Chainsaw Cheerleader presents a bias review: A Merry Fuck You Christmas
Note: This review was not written to create an argument but purely as a means to provide an alternative to those, like I, who have seen A Charlie Brown Christmas one too many times.
Every year as September comes to a close a dreaded cycle begins. As Halloween and Thanksgiving have yet to be celebrated, the most frightening holiday of them all slowly creeps into commercials and stores around America. While the ghosts and goblins of Halloween decorations are put away the smothering begins. Christmas, bah! humbug!
The same classic Christmas carols blast over store loud speakers. How many times can someone hear The Twelve Days of Christmas before being driven insane? How many times can one listen to Frosty the Snowman before one becomes physically ill? But before then the commercials choke the airwaves with the hottest new toy or coolest of gadgets. They proclaim to parents that they can only be seen as cool or loved by their children if they buy them all the gifts they ask for. They declare that one can only truly be loved by their girlfriend or wife if they buy her diamonds. They state that a man is not manly enough unless they buy some useless piece of crap that is stereotypically male oriented.
I may not be Ebenezer Scrooge or the Grinch but I have such a dislike for Christmas. Like everyone else I buy gifts and visit loved ones. I highly enjoy the family time and love seeing family who live fourteen hours away or those who have fought in Afghanistan but still I hate it. My rationale is mainly reasoning and a dash of cynicism but my bias is not important. What is though are the films that are alternatives to It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. Yes, there are films that are set around Christmas time but are not about Christmas. To this I will rejoice.
A great deal of films have been released that merely use Christmas as a backdrop. Die Hard, Rambo: First Blood, and Gremlins are by far the most famous of these films. Aside from being centered around Christmas, these movies help define genres and pop culture.
Die Hard (1988)
John McClane: You throw quite a party. I didn’t realize they celebrated Christmas in Japan.
Joseph Takagi: Hey, we’re flexible. Pearl Harbor didn’t work out so we got you with tape decks.
Off-duty New York cop, John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels to Los Angeles to met with his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) to try to save their marriage. Upon arriving at her office on Christmas Eve, a terrorist group takes control of the building. Knowing that the terrorists have taken hostages, McClane sets out to single-handedly rescue each one of them.
Die Hard is what Christmas movies should be. It is about family and celebrating the birth of Christ with explosions. Christmas is very much a family holiday and as McClane kills terrorist after terrorist to save his wife, he proves that nothing says family quite like mowing down terrorists with a machine gun. I’d love to see Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) from White Christmas sing and dance his way out of a gun fight with Die Hard’s main villain, Hans Gruber. It is only McClane that can save Holly and properly introduce Gruber to the laws of gravity.
Rambo: First Blood (1982)
Teasle: Whatever possessed God in heaven to make a man like Rambo?
Trautman: God didn’t make Rambo. I made him!
During the Christmas holiday, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), a former Green Beret who fought in Vietnam travels to Washington to visit a friend. Still haunted by Vietnam, Rambo is harassed and taunted by the town’s local police. After being arrested for vagrancy, Rambo escapes police custody and flees into the forest. The town’s sheriff, William Teasle (Brian Dennehy), is determined to kill Rambo and is consistently halted in such attempts by Rambo’s guerilla tactics. Soon Rambo’s commanding officer, Colonel Samuel Trautman, arrives in order to try to save Rambo and the sheriff’s department from each other.
For reasons unknown, many do not realize that Rambo: First Blood takes place during Christmas. One must assume that the audience is awestruck by the seer awesomeness that is Stallone to not be able to notice Christmas lights and decorated pine trees. The images of Santa in the background must go unseen as the audience is blinded by the pure brilliance that is the character Rambo.
Stallone presents Rambo’s war ravaged persona with a deep troubled brooding that is accompanied by an actual lack of violence. While only one person dies in Rambo: First Blood, the only death isn’t even Rambo’s fault. With a combination of well thought out action sequences and a fairly believable story, Rambo: First Blood not only looks at the miss use of power but helped show that seven years after Vietnam the American soldiers who fought in that war desperately still needed our help. This sentiment still echoes loudly today.
I could become preachy by saying that this Christmas as we are forced to gather with our families while eating and drinking to the point that would put the self-indulgence of the Romans to shame, we should be grateful for the poor bastards who took/take bullets for us. I could do that but the 25th brings a family load of guilt and we all know that day fills up our guilt quota for the rest of the year.
Kate: Now I have another reason to hate Christmas.
Billy: What are you talking about?
Kate: The worst thing that ever happened to me was on Christmas. Oh, God. It was so horrible. It was Christmas Eve. I was 9 years old. Me and Mom were decorating the tree, waiting for Dad to come home from work. A couple hours went by. Dad wasn’t home. So Mom called the office. No answer. Christmas Day came and went, and still nothing. So the police began a search. Four or five days went by. Neither one of us could eat or sleep. Everything was falling apart. It was snowing outside. The house was freezing, so I went to try to light up the fire. That’s when I noticed the smell. The firemen came and broke through the chimney top. And me and Mom were expecting them to pull out a dead cat or a bird. And instead they pulled out my father. He was dressed in a Santa Claus suit. He’d been climbing down the chimney… his arms loaded with presents. He was gonna surprise us. He slipped and broke his neck. He died instantly. And that’s how I found out there was no Santa Claus.
After buying a creature named Gizmo as a present from Chinatown for Christmas, a father has unwittingly given his son a gift that is an adorable little weapon of death. After ignoring the advice of the man that his father bought Gizmo from, Billy (Zach Galligan) gets water on his new pet. From this mistake, green scaly monsters called Mogwai take over a small town on Christmas Eve.
Gremlins is a horror comedy that is rated PG. With a rating of PG, Gremlins is often marketed as a Christmas movie for children, which must be part of the comedy aspect of the film. The movie was actually based on a children’s book called The Gremlins by children’s author Roald Dahl in 1943, which was published by Walt Disney. These same characters were often seen in Disney cartoons as the dopey eyed tiny creatures who tried to crash planes and blow up bombs while Bugs Bunny tried to stop them. I guess the true horror of this film is realizing how much Disney has shaped our childhoods. But on the lighter side it may be rather funny to watch the parent who just rented this movie for their child, be forced to explain to him/her why one Gremlin just blew up in a microwave, the second was ground up in a smoothie machine, the third stabbed to death, and the fourth was decapitated. But it is not the violence that may receive the most laughs but when Kate (Phoebe Cates), Billy’s girlfriend explains to him why she hates Christmas. As the above quote states, Kate tells Billy that her father died pretending to be Santa. Not only has a child just watched four deaths but now knows that Santa isn’t real. So, Virginia there is no Santa Clause because he broke his neck falling down the chimney.
Holiday Related Alternatives:
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Nightmare Before Christmas
Silent Night, Deadly Night
The Gingerdead Man
Honorable Holiday Mention:
The Hebrew Hammer
Merry Christmas Everyone