Nazis, a suicide attempt, a brutal kidnapping, death by heart attack, a villain named Burgermeister Meisterburger. What do these have in common? They're all elements in some of the best Christmas movies ever. Most of 'em you won't catch on TV, though.
Obvious favorites are just that: too damn obvious. You see them year after year, anyway. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Everybody: "His beak blinks like a blinkin' beacon!"). Sure, they're awesome, but there's so much more out there--obscure and forgotten gems, the kind of stuff you have to go to a video store like Premiere to unearth.
Every year, Dallas' most comprehensive video store does what the chain stores do--sets up a special section of holiday movies--only it does it 10 times better. Because of Premiere's vast and deep archive, it's the rental destination for Christmas lovers (and haters) everywhere.
There's the gritty realism of Christmas in times of war--Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, an oft-overlooked drama about a WWII Japanese POW camp starring David Bowie, and the ever-haunting A Midnight Clear, about the remaining members of an Army squad suffering the horrors of anticipation and paranoia deep in the woods at the French-German border. On a lighter but no less edgy note, there's Diner, the Barry Levinson classic about some high school buddies' reunion at their old hangout. For the cynical romantics, there's the wrenching Untamed Hearts and the caustic Lion in Winter. And don't forget such low-budget splatter flicks as Elves and Black Christmas, which take their spite for the holidays to novel depths.
Then there's always Rudolph's Rankin-and-Bass-directed counterparts Year Without a Santa Claus and Santa Claus is Coming to Town--popular in the '70s but now hard to catch even on satellite TV (c'mon, isn't it time you sang along with Snow Miser again? "I'm mister white Christmas, I'm mister 10 below..."). These titles are just the beginning.
And with Ted Turner's dictate that It's a Wonderful Life be shown only once a year now, you may have to pick up a copy of that to watch at your convenience. And really, if you miss A Christmas Story on cable--and you know you have to watch Ralphie almost shoot his eye out with a Red Ryder BB gun and his little brother eat mashed potatoes like a little piggy--then you're behind on your holiday viewing, anyway.