Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (1991)
The Dark Moment: While it's not a Christmas movie per se, there's no denying that the Sheriff of Nottingham (Alan Rickman) delivers the best ever Yuletide threat - "Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas!"
Bleak Implications: Can you imagine? It's bad enough that some councils still try and 'rebrand' Christmas as Winterval.
Four Christmases (2008)
The Dark Moment: Failing in their attempt to get away for Christmas, Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) are forced to visit Brad's dad (Robert Duvall), where Pop and his other sons (Tim McGraw, Jon Favreau) delight in humiliating Brad with a display on on-the-floor cage wrestling.
Bleak Implications: It's only the first of four such embarrassing family visits.
Mean Girls (2004)
The Dark Moment: Cady (Lindsay Lohan) performs Jingle Bell Rock with her fellow Plastics, all dressed in revealing, thigh-slapping Santa costumes.
Bleak Implications: Gretchen (Lacey Chabert) accidentally causes the CD to stick and then kicks the player into a student's head.
The Thin Man (1934)
The Dark Moment: Not much in the way of festive fun from Nora Charles (Myrna Loy), who announces that, "the next person who says "Merry Christmas" to me, I'll kill 'em!"
Bleak Implications: None, it's an idle threat and she quickly gets on with decorating her Christmas tree.
The Lion In Winter (1968)
The Dark Moment: Angered that his plans for the succession of the English throne aren't going his way, King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) simply locks up all three potential heirs in his Christmas chateau.
Bleak Implications: A Christmas dinner hissy-fit with unusually big stakes, especially when Henry threatens to kill his sons. [History, obviously, reveals that he didn't go through it with.]
A Christmas Tale (2008)
The Dark Moment: Junon (Catherine Deneuve) announces to her family she is dying of leukaemia unless one of her children provides a bone marrow transplant. Instead, siblings Henri (Mathieu Almaric) and Elizabeth (Anne Consigny) start bickering with each other.
Bleak Implications: Even life-changing news doesn't stop this being yet another fractious family Christmas.
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)
The Dark Moment: After a visit from the Grim Reaper, the guests of a dinner party discover that, in Heaven, it's Christmas every day
Bleak Implications: Seriously, EVERY day? After a while the endless turkey, family bickering and EastEnders specials are going to drive you insane.
About A Boy (2002)
The Dark Moment: Christmas-hating Will Freeman (Hugh Grant) demonstrates his contempt by giving 12-year-old Marcus (Nicholas Hoult) an inappropriate hip-hop album with titles like 'Shake Your Ass'.
Bleak Implications: An awkward moment as Will's ex Suzie (Victoria Smurfit) shows up, angry at Will's prior duplicity and suggesting, "You could pose as Santa and try and shag some carol singers!"
Deck The Halls (2006)
The Dark Moment: Pissed off at the Christmas decorations of neighbour Buddy (Danny DeVito), Steve (Matthew Broderick) launches a military grade firework at his house.
Bleak Implications: The firework goes rogue and falls down Steve's chimney, setting fire to his living room. Serves him right, really.
Mixed Nuts (1994)
The Dark Moment: Deranged Felix (Anthony LaPaglia) arrives at suicide prevention centre Lifesavers on Christmas Eve, brandishing a gun.
Bleak Implications: Chris (Liev Schreiber) is shot in the foot and Stanley (Gary Shandling) is killed… but the latter is a blessing in disguise, because he was a serial killer who'd arrived to murder them all.
Christmas With The Kranks (2004)
The Dark Moment: When the Kranks (Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis) decide to go on a Caribbean cruise for Christmas, their neighbours are so incensed they form a picket line on the Kranks' lawn and bombard them with hostile phone calls.
Bleak Implications: The entire film reads like it condones the view that Americans should give hell to anybody who doesn't conform to their traditional, Christian way of life. This film was released three years after 9/11, when the country was at war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Ref (1994)
The Dark Moment: Inept burglar Gus (Dennis Leary) takes married couple Lloyd and Caroline (Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis) hostage on Christmas eve in order to rob their home.
Bleak Implications: A surprise Gus wasn't expecting - the couple's relationship is failing, and he is dragged into the dispute as an inadvertent guidance counsellor.
The War of the Roses (1989)
The Dark Moment: Christmas provides yet another excuse for an argument between Oliver (Michael Douglas) and Barbara Rose (Kathleen Turner), this time over the decorations.
Bleak Implications: The fracas results in their Christmas tree getting burnt to a cinder.
Surviving Christmas (2004)
The Dark Moment: Adman Drew (Ben Affleck) pays the family living in his childhood home $25,000 to spend Christmas with them - and has them sign a contract demanding they pretend they are his actual family.
Bleak Implications: The fact that this was billed as a heartwarming family comedy… and not the act of a desperately, deeply disturbed man.
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
The Dark Moment: On-the-run con man Frank Abagnale, Jr (Leonardo DiCaprio) returns home to find his family has moved on - his mother has remarried and had a daughter.
Bleak Implications: The crisis of faith causes Frank to turn himself in… but after this, Frank is a reformed man who starts to work for the FBI.
Meet Me In St Louis (1944)
The Dark Moment: Upset at the thought of her family having to move away from St Louis, Tootie Smith (Margaret O'Brien) races out into the cold on Christmas Eve and smashes the snowman on the lawn.
Bleak Implications: Fortunately, Tootie's dad sees what she has done and has a change of heart, allowing the family to visit the World's Fair the following Spring.
Eastern Promises (2007)
The Dark Moment: After retuning drunk from a whorehouse, Russian mobster Kirill (Vincent Cassel) gets a kicking from his father Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl). Kirill tries to hide behind the festivities ("Is it Merry Christmas, or what?") so Semyon kicks him again.
Bleak Implications: Realising that his son has become a liability, Semyon makes Kirill the scapegoat for Anna's (Naomi Watts) investigation into dead prostitute Tatiana - but tries to have Kirill killed before he can talk.
The French Connection (1971)
The Dark Moment: On a Christmas stakeout, detective Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) is forced to chase, take down and brutally beat a suspect in broad daylight, while disguised as Santa Claus.
Bleak Implications: Just consider for a moment what the kids on the street must have thought about Father Christmas kicking the shit out of a man.
In Bruges (2008)
The Dark Moment: Rookie hitman Ray (Colin Farrell) is sent to the purgatory that is Bruges, after he accidentally kills a child in the run-up to Christmas.
Bleak Implications: As Ray puts it, There's a Christmas tree somewhere in London with a bunch of presents underneath it that'll never be opened. And I thought, if I survive all of this, I'd go to that house, apologize to the mother there, and accept whatever punishment she chose for me. Prison...death...didn't matter. Because at least in prison and at least in death, you know, I wouldn't be in fuckin' Bruges."
Lethal Weapon (1987)
The Dark Moment: A Christmas tree lot is the unlikely setting for a drug deal, where the buyer is told, "You want a tree? I'll give you the best tree I got in the lot for nothing. But the shit's going to cost you a hundred."
Bleak Implications: Sadly for the criminals, the buyer is loose-cannon cop Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), who takes the piss by counting out a hundred - rather than one hundred thousand - dollars, and inflicts Three Stooges -esque violence on them before things really get tough for them.
The Dark Moment: Ronna's (Sarah Polley) attempt to make a quick buck from selling ecstasy tabs on Christmas Eve goes awry when she has to leave friend Claire (Katie Holmes) behind as collateral and then dumps the whole stash in a panic.
Bleak Implications: An irate drug dealer (Timothy Olyphant) and a hit-and-run accident… but somehow Ronna emerges unscathed.
The Dark Moment: An "anti-Christmas" ritual has unexpected side effects when the spilled blood of Aryan virgin Kirsten (Julie Austin) awakens a neo-Nazi demon elf.
Bleak Implications: The elf is now hellbent on mating with Kirsten to create a new 'master race' of hybrid elf-humans. As you do.
Home Alone (1990)
The Dark Moment: Bad enough that Kevin McCallister (Macauley Culkin) has been abandoned by his folks… but then he runs into frightening, rumoured-to-be homicidal neighbour Old Man Marley (Roberts Blossom).
Bleak Implications: Nothing to worry about, really - Marley's a nice guy. He even helps Kevin catch the real troublemakers in the neighbourhood, 'Wet Bandits' Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern).
The Dark Moment: The logical extension of the film's TV studio setting, as the Ghost of Christmas Future has a screen for a face to show Frank Cross (Bill Murray) what's in store for him.
Bleak Implications: Hell is endless reruns.
The Dark Moment: After a successful heist, mobsters convene for a Christmas party which is going swimmingly until gang members show up with flash gear (a car, a coat) that threaten to blow the whole scam.
Bleak Implications: Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) gets so paranoid that somebody will mess up his scheme that he whacks the whole crew.
Batman Returns (1992)
The Dark Moment: Mr and Mrs Copperpot abandon their deformed child at Christmas; he floats into the sewers where he's brought up by penguins to become The Penguin (Danny DeVito).
Bleak Implications: Just what Gotham needed - another psycho with a grudge.
Black Christmas (1974)
The Dark Moment: Christmas killer "Billy" sneaks up on Barb (Margot Kidder) and stabs her with a unicorn ornament, her screams drowned out by carollers singing outside.
Bleak Implications: Things have come to a dark place when it's actually better to open the door to the singers rather than ignore them.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
The Dark Moment: It's the Christmas get-together for a group of well-connected New Yorkers, who like nothing better than to organise a masked orgy in a remote mansion. Beats the usual office party, anyway.
Bleak Implications: All William Harford (Tom Cruise) wanted was a shag, but after finding one of the party's prostitutes murdered, he becomes the witness to a conspiracy.
A Christmas Story (1983)
The Dark Moment: Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) is desperate to get a B.B. gun for Christmas, despite warnings that he'll take his eye out. So what happens when he gets his dream gift? A ricocheting bullet breaks his glasses.
Bleak Implications: While his mother is tending to Ralphie, a pack of dogs sneaks into the house and wolfs down Christmas dinner.
Jingle All The Way (1996)
The Dark Moment: Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is so obsessed with getting his son a coveted Turbo Man action figure for Christmas, he'll let nothing get in his way. Not even a reindeer. So he punches it in the face.
Bleak Implications: As if that wasn't bad enough, his method of making amends is to feed the animal some beer. Now the reindeer is drunk as well as injured.
American Psycho (2000)
The Dark Moment: Antler-clad but Grinch-like Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is so disturbed by his fiancée Evelyn's (Reese Witherspoon) new pet - Snowball, the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig - that he arranges a murder date with Paul Allen (Jared Leto).
Bleak Implications: Patrick axes Paul to death while listening to Huey Lewis and the News' Hip To Be Square . He could at least have chosen a Christmas carol.
The Apartment (1960)
The Dark Moment: C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) returns to his titular home from a Christmas night out to find Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) has taken an overdose.
Bleak Implications: Kubelik is only there because Baxter loaned his apartment to boss Jeff Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray), who was having an affair with Kubelik…who, we should point out, Baxter is in love with.
The Godfather (1972)
The Dark Moment: Rival mobsters attempt to shoot down Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) while he's buying oranges, just as Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) is kidnapped to deliver a message while he's Christmas shopping.
Bleak Implications: This is the event upon which the entire trilogy rests, forcing Michael (Al Pacino) to step up and protect the family. Merry Christmas, son.
Love, Actually (2003)
The Dark Moment: It's not all sweetness and light in Richard Curtis' rom-com, as Emma Thompson discovers that the necklace hubby Alan Rickman has bought isn't for her but the secretary he fancies at work.
Bleak Implications: It looks from the airport epilogue that a reconciliation is on the cards, but the shared look between Thompson and Rickman suggests she hasn't let him off the hook just yet.
Miracle On 34th Street (1947)
The Dark Moment: Department store Santa Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) - who claims to be the real Father Christmas - is threatened with being institutionalised after hitting a joyless psychiatrist with his cane.
Bleak Implications: The Christmas family movie slips into nightmarish film noir, as Santa is put on trial.
Jack Frost (1996)
The Dark Moment: Serial killer and human/snowman mutant Jack Frost (Scott MacDonald) rapes Jill (Shannon Elizabeth) with his carrot nose.
Bleak Implications: The chances of a family renting this for Christmas instead of the other Jack Frost movie, released two years later and starring Michael Keaton as a kind mutant snowman.
Trading Places (1983)
The Dark Moment: Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) goes from hero to zero as the result of a cruel wager and tries to break into his old firm disguised as Santa to get revenge, but he's caught and thrown out.
Bleak Implications: A despondent Louis tries to shoot himself. [Fortunately, he fails even in this, setting up an unlikely comeback in partnership with the other target of the wager, Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy).]
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
The Dark Moment: Young Billy Chapman watches as a robber dressed in a Santa suit murders his parents.
Bleak Implications: Billy grows up into a headcase who associates Santa with bad things, but who also has a fixation with punishing the naughty caused by Catholic school. So it's only a matter of time before he dons the Santa suit and becomes a serial killer.
Die Hard (1988)
The Dark Moment: One-man army John McClane (Bruce Willis) kills his first 'terrorist' and wastes no time dressing the corpse as Santa, so he can let his foes know what's what.
Bleak Implications: "Ho ho ho, now I have a machine gun" - and McClane isn't afraid to use it.
Frozen River (2008)
The Dark Moment: Taking advantage of the seasonal weather to ferry illegal immigrants into America, Ray Eddy (Melissa Leo) dumps a bag belonging to two Asians because she fears it contains explosives… only to learn it held their baby.
Bleak Implications: Miraculously, the child has survived… but it's a reminder (which goes unheeded) that Ray should quit while she's ahead.
A Christmas Carol (2009)
The Dark Moment: Scrooge (Jim Carrey) huddles in the darkness, as clanging chains herald the arrival of the ghost of Jacob Marley (Gary Oldman). Scariest Dickens ever.
Bleak Implications: Scrooge looks out of the window and sees all the other tormented souls of the afterlife floating over the streets of London.
Rare Exports (2010)
The Dark Moment: Reindeer herders think they've kidnapped a demonic, man-eating Santa… until scientists arrive and confirm that what they have is only an elf.
Bleak Implications: Santa is much bigger, and more deadly, and about to wake up.
L.A. Confidential (1997)
The Dark Moment: Drunken LAPD officers go loco on Christmas Eve, brutally beating a group of Mexicans in custody.
Bleak Implications: It's the moment that makes Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) and nearly breaks Bud White (Russell Crowe), putting the men on collision course.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Dark Moment: He had the best of intentions, but Jack Skellington's plan to take the place of Santa Claus goes awry when all of the presents he delivers turn out to be horrific monsters.
Bleak Implications: The military does what it has to, and blasts the seasonal imposter out of the sky.
The Dark Moment: The kids are expecting Santa to come down the chimney to leave presents. Instead, secret police break in through the roof, bundle dad into a sack and take him away.
Bleak Implications: A savage satire of not getting the gift you wanted, as Mum is given a receipt by the shadowy government agents.
Bad Santa (2003)
The Dark Moment: Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton), a thief disguised as a department store Santa, struggles to match the expectations of his role when he shows up to work drunk, pisses himself in front of all of the children and makes inappropriate comments.
Bleak Implications: Every parent's worst nightmare, as Willie tells one kid he has to wear a fake beard because his real one fell out. Why? "I loved a woman who wasn't clean." (And when the kid asks, "Mrs Santa?" he replies, "no, it was her sister.")
Die Hard 2 (1990)
The Dark Moment: Terrorists controlling Washington D.C.'s Dulles airport show they mean business by guiding a passenger jet through the fog… but forgetting to mention they've recalibrated the altimeter so that the pilot is closer to the ground than he thinks.
Bleak Implications: The worst Christmas present ever, as the jet crashes and kills everybody on board instantly.
The Santa Clause (1994)
The Dark Moment: Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) hears an intruder on Christmas Eve; when he goes to investigate, he causes the mystery man to fall, fatally, off his roof. The man in question is Santa Claus.
Bleak Implications: Yes, this feelgood family hit, in which Scott becomes the jolly new Father Christmas, starts out with the hero killing Santa. Admittedly, it was an accident, but it's worth repeating. HE KILLED SANTA.
It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
The Dark Moment: "George Bailey (James Stewart) is so perturbed at the loss of money he owes to the taxman that he has a meltdown at home, bawling out his kids as they practice for a Christmas play. "You call this a happy family? Why do we have to have all these kids?"
Bleak Implications: In theory, it gets much worse - George attempts suicide and is only saved by the intervention of an angel who shows him a hellish alternative reality - but the cruellest touch is seeing a husband and father abandoning his family on Christmas Eve.
The Dark Moment: "Kate Beringer (Phoebe Cates) tells the most depressing Christmas story ever about a missing dad and a strange smell in the chimney: "they pulled out my father. He was dressed in a Santa Claus suit. He'd been climbing down the chimney, his arms loaded with presents. He was gonna surprise us. He slipped and broke his neck. He died instantly."
Bleak Implications: The bleakest of them all - "...and that's how I found out there was no Santa Claus."