Christmas is a time of giving. Warm thoughts of parties with friends, family and loved ones float through the mind. But for movies (and real life) the truth is that without a villain (or at least a gaggle of relatives with irritating habits) we would never know just how joyful the season can be at times.
Fortunately, Hollywood understands that. Taking a cue from Charles Dickens who figured it out decades before the movie industry was born, films have provided us with many yuletide bad guys, some misguided and other truly evil. Most of these villains, to tie this to a financial theme, are motivated by greed, some just because they hate Christmas.
Here are AdvisorOne’s Top 10 Christmas Movie Villains:
10. The Martians: “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” (1964)
We couldn’t resist this Santa meets sci-fi flick. The Martians weren’t really evil, they just wanted the best for their kids. And who better than Earth’s Santa to provide just that?
Fortunately, Santa, played by John Call, prevails and a Martian Santa takes his place on the Red Planet allowing Earth’s children to get the jolly fat man back in time for Christmas.
A bonus for movie nerds is the adorable toddler Girmar played by Pia Zadora, who grew up to be a D-List screen sex icon and winner of back-to-back Razzie awards in the 1980s for worst actress (just in case you wanted to know).
9. Hans Gruber: “Die Hard” (1988)
Not strictly a Christmas movie, this action pic, though, is set during a Christmas office party in a gleaming new high-rise. Alan Rickman plays the villain Hans Gruber bent on pulling off a mega robbery. What he doesn’t count on is Bruce Willis stopping at nothing to save his estranged wife.
There’s no Santa in the film, but there is a scene where Willis’ character, in the spirit of the season, delivers to Gruber a dead villian dressed with a red Christmas hat and note pinned to him that reads: “Ho. Ho Ho.” Oh, and there are plenty of bullets, explosions and flying glass–in the spirit of the season. And unlike many holiday films there’s no redemption for Gruber, only justice. The holiday and the loot are saved.
8. Marv & Harry: “Home Alone” (1990)
When 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is accidentally left alone during the holidays, robbers played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern see their plans to pilfer the house go awry.
Spoiler Alert! The Christmas Eve shenanigans end with the robbers foiled and Kevin’s reconciliation with his family.
7. Santa: “Bad Santa” (2003)
Billy Bob Thronton takes the title role and does a star turn in this dark tale of a mall Santa who uses the holiday to ransack department stores–every year.
Complications ensue (don’t they always in holiday movies?) and Bad Santa learns the lesson of the season. But unlike most yuletide fare made for the silver screen, this one does not lay the sugar on too thick.
6. Frank Cross: “Scrooged” (1988)
Maybe this film should be lumped in with the “Christmas Carol” entry, but Bill Murray’s comic riff on the classic tale deserves its own spot.
Murray plays a cynical, mean-spirited TV exec who gets a rude awakening when the TV version of Dickens’ story visits him in real life. The modernization works well and Murray carries off the Humbug and his awakening to the spirit of the season with aplomb.