BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974) Stream on Tubi and Vudu; Rent on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes and YouTube. Before Bob Clark made “A Christmas Story,” the gift of holiday programming that keeps on giving, he directed this slasher film that has a decidedly deadlier take on the holiday. It follows a group of sorority sisters who start to receive disturbing phone calls at their house as they prepare to head home for the Christmas break. The caller then starts to stalk each of the girls, picking them off one by one in a bloody killing spree. Although A.H. Weiler dismissed the film as “a whodunit that begs the question of why it was made” in his New York Times review, the movie went on to become a horror classic. The film became influential in the genre for its use of first-person camera shots and its decision not to unmask the killer, serving as a flash point for other slasher movies like John Carpenter’s “Halloween.” It has also inspired a few remakes, including a version out in theaters now.
HOLIDAY SECRETS Stream on Netflix. The holiday season seems to be a time when unspoken family tensions run their hottest. That’s certainly the case for the family at the center of this German holiday series, whose secrets have both eroded and strengthened their familial bonds. It follows three generations of women — the reliable matriarch Eva, her free-spirited daughter Sonja and Sonja’s estranged daughters, Vivi and Lara — and the events that transpire over three Christmases that shape their understandings of one another. Over three episodes, the series explores the sorts of lies that mothers and daughters tell out of shame or for their own protection. But when all four women reunite for the holiday in their seaside hometown, former flames return, old wounds reopen and the truth is finally revealed.
THE POLAR EXPRESS (2004) 5 p.m. on AMC. Tom Hanks lends his likeness to five different characters in this animated holiday movie directed by Robert Zemeckis, which was pioneering at the time for relying entirely on motion capture technology. Based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, the film follows a young Santa skeptic who boards the titular train bound for the North Pole one Christmas Eve. But the trip isn’t without its hazards. “In this wonderland, danger lurks around every bend,” Manohla Dargis wrote in her New York Times review. “Kids nearly fly off the train, which in turn slides across ice and hurtles down inclines.” It’s a rocky ride that tests the protagonist’s faith and ultimately leaves the audience with a cozy holiday lesson.
A CHRISTMAS WINTER SONG 8 p.m. on Lifetime. The R&B artist Ashanti brings her singing and acting chops to Lifetime’s slate of holiday programming. In this film, she stars as Clio, a young woman mourning the death of her father, who befriends a homeless former jazz singer and convinces him to perform for the customers at her store. Together, they bond over music and Clio encourages him to reconnect with his estranged daughter as the Christmas holiday approaches.