We Don't Need to Check Twice — We're Sure These Horrible Holiday Movies Made Santa's Naughty List
Holiday movies can bring a lot of cheer, but not always. And thinking about really great holiday movies has us wondering: what are the worst holiday movies of all time? For every smart, funny, and heartwarming movie, there's one that's the cinematic equivalent of a big lump of coal in your stocking.
These horrible holiday movies truly have the potential to make you feel like it's the most miserable time of the year. We've found plenty of duds — filled with plenty of big-name stars — that failed big-time to find that holiday magic. From comedies that just weren't funny to holiday horror movies that miscalculated their tone, there's a whole wide world of holiday movies that are anything but jolly. Although holiday settings are obviously popular for a number of reasons, it seems like a lot of filmmakers simply never figured out how to make a Christmas movie that hit the right spot.
So what are truly the worst holiday movies ever? We'll leave it up to you to decide what takes the number-one spot as Worst Holiday Movie Ever, but these are a few titles to choose from that we're pretty sure aren't going to be anyone's favorites. For the sake of this list, we're sticking with theatrical and direct-to-video releases, rather than trying to sort through the numerous made-for-TV holiday movies that populate Lifetime, Hallmark, and other channels all winter long. How many of these infamous holiday flops have you seen?
Everything about this movie sounded great on paper: Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding in a rom-com co-written by Emma Thompson and based on a catchy, cheesy Christmas pop song. Then . . . the movie came out. While it's not as heavily panned as most of the movies on this list, its sub-50% Rotten Tomatoes score reflects the deep drop of disappointment after a lot of hype.
A Bad Moms Christmas
The raunchy girl-comedy stars some of the funniest women working today: Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, and Susan Sarandon. Instead of being a spiky cup of eggnog, it's just kind of bland.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
It's a holiday classic that's charming enough that you forget how it's not a particularly good movie. At least this sequel ranks above the increasingly diminishing returns on later "sequels" in the Home Alone universe.
Home Alone 3
The first (of what would be several) Home Alone movies to move away from the McCallister family ended up being a big pile of coal.
An early Paul Feig movie, this comedy about a group of — you guessed it — unaccompanied kids stranded at an airport over the holidays just totally failed to take off.
Another case of "great cast, terrible results": Robin Williams, Penelope Cruz, Susan Sarandon, and Daniel Sunjata all star in this dud of an ensemble Christmas drama about the interlocking lives of New Yorkers.
This Vince Vaugh-slash-Reese Witherspoon comedy about a couple stuck going to several different family Christmas celebrations earned criticism for having a cliche storm of a script, among other things.
I'll Be Home For Christmas
'90s kids probably have this Disney-produced flop starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas burned into their collective memory, despite the fact that it was critically panned.
The mid-2000s were an era of dudebro slapstick comedy, so it's no wonder that the genre took a swing at a Christmas flick. This one, about Santa's washed-up, overshadowed brother, can't decide if it's a crass comedy or a sentimental tearjerker.
Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas
While some of Perry's Madea movies have become classics, this Christmas entry, centering on a secret marriage lie that spins out of control, isn't one of them.
Love the Coopers
With a cast that includes Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and Olivia Wilde, this family-reunion Christmas comedy should have been hilarious and touching. Instead, it turned into a paint-by-numbers mini-melodrama.
The Perfect Holiday
A divorced mother, a daughter setting up her mom, a department store Santa, and Queen Latifah all collide in a cliche-ridden comedy that struggled to get positive reviews.
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
The first two Santa Clause movies were fairly cute, goofy comedies for the whole family. By the time this third one rolled around, though, franchise fatigue had set in, resulting in a bonkers time-travel plot and an increasing reliance on the same old tired gags.
Jingle All the Way
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Christmas movies is not exactly a combination you'd expect. The result: a slapstick-y comedy that tries (and mostly fails) to satirize Christmas consumerism.
The 2006 remake of the horror classic winds up being a slasher flick with a holiday setting and not much in the way of creativity, as four sorority sisters try to evade a serial killer on campus over the holidays.
You'd think a family comedy starring Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini, Christina Applegate, and Catherine O'Hara would be delightful, right? Unfortunately, the movie suffers from forcing its talented cast to play deeply unlikable characters.
Deck the Halls
What might have been a fun comedy about neighbors trying to one-up each other with extravagant holiday decorations instead devolves into a surprisingly mean movie devoid of any real cheer.
Christmas With the Kranks
When a couple decides to take a break from the merriment and go on a holiday cruise instead, their super-competitive neighbors take it as a personal offense and turn them into the neighborhood pariahs in a comedy that mostly picks the lowest-hanging fruit.
The Nutcracker in 3D
This overstuffed, slightly creepy retelling of The Nutcracker has the dubious honor of being one of just a handful of movies unfortunate enough to receive no positive reviews at all.
Kirk Cameron's 2014 movie, about a man who decides to teach his brother-in-law the true meaning of Christmas, reads more like a one-sided lecture than a movie with a plot — and critics agreed, making it join the 0% club.
In terms of pure, violent, weird terrible-ness, this 1980 slasher film definitely takes the cake. The premise is that a young boy is permanently traumatized when he sees his father, dressed up as Santa, kiss his mother, and he grows up into an obsessive loner with a violent streak who likes to keep track of who's "naughty" and "nice." Yes, friends, this is the slasher-movie adaptation of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" — watch at your own risk!
A Christmas Story 2
"Wait," you might be thinking, "I didn't know A Christmas Story had a sequel!" That alone should tell you what you need to know about this 2012 "sequel" to the holiday classic. Ralphie is now 15 years old, this time begging for a very specific used car for Christmas. It's a slapstick-laden rehash of the original movie, only without any of the real humor and charm. Instead, watch one of those cable-TV marathons of the original and call it a day.
Santa With Muscles
No, that's not a parody title or a Magic Mike spinoff. It's actually a late-1990s Christmas "comedy," starring Hulk Hogan as an arrogant millionaire who tries to hide from police by dressing up as a shopping mall Santa. He then proceeds to hit his head, develop amnesia, and start believing that he really is Santa Claus. Also, inexplicably, there is a side plot involving an evil scientist (named Frost, naturally) who wants to destroy an orphanage using magic crystals. It's every bit as bonkers as the plot summary sounds, and not even in a funny way.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Quite possibly the strangest holiday movie title ever, this one is the perfect terrible marriage of overly-earnest Christmas comedies and schlocky 1960s sci-fi. It really is all there in the title. Martians abduct Santa Claus to introduce the concept of "fun" to their society, while a handful of dissident Martians try to sabotage him every step of the way, all with ridiculous plotting, even more ridiculous dialogue, and poor production value that looks even more dated now.
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2
Who gave the OK to all of these holiday slasher movies? This bizarre sequel is definitely a lowlight of the genre. After witnessing his parents' murders on Christmas Eve — and his older brother's subsequent murdering spree — a young man starts his own murder spree, targeting those he deems "naughty." He's initially caught and sent to a mental hospital, but he escapes, murders a charity Santa, and sets out to finish his original evil plans. Between the over-the-top violence and the beyond-terrible acting, there's not much redeemable about this one.
Watch the trailer at your own risk — it highlights some of the killer's murder spree and doesn't entirely cut away.
Trapped in Paradise
Another Christmas crime comedy, another dud. This one centers on a trio of brothers — two ex-cons and their "good" brother — who wind up attempting to rob a bank. While the robbery itself goes off without a hitch, getting away turns into a long-winded comedy of errors. It's meant to be funny, but with the humor falling flat, it really just never feels enjoyable to watch.
You'd think that a Nora Ephron-directed movie starring Steve Martin, Rita Wilson, Anthony LaPaglia, Juliette Lewis, and Adam Sandler would be a highlight in the Christmas movie genre. Unfortunately, this was a misfire for everyone involved. The convoluted dark comedy involves the workers at a suicide-prevention hotline, their personal crises, and a bunch of slapstick-y hijinks that happen over the course of one night, all of which ends up just being a questionable mishmash of oddball scenes.
Truly, the image of Ben Affleck dressed in a Santa suit, peering around a corner with a gun, tells you everything about this holiday-themed heist flick. After a prison fight results in the death of his cellmate, a convict escapes and takes on his dead friend's identity and tries to make it home for Christmas. Instead, he finds out that his pal had been involved with a criminal gang's planned casino heist, and now he's forced to do the job for them. The bizarre blend of out-and-out violence with an unintentionally comic holiday theme makes this a must miss.