Top Five Christmas Movies From Alternate Realities
Christmas in an alternate dimension has the potential to be significantly more badass.
Photo illustrations by John Seaborn Gray
If, as so many quantum physicists and dubious science-fiction shows suggest, there are infinite alternate dimensions, then of course that means there are infinite possibilities. There are infinite worlds on which you are a murderous pervert, infinite worlds on which you're the savior of all mankind, and infinite worlds in which you don't exist.
That also means there are infinite worlds in which these Christmas movies actually exist in the versions shown. Sorry, didn't mean to blow your mind too hard so close to Christmas. But just imagine the possibilities.
Cue dreamy music, wavy screen effects, then fade to...
Directed by John Hughes, 2008. Rotten Tomatoes rating: 47%. Rated PG-13.
Before John Hughes tragically passed away last year, he made one final film, a remake of his own 1990 Macaulay Culkin vehicle Home Alone, this time with Hannah Montana wunderkind Miley Cyrus in the starring role as Kylie McCallister. The story progresses in much the same way: Miley's goofy parents Dina and Billy Ray leave her at home by herself in their gorgeous Outer Chicago estate.
At first thrilled to have some peace and quiet, Miley soon finds herself missing her family, especially when the paparazzi catch wind of the situation and start scratching at the windows, trying to get upskirt pictures with their telephoto lenses despite the fact that she's barely 16. Eventually, Miley learns self-sufficiency and independence when she rigs up a series of ingenious traps to assault and repel the paparazzi.
Since each Home Alone film has ratcheted up the severity of the traps, several of the paparazzi are actually killed, for which Miley is awarded a medal by the police commissioner. Her parents find the medal hanging on the fireplace next to her stocking when they return home and partake in a tearful reunion to the strains of a gorgeous John Williams strings arrangement, with vocals by Faith Hill and Miley herself.
Directed by Jamie Hewlett and Pete Candeland, 2006. Rotten Tomatoes rating: 85%. Not rated.
A twisted, dark version of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Gorillaz version at first follows the four band members as they prepare for Christmas. 2-D and Noodle are into the Christmas spirit, decorating their home, Kong Studios, with all the Christmas trappings, performing benefit gigs for charities together, and donating baked goods to various charity drives.
Murdoc is resentful of the holiday, and tries to dream up ways to ruin it. Russell becomes possessed by the spirit of St. Nicholas and begins distributing presents to the townsfolk, not knowing that Murdoc has replaced the real gifts with demon eggs. When the eggs hatch on Christmas Eve, the demonspawn band together and chew at the fabric of reality, unleashing Hell on not just Kong Studios, but all of England in a long sequence of surrealistic, psychedelically nightmarish animation and music.
Murdoc, witnessing the misery around him, soon regrets his actions, confesses to his bandmates, and enlists them to help restore England to its normal Christmas-time state separate from the bowels of Hell. In the end, in typical Gorillaz narrative fashion, we're not sure if they've succeeded, or if indeed anything we just witnessed really happened at all.
Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik, 2007. Rotten Tomatoes rating: 72%. Rated PG-13.
Indie-rock crooners The National have finally achieved mainstream success with their successive breakthrough albums Alligator and The Boxer, and all the fame and fortune is starting to change their lives. Brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner are returning home after having filmed a sitcom pilot in Hollywood called Strange Harmony, in which they play two brothers, one a manic metalhead, the other a mellow folk singer, who compete for the love of their next-door neighbor, Harmony (played by Sarah Silverman in a hilarious cameo).
Brothers Scott and Bryan Devendorf have just completed the first tour in support of their hastily-assembled art-punk solo project, The Devildorfs. Poor put-upon singer Matt Berninger just wants to have a good old-fashioned band Christmas like in the old days, but nearly everyone else could care less. Tensions arise when the Dessners return with extensive Hollywood entourages, and the Devendorfs invite a camera crew into the band's home in order to record a behind-the-scenes documentary on The Devildorfs.
Alienated by his friends, surrounded by strangers, confronted by an old flame and her new beau (Padma Newsome from Clogs and Scott Hutchinson from Frightened Rabbit, respectively), and constantly victim to his own clumsiness, Matt gets into several wacky slapstick situations while trying to help everyone around him find the Christmas spirit.
Will he succeed in time for Christmas, or will he simply get drunk and pen several morose new songs for the band's next album? You'll have to watch the movie to find out.
Directed by John R. Cherry III, 1988. Rotten Tomatoes rating: 22%. Rated PG.
People are starting to hate Christmas and the stresses it brings, which is weakening Santa Claus' power. What can the jolly old elf do to restore the world's Christmas spirit and thus continue his existence?
After a brainstorming session featuring several celebrity cameos (Donald Trump, Liza Minelli, and Willie Nelson), Santa decides to make a deal with a mysterious stranger who goes by "Old Scratch" to resurrect dead country and western legend Ernest Tubb, played by Jim Varney. His return soon enchants the nation, as he appears on talk shows to candidly discuss the afterlife, and it's not what we think it is: Heaven is a lot like Nashville, Purgatory mirrors Memphis, and Hell, of course, is Dallas, Texas.
Tubb begins to put together a star-studded cast for an upcoming Christmas special featuring his old friends Loretta Lynn, Glen Campbell and Johnny Cash, as well as up-and-comers Garth Brooks, Clint Black and Lorrie Morgan (remember, this was made in 1988). Just as it looks like the Christmas spirit will be restored to the world, Old Scratch reveals himself to be Lucifer in the flesh and calls for payment of his debt.
Santa, Tubb, and their all-star cast of pals have to race the clock in order to outwit the Prince of Darkness and still pull off their Christmas special! Film critic Leonard Maltin called it "An execrable insult to a great musician's memory. Everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves."
Directed by Alan Smithee, 1985. Rotten Tomatoes rating: 4%. Rated R.
A largely forgotten Christmas film until it began to gather a cult following in recent years, A Ted Nugent Christmas Story was hijacked early in production by Nugent, who somehow convinced the producers of the film to give him total creative control over the project. Child star Peter Billingsley was fired and inexplicably replaced by Nugent as the 8-year-old protagonist Ralphie.
Director Bob Clark walked off the set soon after, leaving Nugent to direct the movie himself, although the Nuge was ineligible for a director's credit due to a conflict between the Director's Guild of America and the National Rifle Association. Nugent's bizarre, frenzied behavior changes the tone of the film entirely, as he lusts for a Thompson M3A1 submachine gun with heavy-duty weatherproof sniper scope and 30-round box magazine.
Nugent deviates frequently from the script with almost every one of his lines, cursing up a storm, repeatedly and spontaneously railing against liberals, atheists and communists, and constantly hitting on Melinda Dillon, who plays Ralphie's (i.e. his) mother. The film ends in a profoundly disturbing bloodbath when Nugent receives his submachine gun for Christmas and immediately turns it on his parents, screaming "You fucks have given me nothing but shit for this entire shoot, and now you're gonna fuckin' die!"
Actors Dillon and Darren McGavin - "The Old Man" - take cover and return fire with little success. Using their blood as warpaint, Nugent strips down to a loincloth and heads out into the snow, where the film lasts for another half hour as he hunts in graphic detail, killing and skinning a deer, an elk, and several birds and rabbits. Here's an excerpt from Roger Ebert's review of the film, which was shot in 1983 but held up for two years as evidence in the investigation into Dillon and McGavin's murders:
"That someone allowed this to be released is an absolute travesty. The Dillon and McGavin families, who must know that their beloved relatives are brutally slaughtered onscreen, should sue the producers of this film into oblivion. The only good thing to be said about A Ted Nugent Christmas Story is that it's responsible for getting Nugent put away for two consecutive life sentences, where he can never inflict anything like this on us ever again."
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