Home Alone 2 – Lost in New York (1992)
Leaving your child home alone once could be forgiven. But leaving them at an airport and allowing them to travel independently to a capital city is unforgivable. We tend to view Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone 2 – Lost in New York (1992) as the perfect family Christmas movies. However, there is a dark side to both of these slapstick comic book adventures. One that finds itself further elaborated in the second Kevin McCallister outing.
Home Alone 2 places a pre-pubescent child into a decidedly adult cityscape. Our young hero, avoiding danger by learning the power of money in buying position, authority and control. With the 90s ‘Trump’ owned Plaza Hotel, the epitome of a city where money buys power at any age. Meanwhile, the slapstick humour of the first film is turned up to maximum, with the traps becoming sadistic in the hands of little capitalist Kevin. A boy who seems intent on killing the hapless burglars. Yes, it’s still funny, and yes, it’s full of Christmas cheer. But at its heart, Home Alone 2 – Lost in New York is incredibly dark and sinister, as a city of extremes eats away at a young mind.
Director: Chris Columbus
Black Christmas (1974)
Santa Claus stalking houses once a year has become a strangely familiar tradition. However, a serial killer stalking a group of students with not a present insight is not acceptable. Black Christmas has become a legendary horror, subverting the joys of Christmas with a terrifying and defining slasher flick. After all, Black Christmas came before the masterpiece of Halloween and is, in many ways, the template for Carpenters film. The film’s director, Bob Clark, keeps his killer in the shadows, the motives of their blood bath unclear. And yes, those telephone conversations with the mysterious killer undoubtedly acted as the inspiration for Scream in 1996. Therefore, while Black Christmas may have been low budget, it marks a tinsel coated start of the 80s teen slasher.
Director: Bob Clark
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Imagine trying to eat your Christmas turkey with two giant scissors for your hands. The frustration would surely ruin your Christmas dinner and cause significant discomfort at the table. Alas, this is just one of the problems facing Edward in Tim Burton’s gloriously dark fairytale. Here, Tim Burton offers us a beautiful slice of gothic fantasy that pays homage to Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein‘ and Carlo Collodi’s ‘Pinocchio‘. While also wrapping the audience in a tender fairytale of loneliness and belonging.
Edward Scissorhands is yet another festive movie that found itself released during the height of summer in 1991. But, its story firmly inhabits a world of Christmas like wonder, discovery and magic. With Burton exploring themes of difference, intolerance and belonging in a gentle but assured fashion.
Director: Tim Burton
There is no hiding from the inherent darkness of Charles Dickens novel A Christmas Carol. Or the fact that the book has given birth to nearly every Christmas movie ever made. However, with Scrooged, the Dickens classic is firmly planted in the capitalist ‘utopia’ of 1980s New York. In a film that takes square aim at the growing commercialism of TV and film. While equally dissecting the influence of big business and capitalism on our festive celebrations.
Scrooged cleverly subverts A Christmas Carol into themes that Dickens himself would have been proud to endorse. Here Richard Donner dissects the greed and selfishness of 1980s society with devilish glee. And while Scrooged came long before the dawn of reality TV and social media, its messages carry just as much relevance to modern audiences as they did to its 1988 theatre goers.
Director: Richard Donner