It’s that time of the year again. The time of year where we pausefor a moment and bring out the DVDs that for the rest of the year sit at the back of the book shelf, or remain hidden in the DVD holders. The films that we wouldn’t comprehend watching at the height of the summer – the beloved Christmas films.
Most of us have our favourites. It’s A Wonderful Life, The Muppet Christmas Carol,Home Alone etc. Some people have non-Christmas related films they watch this time every – The Great Escape, perhaps a James Bond (personally I always watch Rio Bravo and the Saiyan Saga from Dragonball Z). But there are a few little festive gems that through either lack of profile or endear-ability have been lost in the sands of time. Championed by a few, forgotten by many here’s three films I would highly recommend seeking out and giving ago this year.
‘The Ghosts of Oxford Street’ (Malcolm McClaren, 1991)
Made for Channel 4 as a documentary about shopping in London’s most famous walkway Ghosts of Oxford Street is a delightful hodge-podge of historical information, avant-garde moments of drama and a good old sing-a-long. Former Sex Pistols manager McClaren presents and narrates us through a semi-story in which he tries to convince historical figures from the streets past to convene at Marks & Spencers for a masquerade ball. These include George Selfridge (played by Tom Jones) and the Duke of York (played by a blatantly shit faced Shane MacGowan). The Happy Mondays, Sinead O’ Connor, Rebel MC and Kirsty MacColl all pop up as well to belt out a tune whilst dressed for the panto. Whilst the film is a bit more of a fairy-tale, docu-drama about the history of Oxford Street it retains a magical quality in the representation of the ghosts and the excitement of the festive season shown in the build up to the party itself. Plus any film which features ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Fairytale of New York’ has to be Christmissy – Basquiat being the exception to the rule. Go to 4 OD to watch the whole thing!
‘Bernard and The Genie’ (Paul Weiland, 1991)
Another made-for-TV movie and again from 1991. This is a whole different kettle of fish though. Starring Alan Cummings and Lenny Henry and written by Richard Curtis it tells the story of Bernard a lovely chap who’s just lost his job, girlfriend and has a stupid haircut. When trying to remove a smudge from a lamp his ex-girlfriend gave to him he unleashes a Genie (Lenny Henry in full blown ‘accent’ mode). And begins a comedy with some genuinely touching moments as the Genie enjoys life outside the lamp he’s been trapped in for 2,000 years. and Bernard learns how to grab life by the horns. Oh it’s all very uplifting. It’s a film that will be remembered for it’s one liners which Richard Curtis is admittedly very good at. Plus Cumming and Henry are ably supported by Rowan Atkinson as a superbly Scrooge-like villain. The film also has some early-Nineties charm with references to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a cameo by Gary Linekar in full England squad kit.
Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman (Michael Cooney, 2000)
Now we move up a notch. Jack Frost 2 wasn’t made-for-tv. No. It went straight to video and straight to the bottom shelf in video rentals. That’s where I found it eight glorious years ago. To this day I have not seen the first one but I believe that to watch it would ruin the sequels mystique. Essentially the plot involves a small town sheriff still mentally scarred by the ordeal of the first film. To get away from the snow he and his wife take a trip to a tropical island. But wouldn’t you know it – the killer snowman has come back after an accident in a lab involving green water and a coffee mug (I have no idea why either) and has followed him there. Once on the island Jack Frost proceeds to kill the islanders in increasingly humorous and humorously bad ways until he starts giving birth to little baby snowballs… and I don’t want to spoil it. If this sounds amazing to you it’s because it is. Made on a budget that would probably be the some total of most shoots hotel bill Jack Frost is a film of limited acting and special effects. Most of the laughs come unintentionally, usually about how awful something looks or a piece of dialogue sounds. For example “Aw suck” – the dying words of a man stranded at see. “I now pronounce you totally freakin’ dead” to a newly wed couple. The version released in the UK was heavily cut to receive a 15 cert. There’s more trace of blood and mutilation in the trailer. Fortunately it’s a film that is so enjoyably bad that it is a joy to watch. Who knows get a group together and maybe a drinking game and you can have a new cult film.
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