Christmas Gets Dark AF at Summerhall

Summerhall offer up some dark and disturbing Christmas movies this December to get you in the festive spirit

Advertorial by Jamie Dunn | 03 Dec 2019
  • Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
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It’s still three weeks until Christmas, but it feels like we’ve been living in a winter wonderland forever. By now you’re sure to be sick of the sight of tinsel, the thought of facing your Christmas shopping is bringing you out in hives and the only thing you’re set to deck is the next person you hear humming Wham’s Last Christmas. There’s a simple solution to get you back into the festive spirit, though, and that's watch a bunch of dark AF Christmas movies.

This December, Summerhall is offering up half a dozen such films in the venue's new film programme, CineHall. Feel-good Christmas flicks like It’s a Wonderful Life and Love, Actually are all well and good, but sometimes you need a bit of acid to balance out the sickly sweet sentimentality of the genre. Kicking off on 6 December and running until 21st, Summerhall's festive film season features a cynical TV producer who wants to terrify audiences at Christmas (Scrooged), a horde of Christmas demons who terrorise a suburban family (Krampus), a soul-sucking Santa with an army of child kidnapping elves (Rare Export: A Christmas Tale) and the story of a bunch of slimy reptiles running amok in small-town America one Christmas eve (Gremlins).

This is the first in the ongoing CineHall season at Summerhall. Watch this space for upcoming CineHall film seasons. 

6-21 Dec, Red Lecture Theatre, Summerhall, all tickets £8. For full info and to buy tickets, head to

Fri 6 Dec: Gremlins

At first glance, Gremlins looks like a typical Christmas confection, what with its use of Darlene Love’s heart-soaring Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) over the opening credits, its picture-perfect snow-covered setting of Kingston Falls and the obnoxiously cute Gizmo, the little furball that the film’s teen protagonist (Zach Galligan) is given for Christmas. But when Gizmo inadvertently multiplies into a horde of kneehigh monsters who blow their noses on the curtains, sabotage an old lady’s stairlift and bite the face off Santa, Joe Dante’s B-movie classic turns from a toothache-inducing Hallmark movie to a wildly anarchic delight of Yuletide mayhem.

Sat 7 Dec: Krampus

Here’s another suburban Christmas freak-out. In Krampus, an unhappy kid’s ripped up letter to Santa causes a mist to form around their house, the electricity to cut out and a creepy snowman to appear in the yard. Before the family know it, psychotic gingerbread men, a flesh-eating jack-in-the-box clown and Santa’s huge, cloven-footed Bavarian cousin are banging at the door trying to get in. 

Fri 13 Dec: The Nightmare Before Christmas

What would happen if the pumpkin king of Halloweentown took over Christmas? That’s the concept that Tim Burton took to animation genius Henry Selick, who pulled together a macabre stop-motion musical delight bursting with ideas and invention. Danny Elfman provides the infectious music and the wild design of Jack and his Halloweentown pals are straight from Burton’s warped subconscious.

Sat 14 Dec: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

You’ve seen Bad Santa, right? The Finns have a much more frightening idea of what makes a naughty Saint Nicholas. Turns out he’s not the jolly gift-giver we know and love, but a soul-sucking monster who’s been long buried under tonnes of ice, and is released onto an unsuspecting Lapland by a shady businessman. The only thing standing in the way of this terrifying white-bearded figure is a plucky ten-year-old and his reindeer-hunting father.

Fri 20 Dec: The Grinch

Perhaps the only Yuletide misanthrope to surpass Ebenezer Scrooge is the Grinch, a green-faced, pot-bellied muppet who’s vividly brought to life by Jim Carrey, the closest Hollywood has to a live-action cartoon. Directed by Ron Howard, this imaginative update of Dr Seuss’s classic children’s book is full of gross-out gags, social commentary and a surprising amount of heart.

Sat 21 Dec: Scrooged

Bill Murray is having so much fun playing the cynical corporate TV exec at the heart of this sardonic Christmas Carol redux. On the eve of screening a sexed-up version of Dicken’s classic on network television, Murray is visited by three ghosts: Christmas Past is a sadistic cabbie, Christmas Present is a violent fairy and Christmas Future is basically the Grim Reaper with a TV set for a face.