Screenshot of The Polar Express for an article on Christmas movies

5 Christmas Movies That Are So Bad, They’re Actually Pretty Good

The holidays haven't truly started until you've heated up some hot chocolate and sat down to watch a few terrible Christmas films.

Christmastime can mean a lot of different things for different people. For some, it’s decorating their house in garlands and twinkly lights. For others, it’s caroling and choir hymns. For me, Christmas means revisiting all of the cheesy, poorly-written and predictable Christmas movies that I love to hate. I’ve compiled a list of the very best of the worst ones. Let the countdown begin!

5. “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” (1964)

Like one of those roller coaster rides where you can’t decide whether you want to laugh or turn green, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is a low-budget, sci-fi comedy film that was so bad, “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” featured it in one of their episodes. IMDB gave it a 2.7 out of 10.

The plot centers around the abduction of Santa Clause by the Martians. The reason? The cheerless Martian children can’t summon the Christmas spirit for themselves. Watch it with plenty of popcorn — you’ll be chucking some at the TV about five minutes in.


4. “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas” (2013)

There were more than a few trends that came out of 2013 that are better forgotten, but this is a true contender for the No. 1 spot. Madea is back, and this time, she is bringing the Christmas spirit to a tiny town out in the country.

IMDB gave it a 4.9 out of 10. The Razzie Awards, a colloquial term for the Golden Raspberry Awards, doles out awards for the worst actors of the previous year. Tyler Perry was nominated and won in 2014. Put this Christmas movie on and let the cringing begin.

3. “Reindeer Games (Deception)” (2000)

Was anyone aware that Ben Affleck tried to get into the high-stakes heist genre? I certainly wasn’t. Reminiscent of “Die Hard” but so much worse, “Reindeer Games” already fails with the title. Given a paltry 5.8 out of 10 by IMDB, this film is just the thing to watch to get you in the mood for much better action-packed Christmas movies.

“Reindeer Games” begins with Affleck assuming his dead cellmate’s identity so he can get with his girlfriend, and it somehow ends with a wholesome Christmas family dinner. Surprise, surprise, the dead cellmate might not be as dead as Affleck thought he was. Enjoy!

2. “The Holiday” (2006)

I might be a little biased when it comes to “The Holiday,” as I actually quite enjoyed it. Cheesy rom-com meets cottagecore in the British countryside, this movie is best served with plenty of hot cocoa and a warm blanket.

Somehow, director and writer Nancy Meyers managed to snag Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jack Black and Jude Law. A house switch is the catalyst for the meeting of the two couples, and the expected Christmas movie shenanigans don’t disappoint. The star-studded cast just manages to carry the shoddy writing, and “The Holiday” actually provides a cute and satisfying ending. Ever the critic, IMDB gave it a 6.9 out of 10.

1. “The Polar Express” (2004)

The Polar Express” was truly terrifying to watch. The uncanny valley hits you like, well, a train in this animated adaptation of the beloved children’s book. Tom Hanks voices pretty much everyone, and the only Oscar nominations this Christmas movie received was for sound mixing, editing and original song —  basically, nobody thought the animation was good.

Nevertheless, it’s a heartwarming tale that harkens back to many of our childhoods. Best viewed with a friend or family member with a crackling — virtual or real — fireplace in the background.

Alice Murphy, University of Maryland, College Park

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Alice Murphy

University of Maryland, College Park
English, Environmental Science & Policy

Alice Murphy is a writer and student born in Washington, D.C. She will find any excuse to buy books, and has the personality of a vintage fringed lampshade.

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