Chances are you won’t have a problem finding most of your favourite holiday films this year. Classics like A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer are shown around the clock. While they’re all perfectly great movies, sometimes you just want something different. These are a few of the best holiday-themed horror movies that will probably make you scared of Santa.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Black Christmas is the original proto-slasher film and was highly influential on its release, even predating John Carpenter’s Halloween by four years. It stars Olivia Hussey (Romeo + Juliet ) and Margot Kidder (Superman) along with horror staple John Saxon (Enter the Dragon, A Nightmare on Elm Street) in his traditional horror role as the helpful but ineffective police detective. This was also one of the first movies to rely on the now classic trope of “the killer calling from inside the house” and has influenced countless films. Movie mavens might know director Bob Clark from his other well-known holiday hit, A Christmas Story.
This one is a little lesser known but that doesn’t make it any less important. The movie quickly became one of the most controversial horror films of the 1980s for its graphic violence and the use of a Santa costume for the killer. Silent Night went on to develop a very disturbingly devoted cult following and spawned five sequels. Despite all this, Silent Night, Deadly Night was notably not the first slasher flick to dress its slayer like St. Nick. That honour belongs to the next film in our countdown.
This one is even lesser known than its more famous (but still obscure) cousin, Silent Night, Deadly Night. A young man with childhood trauma has developed an unhealthy obsession with becoming the next Santa Claus and goes on a murderous rampage after suffering a nervous breakdown at the toy factory where he works. This one is a bit harder to find but is definitely worth your time if you come across it. It was even called “the greatest Christmas movie ever made” in the DVD commentary by infamous director John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Cry Baby).
The first 10 minutes of this movie, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, are one of the most ridiculous things ever put on film. It happens so early on that it’s hardly a spoiler but watching former professional wrestling legend Bill Goldberg dispatch an entire family in various ways during a Christmas dinner is almost enough to make you spit out your eggnog. It just goes to show that you really can adapt the legend of St. Nick to just about anything, a point driven home by the fact this site has even made casual casino games based around Santa Claus. One in particular, “Santa Surprise,” is full of festive traditions that, much like his appearances in horror movies, make for an interesting juxtaposition of the jolly old soul. On one hand, you have a gaming company embracing the classic image of the white-bearded saint, and on the other, you have film studios turning him into a demonic monster. Different strokes, right?
Krampus Day is held on December 5th and is celebrated across Europe. The tradition originated in German-speaking countries and acts in many ways as a foil to the traditional St. Nicholas. The obscure tradition has become more popular in North America in recent years and now a new movie starring Adam Scott (Parks & Recreation) brings the Christmas demon to the big screen. The movie has already started to stir up controversy with the inclusion of the famous Nottingham Christmas Market in an early trailer that has many up in arms over the usage of their wholesome town as a backdrop to a horror movie.
Joe Dante’s Christmas horror-comedy is probably one of my favourite holiday movies of all time. You likely know the story by now. A well-meaning dad buys his son an exotic creature called a “mogwai” as a pet for Christmas that comes with three very important warnings: it can’t be exposed to sunlight, it can’t get wet with water, and sunlight will kill it. Naturally, what can go wrong does and the town is soon overrun by the green menaces known as Gremlins. The practical effects and creature work hold up remarkably well, even today, and the movie remains a Christmas classic.