The Christmas movie I deserved

The semester is winding down to its last week, which means that I’m suddenly embraced by a mountain of tedious administrative work. I posted an online exam on Saturday, which I’ll have to grade on Tuesday; the students all submitted their final lab report, which I have to get graded by Wednesday; I’m giving a practice lab final tomorrow, and the real thing later this week, which I have to finish grading by the weekend; I have another exam to give in my intro class on Thursday; I’ve got some term papers to stamp with an official final grade; I get to sit through another round of phone interviews for a chemistry position tomorrow night; and then I have two finals to give and grade next week. Did I forget anything? Probably.

Anyway, I wrapped up one pile of work yesterday, and decided I could justify a little celebration. I could see a movie. A Christmas movie! That’ll cheer me up.

The Christmas movie playing in town is Violent Night. It wasn’t exactly the light holiday fare I expected.

The plot is ripped off from other Christmas movies, in particular, Die Hard. A small horde of vicious criminals descend on the mansion of a rich woman who, they’ve learned, has $300 million in cash on hand. Their theft is meticulously planned, right down to infiltrating the squad of military veterans who are supposed to fly to the woman’s rescue if anything nefarious happens to her party. The one thing they didn’t plan for was that one resilient, cunning man would just happen to be in the house when they invaded.

That man is not Bruce Willis, but instead is…Santa Claus. The real deal. The actual mythic figure who happened to be in the house to deliver presents when the terrorists opened fire, scaring his reindeer and sleigh away, leaving him behind to get revenge.

There’s also a little girl in the house who escapes the thieves and starts building booby traps ala Home Alone. One difference: her booby traps straight up murder the bad guy who tries to climb a ladder to get to her, with bowling balls falling on his head and driving a nail into his skull so he falls onto a floor covered with spiky nasty things.

Another unexpected detail — no, not a mere detail, the whole bloody movie — is that Santa arms himself with a sledgehammer and proceeds to smash all the naughty people (he has a list, he checks it, and they’re all listed under “Naughty”) into grisly pulp. Santa can be killed, and is shot multiple times, but he is revived by the family he’s rescuing telling his corpse that they believe. And by burning half a million dollars to keep him warm, which I suppose is a metaphor for something.

It’s a twisted, hyper-violent movie, and maybe the Christmas movie America deserves, if you think we deserve a demented gory trifle like a gift chihuahua gone rabid and feral, there to show you why we can’t have anything nice. This movie is little more than a novelty mashup swathed in blood. It ain’t Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, but it is in the same family, updated for the 21st century.

I don’t know whether I liked it or not. Don’t bother asking me.

It was better than, and less bloody than, grading lab reports, though, and also not as evil and degenerate as Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas, so I guess I’ll have to give it a tentative thumbs up.


  1. says

    One must be very careful when referring to Die Hard as a Christmas movie. That’s a can of worms that, for some reason, can spur endless discussion online. People actually have opinions about this. There have been polls.
    Incidentally, that’s David Harbour (Chief Hopper in Stranger Things) playing Santa, if that helps anyone make a viewing decision here.

  2. wzrd1 says

    Well, there was the 2020 Fatman movie. Mel Gibson as a gun toting Santa vs hitman…

    Still, better than Trump’s desired gift to all – no more Constitution and him as POTUS again (I guess with Imperial powers, since the Constitution would no longer be in force).

    I think more than producers and movie studios no longer want us to have nice things. Time for coal clinkers in their stockings!

  3. steve oberski says

    My all time, watch over and over, favourite Christmas movie is “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale”, the IMDB synopsis:

    In the depths of the Korvatunturi mountains, 486 meters deep, lies the closest ever guarded secret of Christmas. The time has come to dig it up. This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus.

    A darker Scandinavian take on Santa and his elves.

    As a side note, I initially though that the indigenous Finish Sami featured in the film where Canadian Inuit, the physical similarities were striking. But when you look at the earth from a North pole centric view of course the European, Asian and North American Arctic regions are not that far apart.

  4. says

    maybe the Christmas movie America deserves
    It’s only the X-mas movie we deserve if it pisses of the church and inspires boycotts and really pisses off the church. I want a movie where Santa fucks Jesus up the ass while Rudolph watches. I don’t want to watch that movie, I just want it to exist because I think America deserves it.

  5. keithb says

    If Die Hard is a Christmas Movie, than The Thin Man is one too.
    “I hope you like your present, the man at the Aquarium said I could not bring it back.”

  6. Jake Wildstrom says

    I came here to recommend Rare Exports as a clever silly Christmas thriller (there are four words that don’t get used together much), but got beat to it.

  7. Alverant says

    Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is only watchable when on MST3K. The newest season is doing a Christmas movie that premieres on my birthday too!

  8. robro says

    I am blessedly free of all Christmas movies. Praise the lord, and pass the biscuits.

    wzrd1 @ #7 — There wasn’t much left except what I assume is a pile of toxic waste. Incinerating batteries and plastics is not a good thing.

  9. rorschach says

    I was today years old when I learned that Love, Actually in German is called “Tatsächlich, Liebe”, and now I need to have a shower. And avoid watching the German synchronised version of this movie at all costs.
    As to Santas with sledgehammers, yeah, nah. My Santa is Mariah Carey.

  10. silvrhalide says

    @11 Better or worse than watching Dallas dubbed for German TV, with what I can only assume is the Teutonic attempt at a Texas drawl?

    And hands down, the best Christmas movie is The Ref with Dennis Leary, Kevin Spacey, JK Simmons and Christine Baranski and BD Wong. It encapsulates my feelings about family at Christmas perfectly. Some people watch It’s A Wonderful Life every year, I watch The Ref.

  11. rorschach says

    “Better or worse than watching Dallas dubbed for German TV, with what I can only assume is the Teutonic attempt at a Texas drawl?”

    Let’s not talk about that. It was 1984 and I didn’t know better, and there was no pirate to doenload the original from, not that I would ever do such a thing.
    The Ref is an interesting tip, never heard of it, will check it out, thanks.

  12. says

    One of my favorite Christmas movies is Tokyo Godfathers. It’s a Japanese animated adaptation of Three Godfathers in which the titular godfathers are homeless people who find an abandoned baby in an alley. It’s one of those maybe magic, maybe mundane kind of movies in which the wacky coincidences pile up to an absurd degree, and the movie is well aware of this. And despite the humorous hijinks, it offers an unflinching portrayal of the hardships and prejudice that homeless people face in Japan. Also, it was directed by Satoshi Kon, most famous for mind-bending movies like Paprika, Paranoia Agent, and Perfect Blue, if that’s of interest to anyone here. Still, despite the aforementioned odd coincidences, it’s Kon’s most straightforward work. Anyway, I’ve gone on long enough. Consider checking it out.

  13. birgerjohansson says

    There is a film from Finland where archaeologists wake up a dangerous entity that has been hibernating for centuries. The entity is …. the original template for “Santa Claus”, and we learn the original myths had very little to do with the cute, bowdlerized tales children were told from Victorian days onward.

  14. birgerjohansson says

    .My apologies to Steve oberski @ 4
    -I did not notice your comment at first- and you have a better memory for film titles than I have. 😊

  15. birgerjohansson says

    Not a christmas, but a new years eve film.
    Ivanhoe has been played at New Year’s Eve on Swedish TV since forever- first the 1950s version, then the 1982 version with Dam Neill as a very enjoyable villain
    Winter-themed anime:
    Girl’s Last Tour about a journey at the end of the human era is a great anime, and the story we deserve.

  16. says

    One thing to note about Tokyo Godfathers is that one of the “Godfathers” is a trans woman whose portrayal is at least far from the worst I’ve seen in an anime but it’s been so long since I’ve seen the movie I can’t remember how close to problematic the portrayal gets. If I recall correctly she is mostly handled sympathetically.

  17. whheydt says

    Off topic, but if you want good news… Per an article on the BBC, the Attorney General of Iran has announced that the “morality police” has been disbanded. Even better is the reaction of women they interviewed about that…they pretty much all said (effectively) “That’s nice. Now to overthrow the rest of the government.”

  18. pacal says

    One of my favorite “Christmas” movies is the absolutely demented Santa’s Slay. In this movie we get to see Santa, set fire to people, stab people, electrocute people and so on and so forth all because he lost a curling game to a Angel. It is foul mouthed, sick and wonderfuilly insane!! If you haven’t seen it see it!!! And besides we get to see Santa in a topless bar.

  19. Tethys says

    Why would you expect something called ‘Violent Night’ to be light holiday fare? It sounds fairly horrific, though perhaps more in keeping with the lesser known Krampus aspect of SinterKlaus.

    As a palate cleanser, I recommend the Tim Burton directed series Wednesday on Netflix. It’s wholesomely gruesome, creepy and kooky, etc…

    The dance episode is sheer perfection!

    If you want a bit more violence with your light entertainment, the remake of ‘Interview with a Vampire’ is surprisingly good and has several excellent actors. It’s much truer to the original book by Anne Rice, and the entire vibe of the series is sensuous but bloody Vampire love.

  20. R. L. Foster says

    Oh, so some of you think that German translations of English movie titles are so bad? As a German speaker myself I feel compelled to rise to the defense of my second language. Prepare to cringe, or giggle.

    The Matrix : The Young People Who Traverse Dimensions While Wearing Sunglasses (France)
    Army of Darkness : Captain Supermarket (Japan)
    Die Hard : Mega Hard (Danish)
    Bad Santa : Santa Is A Pervert (Czech Republic)
    Fargo : Mysterious Murder in Snowy Cream (China)
    Swingers : Hey You, Where Are The Chicks? (Sweden)
    Knocked Up : One Night Big Belly (China)
    Grease : Vaseline (Argentina)
    The Sixth Sense: He’s A Ghost! (China)
    Weekend At Bernie’s : This Dead Guy Is Very Much Alive (Spain)
    The Producers: Please, Don’t Touch The Old Women (Italy)
    Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me : The Spy Who Behaved In A Very Pleasant Way Around Me (Malaysia)
    Top Gun : Love In The Skies (Israel)
    Being John Malkovich : Malkovich’s Hole (Japan)
    Leaving Las Vegas : I’m Drunk and You’re a Prostitute (Japan)
    Boogie Nights : His Great Device Makes Him Famous (China)
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind : If You Leave Me, I Delete You (Italy)

    Although, the Germans do make a good run of it.
    Stripes : I think I’m Getting Kissed By A Moose.
    Once upon a time in the west : Play me the song of death.
    Dragnet : Floppy Coppers Don’t Bite.


  21. birgerjohansson says

    Wait, I forgot the double episode of Family Guy where Stewie and Brian visits the North Pole. Violent and tasteless, it is a wonderful Christmas tale.

  22. chrislawson says


    Perfect Blue is an amazing film. A decade ahead of its time. But not very Christmassy.

    My Christmas recommendation is the Futurama version of Santa.

  23. hemidactylus says

    @2- wzrd1
    I have been tempted to watch Fatman to see what a hot mess it is. The summary sounds twisted.

    @13- silvrhalide
    BD Wong was in The Ref? I had seen it so many years ago. Wong is great as dad alongside grandma in Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens. And of course Whiterose from Mr Robot.

  24. silvrhalide says

    @32 hahahahahaha, yes, BD Wong is in The Ref.
    He has the thankless task of being Kevin Spacey’s & Judy Davis’ marriage counselor.

    I loved BD as Whiterose in Mr. Robot. That whole series was so good. There was so much WTF in that whole show.

    Whether or not BD Wong’s sequence in The Ref is funnier than the opening naturalization dream sequence in Almanya–Wilkommen in Deutschland I leave to you to decide.

    @27 …well, it’s France. About what you’d expect.
    And that goes double for China. Really, China, could you possibly screw up the title more? How stoned were the censors that day anyway?

    @11 If you need something to take the bad taste of Love, Actually out of your mouth, try Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing & Charm School. Either that or judicious amounts of Scotch.

  25. lochaber says

    I’m still mad over the American version of “Let The Right One In”

    srsly, “Let Me In”..

    Ive tried to watch it at least three times, and I just get too mad at it, and have never finished. It’s very unlikely I’ll make a fourth attempt, especially since I could spend that time watching the original, which is probably one of my top-ten favorite movies.

  26. StevoR says

    There’s also a little girl in the house who escapes the thieves and starts building booby traps ala Home Alone. One difference: her booby traps straight up murder the bad guy who tries to climb a ladder to get to her, with bowling balls falling on his head and driving a nail into his skull so he falls onto a floor covered with spiky nasty things.

    That reminds me of a good youtube analysis of the injuries the Home Alone booby traps would probly cause by a Doctor. (11 minutes long.) Looks likethere;s actuallya few ofthese online.

    Suffice to say pretty nasty and potentially fatal too.

  27. cjcolucci says

    The moment for it has passed, but I had an idea I wanted to pitch for a Christmas movie. Opening shot, a television screen seen between a pair of black boots with white fur tops and red pants legs. Megyn Kelly is spouting her deranged “Santa Claus is white” rant.The unseen character watching the TV spews obscenities and throws a bottle of beer at the screen, smashing it. New shot, Samuel L. Jackson as Santa Claus, getting up, exclaiming that he was going to straighten that xxxxx out, and calling for his elves, who bring a new meaning to “Ho Ho Ho.”. Title: Black Santa.
    An idea just bad enough that I would have expected someone to have done it by now.