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role. At the time, it was one of the most expensive movies ever made. This remake from 2012 had Colin Farrell in the lead role, supported by the brilliant Kate Beckinsale. This is another film that’s enjoyable to watch, just don’t try thinking whilst watching. There are plenty of spectacular action sequences that fizz, pop and bang, but don’t expect substance. It lacks any depth to the plot and misses the mark on the dry humour and character development that the original had. Pretty much all the movie critics agreed as well.

2. Bangkok Dangerous (2008)

Ah, Nicolas Cage. His movies in recent years have been a bit, well, hit and miss. And that’s being generous. It’s a shame as he is genuinely a great actor. But in recent years he’s picked terrible films to be in, and often dials in a performance. This remake from the Pang brothers Thai original from 1999 has none of the unique hallmarks of the original. For example, Nic Cage’s character is no longer deaf and mute like he was in the original. This seems odd as the brothers also directed this remake. A meandering plot; wooden performances and clunky cinematography make this a flop. It also received poor reviews and barely broke even at the box office.

1. Death Wish (2018)

The Charles Bronson 1974 original was a violent but successful vigilante movie. It also hit a chord with Americans at a time of increasing urban violence. It spawned several sequels, but this 2018 remake had Bruce Willis dishing out the justice. The original film had a point to make about taking the law into your own hands and did it with a visceral bang. The film was shocking at the time with its violence and rape scene, but it was relevant to explain how the lead character changed through the film. This remake doesn’t explore any of this.

It’s a brainless revenge movie that doesn’t have the same impact as the original and Bruce Willis dials in a lacklustre performance. It doesn’t add anything to the original film, and you’re left feeling empty after watching it. The whole thing seems pointless and morally bankrupt. In fact, it makes the 1974 original seem almost philosophical. It also received criticism for being released a few weeks after the Douglas High School shooting in Florida and for glorifying guns. It also barely made a profit at the box office and overwhelmingly received negative reviews.


And that’s our list of nine movie remakes that should never have been given the green light. Did we miss any? do you agree with us? Let us know in the comments below.


Read about what went wrong with the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street HERE.

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