Pop5 Holiday Films!

Hey-yo Geeks and Geekettes, here’s another Pop5 list! What is a Pop5 list? Well, it’s a Top 5 List presented by the PopTards! See what we did there? Pop + Top 5 = a not even remotely clever title! Well here it is:

(And special bonus: Our favorite Holiday Traditions!!)

Johnny Destructo:

Well, I may or may not be cheating here. You tell me. A lot of people are probably gonna post actual Holiday movies as their faves, but I’m gonna mix some movies that I like to watch this time of year! Granted, the films will take place in during the holiday season, but for example:

5. Die Hard (1988)
See what I mean? This isn’t a holiday movie, per se, but it certainly is one of the first movies I think of when X-mas starts rolling towards us. Watching officer John McClane quip his sad self through murdering a bunch of terrorists up and down the Nakatomi Plaza is a must for every holiday season. This is a charming, violent classic action film that gets me everytime. John, you had me at Yippie ki yay, motherfucker! (OR, if you’re watching the overdubbed, censored version on TV, Yippie ki yay, MR. FALCON. Seriously? What does that even fucking MEAN??)

4. Love Actually (2003)
Here is another holiday film that feels a little off. It’s sarcastic, not everyone wins at love in the end, and one of the stories revolves around a man and woman who have the potentially uncomfortable job of blocking for porn actors. (Blocking is the act of walking the actors, or stand-ins, through the scene before it is shot in order to make sure the lighting is sufficient and the camera is able to get the desired focus required.) It boasts an amazing cast that includes Bill Nighy, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Martin Freeman, Keira Knightley, and even Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes, from your new favorite show: The Walking Dead). This is a holiday film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but is seriously enough to make you feel something. I never expected to like this film, but holy cats, it’s good stuff.

3. Jack Frost (1997) – Absolutely NOT to be confused with the Michael Keaton film of the same name!!!
Just moments ago, this spot was filled by Elf (2003), a genuinely hilarious holiday comedy  featuring Will Ferrell until I remembered Jack Frost. I was ashamed for even forgetting this film for a second. A ridiculous horror-comedy that involves radioactive materials transforming a murderous, quipping serial killer into a murderous, quipping snow man, this is a must watch for anyone who loves a foamy snow monster killing people, awful fake snow effects, and Shannon Elizabeth getting it by the business end of the snow man’s carrot-nose. And who doesn’t wanna see THAT?

2. Gremlins (1984)
When I first saw this as a kid, it wasn’t cute or adorable or a holiday romp. This was a fucking HORROR movie that gave me nightmares for weeks!! And then, when I would start to be able to sleep better at night, a commercial would come on the tv or radio and traumatize me all over again. In fact, the radio one was quite clever, if I remember it right. It was a radio announcer in a booth doing his radio announcing what-nots, when in come the marauding Gremlins, attacking the man until the radio goes dead. What an adorable commercial for a 6 year old to enjoy before going to bed. Of course, by the time this movie came out on VHS the following year, I was totally over it and had a soft, fuzzy Gizmo doll and a giant plastic Spike doll to play with. This may be the first time I realized that I enjoyed being scared and so began my love with horror films. But to this day, when I walk past a Christmas tree, I expect a disgusting Gremlin to launch itself at me from the Pine-needled depths.

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
This is not only one of my favorite holiday movies (that transcends not one, but TWO holidays), it’s also one of my favorite films EVER. It’s a musical that I actually LIKE and have the soundtrack for! The designs are beautiful and creepy and the claymation is amazing. I can’t say enough good things about this film. So I won’t. Just go see it if you haven’t watched it yet, and even if you already HAVE!

xxx My favorite holiday tradition is a simple one. Once the X-mas tree is up and decorated, I love to turn off all the lights and just sit on my couch, lit only by the flashing greens and blues and reds of the lights strung across the tree. Music can be playing, or not, but either way, I love just sitting and enjoying the site and the calm of that simple Christmas tradition.

Happy Holidays!


#5: ELVES (1989).  I’ve actually only seen this once, and years ago, but man, what a memorable movie-watching experience!  JD and I (and others) watched this on Halloween one year, and what a discovery it was.  Alcoholic Santa?  Check.  Aryan virgin princess?  Check.  Demonic “elf” monster with a frozen facial expression and a mouth that never moves?  Check.  Insane Nazi plot to conquer the world with an army of human/elf hybrids?  You got it!  You see, our teenage Aryan heroine accidentally cuts her hand at an anti-Christmas pagan ritual and unwittingly awakens the Elf monster.  A group of Neo Nazis think that if the Elf monster fucks the Aryan chick and has a baby, it will create the ultimate super soldier and world domination will be theirs’.  As if THAT premise wasn’t awesome enough, the script features such immortal lines as “I just want to know what the connection is between the Nazis and the elves!”  Because, really.  Haven’t we ALL wondered that at some time or another?

#4: JACK FROST (1997).  No, not that Michael Keaton thing (which is really kind of disturbing in its own way), but the one about the serial killer who becomes a mutant snowman on a murderous rampage seeking vengeance on the sheriff who imprisoned him.  This is the kind of film that I aspire to make; a low-budget monster movie with a fun premise, wonderfully hammy acting, and a highly quotable script.  “I only AXED you for a smoke”, “Looks like Christmas came a little early this year”, “Blow me”, “ENGLISH, Stone!”, “I’LL FIND A WAY!!!!!!”, and SO many more.  And you really gotta love Jack’s totally Silver Age Marvel origin story.  He’s in a police van on his way to be executed when the van collides with another truck carrying an experimental liquid that melts his flesh but transfers his “soul” to the snow on the ground.  Add in a decapitation by sled, rape with a carrot, the sheriff’s kid inadvertently saving the day by putting antifreeze in his dad’s oatmeal, and exchanges like this one… MANNERS: Agent Manners.  SAM: FBI?  MANNERS: Sure.  Why not?, and you’ve got a B-movie CLASSIC on your hands!  Shame about the sequel, though.  Ugh.

#3: LETHAL WEAPON (1987).  So many memorable Christmassy moments here, from the opening credits (set to everyone’s preferred version of “Jingle Bell Rock”), to our introduction of Martin Riggs (In a violent confrontation with drug dealers brilliantly staged in a Christmas tree lot), to none other than the Great Gary Busey driving a car into Murtaugh’s living room, knocking over the tree and shooting a TV playing “Scrooge” (TV: “What day is it?”  BUSEY:“Goddamn Christmas!”), this one’s hard to beat for good, holiday fun.  Take it away, General McAllister!   “The bulk of the heroin will be here Friday night, we’ll make delivery at that time. Have the money ready, and no tricks. If you try anything… you’ll have to talk to Mr. Joshua. Merry Christmas.”

#2: DIE HARD (1988).  Quite simply, the very best American-made action film EVER.  Period.  There will be no discussion on the matter.  It’s just a fact.  And, not only that, it’s one of the very best CHRISTMAS movies, as well.  RUN DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis” playing in the limo.  “Now I have a machine gun.  Ho, ho, ho.”   “All right, listen up guys. ‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except… the four assholes coming in the rear in standard two-by-two cover formation.”  I watch it EVERY year, and have been doing so since the early 90’s.  And TRUST me, this shit NEVER gets old.  Bruce Willis was BORN to play this role.  Alan Rickman plays the villain to perfection, and earns a spot as one of my favorite villains of all-time.   Alexander Godunov’s Karl more than holds his own as Rickman’s #1 henchman.  His fight with Willis is beyond epic.  Pity he was taken from us far too soon.  A bevy of reliable character actors, including Paul Gleason (Breakfast Club), Robert Davi (Goonies), and Al Leong (ENDO from “Lethal Weapon”!) round out the cast providing extra-strong support.  “If this is their idea of Christmas, I GOT to be here for New Years!”

#1: GREMLINS (1984).  I saw this at the wee age of 7, and boy, did it have an impact on THIS impressionable young mind!  I don’t even know WHERE to begin… uh… Christmas-wise, you’ve got the setting.  Those wonderful opening credits set to “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)”.  A nice Dad who wanted nothing more than to bring home a truly original Christmas gift for his son.  That gift was GIZMO.  Gawd, I LOVED Gizmo.  I saw him in the ads and wanted to see the movie instantly.  I had Gizmo action figures, a Gizmo plush doll, the radio control Barbie Corvette with Gizmo driving, lunch boxes, coloring books, pajamas.  If GIZMO was on it, I had it.  I didn’t know it was a horror movie.  I mean, at 7 I was already a huge monster movie fan.  But I was more used to GODZILLA, RAY HARRYHAUSEN, and UNIVERSAL MONSTERS stuff.  But GREMLINS… GREMLINS had blood!  And a pretty decent body count.   It must’ve had a bigger impact on me than I could fully understand and appreciate at the time.  I was scared outta my wits at the carnage I witnessed, but I LOVED it!  I wanted to see it again!

I loved that Gizzy was the hero and saved Billy at the end.  And, despite all the violence, the icky cocoons, and Gremlins exploding in the microwave, one moment clearly stood out as the most upsetting, especially to my 7-year old, still-believing in Santa Claus-self.  Phoebe Cates, the floor is yours’!  “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.”   HOLY FUCKING SHIT, that’s some heavy, depressing fucking shit for a creature feature.  But that’s why GREMLINS holds up after all this time.  It’s funny, scary, exciting, AND moving.  And disturbing.  But isn’t Gizzy the CUTEST little thing?  If GREMLINS were made today, he’d be a CGI Chipmunk, and I’d HATE it, so thank goodness it was made in the 80’s.

***My favorite holiday tradition is when me and my wife actually get to BE Santa, and wrap all the gifts we got for our kids late at night on Christmas Eve.  I think about how happy the kids are gonna be in the morning when they open all this stuff, and there’s really no better feeling than that.  It’s a nice moment with my wife that leads to some classic family memories the next morning.  And then I actually get to help break in all the toys and video games once they’re opened!  Can’t beat that.

~Y~’s Top 5 Xmas films (in no order – you sticklers for lists :p)

I) A Christmas Story (1983) – The quintessential Christmas movie, with dozen or quotable lines and relatable situations out the ass, even to this day. The staying power of a film made in the 80’s that’s about life in the 40’s is a testament to how amazing this film is.

II) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) – Probably one of the funniest holiday films in existence. Future generations will find this film in time capsules and build statues to the comic genius that is Chevy Chase. That in itself is also funny as hell.

III) Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) – Another classic from the 80’s, when Disney was king. While I do love the Mickey telling of the classic story, that’s not the true reason for it making this list. The film also has a few shorts on it, one of which is Pluto’s Christmas Tree, which is one of the greatest Disney shorts ever.

IV) Home Alone (1990) – This film was a monster when it first debuted, and for good reasons. All joking and the collapse of Macaulay Culkin aside, this is a great movie and will be a classic for generations.

V) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – The movie that gave Goth’s a reason to like Christmas. One of Tim Burton’s best!

*that’s right, roman numerals bitches…I’m bringing that shit back!

*** Fav Tradition – xmas day Chinese food and video games with friends!

Optimous Douche

# 5 – A Charlie Brown Christmas
Each year at Christmas we should truly celebrate God’s piss storm that is life. From the suicidal diddies that interlude each scene to Charlie Brown’s unfortunate life circumstances of an unusually large cranium and juvenile Alopecia is it any wonder that ole’ CB lives his life vicariously through his dog? His friends represent each layer of Dante’s hell: you have the bossy Peppermint dyke Patty, Linus “dude my sister kicks you ass daily” Van Pelt, Lucy “this chick will be skinning a cat for the Holidays in ten years” Van Pelt, Sally “you may be my Brother, but Darwinism will prevail” Brown and…You know what; I’m just going to put a gun in my mouth now. And yeah…they subject kids to this Tsunami of depression for almost every holiday. Ho-Ho-Ho…

# 4 – A Christmas Story
Fa-ra-ra-ra…ra-ra-ra-ra….nuff’ said. It is THE only modern Christmas Classic of our day.

#3 – Bad Santa
I love it when great actors let their ego get ahead of them and begin to produce total an utter crap because an agent thinks it’s a good idea. Bad Santa looked great in paper, take one surly bastard, a fat kid with snot running out of his nose like a faucet and Lauren Graham as a naughty little sex kitten…I mean it sounds great right? Yeah…watch the movie and tell me that the execution is as sound as the premise. Or whether Billy Bob should be executed for the execution.

# 2 Scrooged
While a bit dated I still find Scrooged to be the only palatable version of Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” out there. The brilliant Bill Murray slips into the skin of Scrooge with such malicious ease you’re almost disappointed when he finds redemption. Combine Bill’s performance with the message of late 80s greed and a phenomenal supporting cast…well that’s Christmas in a nutshell folks. Also, this s

#1 Babes in Toyland (1986)
This movie has more cheese than the appetizer platter Mrs. Douche puts out for carolers and horny reindeer. Starring a young Drew Barrymore and Keanu Reeves, when you watch this film you’ll wonder how either ever found another paying gig in Hollywood. Keanu is not only vapid, it looks as though both he and Drew were huffing Richard Mulligan’s taint sweat before each take. Yes, the great Richard Mulligan and Pat Morita are also in this film, but it’s clear neither wants to be there. The sets are about as magical as a visit to your local miniature golf/go-kart park. The music, if we want to call it that is not only bad in form, but when you are singing an homage to Ohio and spell it O-E-I-E-O, you’ll begin to understand that fundamental necessity for a good director. Too bad Babes didn’t get one.

*** Christmas Tradition: Mrs. Douche and I imbibe copious amounts of vino and gorge on a meal of surf and turf each Christmas Eve. We then settle in with our dog Fergus to watch some of the craptacular movies I mentioned above (Since we’ve already seen A Christmas Story 24 times leading up to Christmas Eve).

Jess (The Hoss) Tutton

5) The Year without a Santa Claus – Okay quality wise this is NOWHERE near on par with the classic Rudolph special.  But, the reason I love this special? Because I had never heard of it until my 20’s because it wasn’t on repeat play in the 1980’s. Um, but it’s awesome for one reason- mother f’n Heatmiser and Freezemiser. You hear it once and it sticks in your brain forever. The rest of it could just go away- I mean Mrs. Claus as the main character is a little weak IMHO. But the songs are catchy little ditties- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yon2YuXssvo

4) Emmit Otter’s Jugband Christmas – Um. CLASSIC for all of your Fraggle and Muppet lovers out there. It’s so freaking cute, it makes me want to gnaw on my own extremeties. And then the best thing ever happens- THE RIVER BOTTOM NIGHTMARE BAND! Every child’s introduction into metal.

“We don’t brush our teeth

‘Cause our toothache can help us stay mean!”

Their song is the best! I can’t share a link with you  because it’s protected. But I can share a photograph with you of their lead singer Chuck.

3) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer– This was my favorite special growing up. I have the video tape still from it- it’s nearly worn through. I love Yukon Corneilus. I love the Abominable. (I don’t love Herbie the dentist though.) And I especially love the Island of Misfit toys. I think that’s where I come from. Would you ever play with a train with square wheels? Or a squirt gun that only shoots jelly? Hell yes I would, now hand them over.

2) Scrooged – Bill Murray in a saracastic version of the Holiday Classic Christmas Carol. It’s classic Bill Murray. And the chick from Indiana Jones. But big emphasis on the Lumpy Bill Murray. Do I really need to say more?

Raging Rudolph– Okay this isn’t a whole movie.  But when I saw this in high school, it blew me away. And that was back in the days before DVR or youtube, so I had to wait for it to come out later. Come on now, it combines classic claymation Rudolph AND the mob movies I love so much. If you haven’t seen it yet, take 5 minutes and enjoy. “Have a merry freakin’ Christmas…. Don’t you squeal or rat us out or you could end up dead….”

*** Favorite holiday tradition?- The feast of the 7 fishes. HA HA- NOT! (Though we do do it in my house, but rarely get up to the 7.) I love sitting by the TV onDemand yule log, listening to some tunes with some hot tea or cocoa and relaxing by the Christmas lights. I loves me some twinkle.

Uncle Dunklenutz

#5. Miracle on 34th Street (1994) – I only say the 90’s version because I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the original all the way through. Richard Attenborough, in my mind, IS SANTA!

#4. Elf – I love Will Farrel in this. My favorite scene is when he’s going to put the star on the tree.

#3. It’s a Wonderful Life – It’s my grandfather’s favorite movie of all time and I grew up watching it in both black and white and color.  Prefer the black and white though! Who doesn’t like suicide and Christmas.

#2. Christmas Vacation – I will never laugh so hard at any other movie that I’ve seen 50 times like I do for this one.  I mean the squirrel bit is just so ridiculously fake I love it. “Grace? She’s been dead for 30 years!”

#1. A Christmas Story – “You’ll shoot your eye out!” I grew up watching this movie on repeat, even before they decided on a 24 hour marathon. I quote this movie throughout the year, especially, “It’s a major AWARD!”

*** My favorite holiday tradition? My Grandmom Dunklenutz goes to both of my Aunt’s houses and reads “The Night Before Christmas” to all my cousins.

Slai Washko

1. Christmas Story – I just love every minute of this movie and have since I was a child.  I love how many things go wrong and the reaction of the characters from the moment of chaos to their attempts at resolution.  Got to say though it’s an interesting thing to be watching this surrounded by the Slovak side of my family during the Chinese restaurant scene looking as I do.  I can still crack them up with a “Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra.”

2. It’s a Wonderful Life – Within my ever questioning way of being, I’ve asked myself the question of what the world would be like without me, but after this movie I find the need to question a little less.  This movie makes me cry every time I see it.  It has an amazing balance of heart and imagination.

3. Elf – I’m not usually a fan of this type of movie.  I don’t consistently find Will Ferrell funny.  I think I didn’t see it until the year after it came out and ended up watching it just because of a gathering at a friend’s place, but ended up finding it quite sweet.  I love characters that the consensus find crazy despite them just being good natured.  It de-grinched me that year and can any time I watch it.

4. Love Actually – Bill Nighy is my favorite part of this movie, but every story line is well told.  It has so many sides of love from the lost, to the found, to the unrequited, to the poorly timed, and most importantly: friendship.  It couldn’t warm my heart more unless it set it on fire.

5. The Holiday – This is the movie that reminds me I’m a chick.  I immediately related to both female leads wanting and needing a change of scenery to reset their lives.  My favorite part of the movie though is the side story between Iris and Arthur, they had such a heartening mutual appreciation for each other.

***I don’t know that this is much of a tradition in my family anymore, but it was my favorite as a child. My mom’s side of the family are Slovak Christians.  At the end of Christmas Eve dinner each year, we would pass around a candle in a crucifix holder.  Each family member would blow out a flame and if the smoke rose directly upward you were supposed to have a good year, however if the smoke didn’t rise the candle would be relit and you would continue to blow it out until your smoke rose.  It’s tradition mixed with making your own destiny and being surrounded by people who want you to do well.


It’s A Wonderful Life – Thank goodness for Clarence. Ok, so George Bailey was going to off himself and leave behind his wife and kids, not the nicest thing to do at Christmastime. But through his desperation and the help of an angel he sees how he truly is loved and needed, and through James Stewart’s amazing performance you see that. Every time I watch it he just melts me into a big pile of Christmas, bells rings, caroling mush.

Gremlins – I want a mogwai!!! Gizmo is one of the cutest creatures ever! One of my favorite parts of this movie is Billy’s girlfriend Kate’s tale about how her father died trying to come down the chimney as Santa, such a touching story…

Black Christmas – The original from 1974. Perfect 70’s horror flick, overly dramatic acting, overly naïve characters, idiotic cops, lame side love plot, slow paced, but all and all super creepy. If I was getting those phones calls, I’d get the fuck out of the house, screw my drunk sorority sisters…

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – In my opinion, the funniest Christmas movie ever.  Randy Quaid is great as cousin Eddie. So what if Brokeback Mountain won tons of awards, this was his best performance. “Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?”

Love Actually – I hate comedies, I hate romantic movies, and I’m not too fond of Hugh Grant, but even though this movie pertaining to all of the above, I dig it. It’s heart felt and sincere, but not in a throw up in your mouth kinda way. I can relate to the characters and their stories, and even though it is a romantic comedy, it’s believable. If a work of fiction can give you hope, Love Actually does.

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Well, that’s it! Comment below if you have anything to say!
Happy Holidays from the PopTards!!

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4 Comments to “Pop5 Holiday Films!”

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  1. JD (Host) says:

    I’m embarrassed that I didn’t include Scrooged…for the longest time, that was the ONLY X-Mas movie i cared to watch…

    And A CHRISTMAS STORY?? How the effin’ EFF could I have forgotten that movie????
    “You’re gonna shootcher EYE OUT!” I’m filled with regrets over not including this classic holiday film!!

    I just re-watched National Lampoons Xmas Vacation, and I have to say..most of the humor does NOT hold up! It’s mostly stupid prat-falls!! Some of the lines are killer though. “If I woke up tomorrow with my face stapled to the carpet, I don’t think I would be more surprised”

    Mark, I absolutely did NOT read your post before making mine!! Haha!!

  2. Mark Mackner says:

    Great article, everyone! JD, I TOTALLY believe that you didn’t read mine first. Those just happen to be super-amazing movies that geeks like us adore.

    Hoss, I really enjoyed your remarks about “Emmit Otter” and “Rudolph”, especially the love for the Misfit Toys. To this day i have no idea what’s wrong with the little dolly or the spotted elephant. And the elephant’s my favorite. Like, seriously. How is he a misfit? Because real elephants don’t have spots? WHY WAS HE PERSECUTED FOR SO LONG?????

    And I really DO love “A Christmas Story”, Charlie Brown, “National Lampoons”, and “Scrooged”. All classics, indeed. I just figured those would pop up a lot, and I was just trying to throw something a little different into the mix. And yeah, the original “Black Christmas” is pretty fun. John Saxon FTW!!!!

  3. Mark Mackner says:

    Oh, and I’ve never seen “Love, Actually”. Does that make me a heathen?

  4. jaydee says:

    Yeah I can’t really say I’m surprised that we had similar entries!

    As for Love, Actually, it’s worth it if only for Bill Nighy!

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