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Catch These Holiday Movies On The Big Screen Around Town This Month

By Joel Wicklund in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 3, 2015 4:36PM

"Santa Claus Conquers the Martians"

It seems like only days ago that we surveyed the area's Halloween movie showings. But lawn decorations with ghouls and goblins have long since given way to Santas, snowmen and the occasional manger scene.

While holiday entertainment will be choking the television airwaves and more than abundant on streaming services, local theaters will offer several yuletide favorites (and a few oddities) on the big screen. Here's a rundown of some of the seasonal cinema offerings.

Holiday Movies Late Night, Every Night
(All December, Logan Theatre)
The Logan's month-long series is already underway, and the schedule includes family fare (A Christmas Story, Elf), an action flick (Die Hard), '80s comedies (Trading Places, Christmas Vacation, When Harry Met Sally), a raunchy comedy (Bad Santa), and a so-bad-it's-good cult fave (Santa Claus Conquers the Martians), all with varying degrees of holiday content. Dates and show times available here.

RiffTrax: Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny
(Dec. 3 and 15, select theaters nationwide)
An upcoming Mystery Science Theater 3000 re-launch, with Patton Oswalt among the new cast, may soon make the bad movie wisecracking RiffTrax crew (former MST3K cast members Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett) redundant. But for now, they are still at it and Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny is perfect fodder for them. This 1972 kiddie film cheapie was slapped together by putting Santa Claus framing segments around an already existing (and equally cheap) version of Thumbelina. The Dec. 15 show will repeat a December 3rd live broadcast. Find locations and ticket info here.

(Opens nationwide Dec. 4, select early showings Dec. 3)
For those wanting to break free of mandated December cheer, Universal delivers this horror-comedy about that other legendary Christmas visitor...who is a tad less jolly than old St. Nick. Written and directed by Michael Dougherty, who reinvigorated the horror anthology with Trick 'r Treat (2007), this looks like it could be a blast.

Edward Scissorhands
(Dec. 5 & 6, Brew & View at the Vic Theatre)
While perhaps not thought of as a holiday film, Christmas does indeed play a significant role in Tim Burton's Goth-meets-suburbia fairytale—one of his best films. Tickets for these 25th anniversary screenings (both 8 p.m.) are only $5 and available to order here.

A Christmas Story
(Dec. 5, Lake Theatre, Oak Park)
The 10 a.m. start time for this showing of the widely adored 1983 family comedy might not appeal to those who like to sleep in on a Saturday, but the free admission is certainly an incentive. Tickets must be picked up at the Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest and donations to the Bethel New Life Christmas Child program are encouraged. Complete details here.

It's a Wonderful Life
(Dec. 6, Pickwick Theatre, Park Ridge)
Frank Capra's timeless classic will play at several theaters in the city and 'burbs this month, but another freebie matinee makes this showing worth singling out. Donations are encouraged for the Park Ridge Community Fund, but admission won't cost you a penny. The movie starts at 1 p.m., but arrive at noon for a free live performance on the Pickwick's historic Wurlitzer pipe organ and carols sung by The Willows Academy Chamber Choir. Sponsored by Liberty Bank, which seems appropriate.

(Dec. 8, Elk Grove Theatre)
More great anti-Christmas entertainment comes your way as the Chicago Film Critics Association presents Joe Dante's brilliant 1983 subversion of Spielberg-styled family escapism (made with Spielberg producing, no less). Terrific entertainment all around, including the most hilariously grisly story ever snuck into a PG-rated movie. The show starts at 7 p.m. with Indiewire contributor Patrick Bromley introducing the movie and leading a Q&A afterward.

2015 Annual Music Box Christmas Sing-Along & Double Feature
(Dec. 11 - 24, Music Box Theatre)
The Music Box continues its beloved tradition of showing It's a Wonderful Life and the musical White Christmas, with audiences encouraged to sing Christmas carols during the intermission between films. Santa himself will lead the sing-along. Order ahead if you plan to go, as many shows sell out quickly. Complete show times and ticket info available here.

Music Box's Alternative Christmas Double Feature
(Dec. 15 and 16, Music Box Theatre)
If you're in the mood for something a little less traditional, but still with a sweet side, the Music Box's other X-Mas two-fer might fit the bill. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) provides some ho-ho-ho slapstick, but the spirit of the season is better served by Love Actually (2003). The all-star British ensemble comedy-drama is romantic and wholly sentimental, but with enough sexuality and profanity to have earned an R rating. Love Actually will also have midnight shows on December 11 and 12 at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema.

Christmas, Again
(Dec. 18 through 23, Gene Siskel Film Center)
If post-breakup loneliness is your idea of a good way to make merry, this new independent drama may be up your alley. But while it may seem a tad depressing for this time of year, the movie has garnered very positive reviews. And aren't you tired of having joy shoved down your throat anyway? Dates and show times available here.

Miracle on 34th Street
(Dec. 20 and 23, select theaters nationwide)
Turner Classic Movies brings the 1947 Christmas classic back to theaters for two nights. Relive young Natalie Wood's crushing despair as a court case proves without a doubt there is no Santa Claus. Oh, OK ... that's not how it goes! The definition of a feel-good movie, this features what is probably the best of all the on-screen Santas, played with charm to spare by Edmund Gwenn.

In addition to the movies listed above, the holiday-themed comedies Love the Coopers and The Night Before are still out in area multiplexes (though Coopers will probably be ending its run very soon). And check the schedules of local libraries, cultural institutions, bars and other non-theatrical venues for other holiday screenings.