Tag Archives: faves

Faves: Christmas Movies

I’m feeling extra-Christmasy this year. Despite being behind on shopping, it’s hard to not be in the spirit when you have a True Believer in the house (see: Coraline). There has been much talk of elves coming to prep the house for Santa, which cookies the big man in red would want, white or chocolate milk, and so on.  So in honor of my Christmasy mood, I thought I’d share with you my favorite Christmas movies. This is where my sister will shout, “WHERE IS HOME ALONE?!” Which, while it’s a movie I enjoy, it’s not one of my all-time favorites. She knows which Christmas movie holds that extra-special place in my heart. My whole family knows. Which is why they keep the TV remote away from me on Christmas day.

Note that at least half the movies on my list are not kid friendly. I don’t want to hear it if your kids wake up screaming that gremlins are going to get them or crying about being gifted slipper socks or Advent calendars filled with Nyquil caplets.


Billy gets the cutest, neatest Christmas present ever (Mogwai!), until it’s not so great. This movie could easily be categorized as a horror comedy thanks to some pretty gruesome Gremlin deaths and genuinely scary moments. Which is why this movie will not be watched by my sensitive kid until a few years from now.

Bad Santa

You will never look at Lauren Graham the same way again after the dressing room scene. Trust me on this. And Billy Bob Thornton gives a kid quite possibly the most depressing/disturbing treat-filled Advent calendar ever, which is why he is the titular Bad Santa.

While You Were Sleeping

Cute rom-com? Check. Set at Christmastime? Check. Starring Sandra Bullock? Check. It’s all good.

Sleepless in Seattle

Cute rom-com? Check. Set at Christmastime? Check. Starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks? Double check. It’s all good.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

As much an animated movie about Halloween as it is about Christmas, this is a modern-day stop-motion classic. Which will also not be seen by my sensitive kid for a few years: It can be a bit creepy for the young ones.


Bill Murray makes this movie as Frank Cross, a soulless TV executive (cough) who produces atrocious holiday insta-classic TV specials.Everything about this movie is sarcastic and twisted, which is why I love watching it every Christmas.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Dysfunctional family. A cat chewing through Christmas tree light cords. The best sled ride ever. A classic. Enough said.

The Ref

This is the second most-adult Christmas movie on my list. A deliriously demented look at a miserable marriage made worse by visiting relatives but better by a motor-mouthed criminal, it is not for kids or anyone offended by profanity: It’s Denis Leary at his most Denis Leary. And Judy Davis delivers quite possibly the best line reading ever.


This is such a silly, good-natured, kindhearted Christmas movie, that it’s one we can and will be watching with Coraline. I run hot and cold when it comes to Will Ferrell, but I love him in this as Buddy — he does a great job as a sweet, naive man-child in a world he doesn’t understand.

A Christmas Story

I can’t tell you how giddy I was a few months ago when Coraline saw our DVD of A Christmas Story and asked what it was about. I told her — and how it is Mommy’s favorite Christmas movie EVER — and she asked to watch it right then and there. So. Proud. “The Ralphie Movie” is already a favorite of hers, so my work here is done.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Christmas, christmas faves, movies

Faves: 2011

Song Lyric of the Day:

You go down, down, down / I fall out of love with you / Come back round, round, round / You son of a gun

Oh Land / “Son of a Gun

It’s four days into 2012 and I’m just now getting around to talking about some of my favorite pop culture things from 2011. For me, that’s not too bad.


Seeing as how I didn’t read nearly as many books as I would’ve liked, I won’t bother discussing those. Except to say that I had to quit reading An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England halfway through — I hated the protagonist SO MUCH I couldn’t finish the book. But, lord, how I tried. I really did. I do, however, hope to read a lot more this year.


I saw a handful of new movies in the theater (oooh), among them Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Paranormal Activity 3, Horrible Bosses, The Muppets, and Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, all of which I really enjoyed. I even managed to catch up on some other, older movies thanks to Netflix, including The Hurt Locker (very intense); Insidious (scared. the. shit. out. of. me.); Cronos (not what I expected); Red (a hoot); Up in the Air (ultimately disappointing); Paranormal Activity 2 (bad idea to watch with a newborn sleeping nearby); Get Him to the Greek (one of the funniest comedies of the last few years); and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (a crushing disappointment — I had such high expectations).


If you read my post from yesterday, you already know how little time I have to stay up on my beloved TV shows these days. I just finished an almost two-week marathon catching up on Leverage, which I love. (And which makes me want to embark on a thrill-a-minute life as a con artist/thief/grifter. But I digress.) About the only shows I managed to stay up to date on were Happy Endings (uneven but very funny); American Horror Story (a train wreck I couldn’t ignore); Modern Family (still cracks me up); The Middle (relatable and hilarious); Desperate Housewives (yeah, yeah, I know); Ringer (entertaining soap opera); Fringe (praying Fox doesn’t kill it); and Community, which is literally the high point of my TV-watching each week. I think it’s the smartest, most hilarious show on the air right now. Which is why if NBC pulls a Britta and cancels it, I will cut a bitch.

I tried watching Up All Night, which I found cute, occasionally funny, and a bit disappointing; I can take it or leave it. I wanted to like New Girl, I really did, but it was so painfully unfunny, I cut my losses after 1 1/2 episodes. What I’ve caught of Suburgatory has been funny and interesting; I’ll have to catch up on that one online.

Now I just need to find the time to catch up on Raising Hope (LOVE), Supernatural, Justified, Burn Notice, and The Closer.


Music is the one thing I was kind of able to stay current on thanks to the Sirius XM subscription that came with my Elantra. Thanks to the magic of satellite radio, I discovered bands and artists I never would’ve heard on our local stations. Here in no particular order are some of my favorite songs of the year.

Oh Land, “Son of a Gun”*

Deadmau5, “Raise Your Weapon”

Afrojack featuring Eva Simons, “Take Over Control”

Lloyd, “Dedication to My Ex” (the CLEAN version)

Young the Giant, “My Body”

The Cab, “Bad”

Foster the People, “Pumped Up Kicks”

Iffy the Badman, “Do You” (which I blogged about a while back)

Of Monsters and Men, “Little Talks”

Black Keys, “Lonely Boy”

The Airborne Toxic Event, “All I Ever Wanted”**

*Released in late 2010, but it was new to me in 2011!

**Rich and I FINALLY got to see The Airborne Toxic Event in concert back in November. After 22 months of waiting to see them, it was essentially a religious experience for me (I’ll explain at another time). If you’re a fan, go — go see them now!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Faves: Horror Movies

Creepy Halloween Music of the Day:

Halloween Theme Song

John Carpenter / ” Halloween Theme

In honor of Halloween, I thought I’d list some of my all-time favorite horror movies. I grew up on horror movies.  OK, horror movies and Mel Brooks’ movies, but mostly horror movies. Every time a new Friday the 13th premiered on cable, it was family night. (And despite what the spouse says, I turned out just fine after having watched so many horror movies throughout my life, thankyouverymuch.)

You may notice the absence of such classic horror movies as Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. That would be because, being of the generation I am, they don’t scare me. My list also doesn’t include any torture-porn movies, either, because to me, gore is not scary — it’s just gross (I admit I liked the first Saw, but the franchise as a whole was overkill).

This is my list of horror movies that for one reason or another scared the shit out of me.

Black Christmas*

I made the mistake of watching this late at night, by myself, right before bedtime, in our cave-dark basement bedroom in our A-frame. Because I’m smart like that. What makes this such a scary movie to me is how we never actually see the killer. And the phone calls are the creepiest ones in a horror movie outside of When a Stranger Calls and The Ring. The tagline says it all: If this movie doesn’t make your skin crawl, it’s on too tight.

Skip the horrible remake, which featured an actor dressed unconvincingly in drag, indistinguishable characters (Girl With Bangs, Girl From Party of Five, Girl With Glasses, etc.), and a green villain — yes, green. It’s impossible to be scared when Kermit the Frog’s son is the killer.

The Amityville Horror*

This is the first haunted house movie I remember watching that really frightened me. And, boy, did it stick with me. Never had a house seemed so creepy, and so life-like. Who can forget how those half-moon-shaped windows looked like the house’s eyes? I won’t get into the terror the little girl’s “imaginary friend” instilled in my young, impressionable self.

*I could not for the life of me get the trailer for this embedded, no matter how many different versions/URLs I tried. Go here to watch.

The Shining (Kubrick version)

“What?! You’ve never seen The Shining?!” My friends introduced this movie to me in college. And after watching it, I realized it was one of the best, most atmospherically creepy horror movies I’d ever seen. The Shining is proof that sometimes the best scares don’t involve any blood or gore. Except for that classic elevator sequence. And the twins in the hall, of course.

(It seems like sacrilege, but I saw The Simpsons‘ spoof, The Shinning, before I ever saw the original movie. Talk about a dead-on parody.)

The Fog*

This movie is the reason why, up until maybe three years ago, that being in fog, driving in fog, or so much as merely seeing fog scared the bejesus out of me. I love how this movie still has the power to scare me. That morgue scene? That’s the stuff of nightmares right there. This is a horror movie that has it all: a good ghost story, spooky, danger-concealing fog, people trapped in an isolated church, and leper pirates. Leper pirates! Thanks so very much, John Carpenter.

The Ring

This was my introduction to Americanized J-horror. It stuck to the J-horror tradition of minimal (or no) gore, a central story about a ghost done wrong, and an overall sense of creeping, impending doom, best exemplified by how it took something as innocuous as everyday phone calls and transformed them into something to fear. Combined, it added up to a scary movie that inspired me to dive into a whole new genre of horror. Oh, and it inspired a few nightmares. The image of a creepy dead girl crawling out of a well — and out of your television — will do that.

The Descent

Great female friendships? Check. Characters that embody female strength and empowerment? Check. Hungry, blind, creepy-ass things living in caves? Check. The reason why I will likely never go caving? Check.

28 Days Later

The not-a-zombie-movie zombie movie (it was an infection of rage) that introduced the concept of fast-moving, well, zombies. Sacrilege to some, a fresh new terror to others. Count me in the latter camp. The living dead were scary to begin with. 28 Days Later made them a force to really be reckoned with.

El Orfanato (The Orphanage)

A haunting gothic horror movie in the best sense, El Orfanato has the hallmarks of a few other Spanish horror movies I’ve seen: a spooky haunted house, mistreated and possibly vengeful spirits of children, and a strong story, altogether resulting in a relentlessly creepy, atmospheric film that will ultimately break your heart. Add in a devastating, powerhouse performance by lead actress Belen Rueda, and El Orfanato is a movie that will stay with you long after it has ended.

Be sure to watch it in Spanish with English subtitles.

Friday the 13th*

This movie is the reason why, at Girl Scout camp as a child, I made sure to always flank myself with my fellow hikers. That way, in case Jason Voorhees grabbed someone, it would be my friends on the outside of the path, giving me a chance to run and my best odds of survival. See? This is what happens when you watch horror movies starting at a young, impressionable age. I blame all those family nights.


The movie that changed the face of horror, Halloween is largely credited as the original slasher movie. I credit it as the movie that still scares the living crap out of me with the theme music alone. And imitators be damned — Michael Myers is the boogeyman.

Honorable mentions: The Changeling, El Espinazo del Diablo (The Devil’s Backbone), Rec

*The originals, not the (mostly bastardized) remakes.

Bookmark and Share

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized