alistair sim, ebenezer scrooge, a christmas carol
Alistair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge.

5 Movies for Your Inner Scrooge

December 11, 2009
by Colleen Brondou
Have the incessant buzz of Christmas music and twinkling lights made you want to hit the eggnog? Find solace with these cinematic gems, sure to have you saying “Bah, humbug!” with glee.

A Christmas Carol (1951)

This 1951 British version of “A Christmas Carol” is widely considered the most faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel. It’s also often cited as the best version, thanks in large part to Alastair Sim’s portrayal of the famous miser, Ebenezer Scrooge. Sim brings the lonely, bitter Scrooge to life without exaggeration or caricature, and ultimately renders Scrooge’s profound transformation—which requires a ghost, three frightening spirits and the sight of his own gravestone—into a believably terrifying experience.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)

Appearing on a number of “worst movie ever” lists and featuring a young Pia Zadora in her first film role, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” has become a cult classic. When the children of Mars discover Santa on TV, they want to get in on the action. Their Martian parents decide to take matters into their own hands and kidnap Santa. Voldar, a bitter Martian, would rather put an end to Christmas cheer—and Santa—once and for all. Can Santa, with the help of two child Earthlings, bring the joy of the season to Mars? As the title reveals, yes. The joy of this film lies solely in mocking it; however, if you can’t summon up enough snark in response to the campy 1960s sci-fi and dreadful acting, the cast of another cult favorite, the defunct TV show “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” provides their own hilarious commentary for this piece of otherworldly Christmas fruitcake.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Based on the book by Theodor Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” tells the story of the grouchy green Grinch and his plot to steal Christmas from the Whos. And who could blame him? Those overly cheerful Whos down in Whoville, fairly oozing with holiday spirit, could annoy even the most sentimental lover of Christmas. The story comes alive on screen with the help of animator Chuck Jones, the speaking voice of actor Boris Karloff as the Grinch and the story’s narrator, and the singing voice of Thurl Ravenscroft roaring his way through “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

From the dark and irreverent mind of Tim Burton comes “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Misfit Jack Skellington, “The Pumpkin King” of Halloween Town, is tired of the same old routine. When Jack discovers Christmas Town, he decides to take over Santa’s duties himself, and vows to bring Christmas to the residents of Halloween Town—with disastrous consequences. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” takes the cheery animated Christmas specials we all grew up with and turns them on their heads in this gorgeously gothic world, rendered by stop-motion animation and accompanied by a lushly ominous soundtrack.

Bad Santa (2003)

Two conmen, Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) and Marcus (Tony Cox), pose as Santa and his little helper in order to rob shopping malls. But when Willie falls for a sexy bartender with a Santa fetish, and befriends a troubled boy, the plan goes horribly awry. Full of public drunkenness, profanity, vulgar humor and memorable appearances by the late John Ritter as Bob, a store manager, and the late Bernie Mac as Gin, a mall detective, “Bad Santa” is a merrily twisted assault on the relentless holiday cheer of the American shopping mall.

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