Can these movies be classed as Christmas films?

Can these movies be classed as Christmas films?
All the times your favourite Christmas movies got it wrong

With the festive season in full swing, there's nothing better than getting excited for December 25 by watching some of our favourite Christmas movies.

However, each year there is always a debate about what constitutes a Christmas film - does the holiday season need to be integral to the storyline? Does Santa need to make an appearance? Or is snow simply enough for it to fall into the Xmas category?

Safe to say everyone has different opinions on this, but nevertheless whether you agree or disagree on certain film classifications the discussion always gets us into the Christmas spirit.

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Here are some movies which often have their Christmas credentials questioned.

Die Hard (1988)

20th Century Studios

One of the classic films that has a question mark over its Christmas legitimacy is the Bruce Willis action classic Die Hard (1988).

The plot takes place on snowy Christmas Eve and follows Willis as NYPD Detective John McClane who turns up to his estranged wife's (Bonnie Bedelia) Christmas office party with the hopes of reconciling. Pretty Christmassy so far...

...only, the office building is soon seized by terrorists - not so Christmassy.

Some consider Die Hard to be a Christmas film given the events that took place on Christmas Eve - but could the plot have happened if it was just a random office party? Perhaps.

Plus with all the violence and killing, it's not exactly the most cheerful for the festive season.

Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Walt Disney Pictures

It has Christmas in the title, but is Tim Burton's 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas really a Christmas film or is actually a Halloween movie?

Well, the film's director Henry Selick has shared his opinion when asked during a Q&A at the 2015 Colorado Telluride Horror Show film festival, he answered: "It's a Halloween movie."

The film's composer Danny Elfman also revealed his was on team Halloween in a 2019 interview with USA Today and on the topic he said: "It’s obviously about Christmas, but for me, it’s a Halloween movie."

A lot of the film is set in Halloween Town, it's based around Halloween characters and the movie was originally released on October 29, 1993.

However, some would argue that the film is all about the characters of Halloween Town discovering the Christmas spirit.

The story takes place during the time between Halloween and Christmas, so a lot of the plot happens during the month of November, but team Christmas say the biggest plot point occurs on Christmas Eve, making it a Christmas movie.

Gremlins (1984)

Warner Bros

The 1984 comedy horror film Gremlins is also part of the Christmas debate.

It all starts with Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) buying his son Billy (Zach Galligan) a Mogwai called Gizmo as an early Christmas present but chaos quickly descends as more Mogwai spawn hatch.

There are plenty of Christmas references throughout the movie, it's set around the holiday season and Gizmo plays the keyboard with a Santa hat on and the evil Gremlins disguise themselves as Christmas carollers.

The horror element of Gremlins isn't exactly festive, though.

Frozen (2013)


The Disney classic is all about Anna's (voiced by Kristen Bell) journey to reunite with her sister Princess Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) who has hidden herself away from the world due to her magical powers that can turn anything into ice.

While the story itself has a winter setting that gives off festive vibes and has the comedic snowman Olaf, there are actually no references to Christmas in the movie.

So whether or not you consider Frozen to be a Christmas movie depends on whether the snow setting constitutes it as one.

Edward Scissorhands (1980)

20th Century Studios

If considered a Christmas movie, Edward Scissorhands is certainly an unconventional one.

In the film, Edward (Johnny Depp) a man who has scissor blades for hands, is taken in by Peg (Dianne Wiest), an Avon saleslady, after his inventor passed away, and develops feelings for Peg's daughter Kim (Winona Ryder).

This is on the Christmas list for many considering it was originally released in cinemas during the festive period on December 7, 1980.

The latter part of the movie takes place around Christmas, when Edward carves an angel ice sculpture and the ice shavings are thrown into the air and fall like snow - not to mention the Christmas scenery of the white Christmas tree and neighbourhood filled with Christmas lights.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

Walt Disney Pictures

Most of this film adaptation of the C.S Lewis tale takes place in the snowy landscape of Narnia, where Lucy Pevensie (Georgie Henley) discovers the hidden world in the back of a wardrobe, along with her siblings Susan (Anna Popplewell), Peter (William Moseley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes).

There is a direct Christmas reference in the film when none other than Father Christmas himself makes an appearance in Narnia, greeting the siblings and gifting them presents to defend themselves against the White Witch.

Lucy receives a healing cordial and a dagger; Susan is given a bow and arrows along with a magical horn while Peter receives a sword and shield.

Santa's appearance meant that the White Witch's powers were weakening as she previously used her powers to stop Christmas from arriving.

The Harry Potter films (2001-2011)

Warner Bros

If you live in the UK, then you'll know that the Harry Potter franchise is a TV programming staple in the run-up to Christmas each year.

But can the Harry Potter films be in the Christmas category?

There is a Christmas scene in pretty much every film - from Hogwarts being decked out in Christmas trees and decorations, to the Yule Ball (Goblet of Fire) with snow falling from the ceiling. The holiday is included to show the life at Hogwarts throughout the year as the seasons change.

So perhaps this franchise can be categorised as unconventional (and magical) Christmas films after all.

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