Don’t fool yourself with the tinsel and turkey and presents – Christmas is the most terrifying time of the year. Whether it’s the fire risk from trees, slipping on ice or climbing ladders to put up lights, the winter months are packed with mortal danger.
Nowhere is this better showcased than the ultimate seasonal evil: the endless barrage of Christmas movies. In an effort to counter this, we’ve taken the liberty of rewatching some of the most heinous offenders, and judged our contenders for the most unsafe Christmas movies in history.
We’re coming in strong with this one. The PG equivalent of the Saw franchise, Home Alone is a beginner’s guide to Christmas-themed torture. Facing down a home invasion, our hero decides to lay traps in a sinister game of cat and mouse.
The end result is enough crippling wounds to kill several real men, and land little Kevin in one very contentious trial. Joe Pesci retired from acting shortly after the franchise ended, presumably as a result of his devastating injuries.
Many people’s favourite modern Christmas movie, Elf is the story of a man who mistakenly believes himself to be an elf called Buddy. This delusion sees him run the wrong way up an escalator, launch himself at a Christmas tree, and instigate multiple fights, seeing him detained by the police.
A campaign of harassment against his estranged father and the infiltration of his family ends with Buddy being rewarded with a lucrative book deal. Elf is a deeply vicious and cynical film, the popularity of which speaks to the moral degradation of society.
The Polar Express
An early attempt at photorealistic CG, The Polar Express follows Tom Hanks as he abducts a child from his home at night, and takes him on a train ride through the Uncanny Valley. The film is fraught with danger, and places children on both a runaway train and in a runaway car.
This, however, has nothing on the general horror evoked by the animation. The uncanny, alien characters proved beyond all doubt that technology had gone too far, and deeply traumatised a generation of kids and adults alike.
A more recent box office hit, Last Christmas is the most Richard Curtisy film ever not to be directed by Richard Curtis. The Emilia Clarke vehicle makes heavy use of the music of George Michael: you’ll be Waiting for that Day when it’s over, and crying Freedom! 90 minutes later.
Last Christmas was released a month or so prior to the first identified cases of COVID, and the following two years of minor societal collapse. We’re not saying the two things are related, but we’re also not not saying that.
Jingle All The Way
Jingle All The Way is an extremely bad film elevated by the presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Phil Hartman (and to a lesser extent, Sinbad). A timeless parable about the need to buy that piece of plastic that all the kids want, Arnie careens across Minneapolis in a last-minute shopping spree.
A number of potentially dangerous set pieces (including a jetpack sequence) are disarmed by the fact that the main character is Arnold Schwarzenegger. If he can escape from Predator and a T-1000 alive, he can probably deal with this.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Who doesn’t love Dr Seuss’ festive yarn about a town of mutants bullying a giant green dog? The 2000 version is a modern Christmas staple, with Jim Carrey in exuberant form as the eponymous antihero, who stalks through town delivering righteous justice.
A number of unsafe sequences, including pushing a massive sleigh full of presents up a mountain, are dwarfed by the fact that the Whoovians entire civilisation exists within a single snowflake, dooming them all to a terrifying death as their world is simultaneously smashed into the ground and pummelled by other worlds from above.
A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens’ classic novel has been adapted to the screen multiple times, and always with terrifying results. The films follow an evil man who presumably takes a cocktail of opiates. His hallucinations compel him to wander around town, staring through people’s windows.
This does at least prompt an epiphany in him, after which he starts being much kinder to people, and presumably stops looking through their windows. An excellent parable about the inherent unsafety of loneliness, but a worrying statement on drug use.
Officially the greatest Christmas movie ever made, Die Hard is the wholesome story of a police officer’s romance with his estranged wife, his gun, and justice. A terrorist plot is foiled by our hero despite being led by Alan Rickman, who would obviously get away with it.
Die Hard is a positive example of consequences for poor safety, with the terrorists being punished for breaking glass, and the police being punished for driving non-rocketproof vehicles towards rockets. A couple of minus points for using wheelie office chairs in a lift are a minor blot on the final score.