Thursday, December 22, 2022

24 Hours of Movies: O Christmas Tree

by Patrick Bromley
A marathon of movies based around the ornaments on our tree!
Erika and I have a pretty cool Christmas tree. Over the many years we've been together, we have amassed a great collection of ornaments, everything from Gene Simmons to Charlie Brown, Star Trek to the Fonz. Erika has suggested for a few years now that I build one of my 24-hour marathons around our tree, and because she is always right I have finally taken the time to take the necessary pictures and put the marathon together. Take it away, tree!

10 am - Frankenstein (1931, dir. James Whale)
It's not unusual to kick off these marathons with a classic, both because they work chronologically and because they're typically pretty short. It might seem weird to start a Christmas marathon with a Universal monster movie, but keep in mind that this isn't really meant to be a Christmas marathon -- it's just using Christmas ornaments as the launching point to program a marathon. I probably could have been a li'l stinker and chosen any of the Universal Frankenstein movies to kick things off, but I like the idea of starting with the original. It's a classic too often overshadowed by its (admittedly superior) sequel.

11:30 am - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984, dir. Steven Spielberg)
This might be something of a cheat, because this is technically a Raiders of the Lost Ark ornament but I'm using it as a catch-all Indiana Jones ornament so that I can watch my favorite of the Indy films, Temple of Doom. I know that's not a popular position, but I have to live my truth. ToD is one of Spielberg's best-made movies ever, directed by a man possessed. I know all the criticisms about the racism and the ugliness and the mean-spirited, post-divorce anger and I get all that, but I cannot deny the entertainment machine that Spielberg puts together here. I love it.

2 pm - Jurassic Park (1993, dir. Steven Spielberg)
A Spielberg double feature inside of a 24-hour marathon! This would also be in my top 5 Spielbergs. It's a perfect movie that somehow doesn't get the credit it deserves despite being one of the most successful and beloved movies of all time mostly because he makes it look so easy that everyone assumes it was. Even a series of lesser sequels couldn't undo the magic of this one. That's how good it is. Also this ornament plays John Williams' Jurassic Park theme and I can't hear it without wanting to revisit the movie.

4:30 pm - King Kong (1933, dir. Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack)
A giant monster double feature inside a 24-hour marathon! I honestly struggled over which version of King Kong to program here. Runtime kept me away from Peter Jackson's, and while I dig the 1976 version, it just doesn't have the magic that the other ones have. I went for the OG mostly because it's the best telling of the story, with a sense of wonder that's not in air quotes and special effects that still hold up to this day.

6 pm - Back to the Future (1985, dir. Robert Zemeckis)
Of course we're going to program my favorite movie of all time, one which has not one but two ornaments taking up real estate on our tree. It's literally the best movie ever made.

8 pm - Ghostbusters (1984, dir. Ivan Reitman)
I know this marathon seems a little stacked with heavy hitters, but that's because Hallmark doesn't really make ornaments based on obscure programmers or even cult favorites. Any time is a good time to watch Ghostbusters, which I still think is a perfect comedy and, like Jurassic Park, should have been a one and done. Disappointing that Hallmark didn't continue to make ornaments for the other three Ghostbusters, but if Bill Murray didn't sell well enough I can't imagine an Egon one would. I'd buy that shit in a heartbeat. I'd buy two. He directed Bedazzled.

10 pm - Aliens (1986, dir. James Cameron)
Like Back to the Future, Aliens gets two spots on the tree; Ridley Scott's Alien has one too, but it's so dark you can barely see it. I love that Hallmark made an ornament of Ripley in the Power Loader (it was gifted to us by my Horror BFF Heather Wixson). I've been in a James Cameron mood lately thanks to The Way of Water but have yet to revisit Aliens despite it being one of the best sequels of all time. This marathon is a great excuse to watch it. I think I'd put it in my Top 3 Camerons but as soon as I say that I realize I can't pick a #3 and need to extend it to at least 5.

12:30 am - A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5: The Dream Child (1989, dir. Stephen Hopkins)
Another cheat, sort of. The makers of this Freddy Krueger ornament, new to our tree this year, probably didn't have The Dream Child in mind when they put this into production. Too bad! The overnight slot is for sequels, and this is the one I feel like watching at the moment, both because I think it's underrated and because I didn't grow up watching it so many times that I've burned myself out on it. Hopkins bump!

2 am - Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982, dir. Steve Miner)
This one was tricky, because my instinct was to program Friday the 13th Part 2 because it has my favorite characters, but this ornament clearly has a hockey mask and not a baghead. Then I wanted to do Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, but this isn't a Roy ornament. It's a Jason. He's new to the tree this year, too, meaning we still get to watch some horror movies overnight even if they're not Italian (if someone wants to get us an ornament for The Beyond, just say the word). I settled on Part 3, a sequel I've always loved but one for which I have newfound appreciation after seeing a 3-D screening at the Music Box this summer.

4 am - Blade Runner (1982, dir. Ridley Scott)
Proof that many of Hallmark's movie-themed ornaments are for the best movies ever made, here's the spinner car from Blade Runner. I worry that we will be too tired for its deliberate pacing at 4am, but I also like the idea of the movie feeling more like a dream than it already does.

6 am - Avatar (dir. James Cameron)
I would normally have programmed this right before or after Aliens so we could a Cameron double inside our 24-hour marathon, but I couldn't make it fit without messing other stuff up. Instead, we'll watch it first thing in the morning and help ourselves wake up. Just like Jake Sully says! I'm wondering if the favorable reaction to Way of Water is going to lead to some OG Avatar revisionism in the coming months. I can't complain, of course; I was a revisionist myself at one point. Putting our Avatar ornaments on our tree every year makes me happier than pretty much any of the others.

9 am - The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992, dir. Brian Henson)
We have a lot of Muppet ornaments because we are dorks, but this is the only movie-specific one we have. I've held off revisiting it pretty much since seeing it in theaters because I was clinging to the misguided belief that any Muppets post-Jim Henson were somehow "less than." I was wrong. Re-watching The Muppet Christmas Carol convinced me not just that it deserves to stand alongside the three Henson classics, but also that it's one of the very best tellings of A Christmas Carol ever committed to screen. Despite it being funny and cute (and having good songs), everyone takes the material seriously -- no one more so than Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge. This is a great movie and a great way to close things out.

Happy holidays to you all!!


  1. "We have a lot of Muppet ornaments because we are cool, adorable people". Fixed it. I love that MCC is Brian Henson. After that one, you might've been right.

    1. I take it back. Muppet Treasure Island came out 1996 and we love that one.

    2. I still need to see Treasure Island!

    3. You do! Or you walk the plank!! :)

  2. And they say the 80s were bad for movies. You have 6 in the list, and 4 of those are all time classics

  3. The F This Movie crew just continues to bang out the most uniquely premised movie marathons and I'm here for it, got my seat saved and everything! I wonder if marathon picks will extend to the Bromley family Christmas village for next year...