British Columbia

Alternative holiday movies feature evil Santas and violent elves

"Because there's nothing more terrifying than Santa with an axe," said Kent Bendall, owner of Pic a Flic Video in Victoria.

'Sometimes people want something a little less normal,' says video store owner

A scene from the 2010 Finnish horror-fantasy-thriller film Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, which is about a group of people who discover the secret behind Santa Claus. (YouTube)

Say Christmas movies and one is likely to think Home Alone, Elf, or even Love Actually — funny, heartwarming movies that family and friends watch together to get into the holiday spirit.

But what about Christmas movies where Lucifer sends a demon to earth to corrupt children and get rid of Santa? Or a movie where Santa's elves are dirty, violent, bearded men who stuff children into sacks?

"Sometimes people want something a little less normal," said Kent Bendall, owner of Pic a Flic Video in Victoria, which has a section dedicated to alternative Christmas movies.

"People are usually surprised  ... and they're a little confused, but once they see what's in here, and realize its just a different cinematic viewpoint, they're excited, and every year we find people who discover a new holiday favourite."

Here are some of Bendall's picks for alternative movies to watch this holiday season:

Santa Claus (1959)

"One of my favourites is a film called Santa Claus that was a Mexican production from the late 50s ... and it was released in North America at the time in a dubbed version. It's just really weird — Santa is beset upon by the devil basically, the devil comes up from hell to tempt Santa Claus into being bad."

"It's everything that a Christmas movie shouldn't be, but it's beautiful."

Black Christmas

"Black Christmas is a Canadian classic, one of the very first kind of slasher films. We also have its remake that's not nearly as good. There's a tradition definitely of horror movies set at Christmas, that I believe started with Black Christmas, because there's nothing more terrifying than Santa with an axe," Bentall said.

"Sorority house during the holidays, girls home alone, mysterious calls, they're coming from inside the house, people turn up dead, icicles through the eye, it's got everything."

The Junky's Christmas

"[It is] William S. Burroughs narrating a long-form poem called The Junky's Christmas, and it's a stop-motion animated piece which ... looks really great, but again it's how the less fortunate spend their Christmas on the streets looking for a fix."

"I's just another side of the holidays, and it's another viewpoint and something worth seeing.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

"It's one of the most magical holiday films I've seen in years. It's family friendly pretty much, it's a little scary, but its wonderful. It's wonderful, snowy, Christmassy, and it's got an evil Santa Claus in it.

"[It's about] an expedition where people are looking for the remains of Santa Claus buried in a mountain, and a little boy finds out, and it turns out that Santa is not really all that he seems, he's an evil mountain troll that's been locked away for thousands of years, and once he gets out, all bad things happen."


To hear the interview, listen to the audio labelled: Looking for some different holiday viewing? Victoria video store owner offers edgy Christmas flicks

With files from Jake Costello

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