‘Tis the season for crappy holiday movies. We’re not talking about classic chestnuts like It’s a Wonderful Life or Scrooged, but rather the revolting parade of stinkers starring B-List actors in need of a paycheck. You know the formula: Down on their luck rich person (or estranged family member or workaholic) loses focus on the important things in life until Santa (or an adorable child or eccentric kook) steps in and turns their life upside down. After learning some Very Important Lessons along the way, our hero realizes the error of their Christmas-hating ways, but too late to make amends. Until! (all together now) a Christmas Miracle happens.
Bah humbug, we say. Christmas is about decorations and pretty lights and shiny things, or at the very least, it need not be about helping Tom Cavanagh get over a sleigh-accident bout of amnesia.
Fortunately, some producer’s slumming it in Santa’s Village understand the inherent camp of a Christmas movie. Here are three diva-centric films that are so naughty, they’re actually kind of nice.
A Diva’s Christmas Carol
Ugly Betty villain Vanessa Williams stars as demanding uber-bitch Ebony Scrooge in this 2000 remake of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. If you see only one trashy, over-the-top, made-for-TV Christmas movie, this should be it. First off, the Ghost of Christmas Past is played by Kathy Griffin. They travel back to the 70s, where older Vanessa Williams watches younger Vanessa Williams perform in a disco. When she wakes up, she glances at her prescription sleeping pills and yells about her doctor.
Still not convinced you need to be watching this movie this very second? Well, The Ghost of Christmas Future is an E! True Hollywood Story, which features the real Brian McKnight talking about what a bitch Ebony was in life, before she died tragically. The TV cuts to a shot of Ebony’s Grave, the epitaph reading “She was the wind beneath our wings” and Vanessa Williams screams, “Not Bette Midler! Nooooooo!” before the TV swallows her whole.
A Diva’s Christmas Carol airs Dec. 23 on Lifetime.
A Carol Christmas
Did you know that this 2003 Tori Spelling vehicle is single-handedly responsible for saving William Shatner’s career? As Jim Hill tells it, Boston Legal creator David E. Kelley was supposedly so taken with the Shat’s performance as the Ghost of Christmas Present, it inspired him to write a similar character for him on his new series, leading to Denny “Mad Cow” Crane, who gets gay (sorta) married in the series finale. But back to Tori. She plays Carol Cartman, a demanding uber-bitch talk show host who learns the true meaning of Christmas via B-List celebrity spirits—Gary Coleman is the Ghost of Christmas Past, for example. What makes A Carol Christmas so entertaining is all the fun similarities piled on between Tori and her character. Carol was a child actress whose demanding aunt drives her to give up all she ever cares about for success, leaving her a vapid, hollow shell who wants to do good, but doesn’t know how. Her future is a terrifying vision of cutting the ribbon to a new senior center.
Holiday in Handcuffs
Melissa Joan Hart stars as Trudie, a demanding uber-bitch waitress in this charming and plausible story of a girl who kidnaps a well-to-do hottie and forces him to spend Christmas with her judgmental family, all the while slowly falling for her victim. In the most implausible case of Stockholm Syndrome ever, her victim falls in love with her, too. The plot hurdles needed to make this story work are incredible: Her family’s house is out in the middle of the woods! She tell her folks that the guy deals with stressful social situations by claiming he’s kidnapped, so that every time he says, “This woman kidnapped me and is crazy. Please help me!” they just laugh at him! The family has a rule that all cell-phones must be locked up at all times!
So, why would I force this yuletide catastrophe on anyone? Well, for one, the guy she kidnaps is Mario Lopez, whose dimples save every scene they appear in. Secondly, Trudie’s brother decides to come out of the closet at Christmas dinner. Thirdly, Timothy Bottoms and June Lockhart co-star. But yes, mainly it’s Mario in handcuffs, Mario gratuitously stepping out of the shower and Mario teaching us the true meaning of Christmas – that we’re all just one psycho-stalker kidnapping away from true love – that makes Holiday in Handcuffs a classic.
You can watch Holiday in Handcuffs online at ABC Family.