Holiday Movies Playing in the Bay Area

It’s true, “A Christmas Story” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” are screening in Bay Area theaters this holiday season, but so are some less popular films including “Silent Night, Deadly Night 2” and “Christmas Evil.”

Here is your exclusive look at holiday fare in cinemas by the venue in the Bay Area.

Rialto Cinemas Cerrito

No one saw this coming from the director of the raunchy teenage comedy “Porky’s” — one of the most beloved Christmas movies ever: 1983’s “A Christmas Story” (7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7). Set in 1940s small-town Indiana, Jean Shepherd’s memoir “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash” is turned into a loving, silly and warm family film by director Bob Clark. It is centered on a boy (Peter Billingsley) whose mission in life is to obtain a Red Ryder BB rifle. There will be a live version of the story telecast on Fox on Dec. 17, but there’s nothing like the original on a big screen. 10070 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. (510) 273-9102.

Roxie Theater 

Who knew the French made Christmas-themed noir films? Don Malcolm, the curator of the popular annual French noir series at the Roxie, has found a pair. Beginning with “Who Killed Santa Claus?” — a 1941 film made during Nazi occupation. The film is an allegory for resistance. Actor Harry Baur, who plays Santa, was later arrested and tortured by the Nazis, and was the first French actor to lose his life in the war. Next up is “Paris Pickup” (1962), which has Robert Hossein as a criminal just sprung from jail who spends Christmas Eve with an alluring lady (Lea Massari) and gets way more than he bargained for. The double feature starts at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13. Also at the Roxie: The rarely screened 1980 low-budget thriller “Christmas Evil” (9:15 p.m. Dec. 23), a.k.a. “You Better Watch Out,” has a killer disguised as Santa. Lewis Jackson’s film has undergone a 4K restoration, and cult director John Waters has called it his favorite Christmas movie. 3117 16th St., S.F. (415) 863-1087.

Castro Theatre

They’re not Christmas movies, but somehow it seems right that “The Wizard of Oz” and “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” are playing during the holidays. The double feature screens twice on Sunday, Dec. 10. On Dec. 20, Eddie Muller’s Noir City Xmas, the annual double feature of Christmas-themed classics, screens “Manhandled” (7:30 p.m.), a 1949 thriller with Dan Duryea as a crooked detective trying to pin a murder rap on Dorothy Lamour; and “Alias Boston Blackie” (9:30 p.m.), a Christmas entry in Chester Morris’ B-movie series. With the Stanford Theatre undergoing renovation, the Castro is the only place in the Bay Area screening Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which plays three times on Dec. 22. 429 Castro St., S.F. (415) 621-6120.

Alamo Drafthouse’s New Mission

The “Gremlins” movie party at the Mission District theater/restaurant has special edition T-shirts and a message from director Joe Dante; the show on Saturday, Dec. 9, is sold out, but tickets remain for the 10:05 p.m. show on Sunday, Dec. 10. Also, the theater’s Terror Tuesday series features the 1987 splatter-fest “Silent Night, Deadly Night 2” (10 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12); and there’s a “Home Alone” movie party (7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13), after which science enthusiasts Kishore Hari and Jeffrey Silverman lay out the case for 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) as a psychopath. 2550 Mission St., S.F. (415) 549-5959.

San Francisco Symphony

The best way to see “Home Alone,” though, is at the symphony, where John Williams’ score will be performed live as the movie plays, with carols sung by three children’s choruses. 7 p.m. Dec. 16; 2 p.m. Dec. 17; and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20. 201 Van Ness Ave., S.F. (415) 864-6000.

Smith Rafael Film Center

Choreographer Peter Wright’s version of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” a filmed stage performance by the Royal Ballet, is perfect for the whole family. It screens at noon Dec. 17. 1118 Fourth St., San Rafael. (415) 454-1222.

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