My Painful Quest to Find the Worst Christmas Movie Ever Made

From 'Homeless for the Holidays' to 'Christmas in Hollywood' to 'Ho Ho Nooooooo!!! It's Mr. Bill's Christmas Special!'

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Dec 14 2018, 10:12pm

An American Carol, Christmas in Hollywood, and Ho Ho Nooooooo!!! It's Mr. Bill's Christmas Special!. Screencaps via Amazon Prime

This post contains spoilers for multiple bad Christmas movies.

Each Christmas, I attempt to spend a few days watching Christmas classics. Which can be difficult, because there have been, in the history of the entertainment industry, maybe 20 Christmassy movies that you could say are legitimately good. Even ones that are considered classics would've been probably been disregarded years ago if they didn't have Santa hats and Christmas trees. Most holiday-themed movies are bland, boring, and and completely mediocre. And there's no joy in watching mediocre movies. But there can be a lot of joy in watching terrible ones.

So in an effort to find the absolute worst of the bunch, I spent an entire day, from waking to sleep, trying to find the shittiest festive movie I could. So you could share in my misery, I decided to only include movies that are available on the main US streaming services. Which, unfortunately, means things like the Hulk Hogan-starring Santa with Muscles and the Christian Christmas film that dragged Mike Huckabee into a class-action lawsuit,were excluded.

Unless otherwise specified, I found these movies by just scrolling through menus and clicking on things that looked awful.

Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas

Kirk Cameron sitting in front of a Christmas tree
Screencap via IMDb

There’s a website called FlickMetrix that uses a variety of factors to rank movies that are available on streaming services. I started my day at 6:15 AM by using it to find the lowest-rated movie with the word “Christmas” in the title. Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas holds that honor.

The movie opens with Cameron—seated in front of a fire and sipping from what appears to be an empty mug—delivering a monologue about how much he loves Christmas. The carols, the cookies, the presents, etc.. But, he says, there are some people who hate Christmas so much they want to stop it. And those people tell Christmas lovers like him to “tone it down, don’t sing so loud, you take your private stuff and you keep it in your house.”

“What are they gonna do next?” he asks, “tell us hot chocolate is bad for us, that the Druids invented it?” Which felt like an odd thing to single out, because I can’t imagine there’s a single person on earth who would argue that hot chocolate is good for you.

The movie shifts to a Christmas party, where the brother-in-law of Kirk Cameron’s character is hiding outside in his car because he hates Christmas. Cameron joins him to stage an “intervention.”

Given the opening of the movie, I had assumed the brother-in-law would be an atheist straw man, and the rest of the movie would focus on Cameron converting him. But, weirdly, the brother-in-law is actually already super Christian, and the reason he hates Christmas is because he thinks it's selfish. “Wouldn't that money be better spent on the poor?” he asks. “Do you realize how many hungry we could feed with this? Or how many wells we could dig in Africa? This cannot be what God wants for his celebration.”

So I figured this attitude would inform the rest of the movie: It would examine the materialism that's taken over Christmas, and tell the viewer they should instead focus on doing good in the world, as God would want. But no. The rest of the movie is actually a series of monologues in which Cameron justifies the excesses of the festive season by explaining to the brother-in-law that every single aspect of Christmas is super godly, actually. This includes a theory that Christmas trees have a biblical basis because there were trees in the Garden of Eden, and the cross Jesus was crucified on was also made from a tree. Cameron also explains that it's fine that we possibly celebrate Christmas on December 25 because it evolved from pagan winter solstice celebrations, because “last time I checked, it was God who made the winter solstice, when He set the planets on their path around the sun."

By the time Cameron was explaining that Christmas presents, when placed under the tree, resemble the skyline of New Jerusalem, I thought to myself that it couldn't be possible for the movie to be more terrible or exhausting. It then launched into its final scene: a Christmas hip-hop/breakdancing scene, in which Kirk Cameron does the worm.

Available on Amazon Prime.

All I Want for Christmas Is You

A still from the animated movie 'All I Want for Christmas Is You

Screencap via Amazon Prime

Since its release in 1994, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey has charted every Christmas. It's one of only 13 singles to have sold more than 15 million physical copies. She rerecorded the song as “All I Want for Christmas is You (Extra Festive)” in 2010, then again as “All I Want for Christmas Is You (SuperFestive!)” the following year with Justin Bieber. There have been multiple official remixes, and it’s been covered countless times by everyone from Fifth Harmony to My Chemical Romance. The song has been used in dozens of TV shows and movies, and a performance she did of it on Carpool Karaoke in 2016 has gotten almost 40 million views on YouTube. In 2015, Mariah adapted the song into a children’s book, which sold over 750,000 copies. The song’s unbelievable performance has seen Mariah dubbed the Queen of Christmas (a title she rejects) and it continues to be analyzed and deconstructed to this day.

Which is to say, you would’ve thought Mariah would be done trying to squeeze money out of “All I Want for Christmas Is You”—a song she must be extremely sick of hearing and singing.

But this is not the case. Last year, Mariah produced and starred in All I Want for Christmas Is You, an animated movie adaptation of the song.

The film—which features a young Mariah as the titular “I,” and a naughty dog called Jack as the “You”—feels lazy on pretty much every level, from acting to animation. Not offensively bad. Just phoned in. Which is hardly surprising, since the poor woman has spent almost a quarter of a century shilling this song and its associated properties.

Hopefully I made Mariah a couple of pennies richer by streaming the movie, and she won’t have to turn it into a Broadway show or QVC clothing line or something next year.

Available on Amazon Prime.

Homeless for the Holidays

opening titles for the movie 'Homeless for the Holidays'

Screencap via Amazon Prime

Homeless for the Holidays tells the story of a Christian family who are made homeless over Christmas. After facing a bunch of issues like getting turned down for food stamps and moving into a tent city, they put their faith in God and everything turns out OK. It’s extremely whatever. If you’ve ever seen a Christian movie, I’m sure you can picture roughly what the films looks like, from its cartoonishly evil villain to the violently beige McMansion it was shot in. It’s a solid 1/10.

In the film's stylish opening credits (pictured above), we're informed the film is based on a true story. Curious, I googled and found a blog post by the film’s director, George A. Johnson.

According to his blog, he and his family (which included four infant children) found themselves in a similar situation to the characters in the film: unemployed, broke, facing eviction, and sleeping around their living room fire because the power had been cut off.

BUT THEN, instead of getting a minimum-wage service industry job like his film’s protagonist, Johnson wrote a film about his situation. Specifically, this film.

In the blog post, he writes about his reaction to his wife suggesting that they self-finance the film: “I laughed at the notion. After all, we had just barely gotten our power turned back on, and we were facing fears of possible foreclosure. We had no money, and no income. How on earth would we self-finance a $1 million movie?” Which are, of course, extremely valid concerns!

But then, he writes, “I heard God whispering to my spirit... I was pretty sure He was telling me to make the film—without investors.” Fuck.

He goes on to write that he was able to make the movie by selling off his and his wife's valuables and retirement stocks (!!!) and working with a cast and crew who went unpaid. The blog post does not specify whether he made any money back on his investment.

Hopefully I made this dude and his family a couple of pennies richer by streaming the movie, and he won’t resort to selling his kids’ organs or something to fund the sequel.

Available on Amazon Prime.

Surviving Christmas

James Gandolfini hitting Ben Affleck over the head with a snow shovel
Image courtesy of Dreamworks via IMDb

For a movie starring Academy Award winner Ben Affleck, Golden Globe winner James Gandolfini, Emmy winner Christina Applegate, and Catherine O’Hara (who somehow hasn’t won any of the big awards, but is truly a gem), this movie is very, very, very bad. But, unfortunately, in the 40 minutes I watched, it never quite reached the level of “bad enough to be interesting.” I moved on.

Available on Amazon Prime and HBO.

Bam Margera Presents: Where the #$&% Is Santa?

Bam Bargera with a cat on his shoulder
Screencap via IMDb

Where the #$&% Is Santa is a feature-length episode of the Jackass spinoff show Viva La Bam.

It opens at Castle Bam, with Bam Margera, shot through a fisheye lens, explaining that he has ordered some snow from the Poconos that he is going to use to wake up somebody named Shitbird, who is asleep in his living room.

“I’m gonna dump all this snow on Shitbird,” he tells his wife before looking into the camera and saying “This is a horrible way to wake up.”

As Bam and his friends dump flour and snow on Shitbird, he wakes up screaming, “Where the hell did you get snow from!?”

“I ordered snow from the Poconos!” yells Bam in response.

This is all you really need to know about this special. The rest of it is just variations on this scene. Only instead of snow being thrown, it’s reindeer penis, or nachos, or different snow.

Last year, VICELAND put out a show about Bam, exploring the alcohol, drug use, and physical and mental health issues that were going on behind the scenes in his life at the height of his fame. "Bam's house at that time, during those really dark years, was very depressing," says Brandon Novak at one point in that show. "Because you see this really big, beautiful spread in the countryside, and then you get into the house and you can just see like, a lot of pain, like, people trying to navigate their way through a really dark time. And there's power in numbers so the more people that were like that, the more that we all added drugs and alcohol to the recipe and the only time there was like, a point of like, oh shit, is when we ran out of cocaine.” It is a giant bummer.

With that information in mind, this special—in which Bam and his friends repeatedly injure and humiliate themselves and each other for the sake of the viewer's enjoyment—was pretty difficult to watch.

Available on Amazon Prime.

VeggieTales: It's a Meaningful Life

1544743939285-VeggieTales-Meaningful-Life
Screencap via YouTube

If you’re unfamiliar with VeggieTales, it’s an animated children’s series in which talking fruits and vegetables use Bible stories to teach life lessons. It’s a Meaningful Life is their play on It’s a Wonderful Life, and tells the story of a cucumber who learns not to yearn for better things because God has a plan for everyone.

It was exactly as awful as you would think it is having read that description.

Available on Amazon Prime.

Christmas in Hollywood

A man dressed as a pirate, standing on a pirate ship.
Screencap via Amazon Prime

This movie seems to have been made as a vehicle to show off the talents of two guys called Darren Dowler and Bertie Higgins, who wrote, produced, directed, and starred in the film. They also contributed to the soundtrack.

It tells the story of Charlie, a kid who moves from Shanghai to Hollywood at Christmas (we know it’s Hollywood because there’s an establishing shot of the Hollywood sign with onscreen text saying “Hollywood, California"). Charlie goes on an adventure with his uncle (played by Higgins, who for some reason has the style and mannerisms of an old-timey pirate) and an elf (played by Dowler, who seems to be going for "every Jim Carrey character simultaneously, but British").

I’m not sure if I zoned out or if the plot didn’t make sense, but it had something to do with the kid having to “restore the Christmas spirit” in three people, then flying to the North Pole on a Christmassy pirate ship to see Santa—I never fully understood what was going on.

The film felt EXTREMELY self-produced. Perhaps the most self-produced thing I have ever seen. Especially the shots featuring Christmas decorations, which seem to have been achieved by superimposing stock photographs of decorations over their footage. Everything felt so thoroughly cheap and rushed and pointless that, watching it, I assumed it would have an agenda. That the moral of the story was going to sell me on Christianity or Scientology or Herbalife or something. But as far as I can tell, it had none. It seemed to just exist to promote the acting/producing/writing/musical/directing talents of the two main guys.

Available on Amazon Prime.

The Santa Incident

Santa, in his sleigh, being pursued by a fighter jet
Screencap via YouTube

I opened this Hallmark movie because the description—“After his sleigh is shot down while flying through restricted military airspace, an earthbound Santa is sought for questioning by a pair of overzealous Homeland Security agents”—sounded promising. But it turned out to be unremarkably bad in the boring way most Hallmark Christmas movies are. I turned it off after ten minutes.

Available on Amazon Prime.

An American Carol

1544741449878-An-American-Carol

Screencap via Amazon Prime

An American Carol is a retelling of A Christmas Carol written and directed by the guy who wrote and directed The Naked Gun. It was co-written by a Breitbart contributor.

Beyond having the same storyline as A Christmas Carol, the film doesn't actually have any references to Christmas, but my brain was so frazzled by this point in the day that I didn't realize until the movie was over. I'm still including it in this roundup because the thought of having watched it for nothing made me feel actual physical grief symptoms.

Due to the explicit conservative agenda of this movie, I think I am probably not its intended audience. So I’m just going to objectively list some things that happen and let you decide on the quality:

  • A terrorist in Afghanistan attempts to call for one of his fellow terrorists by shouting his name, Mohammed. After about 20 people pop out from behind rocks and say “yes?”, another terrorist tells him he should use a last name. He shouts “Hussein” and the same 20 people pop out and say “yes?”
  • Paris Hilton and Simon Rex (playing themselves) present something called the Leni Riefenstahl Award to the film’s main character, who is a parody of Michael Moore.
  • To make the point that fake Michael Moore is foolish to be anti-war, the ghost of General Patton (played by Kelsey Grammer) shows fake Michael Moore what the world would be like if Abraham Lincoln had never fought the Civil War. During this scene, David Alan Grier and Gary Coleman play slaves. Grier’s character introduces himself by saying, “I is Rastus.”
  • Kevin Sorbo cameos.
  • During a musical scene set in a liberal arts college, a group of professors sing a song with these lyrics: Nothing has changed / We still think the same way / And if you think the way we do we’ll give you an A / And you get extra credit if you’re poor, black, or gay / Just be sure not to pray.
  • Camille Grammer cameos.
  • Bill O’Reilly (playing himself) interviews a woman dressed as Rosie O’Donnell about her new documentary on Christian terrorism. We see clips in which Christian terrorists blow up buses and hijack planes—the joke seeming to hinge on the fact that Christian terrorism does not exist.
  • ACLU lawyers are depicted as literal zombies, with a single-minded focus on preventing racial profiling and separating church from state. Dennis Hopper, playing a judge, shoots several of the zombies. When the Michael Moore character objects to people being shot, Kelsey Grammer says, “They’re not people, they’re the ACLU.”
  • Jon Voight cameos as George Washington. According to the IMDb trivia section for this movie, Voight wrote many of his own lines.
  • To again make the point that war is good, Trace Adkins, playing the Angel of Death, takes the Michael Moore character to see what Hollywood would look like without war. The Hollywood sign has been replaced with a sign reading “Allahu Akbar” and Victoria’s Secret is now called Victoria’s Burka.
  • James Woods cameos.
  • Trace Adkins, now playing himself, sings a non-comedic song with the lyrics: This is the greatest country in the whole wide world / The fastest horses, the prettiest girls / We got the army the Navy, Air Force, and Marines / The finest fighting force the world has ever seen / We’re the kind of people that get things done / No doubt about it, we’re still number one.
  • The film reportedly cost $20,000,000 to make, and grossed $7,022,183.

Available on Amazon Prime.

The Christmas That Almost Wasn't

An old man with dark eye makeup

Overwhelmed by the sheer amount of terrible-looking Christmas movies available to stream (particularly on Amazon Prime), I reached out to the writer Alonso Duralde, who wrote the book Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas, to see if he had any suggestions for me. He recommended The Nutcracker in 3D, C Me Dance, Six Weeks, The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t, Believe, and Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas, the latter of which I already watched.

Almost all of his suggestions weren’t available to stream legally. As I’m not trying to snitch on myself on a platform as large as VICE, I decided to skip them (which is a shame, because The Nutcracker in 3D seems to be a retelling of The Nutcracker, but as an allegory for Nazis).

The first of the available ones was The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t, which tells the story of an evil landlord trying to evict Santa on Christmas. Perhaps my brain had been broken by all the festive turds I'd already pumped into it, but I found myself unironically enjoying the film. Around 20 minutes in, with a heavy heart, I turned it off to try and torture myself with something less likable.

Available on Amazon Prime.

Believe

1544746015453-Believe-movie
Screencap via Netflix

Believe definitely filled that role.

I don’t mean this as an attack on the Christian faith, but as a religion, they are very, very, very bad at making movies. While I didn’t realize it until 20 minutes in, Believe was my third Christian movie of the day. At two hours, it was also the longest. And it needed to be. So much happens in this movie!

The plot, in brief: Matthew is a factory owner who, due to some kind of stipulation in his late grandfather's will, puts on a Christmas pageant each year in his small town. Due to financial problems, he’s worried he won’t be able to put on the Christmas pageant that year, and is also in some kind of labor dispute with his workers, who are on strike because he wants them to take a pay cut. After a community meeting relating to the Christmas pageant, he’s jumped by a gang who beat him up and burn his car (it's not clear if they were upset about the pay dispute or the potential cancellation of the Christmas pageant). He’s taken in by a kindhearted homeless mother and son who nurse him back to health. The son is, inexplicably, an Angel Gabriel stan, and runs around throwing out Angel Gabriel quotes while wearing a tinfoil halo. Due to an extreme weather event, Matthew has to race against time to provide blankets and shelter for all of the area’s homeless. He moves them into his factory but, due to zoning laws, he’s told they can’t stay. To kill two birds with one stone, he replaces his union workers with homeless people, who are put to work on the machines, unpaid, in exchange for being able to sleep in the factory (which is meant to be heartwarming rather than horrifying, I think?). There’s also some kind of accounting scam involving the head of the union, a bunch of stuff about having faith in God, and a fire that nearly kills some of the homeless people who are living in the factory. The movie ends with a Christmas rap scene.

It’s a shitty movie of epic proportions. The Cloud Atlas of poorly produced Christian Christmas nonsense.

Available on Netflix.

Ho Ho Nooooooo!!! It's Mr. Bill's Christmas Special!

1544746280641-Mr-Bill-Christmas

This is, truly, one of the least enjoyable pieces of entertainment I’ve ever consumed.

It’s a festive special starring Mr Bill and Father Guido Sarducci, two SNL characters I was previously unaware existed. This unfamiliarity, coupled with the fact that many of the scenes seem to be spoofing things history has since forgotten, might be the reason I had no fucking idea what was happening. I can’t even offer you a vague description of what it was about.

I know it won’t be a huge surprise to hear that something from SNL, a show which is shot live in order to be as topical as possible, hasn’t aged well. But unlike Wayne’s World or It’s Pat or other SNL spinoffs, I wasn’t even able to find where the jokes were that had expired. I spent the whole thing totally baffled. It was like watching a movie scripted by David After Dentist.

I guess that’s destined to happen to everything we create. Eventually, it will be so far removed from its original context, it will be completely impossible to comprehend, and the things we worked hard to make will be disregarded and forgotten. Especially if that thing features a David After Dentist reference.

Available on Amazon Prime.

Jingle All the Way 2

Larry the Cable Guy in Jingle All the Way 2
Image via Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

I decided to watch this one because: A) Sequels are generally worse than the original movie, and the original Jingle All the Way is often brought up in conversations about the worst movies of all time. B) This particular sequel was directed by the guy who directed A Christmas Prince, produced by WWE studios, and stars Larry the Cable Guy—none of which sounded like elements that were likely improve the situation.

And… I was right. This movie is indeed worse than Jingle All the Way. I’m not even sure what to tell you about it. Just imagine Jingle All the Way, but with substantially less budget, and substantially more jokes about Larry the Cable guy shitting himself.

Available on Amazon Prime.

Christmas Wedding Planner

A festive wedding scene
Screencap via Netflix

This one was kind of nice. The movie was so flat and formulaic, it sent me into a kind of waking coma. It appeared to have received the minimum acceptable amount of effort from everyone involved. The actors delivered their lines with the enthusiasm of of a prisoner of war being forced to tape a renouncement of their home country at gunpoint. I think the monotony and beige festive glow of every scene might have hypnotized me. By this point, it was almost midnight, and I had been watching Christmas movies for almost 18 hours.

I was brought back to reality by the film’s ending, which was delightfully bonkers.

The main characters are a wedding planner, her cousin who is getting married, and a sexy PI who is the ex boyfriend of the bride and has been hanging out with the wedding planner for the last couple of weeks.

Sexy PI interrupts the wedding during the “any objections” portion to announce that the groom has a secret baby. Cousin Bride, devastated, cancels the wedding. Then, in an extremely inappropriate move, Sexy PI proposes to Wedding Planner, right there in the ashes of the wedding he just ruined.

“You can’t do this… we barely know each other” says Wedding Planner. Which is an extremely reasonable position to take, given that they’ve only known each other for two weeks, don’t seem to especially like each other, and are currently at the wedding of one of her relatives, who has just been brutally and publicly humiliated.

In response, Sexy PI says, “If you let me, I’d like to spend a lifetime fixing that.”

This is all it takes to persuade Wedding Planner, and she heads inside with Sexy PI to immediately get married. The cousin serves as a bridesmaid without even changing out of her wedding dress.

While watching, I suspected this movie was probably written by a man. IMDb confirmed my suspicion. He also previously wrote things called Cougar de Bergerac and Bro-bot.

Available on Netflix.

Conclusion

An American Carol was definitely the worst movie I watched during my day. But since it's only loosely tied to Christmas, I'm not sure it qualifies to receive the honor or Worst Christmas Movie of All Time (Within the Confines of This Fairly Lazy Experiment). Instead, I'm going to give that honor to Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas. For being technically bad, as a movie, but also for having the extremely questionable moral that buying Christmassy tat is more Christian than funding wells in Africa.

Also because Kirk Cameron seems to get really annoyed when people call his movie bad. Which is funny.

Follow Jamie Lee Curtis Taete on Instagram.

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