Top 10 Worst Christmas Movies Ever

by Eric Melin on November 30, 2010

in Top 10s

Ever wonder what the Top 10 Worst Christmas Movies Ever are? Blogger and Scene-Stealers sitegoer Will Dawson is back after over a year off to contribute today’s terrifying holiday-themed Top 10 list. If you have a list you’d like to contribute, email me at Here’s Will!

Hello Scene-Stealers peeps. I know that I’ve taken a long hiatus from writing Top 10 lists, but in between graduating and relocating across the country from Lawrence, KS to Detroit, MI, you probably would be a bit pressed to come up with one too. Anyone who has read my previous lists (Top 10 Worst James Bond Movies and Top 10 Worst Sequels) knows that I have a penchant for bad movies, and since this time of year is when holiday films and music are being blasted at us from every angle, I have come to realize that for every good Christmas movie there are at least five bad ones. This list is a comprehensive look at the 10 I consider to be the worst Christmas movies of all time. To make it on the list, each film had to be released theatrically, plus it had to heavily incorporate the Christmas theme. This list was so popular, here’s a link to its sequel: 10 More of the Worst Christmas Movies Ever.

its-a-wonderful-life10. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

Ok, you’re probably sitting at your computer wondering what the hell I’m thinking when I name Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life” one of the 10 worst Christmas movies of all time. But if you really look at the movie, and I mean really look at it, does “It’s A Wonderful Life” add anything to the Christmas movie canon except overtly sentimental themes, over the top acting, or a contrived plot? The answer, in case you were wondering, is no. In addition to the above things, the film has also inspired so many countless clones and variations that we have “It’s A Wonderful Life” to thank for other syrupy, contrived Christmas movie that air on our TV during the holiday season.

reindeer-games-affleck-santa9. Reindeer Games (2000)

The first Ben Affleck Christmas movie on our list, but certainly not the last, this one deals with Affleck’s ex-con striking up a romance with Charlize Theron. However, it turns out that Theron is playing for the wrong side, and ends up forcing Affleck to rob an Indian Casino with a grizzled Gary Sinise. Eventually it turns out that Affleck is double crossed and he somehow learns the true meaning of Christmas through the whole thing. Although this film was a disaster (even if it is enjoyable in a bad way at times), it was actually marketed as a way to somehow make Affleck an action star. Another notable thing about the film is that you get to see Charlize Theron with her top off, which is always a plus.

jack-frost-keaton8. Jack Frost (1998)

This Michael Keaton Christmas vehicle is meant to be a kids movie, but ends up being more of a frightening exercise in how not to make a family Christmas film. Keaton portrays Jack Frost, the leader of the aptly named Jack Frost Band, who plays Christmas songs. Keaton somehow ends up dying in a car accident (gotta kill him off somehow) and ends up being reincarnated as a snowman and proceeds to teach his son the true meaning of family and Christmas. Instead of coming off as sentimental and fun, the film instead comes off as scary and brainless. Instead of making Keaton come back as a snowman (that looks unnerving I might add), why couldn’t Keaton come back as one of Santa’s helpers and somehow teach his son about Christmas that way? (Oh wait, that was the plot of “The Santa Clause.”) I might also mention that Keaton sings in the movie, and the soundtrack features such Christmas songs as performed by 90s music stalwarts Hanson and The Spice Girls.

santa-claus-the-movie-moore-lithgow7. Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)

Man, this movie sucks. Basically, “Santa Claus: The Movie” rips off “Superman” (not surprising considering that the producers were the same team that produced the original “Superman”) and basically a whole bunch of other Christmas movies in-between. Basically the story concerns how Dudley Moore (as an elf) is trying to use Santa’s techniques to mass produce toys for a toy company, whose head is John Lithgow (who is supposed to be Scrooge), and Santa comes and teaches them all about the true meaning of Christmas and blah blah blah. The film is notable for being one of the biggest box office disasters in the U.S., although it did make its budget back worldwide.

jessica_biel_jonathan_taylor_thomas_i'll_be_home_for_christmas6. I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1998)

Although it’s hard to think of it today, Jonathan Taylor Thomas was actually considered to be one of, if not the biggest teen idol in Hollywood during the mid to late 90s. This film, made to capitalize on Thomas’ teenage girl fanbase, bombed in every respect not only as a film, but as a Christmas movie as well. The story basically is a teenage plot of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” with Thomas put into increasingly ridiculous situations which involve hitchhiking, a Santa suit, and Jessica Biel. After the film, Thomas took a hiatus from acting and has not appeared anything of note since.

surviving-christmas-affleck-gandolfini5. Surviving Christmas (2004)

The second Ben Affleck vehicle on our list was released in the same three-year period as “Christmas with The Kranks” and “Deck The Halls.” Although I could have easily substituted “Surviving Christmas” with any of the aforementioned films, this one takes the cake for having the worst plot and worst acting. Affleck plays a self-spoiled millionaire who decides to pay a family so he can spend Christmas with somebody because he has alienated his friends and family with his selfish ways. Why he couldn’t use the money to spend it with a hot-looking escort is beyond me. Eventually Affleck and James Gandolfini (who should not be allowed to play a role unless it’s Tony Soprano) end up getting into a tizz over Christmas and Affleck ends up learning the true meaning of Christmas some way or another. In addition to being a huge box office failure, the film wasn’t released during the holiday season, but was instead released around Halloween in order to not interfere with Affleck’s other film “Paycheck.” This date of release ended up furthering the film’s box office failure as well.

jingle-all-the-way-schwarzenegger-punching-santa4. Jingle All The Way (1996)

Maybe I don’t like this movie because I was subjected to it dozens of times when I was kid at Christmas parties or at a school, but if I was somehow presented with the chance to destroy every copy of “Jingle All The Way,” I would grab the opportunity by the bull’s horns and pay for the kerosene myself. When you cast Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad together as two fathers trying to get the same toy for their bratty sons, you know you have a serious problem. I don’t even need to tell you the rest of the plot, because I think you can probably know what happens. What makes this film even worse is that the great Phil Hartman is completely wasted as a rival to Arnold’s wife, and this role was one of the last films he ever made before being killed by his own spouse.

3. Santa with Muscles (1996)

Oh man, I really can’t do justice by merely describing “Santa With Muscles.” The film was made to capitalize on Hulk Hogan’s acting career that started with the “classic” film “Mr. Nanny.” Anyway, just look at the trailer, which does a better job of describing “Santa With Muscles” than I ever could:


2. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

This is an example of where Hollywood should just leave a classic story the way it is in short format, instead of trying to extend it into a feature-length film. The original story and cartoon of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” are absolute holiday staples, and the fact that they turned it into a live-action movie and came out with this garbage probably made Dr. Seuss roll over in his grave. The added backstory to the Grinch really doesn’t flesh out the character any better than the cartoon did, and whatever charm the Grinch had is lost in Jim Carrey’s strange Carrey-fied performance. Plus,am I the only who feels that the Grinch is a tad bit too scary and Who-Ville looks like something out of a bad LSD trip?

santa-claus-conquers-the-martians-19641. Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964)

This is the only Christmas movie that could be #1 in the worst Christmas movies of all time! If you don’t know this holiday classic, all you have to know is that involves Santa, a group of kids, Mars, robots, Pia Zadora and stock footage that was also used in the opening credits of “Dr. Strangelove.” Although the film is too terrible to watch by itself, it works greatly if you are on holiday substances or watching the 1991 Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of the film, which is arguably one of the greatest episodes of the series. Watch the full original movie below… if you dare.

The fun’s not over: Here’s a link to 10 More of the Worst Christmas Movies Ever.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Randall November 30, 2010 at 8:22 am

A fine list, and I am glad to see Santa Claus Conquers the Martians at the top–it’s a favorite! But let’s not overlook the horrendous 1959 Mexican film Santa Claus, either. As with the aforementioned #1 choice, MST3K took a crack at Santa Claus and made it a little more watchable.


2 lintly November 30, 2010 at 8:47 am

You could really make a top 10 worst top 10 lists by this idiot. You suck. Don’t quit your day job. I agree from 7 down though. They really do suck. :)


3 Eric Melin November 30, 2010 at 8:52 am

Will- Great job. Although I can’t agree with your #10 (even if it is the template for every sentimental Xmas movie since then), it looks like I’ve done a great job avoiding every single other movie on your list! I’ve seen clips of “Jack Frost” with Keaton the talking snowman, though, and it chilled me to the bone.

I also think there’s potential for a “10 more awful Xmas movies list”! Anyone up for the challenge?

Randall- Should I watch the original “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” or the MST3K version? The 1959 Mexican “Santa Claus” sounds like a treat!


4 Randall November 30, 2010 at 8:58 am

I usually watch Santa Claus Conquers the Martians in its original form, not the MST3K version. But it’s not for the weak!


5 Will November 30, 2010 at 9:13 am

Thanks everyone for the compliments!
Eric: I do agree that there should be another 10 list of even worse Christmas movies, although I’m afraid to think of what I’ve left of.

Randall: I have seen “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” the original version too, and you are right, it is not for the faint of heart!


6 Phil Fava November 30, 2010 at 9:25 am

You’re out of your mind, clearly, with your selection for the #10 spot, and I’ll defend Ron Howard’s “Grinch” ’til the end of time, but the rest are most assuredly bad.


7 Eric Melin November 30, 2010 at 9:51 am

Phil Fava defending “Grinch” in the next edition of Overlooked Movie Monday? Yes, please!


8 Lucy November 30, 2010 at 9:53 am

No lintly, YOU suck! Santa Claus The Movie is the BEST Christmas movie ever.


9 George Hickman November 30, 2010 at 10:01 am

It’s A Wonderful Life does not belong anywhere NEAR this list, especially with the complete omission of countless crass Christmas cash-ins.

And you can’t really blame it for what followed. That’s like blaming the Bible for the Spanish Inquisition.

I’m secretly glad “One Magic Christmas” didn’t make the list, because I have a soft spot for it, but teaching a woman the true meaning of Christmas by killing her husband and making her watch her two small children be driven off a bridge by a bank robber into an icy river is a seriously flawed premise to say the least.


10 George Hickman November 30, 2010 at 10:04 am

Every year the Drafthouse here in Austin has been showing a notoriously bad (but still enjoyable) Christmas movie called “The Magic Christmas Tree.” It’s pretty amazing.


11 lintly November 30, 2010 at 10:09 am

Lucy, I don’t suck, I’m an ass, there’s a difference. But Santa Claus the Movie is freakin’ SWEET!


12 Shelby November 30, 2010 at 10:10 am

I guess it’s a Hanukkah movie, but “Eight Crazy Nights” with/by Adam Sandler is one of the worst movies I have ever seen, and deserves to be mentioned here I think.

Just absolutely horrible and not funny at *all*, and mostly insulting to one’s intelligence.


13 Will November 30, 2010 at 10:58 am

The rationale in putting “It’s A Wonderful Life” on the list is because I find the movie to be overrated and it is not my personal favorite. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t give me the Christmas fuzzies from time to time, it’s just that I prefer other films from the era that don’t get talked about as much as “It’s A Wonderful Life”. The final kicker for putting it on the list was when I was watching the films and doing research, I realized that most films on the list have basically followed the “It’s A Wonderful Life” formula, usually to no avail.


14 Will November 30, 2010 at 11:05 am

And a few honorable mentions would have to be: “Silent Night, Deadly Night” (a have a soft spot for the total warped view the film takes), “Santa Slay” (a terrible, but awesome movie), “The Preacher’s Wife” (a remake of the classic “The Bishop’s Wife”, and almost garnered the #10 spot on the list), “Deck The Halls,” “Christmas With The Kranks,” “The Santa Clause 2 & 3,” and “Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Christmas Island” (released direct to video, so technically it can’t be counted.)


15 Reed November 30, 2010 at 11:34 am

Willing to forgive the #10, but I happen to like it. Jack Frost – wow. Thanks for bringing back the nightmares. I had forgotten that I’d even seen it. I won’t dare touching Santa Clause versus the Martians if it’s even worse than Howard’s Grinch.

There seems to be another slew of awful Christmas movies every year. The last one I endured was Four Chrsitmases, and though awful it pales in comparison to the usual garbage. I think making a “best Christmas movies” would be a much more challenging undertaking.


16 jontv November 30, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Can we just agree that nobody who believes in “the true meaning of Christmas” should ever be allowed to make a Christmas movie?


17 Eric Melin November 30, 2010 at 1:37 pm

“Best Christmas Movies.” Yikes. I can think of three. Not sure if I could find 10…here’s a list of great non-Xmas Xmas movies I did:


18 Xavier November 30, 2010 at 2:24 pm

I have to agree slightly with Phil about Ron Howard’s the grinch, I don’t get why it invokes so much pure hatred. Not that I liked it or found many redeeming features in it, but it just didn’t offend me or make me have viceral reactions to it as it seems to for so many, the only other film on this list I’ve seen (apart from its a wonderful life of course) is Jack Frost and that one was just awful, definitely hated it a lot more than the grinch.


19 George Hickman November 30, 2010 at 5:40 pm

It’s MUCH easier to hate on sentimentality than it is to embrace or respect it. Which is why most “best Christmas movies” lists tend to include films that feature Christmas time as a setting but aren’t exactly about Christmas itself like Die Hard, Gremlins, etc.

Anyway, Lars Nilson, the same Alamo Drafthouse programmer who shows “The Magic Christmas Tree” each year wrote a brief defense of “It’s a Wonderful Life” that I agree with so thoroughly I’m just going to paste the majority of it:

“It’s become axiomatic to think of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE as a vaguely corny, time-honored holiday classic. And I have to admit, until last year I hadn’t sat and watched it all the way through. It’s so ironic that a film we think of as the height of cloying sentimentality is anything but. In fact, there’s a lot of darkness in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. It’s the first Jimmy Stewart movie that shows his dark side, a side that Anthony Mann and Alfred Hitchcock would later use to such great advantage. And the theme of one man’s redemption, which we’ve seen so many times in Hollywood films, is perfectly enacted by Capra and Stewart.
Director Frank Capra and star Jimmy Stewart both participated in World War II. Stewart served with great distinction in the Army Air Corps and Capra made the brilliant and effective ”Why We Fight” series of propaganda films for the Army. When they came back to Hollywood, Stewart decided he was finished as an actor. He had seen too much, he was at a point of real crisis and he felt that acting was a trivial profession. But Capra convinced him that he had a special gift and that through his acting he could make the world a better place and relieve the troubles of people everywhere. Stewart agreed and the film was made.

To say it still holds up is an understatement.”

Here’s the link:


20 Shelby November 30, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Wow, thanks George. That’s fantastic.


21 Andee Weinfurt December 1, 2010 at 8:53 am

This list is dead on…except for #1. That’s pretty blasphemous to lump this movie in with the rest of this crap. One movie also of note that could make the list is “Home by Christmas,” starring Linda Hamilton. Granted, it’s only a Lifetime movie, but it was the worst Christmas movie I’ve ever seen (and I pretty much love any Christmas movie). Her husband leaves her, she’s mugged (and apparently her bank doesn’t do any kind of check before giving out all of her money) and while homeless an attractive man asks her out, falls in love with her, and then buys her a house. It’s ridiculous.


22 Eric Melin December 1, 2010 at 11:12 am

Andee- Do you mean #10?

“Home by Christmas” sounds awful.


23 Tami December 6, 2010 at 9:12 am

I think Four Christmasas (title?) with Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon should make #11.


24 jack duhamel December 7, 2010 at 12:49 pm

those are some bad movies

- Jack Duhamel


25 Charlie December 15, 2010 at 5:43 am

The Grinch is the best chirstmas movie ever !!! Its not worse, its the best !!!!!!!


26 TheCartoonatic December 17, 2010 at 12:30 am

That there isn’t a SINGLE animated film on this list is simply a travesty. As my name most surely gives away, I love animation, but there’s something about the really really awful animation that’s simply jaw-dropping amazing in its breadth of insanity.

Now, I’d understand an animated Christmas movie list in its own right, but I could offer you quite a few suggestions. How about Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer: The Movie? or the wal-mart Christmas special Holidaze? or Elf Bowling: The Movie?

Also: No “Star Wars Holiday Special?” No “Christmas with the Kranks?” No “Santa’s Sleigh?” not the most comprehensive list, monsieur.


27 Will December 18, 2010 at 4:12 pm

The films that you named were made for TV and not released theatrically, so you won’t find “Grandma Got Run over By a Reindeer” and “Elf Bowling: the movie.” Plus “Star Wars Holiday Special” was made for TV, not cinema.


28 Tim December 22, 2010 at 6:55 pm

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is touching and a classic. It shouldn’t be on this list. The only other movie on here that I have seen all the way through is “Jingle All the Way”.”Jingle All the Way” is a good film in my opinion. It’s not the best, but it is still enjoyable to watch.Sinbad gave a hilarious performance in it. I understand why people would hate it though.

I’ve seen a short bit of “Jack Frost” while flipping through the tv channels.It seemed like a wierd movie, and I changed the channel five minutes later. I’ll take your word on it about being a horrible movie.

I agree with Cartoonatic on “Grandma got ran over by a reindeer.” I had to watch it with my cousin one year. Why does Cartoon Network still show that aweful holiday special every year(for at least seven times)? It’s filled with bad annimation, plot holes, and is just outright borring!

Shelly: I’ve never seen Eight Crazy Nights, but judging by the previews for it, it looks like a movie that should have made the list (Although I’ve always hated Adam Sandler movies).

Eight Crazy Nights comercial-


29 Alline December 22, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Someone reviewed Eight Crazy Nights. It just might be worse than Santa Claus conquers the Martians.


30 Neil Dunsmore February 7, 2011 at 10:31 pm

I agree with most of these choices, although if this were my list, number 2 would easily be replaced by “Eight Crazy Nights” or something like that. I just think the live-action Grinch movie is underappreciated, although I must say, your reasons for hating it are at least more logical than most I’ve found online. Most of the time, it’s just “Waaaah, it’s not dah original!” without really going into the stuff like the backstory and whatnot, so I can at least respect your choice. This is all opinion anyway and besides, if I was butthurt enough to get after you for it, I’d be throwing a fit over It’s a Wonderful Life being on the list.


31 Jeff November 17, 2011 at 10:45 am

Whoever wrote this article is another idiot critic in this world. The only one I “might” think bad was Santa Claus and the Martians. But “It’s a Wonderful Life?” Come on!!!


32 larry December 4, 2011 at 3:46 am

Santa & The Martians is bad, but the absolute worst holiday movie of all time is Santa Claus aka Santa Claus vs. the DEVIL
aka Santa Claus vs. Pitch, aka
Santa Claus vs. Satan:


33 Okita Hijikata December 14, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Santa Claus and Martians do not mix. Great choice for the worst Christmas flick of all. I’m not going further and watch the trailer of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians because the title itself isn’t worth my time.


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