If “It’s a Wonderful Life” doesn’t feel like the appropriate way to close out a year like 2016, consider streaming some darker fare as Christmas draws near.
Before he went back to the future, for instance, Robert Zemeckis directed the second episode of “Tales from the Crypt” — and the first to feature the Crypt Keeper himself, albeit in a much different form than we’re used to seeing him. (Amazon)
The main question raised by “Black Christmas”: Why aren’t there more slashers set during Christmastime? Bob Clark’s film is made even better by the knowledge that he also directed “A Christmas Story,” a considerably more wholesome entry in the holiday canon. (Amazon/Shudder)
John Waters counts himself among the fans of this cult Christmas slasher, known to some as both “You Better Watch Out” and “Terror in Toyland.” In it, a man who was was even more distraught than most of us when he learned as a child that Santa isn’t real (spoiler alert!) celebrates the holidays with a killing spree. Ho ho ho! (Amazon)
Joe Dante’s comedy/horror classic, which is much darker in tone than the sequel that followed it six years later, introduced us to both the mogwai and the ever-important rules for handling them. “Gremlins,” unlike Gizmo, is best after midnight. (Amazon Prime)
Anthology horror is all the rage these days, so it was probably inevitable that a holiday-themed chiller would come about. Kevin Smith is among the directors who contributed to this one, whose tour of the calendar includes a Christmas story starring Seth Green as a man whose attempt to buy a VR toy for his son doesn’t exactly end with presents under the tree. (Netflix)
This made-for-TV movie boasts an impressive cast (Sally Field, Eleanor Parker, Jessica Walter and Walter Brennan) and an intriguing premise: A man on his deathbed (Brennan) gathers his daughters under the same roof for the holidays and decides that all he wants for Christmas is for them to kill his wife.
Forget about a lump of coal — if you’re really bad, Santa’s evil counterpart will come and get you. A perverse joy from last year’s holiday season, “Krampus” makes for sinister counter-programming for anyone tired of mistletoe and egg nog. (Amazon/Cinemax)
Whether you consider this a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie is ultimately less important than whether you’re on the same tempo as its morbidly cheerful vision. (Amazon)
Featuring hundreds of dead reindeer, a mysterious burial ground and especially aggressive wolves, this Finnish export finds plenty of oddity deep in the mountains where it’s set. (Amazon)
This dark comedy finally answers the question pro wrestler-turned-actor Bill Goldberg kept asking throughout his WCW tenure: “Who’s next?” The answer, it seems, is Santa Claus — here envisioned as a demon who temporarily set aside his evil ways after losing a bet. Now that he’s free to be himself again, Christmas looks a lot less cozy. (Amazon/Comic-Con HQ)
Taking place on Christmas Eve and featuring several Warhol superstars, Theodore Gershuny’s film concerns a man who inherits a mansion that used to be a mental hospital. (You can probably already see where this is going.) A series of murders disrupts his plan to sell the rural estate by noon the next day. (Amazon Prime)
Bearing no relation to “Silent Night, Bloody Night” but clearly on the same wavelength, this slasher is yet another tale of a disturbed individual for whom becoming a serial killer isn’t enough — no, he needs to dress up as Santa and do it during Christmas. Another cult favorite, “Deadly Night” spawned four sequels and a remake. (Amazon)