There’s no escaping the holiday spirit, even when it’s hot enough to melt a snowman. With the Griswold family and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation bringing IFC some Christmas spirit in July, we thought we’d offer up list of holiday flicks that are perfect to watch any time. What better way to cool off than with a wintry blast of warped holiday cheer?
1. The Ref
In this underrated dark comedy, Denis Leary’s hapless criminal accidentally saves Christmas by breaking into a home and taking the family hostage. It turns out that an armed and dangerous fugitive is the only force capable of getting the bickering couple to talk through their feelings and save their family.
2. The Ice Harvest
This Harold Ramis crime caper has our “heroes” helping themselves to a gift of millions of dollars in Mob money, only to find themselves spending Christmas Eve in a strip club waiting out an ice storm. Turns out it’s not just family dinners which can lead to awkward conversations.
3. Batman Returns
Tim Burton’s weirdest Batman film is also one of his most Christmas-y — which is saying a lot coming from the guy who brought us The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s the only Batman film to feature both a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and a kiss under the mistletoe that quickly turns awkward.
4. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
The red suited man brings joy to the red planet in this utterly unique interplanetary invasion. A cult classic raised from cinematic obscurity by Mystery Science Theater 3000, it’s a movie that’s fun to gather together with friends and poke fun at any time of year.
5. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Writer/director Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Iron Man 3) has set many of his action movie scripts at Christmas, giving them a darkly satirical edge. His 2005 crime flick gives Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer some of the funniest moments of their careers, as they try to survive the holiday season in Hollyweird.
6. 3 Godfathers
A Christmas western, with the spirit of the season sprinkled through the most snow-less environment on earth: Death Valley. John Wayne is the leader of three unlikely wise men bringing a newborn child to New Jerusalem in time for Christmas.
When watched in December with a steaming mug of cocoa, Joe Dante’s horror comedy plays as a twisted take on It’s a Wonderful Life. But it’s still loads of fun when the thermometer is in the red thanks to its zany, Warner Bros. cartoon-esque energy and special effects that hold up better than other ’80s classics we grew up watching. Plus, Phoebe Cates’ iconic monologue about the worst Christmas ever is even more absurd when viewed with a nice cold lemonade and steaks on the grill.
8. Bad Santa
Terry Zwigoff’s warped, NSFW comedy has a nice message about good will towards men and all that stuff, but it’s mostly just a great, underrated comedy featuring hilarious performances from Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, John Ritter and more. The film has developed such a cult following over the years, there’s even a sequel coming. Badder Santa, perhaps?
9. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Easily a high point of the Vacation series, this John Hughes-scripted laughfest came a full year before his other holiday favorite involving severe bodily harm. But unlike Home Alone, this one features Chevy Chase encountering a seriously irate squirrel.
10. Die Hard
The fact that Die Hard is set at Christmas is just a happy accident — it’s a film we can’t stop watching no matter what time of year. What other action hero leaves a holiday message written on a dead bad guy?
We’re halfway to Christmas! Celebrate with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on IFC.