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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

Which Santa Claus do you believe in? The Coca-Cola inspired fat man covered in red and white? Or the far more scary Santa Claus of ancient folklore?

Rare Exports takes us on a journey unlike anything else in the Christmas film genre, Whichever Santa you genuinely believe in. Here Helander combines the legend of Santa Claus with John Carpenter’s The Thing in a glorious kaleidoscope of horror and fantasy. With the resulting film, a lively mix of folklore and history that is not Santa Claus the Movie. It’s narrative single handily ensuring you will never look at the man who comes down your chimney every December in the same way again. And in its sheer creativity and audacity, Rare Exports remains a glimmering gem in the deliciously dark Christmas movie catalogue.

Director: Jalmari Helander

Cast: Jorma TommilaOnni TommilaPeeter Jakobi 

The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Just imagine your Christmas and New Year cruise being turned upside down by a gigantic rogue wave. The result is a New Years Day from hell, as you try and find your way out of the steel giant that was supposed to keep you safe.

Based on the novel by Paul Gallico and directed by British legend Ronald Neame. The Poseidon Adventure launched the 1970s obsession with disaster films. While equally creating the template for every disaster picture since. And whether it be the motley image of a group of survivors climbing a giant Christmas tree or the heartbreak of Shelley Winters saving Gene Hackman’s preacher. The Poseidon Adventure gloriously turns the joy of New Year into an upside-down nightmare of epic proportions. While at the same time still holding its own in the masterful special effects work some 47 years later.

Director: Ronald Neame

Cast: Gene HackmanErnest BorgnineShelley Winters

Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)

He’s not the messiah; he’s a very naughty boy!

Do we really need to say much more? Monty Python’s – The Life of Brian remains one of the most audacious, surreal and damn right silly films ever made. And despite some highly critical early reviews, it went on to achieve massive success with the public after opening in April 1979. And while it is true that the Catholic archdiocese of New York, plus three prominent Jewish organisations condemned the film as blasphemous. Their misguided intervention only further increased the film’s appeal.

However, even more interesting and sad in equal measure is the fact that a movie like Life of Brian would probably never reach the screen today. With our modern sensibilities even more delicate than those of our late 70s counterparts. And when you add to that the fear of upsetting religions due to terrorism, The Life of Brian and The Holy Grail are not only extraordinary achievements in satire but, alas, two of the last great parodies of religious texts.

Director: Terry Jones

Cast: Graham ChapmanJohn CleeseMichael Palin 

Go (1999)

Lost in the mists of time is Doug Liman’s 1999 hit ‘Go‘. A film that encapsulates Christmas’s drug-fuelled joy for Generation X as the 90s disappear into a new millennium. Liman’s high energy rollercoaster follows three young people who all work together in the same supermarket over the 24 hours leading up to Christmas. Their lives, love, and secrets, about to become entangled in a web of drugs, partying and crime. Here the festive season is reflected through high-octane action, pounding music and the fire of youth.

Go embodies the soul of Tarantino’s early films while equally reflecting the social landscape of teenage life as the 90s took its final bow. The resulting film, a mixture of heart-pounding action and stunning design that remains a forgotten Christmas movie. But, trust us when we say, Go deserves a rebirth in the public consciousness. So Go ahead, and give it your time.

Director: Doug Liman

Cast: Sarah PolleyJay MohrScott Wolf, Katie Holmes, Timothy Olyphant

The Children (2008)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the snotty-nosed kids are full of turkey and chocolate. Their hyperactivity mixed with tiredness and tantrums. Sound familiar? Well, this horror is far more than just another Christmas in the trenches. With director Tom Shankland taking core elements of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and mixing them with an icy flurry of The Village of the Damned. But when you add to these our current social fears and anxieties surrounding the pandemic, the film’s impact is only amplified. However, despite this, The Children remains a British horror that very few people have seen following its release in 2008.

While The Children may not chart new ground, it does offer a genuinely creepy and assured horror. While also providing us with a set of themes that carry even more bite during our current global pandemic and lockdown. But the genius of Shankland’s underrated gem comes from the location and Christmas setting. The story joyously subverts the joys of Christmas, as a group of doe-eyed moppets make toys of the adults around them.

Director: Tom Shankland

Cast:  Eva BirthistleStephen Campbell MooreJeremy Sheffield

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