Christmas has come and gone, which means streaming services are no longer flooded with a tidal wave of holiday-themed romantic comedies. However, if you are tired of sappy, formulaic flicks, we have something better on offer. Here are some non-traditional Christmas movies that are still sure to put you in a festive (or frightful) mood. These are our picks for the best non-cheesy Christmas movies you can stream even, outside the holiday season.
The best non-cheesy Christmas movies
Editor’s note: We have excluded Home Alone, Elf, and some other Christmas favorites that are no doubt on your list already. We have instead focused on more non-conventional or lesser-known films for this list. Looking for more traditional Christmas movies? We have a list for that too!
This B-movie inspired horror sees a large family come together to celebrate the joyous holiday… Only to be trapped inside with no electricity or heat when a freak snowstorm hits their town. What they don’t know as they gather around the fireplace is that the origin of the snowstorm is supernatural. Saint Nicolas isn’t coming to town this year. Instead, a shadow with hoofs is about to drop more than just coal down their chimney.
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Krampus is a monster-filled, gory Christmas spectacular that is part horror, part dark comedy. With a great cast, including Adam Scott and Toni Collette, Krampus is sure to give you some festive frights. Rent it on Amazon via the link below.
Die Hard (1988)
Die Hard is an iconic 80s action movie, but in recent years it has also become a bona fide Christmas classic. When policeman John McClane joins his wife at her office Christmas party, things quickly go awry. Nakatomi Plaza is taken over by terrorists who take everyone except John hostage. Now, it’s up to him to save the day through sheer determination and cleverness.
If you somehow still haven’t seen this classic, do yourself a favor and watch it this holiday season. It’s full of tense action and iconic 80s oneliners, as well as great performances by Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman. Watch it with your HBO Max subscription or rent it on Amazon via the links below.
We continue with another unforgettable 80s flick that is anything but sappy or cheesy. Randall is a struggling father who is trying to find a Christmas present for his son. When he comes across a cute fluffy creature in a China Town shop, he thinks he’s found the perfect gift. However, the mogwai must not be exposed to water and sunlight or fed after midnight. Will Randall’s son follow all the rules? He’ll try, but things quickly turn from fluffy to ferocious.
Gremlins is as wacky as it is fun. The horror-comedy might not be your typical Christmas movie, but it’s sure to keep you entertained. Rent it on Amazon Video via the link below.
Black Christmas (1974)
Although you may not have heard of it, this movie practically invented the slasher horror genre. Black Christmas, also known as Silent Night, Evil Night, served as inspiration for many horror mainstays, including Halloween. The movie follows a group of sorority sisters who are stalked by a killer during the festive season. The girls receive strange phone calls and seal their fate when one of them insults the deranged person on the other end of the line.
Black Christmas is a cult classic that is partially inspired by real events. It’s undoubtedly one of the best Christmas horror films and one of the best non-cheesy Christmas movies you can stream. Give it a watch with your Shudder subscription or rent it on Amazon this holiday season.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Typically, this film finds its way onto Halloween best lists, but it’s actually much more Christmas-focused than it might first appear. Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, is tired of the same old festivities. When he sneaks out to the woods, however, he finds doors to other holiday-themed towns. Christmas Town quickly grabs his attention, and not long after he tries to instill the merry spirit of Christmas in the resident of his own spooky abode.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is the quintessential Tim Burton film. A stop-motion animated musical, it’s jolly, strange, and most of all unforgettable. If you want to stream this non-cheesy Christmas movie, you can sign up for Disney Plus below.
Not all romantic Christmas movies have to be sappy snoozefests. Carol is the perfect example. Set in the 1950s, it tells the moving tale of two unlikely lovers. Carol is going through a difficult divorce when she meets Therese — a department store clerk, who assists her in choosing a Christmas present for her daughter. When Carol forgets her gloves on the counter, Therese quickly gets in touch to return them. From there, the two women form a bond that quickly turns into a relationship.
Set during a time when same-sex relationships were taboo, Carol doesn’t shy from the tough realities of its era. It’s a touching romantic tale that is made even more refreshing by its sincerity. As far as romantic Christmas movies go, this is among the best. Watch it today on Amazon via the link below.
It’s Wonderful Life (1946)
It’s a Wonderful Life has been a Christmas classic for over 70 years. Yet, few movies mesh magical elements, relentless optimism, and holiday spirit so well without crossing the line into cheesy. The movie tells the story of George Bailey, a small-town man with grand ambitions that never seem to go his way. Facing overwhelming debt and possible arrest, George wishes he was never born. Instead of granting him his wish, however, the angel Clarence shows George how different life in Bedford Falls would be without him.
It’s a Wonderful Life is one of the most uplifting films you can watch this holiday season. The movie teaches us not to give in to despair and to value what we have — something many of us probably need this Christmas. Give yourself some cheer and watch It’s a Wonderful Life with your Amazon Prime subscription via the link below.
Many animated Christmas movies, especially those aimed at kids, focus on the magical aspects of Santa Claus and Christmas. In comparison, Klaus seems almost mundane. However, that’s what makes the movie special. Klaus isn’t a mythical figure. He is simply a man that has a talent for making toys. With the help of postman Jesper, he starts delivering them to kids in their small town of Smeerensburg, encouraging a spirit of kindness and giving.
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Klaus is undoubtedly a Christmas classic in the making. The movie is charming, weird, and heart-warming, but most of all surprisingly humorous. It’s one of the best Christmas movies you can treat yourself to. Watch it on Netflix via the link below.
Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
Satoshi Kon is not known for wholesome films, but Tokyo Godfathers is a rare exception. On Christmas Eve, a newborn baby is discovered abandoned in a dumpster. The rescuers are three homeless people who have formed a strong bond through their shared struggles — former drag queen Hana, an alcoholic named Gin, and teenage runaway Miyuki. Together, they embark on a search for the baby’s parents through the cold streets of Tokyo.
Tokyo Godfathers is the definition of unconventional when it comes to Christmas movies. Heartwarming despite the harsh circumstances in which the characters find themselves, the movie is sure to make an impression. It does have some problematic elements, but it nevertheless offers a great chosen family narrative. Watch it this holiday season on Amazon Video at the link below.
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Although this movie doesn’t fully take place during Christmas, we couldn’t resist adding another Tim Burton classic to the list. The director’s movies are as wonderful as they are weird, and Edward Scissorhands is no exception. In fact, it might be one of his most surreal works. The titular Edward is an artificially created humanoid. He is discovered by a door-to-door saleswoman in an abandoned Gothic mansion, and she quickly decides to integrate him into her community. Edward is incredibly skilled at cutting hedges, hair, and ice sculptures, which quickly nets him the trust and admiration of the locals. Yet, it takes only one accident for things to go sour.
Edward Scissorhands is one of the strangest movies you can watch this Christmas, but it’s also one of the best. If you are convinced, rent it on Amazon.
This wraps up our picks for the best non-cheesy Christmas movies! Can’t get enough holiday movies and shows? Then check out our other Christmas lists at the links below!