OK, so this is theoretical: Charles Dickens died in 1870, about 25 years before the very first motion pictures were shown. He published A Christmas Carol in 1843, when he was about thirty, which would have put his fictitious Ebenezer Scrooge several years older, with even less chance of ever having seen any movies. So we're just imagining that if Scrooge was around today, and still hated Christmas, but loved movies -- and preferred to spend Christmas alone watching mean, dark Christmas stories -- then these might be his favorites. A Happy Humbug -- er... Holidays to all!

1. Bad Santa (2003)
Of course: Billy Bob Thornton's Willie T. Soke has gone down as perhaps the greatest Christmas curmudgeon since the Grinch, and even Scrooge himself. His beautifully crafted dialogue is like an opera of swear words, soaring over the proceedings like the wings of drunken, unwashed angels. Terry Zwigoff's masterful direction walks an impossible line between vicious and sweet, hilarious and human. (Note: avoid the theatrical cut and the bogus "Badder Santa" version, and stick with the superior, official Director's Cut.)

2. Black Christmas (1974)
Bob Clark directed everyone's holiday favorite, A Christmas Story, but nine years earlier he made this horror masterpiece about the first holiday serial killer, a nasty piece of work who torments a girl's sorority house on the eve of the holiday break. But these girls (including Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey) are no innocent Cindy Lou Whos; they can out-drink and out-curse any slasher. Even Scrooge wouldn't accept the dreadful 2006 remake, however.

categories Features, Cinematical