Some people you can buy for with little to no thought at all: You're at Ross and spy a discounted, golf-bag-shaped, remote-control-operated wine decanter and think of ol' easy-to-please dad — done. But what about the relatives that are near impossible to please?
While everyone else has resorted to Amazon gift cards, you might just shine in the judgmental eyes of these familial acquaintances — and make it a holiday season to remember — with the gift of film.
For the aunt who refuses to believe they've made any worthwhile movies since 1986: She wears fluorescent leg-warmers, lusts after Andrew McCarthy, waxes rhapsodic over New Coke and spins Scritti Politti like it hasn't gone out of style. No, she's not your hipster sister — she's you're extremely un-ironic aunt who never grew out of the '80s.
Stuff her Benetton stocking with the MGM Movie Collection: 6 '80s Movies (MGM/20th Century Fox, $29.98), featuring an embarrassment of embarrassing riches: Valley Girl, The Rachel Papers, Losin' It, The Last American Virgin, Zapped! and Class. That should keep her busy for a while, but, now that I think about it, you might have to buy her a DVD player too. They don't make these on Betamax, sad to say.
For the geeky sci-fi completist nephew who is likeable but misunderstood: By the time you were 14, pursuing (or at least pining after) girls or boys probably grew more important than, say, camping out for a random Star Wars reissue. Today's neo-geek culture, however, rewards those who evolve differently, meaning that the best you can do is just go with it and hope that college does its job.
Until then, feed your geek's habit with the outstanding Blu-ray release of the Alien Anthology (20th Century Fox, $$139.99). That's all four Alien movies — Alien, Aliens, Alien3 and Alien: Resurrection — as well as bonus director's cuts, extended cuts, work-print cuts ... everything a burgeoning sci-fi nerd could want in one mega-deluxe package. Everything except a girlfriend. :(
For the grandmother who refuses to watch anything rated above 'G': You try your best not to curse around her. You go out of your way to not drink around her. And, worst of all, you stay in a constant state of paranoia that mom might bring up that tramp-stamp you got in Cabo last March.
There's only one gift that's wholesome enough to satisfy Grandma this Christmas, and it's not a year's supply of ribbon candy. It's The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition (20th Century Fox, $34.99) on Blu-ray! Granny will dance and sing along and possibly make you an outfit out of drapes.
For the older brother who remembers obscure TV shows of which you have only fuzzy recollections: To me, there's only one thing more unwatchable than '80s British sci-fi television, and that's South American snuff porn. But your older brother may cite an obscene love of Red Dwarf, Hitchhiker's Guide, Dr. Who and just about anything Gerry Anderson put out, especially the fondly remembered Space Precinct (Image Entertainment, $49.98).
Anderson's world-renowned model spaceships meet a gritty interstellar cop show set in the year 2040 (where everything strangely looks like 1987!). You'll probably find it boring, but bro's laser-sights will be set on a subdued thank-you card or a harsh noogie, depending on your relationship.
For the mother who has rotting pumpkins in her living room: As the family enters Mom's house, the eye-burning smell of cat urine takes hold, causing a disorientation that finds you falling to the ground, stabbing yourself on a rusty nail as a metric ton of Life magazines from the mid-'70s collapses and soundly crushes your torso. It's time to face the facts: Mother is a hoarder.
Like most hoarders, she doesn't know there's even an issue until everyone gathers for an intervention, one that can be made fun and educational with the gift of Hoarders: Season Two, Part One (A&E Home Video, $19.95). Featuring seven must-see episodes of the hit series, this might be the dose of reality mom needs to throw away that stack of soiled mattresses in the kitchen.
And, when all else fails: When none of those work, just get 'em James Cameron's Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition (20th Century Fox, $54.99). It's a brand-new, three-disc Blu-ray special edition of the hit movie and, hey, everyone loved Avatar, right? Right?
Or, for the opposite end of the holiday crowd-pleasing spectrum, there's Lars von Trier's cinematic thesis on pure soul-eviscerating grief, Antichrist (Criterion, $39.95).
Not bleak enough? Then there's only one choice left: the tween bloodsucker parody Vampires Suck (20th Century Fox, $29.98), a movie so unflinchingly bad that it makes Twilight look eligible for an upcoming AFI listing. That's what I call a true Christmas miracle!
When all else fails, we appeal to the senses.