Not-so-Jolly Old Elves
The anti-Santa—depressed and grouchy—is another way Hollywood has skewered the big guy for the sardonic pleasure of adult audiences. Monty Woolley in 1942's Life Begins at 8:30, Alberto Rabagliatti in 1966's The Christmas That Almost Wasn't, Dan Aykroyd in 1983's Trading Places, and Christopher Plummer in 1986's The Silent Partner aren't exactly the milk-and-cookies types.
However, it was the horror genre that officially axed the sanctity of Santa. The inaugural installment of Silent Night, Deadly Night in 1984—there'd be four increasingly horrible sequels—unleashes a murdering psycho dressed in a Santa suit. Along the same, er, hook, 1996's Santa Claws features a similarly attired deviant-next-door, but this one, yes, bags his victims with the title weapon.
Recent years have seen a sleighful of onscreen Santas, the majority appearing in the cinematic equivalent of coal in your stocking: Jeff Gillen in 1983's A Christmas Story, Jan Rubes in 1985's One Magic Christmas, Jim Varney in 1988's Ernest Saves Christmas, David Huddleston in 1985's Santa Claus: The Movie, Richard Attenborough in 1994's remake of Miracle on 34th Street, and Tim Allen in 1994's The Santa Clause.