Some splendid counter-programming at the BAMcinématek starts Saturday, December 15, when Joe Dante’s Yuletide desecration “Gremlins” kicks off a seven-film series of downbeat or perverse Christmas movies. The only remotely feel-good movie in the bunch, Vincente Minelli’s “Meet Me in St. Louis”, showing Sunday, is notable for introducing the mournful standard, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (a song used to even more depressing ends in Carl Foreman’s “The Victors”).
Two auteur swansongs—John Huston’s James Joyce adaptation “The Dead”, screening Wednesday, and Stanley Kubrick’s Arthur Schnitzler derived opus “Eyes Wide Shut,”which ends the BAMcinématek season on Sunday, December 20—both have somewhat morbid Christmas settings. (The latter is paired with Jerome Hill’s experimental short “Merry Christmas” in which Mary and Joseph visit Fifth Avenue and find no room at the Algonquin.) Tuesday promises to be the most hardcore: John Waters’s terrific “Female Trouble”, justly famous for Divine’s Christmas tree-toppling tantrum is paired with Theodore Gershuny’s “Silent Night Bloody Night” (shot in 1972 but not released until 1974), a slasher film starring former Warhol superstar Mary Woronov, with a number of other downtown luminaries (Candy Darling, Ondine, and most alarmingly Jack Smith) in supporting roles. One creature you won’t find, the official anti-Christmas movie: “Bad Santa.”