Are These Actually Christmas Movies… Or Not?

16 December 2017, 12:00

The Shining with Jack Nicholson

Films set in the festive season are all about warm, fuzzy feeling of comfort and joy, right? Nah.

There are some Christmas movies that are bleaker than a burnt turkey and more depressing than yet another pair of socks. Here are ten movies that you always forget are set at the most wonderful time of the year.


Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) heads to LA on Christmas Eve to meet with his estranged wife and terrorist-led mayhem ensues. He’s even listening to Christmas In Hollis by Run DMC at the beginning. However, nobody has time to read any cracker jokes or watch the EastEnders Christmas special once the action begins.


2. THE SHINING (1980)

Jack Nicholson is the winter caretaker of the haunted Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s classic adaptation of a Stephen King novel. It’s the most horrible Christmas job imaginable as the family sit out the festive months while dad goes slowly psychotic.


3. PSYCHO (1960)

The events of Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary horror-thriller take place (according to the opening caption) from 11 December onwards… and Christmas decorations are briefly seen as Janet Leigh’s character takes off with her stolen money. Seems like Norman Bates was too busy to put up his tree, maybe?



Tim Burton’s enchanting fairy tale sees Johnny Depp as the ultimate outsider brought to the sunny suburbs with manicured lawns. But, the most memorable scene has the titular character creating a huge ice sculpture of an angel while his beloved (Winona Ryder) looks on.



This Mel Gibson / Danny Glover cop/buddy movie is set at the end of December… hell, there’s even a shoot-out in a parking lot where Christmas trees are being sold. The film winds up with Gibson spending Christmas Day with Glover. Aw, nice.


6. GREMLINS (1984)

Young Billy Peltzer his Mogwai as a last minute Christmas present from his inventor father, and the whole sorry affair kicks off with the sounds of Darlene Love’s festive classic Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). But the seasonal aspects of the story take a back seat to the cartoonish gremlin-on-human horror. It was originally released in June in the US, too (but we got it in December!).



Tim Burton again. Danny DeVito’s Penguin makes his first appearance at Gotham’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Season's Greetings everyone!


8. FIRST BLOOD (1982)

The original Rambo movie sees Sly Stallone’s alienated, traumatised Vietnam war veteran heading to a bleak Washington town, only to be persecuted by the local cops. He flees to the countryside and a mini-war ensues. And all of this is set in December 1981, with Christmas decorations in the windows. Rambo, you’ve ruined Christmas!


9. IN BRUGES (2008)

Irish hitmen Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) head to the Belgian city of Bruges at Christmas to lay low after a job goes wrong and a young boy is killed. Someone isn’t going to see Boxing Day.


10. EYES WIDE SHUT (1999)

Stanley Kubrick’s last film, a torrid tale of sexual adventures and misadventures starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, kicks off at a Christmas party and things get stranger from then on. Christmas lunch must have been awkward.