Christmas – it’s frickin’ everywhere at the moment and it’s enough to make even the most tolerant of us come over all humbug.
But fear not; if the forced cheer and rampant consumerism inspires thoughts of a mince pie and sherry-fuelled overdose, OTB’s guide to the very best alternative Santas might just be the only seasonal Samaritan you’ll ever need.
5. And All Through The House
What better way to start this countdown than with the psycho-killer Claus of Tales From The Crypt story and All Through The House. Originally depicted in a 1950s horror comic, the character appears in both the film and television versions of Tales From The Crypt, praying on a femme fatale who, as misfortune would have it has just murdered her husband.
The 1989 HBO show tale was directed with panache by Back To The Future’s Robert Zemeckis, but the vignette in the 1972 film stars a rather saucy-looking Joan Collins, so take your pick of either.
4. Bad Santa
When Disney executives took in a screening of Bad Santa to find exactly what subsidiary studio Mirimax had been up to, they were reportedly horrified. No surprise really, given that the film gave us Billy Bob Thornton as the most deviant and profane Santa Claus ever seen, drinking, puking and shagging around whilst wearing the feted red and white outfit.
Evidence that those in the Mickey Mouse cult really are too puritanical for their own good, Bad Santa went on to be a hit, and a sequel is reportedly in the works for release next year.
3. Father Jack
Yes, this is cheating a bit, but seeing as Father Jack is technically a Father, he’s wearing a Santa hat and he appeared in probably the best Christmas special ever, we know you’ll find it in your hearts to forgive us.
Go on, think back and remember the scene in which Ted rescues his fellow clergymen from Ireland’s biggest lingerie section, parodying every World War II action movie as it plays out, and we can gloss over the fact the Father Jack as a spectacularly inebriated semi-Santa makes only a fleeting appearance.
2. Jack Skellington
Let’s face it, Christmas is always an all too saccharine affair, what with all the gift-giving and goodwill to all men. So thanks heavens for the twisted imagination of Tim Burton and The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Jack Skellington. When Skellington, a denizen of Halloween Town, develops a slightly psychotic obsession with Christmas, he has the real Santa abducted and sets off on a global delivery run of his own.
You don’t have to be a goth to find the moment when a child’s parents ask what Santa has brought him, only for the child to pull a shrunken head out of the gift box, wickedly amusing.
1. Father Christmas
Forget the sickly Americanised vision of Santa – the best Saint Nick ever was seen in Channel 4’s adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ wonderful spin on the legend. Combining Briggs’ Father Christmas and Father Christmas Goes On Holiday comic strip books into one, the show depicts the bearded one as a slightly grumpy old Englishman (voiced by Mel Smith) who lives by himself in an average two-up, two-down house, with only a cat, dog and his reindeer for company.
Knackered by the strains of descending chimneys the world over, this Christmas has taken himself off to France, Scotland and Las Vegas in search of some much needed R&R. Delightfully, he does much the same as the rest of us do on our hols: drinking too much and suffering hangovers, over-eating and contracting food poisoning and grumbling about the weather.
Look out for cameo appearances from other Briggs books too: Earnest the milkman from Ethel & Ernest, Jim and Hilda Bloggs from When The Wind Blows and the boy and his snowman from that other Christmas classic, The Snowman.