Best Holiday Movies From The 1980s, Ranked By IMDb


The 1980s were a time when the CD player, camcorder, and Nintendo Games System came out for everyone to enjoy. It was a new era for new technology and really good movies; in particular holiday movies. Families all over can dedicate their movie-watching during the holiday season to the movies that came out of the 1980s and revel in all the glory of the styles, family traditions, and televisions that were too heavy to carry for one person and laugh at how things have changed.

RELATED: 10 Best Holiday Movies From The 1990s (According To IMDb)

If there’s doubt that movie fans have missed any of the epic holiday magic that came out of this decade, below is an entire list of the most nostalgic and best-rated holiday movies that were released in the 1980s.

10 Ernest Saves Christmas – 5.7 (1988)


In 1988, John R. Cherry came out with Ernest Saves Christmas, one of the many franchise movies to come. This franchise was incredibly popular in the 1980s and 1990s and became cult classics for a good reason; in this particular movie, Ernest is a silly taxi driver who has grand ideas and has just chauffeured Santa Clause himself.

When Santa cannot muster up enough magic for the Christmas season, he asks another man in Orlando to take over, but when he realizes the man has other intentions, Ernest steps in to save the holidays in his own comedic ways.

9 Silent Night, Deadly Night – 5.9 (1984)

Santa Going Down Chimney With Axe

Silent Night, Deadly Night isn’t the typical holiday movie, because it’s a bit darker than the rest. When a small boy named Billy finds his parents killed by Santa, he spends most of his life in an orphanage. It’s there he’s abused and when he becomes a teenager, he scores a job as Santa in a toy store.

From this point on, it’s a classic 19080s slasher film in which the boy goes mad at the people that wronged him, all within the holiday season. At the time this movie was a controversial movie but still received good reviews. Silent Night, Deadly Night remains one of the best Christmas horror movies of all time. 

8 A Very Brady Christmas – 6.0 (1988)

Family Photo On Staircase

The insanely popular show, The Brady Bunch ran on television from 1969-1974, and from then on, it became an instant classic. Then in 1988, director Peter Baldwin released A Very Brady Christmas. When Mike and Carol decide to spend their vacation money to get their kids back for Christmas, the family is back together again.

Even though the family seems picture-perfect, the entire Brady family manages to overcome personal obstacles in order to spend a very merry Christmas together. There’s a reason this holiday movie has great reviews because it spawned from The Brady Bunch; one of the best television family shows of its time.

7 Prancer – 6.4 (1989)

Little Girl And Reindeer

As if kids didn’t love Santa’s reindeer enough, when John Hancock’s Prancer was released in 1989, it was obviously a hit. Jessica, the daughter of a struggling farmer, still believes in Santa Clause. When she comes across an injured reindeer, she’s instantly convinced it’s Santa’s reindeer, Prancer.

She hides the reindeer in her barn and feeds him whatever she can find, including cookies. She plans to bring him back to Santa Claus, but her father finds him first and wants to sell him to the local butcher. Jessica does whatever she can to stop him and get Prancer back to his rightful owner. Prancer is a sincere and heartwarming Christmas movie that will bring the family together and root for a reindeer and a little girl named Jessica.

6 Scrooged – 7.0 (1988)

Woman Grabbing Tie Of Man Looking Into A Camera

When Bill Murray stars in a revamped version of the 1951 movie, Scrooge, fans know they are in for a treat. In 1988, director Richard Donner released Scrooged, where a selfish, cynical television executive named Frank Cross fires his employees on holidays and has alienated himself from his family, despite them still insisting on inviting him for Christmas dinner.

RELATED: Bill Murray: 9 Funniest Movie Moments

On this particular Christmas, Frank is haunted by three spirits that bear lessons on Christmas Eve. It’s these spirits who teach him the true meaning of Christmas. Scrooged is not only one of Bill Murray’s most well-known films, but one of Richard Donner’s best movies to date as well.

5 Gremlins – 7.3 (1984)

Creatures Singing Christmas Carols

Randall Peltzer, a struggling inventor, visits a Chinatown antique store in hopes of finding his teenaged son Billy a Christmas present. When Randall finds a small furry creature called a mogwai at a local shop, he brings it back to his small American town, and basically, all heck breaks loose.

As Billy and his new pet Gizmo bond, there are rules to follow or else more mogwai’s will spawn and they won’t be the cuddly cute creatures, but an evil gremlin instead. Of course, this happens and the evil wreaks havoc on the small snowy town. Because of Gremlins and other smash hits, 1984 was one of the greatest years in film history.

4 Planes, Trains, And Automobiles – 7.6 (1987)

Two Men Sitting In Car With Snow

Perhaps one of the most iconic movies to come out of the 1980s is Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Not only does it have a stellar cast that consists of Steve Martin, and John Candy, but the storyline they follow is genius and incredibly funny. Neal Page, played by Steve Martin, wants to get home for Thanksgiving, but his flight has been canceled due to bad weather. Neal decides to find other means of transport and as his bad luck ensues, he thinks he strikes gold when he meets Del Griffith, played by John Candy.

Del is a shower curtain ring salesman that talks non-stop, with bad jokes and questionable advice. For three days, they go on misadventures to get to their destination, which is hilarious and heartwarming. Plaines, Trains, and Automobiles is a timeless comedy that will never get old. In fact, Plains, Trains, and Automobiles is also one of John Candy’s best roles that he played in his iconic career.

3 National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – 7.6 (1989)

Man Electrocuted With Sant Suit

Perhaps one of the most well-known National Lampoon franchise movie to come out is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The dysfunctional, yet endearing Griswold family is at it again when Christmastime rolls around and are prepared for a seasonal celebration. As fans of the franchise know, the Griswold family get-togethers never run smoothly and when his extended family decides to visit for the holidays, all that keeps him going is the Christmas bonus he’ll receive.

RELATED: The Top 10 National Lampoon Films, According To IMDb

Day after day, situations keep happening, and the family gets funnier and funnier. In fact, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation might be one of the best holiday movies to date.

2 A Christmas Carol – 7.8 (1984)

Three People Having A Conversation

Before Scrooged came along, A Christmas Carol was released by Clive Donner in 1984. It’s the age-old story about an old bitter man named Ebenezer Scrooge who spreads his uncaring nature to anyone that will listen. When Scrooge is visited by the three spirits from the past, present, and future, he learns what real compassion means and how friendship is better than being lonely.

Starring George C. Scott, A Christmas Carol might be one of the best versions of this tale, since the 1951 version.

1 A Christmas Story – 7.9 (1983)

Little Boy Looking At Santa

Set in the 1940s, when a young boy named Ralphie tries to convince his parents, his school, and Santa Clause that a Red Ryder BB gun is the perfect present for him this year, the answers are not what he expects them to be.

While viewers follow his simple life as a little boy, his quest to get his dream present follows a hilarious trip down memory lane of what it means to be a kid for this generation and generations before it. A Christmas Story is one of the best family-friendly holiday movies to date, as well as a perfect Christmas movie.

NEXT: Bah, Humbug: 10 Holiday Movies For People Who Don’t Like Holiday Movies

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Updated: November 18, 2020 — 5:30 pm

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