When you think of holiday movies, what titles come to mind? “A Christmas Story”? “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”? Most of us don’t think of science fiction stories as a source of Christmas cheer, but plenty of sci-fi movies are perfect for the holidays. Here are 12 of our favorites, and why they should be on your Christmas playlist.
“Never give up, never surrender!” Okay, this movie isn’t exactly set during Christmas, and it might be a bit of a stretch, but it was released on Christmas Day in 1999. This release date by default makes it a Christmas movie. Follow Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman as they try to save an alien race that believes their science fiction show is a series of historical documents.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
The 1960s is the best era for goofy, B-rated science fiction stories in movie form, and nothing embodies that genre like Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Santa is kidnapped by aliens because there’s no one on Mars to give gifts to Martian children. This silly feel-good movie should be on your list to watch this holiday season. If you want some real giggles, watch the movie with the MST3K (Mystery Science Theater 3000) commentary!
This Aliens prequel might not seem Christmassy, but the events of the movie take place around Christmastime. There’s even a scene where Idris Elba’s character delivers a slightly drunken monologue around a Christmas tree. Prometheus is a great alternative if you’re tired of feel-good Christmas movies.
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Don’t get them wet, and don’t feed them after midnight. This campy movie is set during Christmas, making it the perfect holiday movie. Don’t let their cute Mogwai faces fool you!
This movie might have come out during one of the summer blockbuster seasons, but it’s set during Christmas and arguably one of the best Batman movies out there. Michael Keaton is Batman, Michelle Phifer is Catwoman, and Danny Devito is a disgusting and memorable Penguin who uses consumerism and penguins to destroy Christmas and try to destroy Batman. You can’t go wrong!
This film might not be a traditional sci-fi movie, but it has such a twisted take on Santa Claus that it deserves a place on the list. Miners find what they think is Santa Claus in a mine and bring it home — where it starts killing people and dragging them back as offerings for the great Claus. It’s dark and twisted, and it makes for a fantastic alternative Christmas movie.
Children of Men
If you’re looking for a slightly twisted science fiction nativity story, plug in Clive Owen’s Children of Men. Owen’s main character has to protect the world’s last pregnant woman on a planet where the entire human species has been sterile for 18 years. There are no Christmas trees in this movie, but the parallels to the nativity story are almost too good to pass up.
Winter is when it gets dark and cold in most of the world, but what would happen if it never warmed up again? Sunshine follows a group of scientists who are trying to reignite the sun as it’s going cold. There’s no Christmas celebration in this movie, but it taps into our fear of the dark and cold that comes with the winter months.
Part science fiction, part fantasy and all satire, Hogfather is based on a character created by Terry Pratchett, the author behind the Discworld series. This isn’t your typical Santa story though. The Hogfather, Discworld’s version of Santa, has gone missing, so Death has to take his place. This film is heartfelt and hilarious and should be on everyone’s watchlist.
The core message of this Tim Burton classic is the power of Christmas. It’s a feel-good romance that will warm your heart even as Edward is using his scissor hands to carve ice sculptures and make it snow where it hasn’t snowed in years.
The Star Wars Christmas Special
If you’ve seen this movie, it might seem like a punishment, but it’s still a holiday movie, and it is Star Wars, so it falls into the Sci-Fi Christmas Movie category. Make this cinematic monstrosity a bit more bearable with a drinking game or two!
Okay, this movie isn’t science fiction, but it’s just not Christmas until we’ve seen Hans Gruber fall off of Nakatomi tower. The movie itself is set during Christmas, with John McClain going to visit his ex-wife and daughter for the holidays. You can’t go wrong with iconic lines like “Yippie-kai-yay, mother f*****.”
Take another look at your Christmas playlist. These movies might make a great addition to your holiday evenings — even if a couple of them might require a little eggnog or other holiday booze.