• Scrooged (1988)

    Bill Murray stars as Frank Cross, a TV channel executive, in this “modern” retelling of A Christmas Carol.

    While the story is not unique, it adds enough 80s charm and moves at a fast pace to make it a very enjoyable Christmas movie. Murray is perfect as the self-absorbed yuppy asshole, who is visited by three ghosts to show him the error in his ways. 

    I like how the character progresses and how he really doesn’t want to be nice or feel the Christmas spirit. There is a darkness to the story that you don’t often see in Christmas movies.

    All in all, this is one of the best Scrooge tales, that both delivers the comedy and the drama of a conflicted character who needs redemption. 


    Available on Starz or to rent from these locations.

  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

    Clark W. Griswold is back in this third installment of the Vacation series. This one is a bit different. Instead of going somewhere for a vacation, like Wally World or Europe, the Griswolds stay home for the holidays.

    Written by John Hughes, the comedy works well due to Chevy Chase’s performance of Clark, who pushes every situation to the extreme. From cutting down a massive Christmas tree to putting thousands of lights on his house, there is nothing that Clark won’t take too far, and it is glorious to watch.

    Randy Quaid also shows up as Cousin Eddie, the poor idiot who lives out of his crappy RV with his wife, two kids, and big dog that eats out of the garbage.

    As a timeless classic, this movie is required for every holiday season. It perfectly characterizes the situations that remind you of what makes Christmas so great no matter how much goes wrong. 


    Available to rent/buy from these locations

  • The Santa Clause (1994)

    Tim Allen plays Scott Calvin, a divorced businessman who has a strained relationship with this son, Charlie.

    The movie starts with Scott spending Christmas with Charlie by burning a turkey and then having dinner at a Denny’s. In the night, Saint Nick shows up and falls off the roof, which sets in motion the transference rule where Scott assumes the role of the jolly old fat man. 

    Charlie and Scott finish Santa’s route for that night and then the reality sinks in that Scott Calvin is the new Santa Claus. He gains weight, his hair turns white, and he grows a massive beard. Charlie is overjoyed by his dad being Santa, but Charlie’s psychiatrist step-dad Neil (Judge Reinhold) thinks Scott is completely insane and should lose visitation rights of Charlie.

    Tim Allen is mostly a buffoon in everything he does, but he manages to convince the viewer he’s a dad who wants to do right by his son. The comedy isn’t overblown and there aren’t too many cringe-worthy moments. While I don’t consider this to be required Christmas viewing, it’s still enjoyable and usually ends up being watched every year when the classics are all exhausted.


  • The Snowman (1982)

    In 1978, Raymond Briggs created the classic children’s book: The Snowman. It is a unique tale about a boy and his snowman friend told with pictures and no words.

    In 1982, the half-hour animated TV special became an instant holiday/winter classic. In the same style as the book, the story is told with animation and music only; no dialog.

    I remember watching this in grade school on one of those big TV carts with the VCR on the bottom shelf. I liked how mesmerizing and different it was. As a young boy with red hair, I related to the child of the story and wished I had my own snowman friend.

    It’s an incredible 30 minutes of sounds and visuals. The boy and the snowman go on a dreamy adventure of epic proportions involving a motorcycle, flying, and a congregation of snow people at the north pole with Santa. As viewers, young and old, we are happy to take the journey with them. 


    Available on Amazon Prime or YouTube

  • 12 Days of Tinsel and Holly

    It’s that time of year again. Break out the nog, fire up the yule log, and try not to be naughty or you’ll get a big nugget of “coal” in your stocking.

    This year, a new tradition of Christmas movie reviews begins. For the first go round, you’ll get some of the most beloved Christmas movie classics, but subsequent years will start to showcase the stinkers.

    Here is this year’s expertly curated list:

    1. The Snowman (1982)
    2. The Santa Clause (1994)
    3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
    4. Scrooged (1988)
    5. Jingle All The Way (1996)
    6. Elf (2003)
    7. Home Alone (1990)
    8. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
    9. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
    10. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
    11. Die Hard (1988)
    12. A Christmas Story (1983)

    Starting on the 14th and finishing on the 25th, you will get 12 days of fun and excitement. So, without further ado…

  • Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

    There’s a reason I was putting off reviewing this one. It’s a real stinker.

    Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode for the first 10 minutes before Michael kills her. Then we’re on to the next part where a group of college students (a.k.a. fresh meat) are going on a reality TV adventure on Halloween. They are told they will be spending a night in Michael Myers rundown childhood home and the whole thing will stream live on the internets (because it’s 2002).

    Things start out with everyone having a great time and oh, how spooky the house is. Then Michael shows up and jump scare after boring murder later, the movie ends suddenly and I am thankful for that.

    The characters are so completely hollow that you are just waiting for them to get slaughtered. The premise is ridiculous even for 2002, complete with some of the most laughable tech I’ve ever seen. They spend 5 minutes showing off all the camera gadgets like they are the most amazing inventions they have ever seen.

    There aren’t many good Halloween sequels and this one is at the bottom of the list. You can probably take a shit that is more entertaining.


    Available to stream on Max Go

  • Triangle (2009)

    This is one of those movies that starts simple, becomes mysterious, then rapidly moves into WTF territory. The more you peel back the layers, the more interesting it gets. It seemed like the marketing made it out to be a slasher flick on a boat, but it’s not at all that.

    The premise involves a girl named Jess (Melissa George) who goes on a boating trip with some friends. After a bad storm, their boat capsizes and they are hopelessly adrift when a massive cruise ship passes by close enough for them to hop aboard. They quickly find that the cruise ship is deserted and then the fun begins.

    Without giving too much away, the story goes off the deep end as Jess discovers things are not what they appear on the ship as a sense of deja vu washes over her. The further you get into the meat and potatoes of the movie, the more invested you become. When it’s over, you kind of want to do it all over again.

    The depth in the acting is not apparent at first, but is definitely there. I can’t say it is the most horrific or suspenseful, but everything else makes up for it.


    Available to stream from Amazon Prime

  • The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)

    The Strangers are back, but this time, there is no Liv Tyler. Instead we get a family of four who head to a relative’s trailer park for a little R and R. Little do they know. they are about to have a very bad night.

    Things get real creepy fast as the two kids go for a night walk to clear their heads and discover their murdered aunt and uncle. Things continue to spiral out after the family slowly realizes they a being stalked by psychopaths.

    Once the craziness begins, it is relentless, but the family members keep making stupid decisions like splitting up whenever possible and not shooting an attacker when they clearly intend to murder you.

    Then you got the overused slow zoom effect, which would have been great in moderation. The first movie made much better use of subtle scares and atmosphere. This movie was much more in your face.


    Available to stream on Amazon Prime

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

    One, two, Freddy’s coming for you… in this remake of the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie.

    Some teenagers start having nightmares that feel too real, where they are being stalked by a creeper with knife fingers. When several start dying gruesome deaths, two of the kids dig up some painful history to learn the knifey burn victim is Freddy Krueger, a pedophile gardener at the preschool they used to attend who was burned to death by their parents.

    While the original 1984 movie was very enjoyable, I can see how there might be some urge to update to a more modern look and feel. This is a mistake, because they need to do more than just poop out better visuals. Jackie Earle Haley plays Freddy in a manner consistent with Robert Englund’s menacing playfulness, but more gritty and less playful.

    The problem is that the suspense feels forced and the cast of youthful teenagers just aren’t that memorable or worthy of our compassion. The plot relies too heavily on filling in the backstory about Freddy’s disgusting child molesting tendencies. Knowing about that makes me cringe a little and gag a lot, but I can’t say it improves the whole movie-watching experience.


    Available for rental from these places

  • Fright Night (2011)

    This remake of the 1985 classic vampire movie of the same name has some interesting updates and delicious performances. It’s a little bit smart, a smidgen witty, and mostly fun.

    Anton Yelchin plays Charley Brewster a high school kid who is man enough to wear puce-colored designer sneakers. He lives with his single mother Toni Collette in a suburban community outside Las Vegas.

    After several kids go missing, he starts to suspect his next door neighbor is a vampire and things escalate when he starts to get a little too nosy. He then enlists the help of a magician who supposedly has experience dealing with the undead.

    I really liked the first half, but it kind of lost steam toward the end of the second act. The suspense, acting, gore, and music all made for an atmospheric horror adventure. Colin Farrell and Anton Yelchin both gave dynamic life to their characters. While it is not the best horror movie, it still ends up being better than original.


    Available to stream on SYFY