Special/Signature Issues » 2012 Holiday Almanac

Off the Shelf

Holiday must-sees from the staff of the Video Fan.

Collee Hanretta of Video Fan. - ASH DANIEL

1. "Black Christmas" (1974)
The other Christmas classic from director Bob Clark ("A Christmas Story") takes a different approach to the season: a serial killer in a sorority house.

2. "Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas" (1977)
This unjustly overlooked Jim Henson film, based on the children's book by Russell Hoban, features great music and greater villains: the River Bottom Nightmare Band.

3. "Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special" (1988)
In which the holidays get the anarchic "Playhouse" treatment, and singer Grace Jones emerges from a giant Christmas gift to serenade Pee-Wee with "The Little Drummer Boy."

4. "Scrooged" (1988)
One of Bill Murray's greatest comic performances comes in this tale of a television executive who suffers the "Christmas Carol" treatment. With amazing cameos throughout — see if you can spot Miles Davis and all four Murray brothers, among others.

And one extra from Style:

5. "Santa Claus" (1959)
Do you enjoy campy holiday fun like "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians?" Then don't miss director Rene Cardoza's 1959 Mexican motion picture with a space-age Santa battling Lucifer's chief demon, Pitch, who's sent to Earth to convince five children to tick off Santa. Filmed in lush Eastman Colorscope and narrated by K. Gordon Murray.