“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Evil creatures were stirring, scaring off every mouse;
The bodies were hung by the chimney with care,
While people cowered in fear, as St. Nicholas was already there…”
Or something like that…
Listen, I love Christmas. I’ve got my traditions like driving an hour to find the perfect Christmas tree with family, baking Christmas cookies with Grandma (Yes, I’m f#cking adorable, ladies), giving thoughtful and heartfelt presents to the ones I love most – but once a horror fan, always a horror fan, even during the merriest of holidays. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without long-time classics like Home Alone and A Christmas Story, but hell, Halloween isn’t the only holiday that can be celebrated with my favorite genre. Numerous horror directors have looked to the most innocent and joyful of holidays for some yuletide gore, blessing fans with festive slayings and Christmas scares, a nice change of pace from all the peace and love malarkey people stress around the holidays. Nope, these Christmas flicks show you can’t spell Santa without Satan, red snow is ten times worse than yellow snow, trees hate being cut down and cruelly decorated like a sick trophy, and not every snowman has the personality of Frosty.
With that said, I’ve watched the slew of X-mas terrors available and have been able to compile a list of the 13 best Christmas horror movies around for your enjoyment, presenting some alternative options for your yearly Christmas party. You’re really going caroling with some eggnog, again? Why not get all bloody and disgusting instead? Merry Christmas to all, and to all a deadly night bitches!
Enough talk, lets take a look at some seriously devilish Christmas themed horror films to watch!
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13) Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust (2008)
Director: Silvia St. Croix
Alright, so it’s pretty obvious I’m starting from the bottom with my list.
I understand I’m introducing the Gingerdead Man in his sequel here, but there’s a pretty damn good reason why. I had a hard time including Passion of the Crust on my Christmas horror list due to flawed filmmaking that will turn horror snobs off instantaneously, but caved after watching an even more grossly ill-advised killer cookie sequel in Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver, so I’ll give it a shot.
OK, heed my warnings here people. The only way you’ll enjoy St. Croix’s half-baked B-movie slasher is in a big group of die hard horror fans who love fun over execution, probably made more entertaining by copious amounts of alcohol. I’ll admit it’s frustrating filmmaking, but on the other hand, it’s a living cookie-person shelling out terrible baking puns and killing people through brutally violent means, like a curling iron to the most holy of holes. If you’ve got some “so bad it’s good” horror fans wanting a bonkers holiday watch, Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust should satiate their lust for famous spices and evil desserts. Mama always said too many sweets would kill you…
12) Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)
Director: Lee Harry
Oh Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, where do I begin?
Much like Passion Of The Crust, Harry’s sequel is pretty bad by typical movie-going standards, but has somehow gained a ridiculous cult following of B-Movie Christmas junkies. While the first half of the film is mainly flashbacks to Silent Night, Deadly Night, as original killer Billy’s little brother Ricky recalls events which led to his own insanity, Ricky’s rampage through a quiet suburban town has a special place in B-Movie Hall of Fame. Don’t believe me? Just say the line “GARBAGE DAY!” to any devout horror fan, and you’ll immediately receive a childish grin provoked by memories of awful acting and senseless holiday spree-killing.
11) Black Christmas (2006)
Director: Glen Morgan
Again, since I’m working backwards, we’ll get to the original and far superior Black Christmas later, but first let’s take a look at Glen Morgan’s recent remake.
Compared to the original Black Christmas, Morgan’s screenplay warrants him nothing but stockings full of coal for the rest of his life. It’s stupidly obvious and poorly constructed, really removing all the horror and suspense created by the original. Good horror is morphed into dumbed-down slasher material, and there’s no real mystery present. Yeah, I wasn’t much of a fan of the creative liberties Morgan took in twisting his own interpretation of a much more successful story.
But, it is a horror movie, and for those who don’t give a hoot about tight scripting, Morgan’s remake brings the kills hard, along with a smokin’ hot cast. The likes of Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Lacy Chabert are all gruesomely slaughtered in a fit of holiday anger, and for some that will be enough Christmas carnage to entertain for the night. For those people, you’ll have a much better time with Morgan’s remake than I did, but the bloody redeeming qualities do exist.
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10) The Gingerdead Man (2005)
Director: Charles Band
Gary Busey voices a living gingerbread man possessed by the soul of a serial killer. Yes. This really happened.
So far my picks have been very sub-genre based, focusing on those audiences looking for B-Movie hilarity and cult-worshiped films, and The Gingerdead Man is another perfect example. I already introduced you to the edible assailant who runs wild in Passion of the Crust, but it all started in Charles Band’s first film, which is sadly the only one Gary Busey participated in.
While having the potential for “so bad it’s good” laughs, there is at least some attempt to construct horror, and a much more sensible story is kept in place. Well, scary and sensible for having a murderous cookie run amok in a struggling bakery, but still, a tad more care was put in to actual cinematic elements. Certainly a flawed film by regular standards, but admittedly there is some fun one can find about our evil culinary treat’s origin story. Again, this might be a much better watch with some open-minded friends and some kind of mental state alteration.
9) Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Director: Charles E. Sellier Jr.
Ah, here we go, now we’re getting into much more favorable waters, bringing you Christmas horror I can actually stand behind.
Silent Night, Deadly Night is a nifty little slasher about an orphan named Billy who saw his mother and father killed in cold blood by a man dressed as Santa Claus. From this, he develops a Christmas paranoia that drives him into insanity every holiday season, creating the unbeatable desire to punish the naughty. Punish…..PUNISH!
Not only is Silent Night, Deadly Night‘s story fun and ridiculous, but there are certainly some kills worth a good amount of attention. What’s there to hate about a horror film that plays up an already terrifying notion? The fact that Santa knows who has been naughty or nice is taken one step further by giving the naughty a horrible death instead of a measly lump of coal.
Don’t they say countless amounts of people go crazy during Christmas? Let’s just hope no one ever reaches Billy’s level of mental instability, or we’ll have a real life horror movie on our hands.
8) Jack Frost (1997)
Director: Michael Cooney
In this blatant rip-off of Child’s Play, a serial killer is genetically fused with snow in a horrible chemical accent, so he comes back as a murderous snowman seeking revenge. I mean, yeah, it’s that awesome.
If you’re going to pick a “possessed holiday symbol comes to life seeking revenge” flick this Christmas season, I say Jack Frost is your best bet. You’ll get a better quality watch compared to The Gingerdead Man, there’s a greater entertainment value based on themed one-liners, and Shannon Elizabeth dies a hilariously bone-chilling death. This is a real cult classic watch, much more brutally inviting for those who want some humor with their crazy horror films. Just don’t confuse Cooney’s flick with the Michael Keaton family comedy of the same name, or you’re gonna have a bad time.
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7) Sint (2010)
Director: Dick Maas
Alright, so the Dutch may be a little racist, have a twisted tale about medieval Santa, and dub their films pretty horribly, but as far as killer Claus’ go, Sint is a pretty brutal Christmas horror film hardcore fans will enjoy. Dick Maas’ holiday horror gets grimly sinister, even more so than regular X-mas slashers, as this slaying Santa is a fabled legend who appears every December 5th during a full moon to kidnap and murder children, harming those who love our winter holiday the most.
Seriously, there are some grossly crazy kills for Santa in Sint, especially coming at the hand of St. Nicholaus’ “S” shaped scepter, pictured above. That’s right, not only are his undead/evil minions running amok and stealing children, but Santa himself patrols rooftops with hawk-like vision, picking off any poor souls too caught up in the celebratory nature of December.
My advice? Tough out the horrible voice dubbing, so bad it’s distracting at times, because with death scenes this good, it’s hard not to find horror fun in Sint. How about some damn good ho, ho, horror?? (Yes, I’ve been waiting to use that little doozy.)
6) Santa’s Slay (2005)
Director: David Steiman
So, imagine that Santa is actually a demon who lost a bet to an angel that forced him into being a delivery man of toys and joy? What happens when the bet is off? Oh yeah, you bet your ass Santa is pissed, returning to his evil past of death and destruction, and loving every minute of it. Oh, and who better to play a beer swilling, people killing version of everyone’s most beloved holiday icon? WCW superstar Bill Goldberg, that’s who.
Ok, I’ll admit this story treads lightly on the line of horror, being more zany and cartoonish instead, but I have to admit, it’s a guilty holiday pleasure of mine. Just look at the opening scene if you don’t believe me – James Caan, Chris Kattan, Rebecca Fayheart, and Fran Drescher are sitting around a lavish dinner feast, when in bursts an angry Bill Goldberg Santa directly through the brick chimney. Not out it, through it. Very angry, and looking for vengeful retribution. If that didn’t set a horror comedy tone worthy of a December bump, I don’t know what could!
5) Silent Night (2012)
Director: Steven C. Miller
Didn’t hear of Steven C. Miller’s loose Silent Night, Deadly Night remake yet? Don’t worry, it literally just came out, but is a refreshing bit of horror gifted to us this season, and definitely a holiday treat worth your time. Miller is able to keep some of that strange comedy and silly fun of the original without getting too corny, while also upping the killage in glorious fashion, like mesmerizing red garland on an already beautifully decorated tree.
Our cast also did a great job getting into the holiday spirit, or denouncing it like Donal Logue’s character. Jamie King asserts herself as a genre mainstay playing lead officer Aubrey Bradimore and Malcolm McDowell shows up as the cocky local sheriff, bringing credibility to Miller’s already improved film.
But, did I undersell how splatteriffic Silent Night is? Miller’s film gives you a reason to fear even the most innocent holiday staples. Wood chippers, Christmas lights, and oh yeah, it wouldn’t be a Silent Night, Deadly Night remake without some axe-wielding horror. For fun, see if you can pick out all the Christmas horror movie references Silent Night words in, recognizing the whole, underrated genre.
Still need more reinforcement? Check out my review here!
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4) Black Christmas (1974)
Director: Bob Clark
A phenomenal horror movie all around, but a must see for horror fans come Christmas time. I mean, Clark’s film is leaps and bounds ahead of Glen Morgan’s remake, even if it skimps out on gore for atmosphere, which happens to be a trait of some of the better horror films of all time. Black Christmas is minimal exposure and tension so thick it’s impossible not to choke on.
If you think about it, the whole “pretty college girls being killed one by one” sounds like your typical slasher material, but Black Christmas really does a phenomenal job of staying incredibly creepy and effective, never getting lost in unfocused killings or distracting plot failures. Roy Moore’s script is genuinely written as to not divulge many details at all, not even till the end, and Bob Clark’s direction keeps the strong suspenseful mystery in tact the whole time. Comparatively, this is where Morgan’s remake foolishly diverts, proving sometimes less is absolutely more. Pick up the original Black Christmas if you want the scariest rendition of Christmas horror, a perfect holiday gift for scareseekers alike!
3) Treevenge (2008)
Director: Jason Eisener
Consider this an early Christmas present readers, but honestly, if you’ve been good little boys and girls, you should have already heard about Jason Eisener’s outlandish short film, and probably have made it a yearly tradition by now. If you’ve been naughty and somehow missed this glorious B-Movie spoof short, I’d suggest you change you ways and check out the video I’ve embedded. I’d rather watch this short on repeat for two hours than sit through Eisener’s feature film debut Hobo With A Shotgun, but let me just try to explain what you’re about to watch.
Well, honestly, just read the title. After years of cutting down trees in a barbaric and disrespectful showing of holiday tradition, our poor, helpless forestation decides to finally strike back, refusing to spend another Christmas being tortured by saws, tree stands, and trimmings alike.
In an act of retaliation so overbearingly and unexpectedly disgusting, Christmas trees start spilling copious amounts of innocent blood on camera, challenging even feature films in the gore department. Treevenge gives Silent Night a run for Christmas horror kill supremacy, but Eisener shows a tremendous grasp and love for “so bad it’s good” B-Movies, a quality NEEDED in order to make murderous trees a reality.
Seriously. Watch this. Right now.
2) Rare Exports (2010)
Director: Jalmari Helander
Alright, Rare Exports, another pick that teeters on the edge of horror, being full of fantasy elements that are more magical than terrifying. Apparently, Finland has their own stories about an evil Santa Claus, again pegging him as a child kidnapping villain; except this time he has henchmen elves who act like vicious little body guards. Released when an archaeological digs locates the beast frozen in a block of ice, it’s up to youngster Pietari (Onni Tommila) and a band of local men (including his father) to stop the evil Claus from harming any more children.
Like I said, this isn’t straight horror, but instead an adult fairy tale created with childlike wonderment but tailored for a more mature audience. Onni Tommila does a splendid job leading this winter wonderland caper, approaching the scenario with creative curiosity, and gives a very enjoyable performance as our adventurous yet pint-sized main character. I want to say it’s a Christmas horror film for all ages, but some imagery can be considered slightly creepy, so be warned. Otherwise, Rare Exports is a film entire horror watching families can bond over with some holiday fun.
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1) Gremlins (1984)
Director: Joe Dante
Hey, it’s Christmas, so what if my favorite horror is more on the comedic side? I gave you your gore latent picks and epic Christmas kill scenes, but for my money, Gremlins is the greatest horror film one can watch come Jesus’ birthday. I mean, for starters, how freakin’ adorable are Mogwais?! Don’t tell me you didn’t want one the minute you saw Gizmo, kicking the crap out of any Furby you could ever own. Just, you know, never feed it past midnight, get it wet, blah blah blah…
No, but really, Gremlins is a hoot from start to finish, being nothing but mischievous holiday fun as director Joe Dante perfectly balances creature work and evil monsters with an almost Looney Tunes like atmosphere, as these little buggers cause prankster like chaos with a much darker intent. Honestly, I still die laughing at parts as Gizmo or his evil brethren light up the screen, watching Kingston Falls become a giant playground for our mayhem causing little deviants.
Gremlins allows adults to unleash the inner child, while still being goofy enough to win over younger audiences. Dante’s film actually IS a mischevious treat for all ages.
On a lighter note, I wish all you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and hope you take some time to enjoy some cinema you might otherwise ignore this holiday season. The horror genre is full of flexible creativity, and Christmas Horror movies are a perfect example of such original diversity. Feel free to let me know if you think I’ve missed any notables though, as I know there are other entries that exist out there!Previous