Ahh, remember celebrating the winter holidays in the ‘90s? Stores would actually close (without posting about it on social media), a pile of holiday movies from Blockbuster warmed up by the fire, and we tried to kill each other over Elmo toys.
Those were the days.
While the ‘90s were a goldmine of cinema in general, it turns out there actually aren’t that many great holiday movies from the decade. There are some all-time classics of course, but apparently we just kind of rewatch the same three or four classics, and that’s pretty much it.
That said, there are some excellent ‘90s movies that the nerdiest among us should take guilty pleasure in viewing come that special time of year. When looking at what makes a holiday movie “nerdy”, I’m looking for things like technology, horror, elements of science fiction, fantasy, or another clear nerd hook. Fair warning: there might be a couple on here that stretch the criteria a tad.
Here are the ‘90s movies every nerd should watch this holiday season:
Edward Scissorhands — 1990
Let’s get this out of the way right now: Tim Burton is the king of ‘90s nerd holiday movies. This is definitely one of the most important things I learned writing this post.
And yes, Edward Scissorhands is most definitely a Christmas movie. Even though Christmas isn’t a core event, it does occur during the movie and culminates with one of the great cinematic moments of the ‘90s in the snow-falls-in-Florida scene above.
And throughout the film there are elements of the both the slightly unsettled yet comforting feel of Christmas that only Tim Burton can express—sort of like what a young child’s face looks like when you tell them Santa can see them when they’re sleeping.
Jingle All the Way — 1996
Yet another movie about a workaholic dad who’s on the verge of failing his marriage, his son, and his company—unless, of course, he can find his son the most sought-after toy in the history of the world. Just your classic anti-commercialism Christmas movie that’s about, uh, how great commercialism is.
Mattress salesman Howard (aka AHHHnold) was supposed to get his son the Power Rangers-esque Turbo-Man action figure (badass name for a toy, btw) weeks ago, and now here it is, frickin’ Xmas eve, and rather than admit that he cares more about mattresses than his own family, what does Howard do? That’s right, go on a whacky adventure featuring Sinbad, reindeer, the Big Show, a criminal ring of mall Santas, and many more gleefully ridiculous scenarios.
Also, Phil Hartman is amazing in this. RIP.
Of course, even after everything, Howard still fails—a post-credits scene reveals that he completely forgot to get his wife anything. Way to go Howard! Now get your aaahhhhhsss to Maaaaahhhhhhs.