by Rod Armstrong
Rather than revisiting feel-good family classics It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street for the millionth time, why not ring in the holidays with one of these violent, scabrous, not-suitable-for-family-viewing faves?
Bad Santa (2003) — Billy Bob Thornton is unforgettable as an alcoholic con man who uses a Santa suit as distraction for various acts of thievery and bad behavior. Directed by Essential SFer Terry Zwigoff and holds the record for most profanity in any holiday-themed film.
Black Christmas (1974) — Regarded as one of the first slasher films, this seminal Christmas-themed horror pic influenced Carpenter’s Halloween four years later. Around ten years later, director Bob Clark would make the far more wholesome holiday favorite A Christmas Story. (Ed: Plays tonight on the big screen at the Roxie with Margot Kidder in person!)
New Year’s Evil (1980) – Underrated early slasher film details the bad deeds of a man who calls himself Evil and who plans on murdering someone from each U.S. time zone as the clock strikes midnight. Happy New Year, indeed.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010) — It's the eve of Christmas in northern Finland, and an archeological dig has just unearthed the real Santa Claus. But this particular Santa isn't the one you want coming to town! A blackly comic gem.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) — After his parents are murdered by someone in a Santa suit, poor Billy is forever traumatized and the holiday season will never be the same for him. Followed by four terrible sequels. Due to parental protest over Santa depicted as a killer, the movie was pulled from theatres after only two weeks.
Strange Days (1995) — Cult favorite from Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (currently receiving raves for Zero Dark Thirty), this is a stylish and nutty murder mystery set just before New Year’s in 1999. Bay Area band Testament is one of the featured groups during the Millennium party scene.