It’s Christmas week and everyone has already ranked their own favourite films to watch during the festive break. Those nostalgic for 1990s comedies for the whole family will probably play Home Alone over and over again; action lovers will opt for Die Hard; fantasy animation enthusiasts will go for The Nightmare Before Christmas; while fans of the politically incorrect will have a blast with Bad Santa-like pictures.
As I’m back home spending a few days with family and friends, I’ve just checked the Italian TV guide for this week and felt reassured because I’ve found the same movies that have been regularly played over the past years during the Christmas break. John Landis’ Trading Places will be screened on television on the 24th December, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory on the 25th, Ghostbusters II the following day. We can easily say that they are all Christmas classics now (at least in Italy).
If you don’t have any ideas yet, choosing festive films is quite easy: it’s only a matter of taking sides. Do you share Frank Capra’s idealism? Then go for It’s A Wonderful Life kind of movies. Are you in search of a nastier mood instead, something capable of unleashing the evil spirit that lurks beneath these days? In this case you should definitely watch the 1984 classic Gremlins again.
Joe Dante’s black comedy about a mythical creature called “Mogwai” that can generate mischievous alter egos if its owner does not take care of it properly is still one of the most inspired horror movies of the 1980s. Disguised as a twisted fairy tale, it’s a film infused with dark humour that manages to criticise the revelry, the consumerism, and the irritating and patently fake “do-good attitude” reigning over Christmas, without giving up the enchantment of the festivity and flooding the market with merchandise at the same time. A perfect crime.
Whether you side with the cute Gizmo or the reptilian gremlins, you need to be aware of the rules listed in the minimal poster below. They’re simple: don’t expose a Mogwai to bright light; don’t get it wet; don’t feed it after midnight. Follow these and you’ll have a safe Christmas. Break them and you might not make it to St. Stephen’s Day alive.