A little this horror Christmas?

Animation

The 1993 release The Nightmare Before Christmas, a family fantasy, is about Pumpkin King Jack Stapleton, fed-up of routine Halloween, sauntering into the woods with his dog Zero and discovering a clearing with doors representing different holidays.

Attracted by the Christmas tree door he steps into the world of Christmas and decides to embrace the spirit of Christmas. His idea though backfires because he has Halloween monsters coming out and filling up for Santa, Elves, Reindeer etc.

Tim Burton delivered this delightful family film to the cinema using a much more traditional stop-motion animation and truck-loads of wild, weird imagination.

The darkly edged fantasy fairytale content, coupled with innovative, inventive, enjoyable songs and competent voice cast makes this classic a truly memorable and unique experience. The tinier tots might find themselves too scared to enjoy this one though.

Action

The 1988, 132 minute Bruce Willis starring seminal action thriller franchise start-up, Die Hard, set the bar high for future action extravaganzas. In this film an NYPD officer John Mc Clane (Willis) has to save his wife and several others taken hostage by German terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) in their attempt to steal $600 million, during a Christmas Party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

The film is considered to be among the best action thrillers ever and the audience lapped up the immersive experience presented by fast paced high-tension narration, non-stop action packed sequences, mind-numbing explosions, ace special effects, highly effective dialogue and well-endowed performances.

The Christmas theme might have been incidental but the film was declared one of the most action packed thrill rides ever and raked in a bumper harvest at the Worldwide Box office for 20th Century Fox during Christmas season and beyond.

Family drama

The 69 minute, 1938 B &W release, A Christmas Carol, directed by Erwin L Marin, set in 19th century, London, is about the bitter, greedy and cranky Ebenezer Scrooge (Reginald Owen) who hates Christmas and people, runs his business exploiting his employee Bob Cratchit and is unfriendly towards his nephew Fred and acquaintances.

On Christmas Eve, he is visited by the doomed chained ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley (Leo G Carroll), who tells him that the three spirits who would visit him that night would give him a chance at redemption. 

Highlighting themes of forgiveness, repentance and sharing, the film is Hollywood’s first prominent screen adaptation of the Dickens story, has good production values and is short (because MGM insisted on a short film for family audiences) and sweet - leaving out several of the story’s darker, poignant moments. The film is recognised as an all-time Christmas classic.

Based on a true story

The Impossible is a disaster movie set against the backdrop of the 2004 tsunami that devastated large portions of coastal southern Asia. The 114 minute historical, thriller, drama directed by J.A. Bayona and released in 2012, followed a regular family — Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three kids who travel to Thailand to spend Christmas. Upgraded to a villa on the coastline, they go to the pool to soak in the Christmas vacation experience only to find themselves caught up in a tsunami.

The Impossible’s strength lies in the conveyance of loneliness and chaos that settles in the disaster's aftermath. The narrative focuses on character interaction and mood more than on big-budgeted scenes of destruction.

Even so, amazing effects and stunts, along with Oscar worthy performances make this true story of one family's experiences of the horrendous tsunami that killed 300,000 people a stunning, havoc creating visual experience.

Documentary

The 94 minute 2013 released documentary, Jingle Bell Rocks! with an eclectic cast of characters and songs, is an exclusive look into the underground universe of original, alternative Christmas music.

With The Flaming Lips, Run DMC, John Waters — plus two dozen amazing and original songs, titles like, Close Your Mouth (It’s Christmas), Santa Claus

Was a Black Man or Merry Christmas Someone...these funny, satirical, songs explored the flip-side of the standard Yuletide themes: racial inequality, religious freedom, nuclear war, familial angst, or simply the yearning sadness of being alone at the happiest time of the year.

Filmmaker Mitchell Kezin uncovers the stories behind twelve of the most unique Christmas songs you’ve ever heard. After talking about the reason for the popularity of Christmas music in general, collectors talk about their own collecting experience.

Kezin’s many interviews are frequently delightful. The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne, in particular, has plenty of entertaining stories to impart. Run of Run-DMC is interviewed for his own hip-hop Christmas song, another interview lined-up here is of a singer who wrote a Christmas song for Miles Davis and then there’s John Waters too.

A sort of social history, pop culture pilgrimage, this film is antithetical to the Christmas music mainstream and reinvents a seasonal soundtrack that fits in well with 21st century music.

Horror

The 1984 original Christmas set slasher horror film, the 79 minute Charles E Sellier Jr. Directorial, Silent Night, Deadly Night, which did its best to sully the very goodness that Christmas represents was pulled off from American theatres for its psycho Santa on the rampage story. This film is considered a classic by horror film fans.

The film tells the story of a traumatised little boy who grows up to become a handsome, albeit, deranged killer. Robert Brian Wilson, who essays the lead role, has you hooked by his beguiling innocent smile and then suddenly he goes shockingly whacko! And to beat it all, you continue to feel empathetic to his plight - not as much for the victims of his blood-curdling mayhem.

Don’t know whether that was by design or inadvertent, but the end result is that it made the film more bearable even though it sullied the very spirit of Christmas. The film, one of the top horror films to capture Christmas Terror, has a considerable fan following and spawned four sequels before being remade in 2012.