Pass the Remote: Holiday horror or holiday chestnuts? Take your pick

"Satanic Hispanics" is the opening night feature of the Another Hole in the Head Film Festival. (Courtesy Epic Pictures)

Though some first-run indie features are getting the cold shoulder at the box office this season, Bay Area film programs and festivals are being embraced warmly. 

This week’s cinematic delights include: the Another Hole in the Head Film Festival, a celebration of scrappy genre filmmaking ingenuity; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive’s spotlight on silent film icon Buster Keaton with a special guest; and holiday chestnuts at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema New Mission in San Francisco.  

If you’ve already binged on the blitz of sugar-coated holiday films, the 19th annual Another Hole in the Head Film Festival is bloody good alternative to all that sweet stuff. The 18-day extravaganza showcases the resourcefulness of indie filmmakers in science-fiction, fantasy and horror. Running Dec. 1-18, this year’s program sports more than 30 features and 200-plus shorts, along with in-person and online events and screenings.  

Thursday’s opening night feature at 6:30 p.m. at the Roxie theater in San Francisco is “Satanic Hispanics,” an anthology horror flick. Unlike some in the genre are that train wrecks of clashing styles and storytelling, it remains consistent throughout. 

While its five shorts vary from the humorous to the disturbing, what glues them together are Latin American mythos and themes as well as a plot in which a mysterious prisoner is interrogated by police after he’s found in a house filled with corpses. Directors Mike Mendez (“Big Ass Spiders!”), Demian Rugna (“Terrified”), Eduardo Sanchez (“The Blair Witch Project”), Gigi Saul Guerrero (“Bingo Hell”) and Alejandro Brugués (“Juan of the Dead”) come up with original storylines even as they deal with familiar monsters, including vampires. Each short could very well be expanded into a longer film.  

Other highlights include: the 7:30 p.m. Friday screening at the Roxie of George Romero’s 1968 iconic zombie freakout “Night of the Living Dead” with a new, certain-to-be-unique live score performed by fest favorite composer Sleepbomb; the 9:10 p.m. Dec. 6 North American premiere of the slasher “Pig Killer,” an explicit gore-athon based on an actual case of a murdering pig farmer that brings actors Jake Busey and Bai Ling to the Roxie (the film also streams); the 7 p.m. Dec. 9 screening at the 4-Star in San Francisco of the little-seen, plagued by hardships and painstakingly brought to life “The Curse (A Praga)” by late Brazilian horror meister José Mojica Marins along with a short on the making of the lost film; and the 9 p.m. Dec. 11 screening at the 4-Star of another anthology series – said to venture into the extreme – “The Profane Exhibit.” 

The 19th Another Hole in the Head Film Festival includes Brad Rego’s “Cryptid,” with charismatic leads Nicholas Baroudi and Ellen Adair. (Courtesy 221 Films)

Those who prefer monster-mash throwbacks made all the better by the charismatic turns from actors Nicholas Baroudi and Ellen Adair should give Brad Rego’s Maine-set thriller “Cryptid” a look. It screens at 9 p.m. Sunday at the Roxie as well as streams. 

For more details, visit .

Over at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, enjoy getting the silent treatment with new digital restorations of Keaton’s classics. “Camera Man: Buster Keaton”kicks off with the 5 p.m. Sunday showing of 1924’s “Sherlock Jr.” accompanied by live music, along with the seven-minute short “The Frozen North” and the 23-minute “The Playhouse.”  

“Sherlock Jr.” is among the films in the lineup of “Camera Man: Buster Keaton” at Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive in December. (Courtesy BAMPFA)

The eight-event program running through Dec. 21 contains a treasure trove stuffed with Keaton gems. What’s even more special is that Slate film journalist Dana Stevens, author of the highly regarded 2022 biography “Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema, and the Invention of the Twentieth Century,” will attend various screenings: “Keaton in Context: Silent Comedies by and with Mabel Normand, Roscoe Arbuckle, and Bert Williams” on Dec. 14; a family matinee of shorts at 3 p.m. and a 5 p.m. showing of “Steamboat Bill Jr.” on Dec. 18; and the Dec. 16 showing of “The Cameraman.” For tickets and a complete lineup, visit

Should you be having a dickens of a time getting into the holiday spirit, why not journey to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema for a little pick me up? The “Elf Movie Party” – which includes a showing of the 2003 Will Ferrell holiday favorite along with games, a sing-along and a holiday menu, is sold out on 7 p.m. Dec. 10. Yet a few seats are available at 4 p.m. Dec. 10 and 6 p.m. Dec. 14. 

The Elf Movie Party comes to the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission in San Francisco. (Photo by

Other holiday-themed movie parties include: “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (7 p.m. Dec. 6 and 6 p.m., Dec. 11); “The Polar Express” (11:30 a.m. Dec. 11); and “Gremlins” (6 p.m. Dec. 13). 

For tickets and more information, visit, 

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