Arthur is an avid television and movie fan with horror being his favored genre. If you can name it, he has probably seen it. Twice.
Spooky season is over, and now is the time for warm and fuzzy Christmas movies; unless you are a true horror lover. Horror fans know that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year for scary movies. It's a wide-open secret that there are more Christmas horror movies than any other holiday, including Halloween. Christmas and horror may not seem like a good fit, but the two go together like hot cocoa and marshmallows. So if you're tired of all the warm fuzzy Hallmark movies, give these 10 Christmas horror films a chance.
1. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
This cult classic seemed to have disappeared in the late '90s and 2000s, but the explosion of streaming and 80s and 90s kids' love for nostalgia has brought it back. Silent Night, Deadly Night is everything horror wants out of their campy '80s horror flick with an awful premise and corny dialogue that somehow makes it more endearing. The franchise went on to spawn four more sequels, each worse than the last, with the last two being stand-alone stories that fit in the franchise by name only. Still, this is just a downright fun movie to watch every year, whether you only watch the first one or subject yourself to the whole franchise.
2. Santa's Slay (2005)
What could be better than professional wrestler Bill Goldberg dressed up as an evil Santa terrorizing a town? This tongue-in-cheek Christmas horror movie is a lot of fun and the kind of film that grows on you a little more every time you watch it. Goldberg plays a version of Santa that is the Devil's son who was tricked into being good for 1,000 years, and now that the time is up, he is back for revenge. The movie doesn't even make it to the standard hour and a half mark for full-length films, but it doesn't need to. Santa's Slay is one of the first movies I watch to kick the Christmas horror season off right.
3. A Christmas Horror Story (2015)
This low-budget, under-the-radar film is one of my favorites, but I am also a sucker for an anthology. The filmmakers check off every box in this one with evil elves, Krampus, and William Shatner. There is an overarching story between each vignette that culminates in an incredibly satisfying ending. I always look forward to watching this one (possibly more than once) every holiday season.
4. Jack Frost (1997)
If you have seen this campy flick, you are already probably laughing, but it is another one of those over-the-top films that will grow on you over time. When a jail van carrying a notorious serial killer collides with a tanker carrying a mysterious chemical, the chemical fuses with the killer's DNA, turning him into a nearly unstoppable killer snowman. The film is B-Level at best, but it stars a young Shannon Elizabeth and a few other people who look like you may have seen them in something else before. The film did spawn one sequel, but the production quality and writing somehow took a steep dive to make it nearly unwatchable.
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5. Dead End (2003)
This obscure direct-to-video film has everything that a horror lover could ask for. As a family drives to their grandparent's house on Christmas Eve, the dad (Ray Wise) decides to take a shortcut down a dark backroad. Things quickly decline as things always do when a character takes a shortcut, and the family is thrust into a hellish nightmare of creepy hitchhikers and terrifying hallucinations. Dead End stars horror icon Lin Shaye in one of her best roles, and this one is sure to give you nightmares.
6. Better Watch Out (2016)
Better Watch Out is both a borderline horror movie for Christmas and a borderline horror movie in general. There are a few deaths, but the kill count is low, so it feels more like a thriller than a hack and slashe horror. The movie takes place over the Christmas season and references Home Alone a few times, but it could honestly have been set at any time of year. With that negativity out of the way, this movie is incredible. A seemingly innocent kid who is probably too old to have a babysitter tries to seduce his babysitter, and when she turns him down, he unleashes a sinister plan that ends up in betrayal and bloodshed.
7. Black Christmas (2006)
If you are in the mood for a gory slasher, this is the one you want. This is an absolute Christmas horror classic because it has everything you want out of a horror movie, and it is all about Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Billy killed his mom and made cookies out of her skin; he was caught and institutionalized. Decades later, he returns to his old home to find it's now a sorority house, so he starts to take back his house one body at a time. There are other versions of this movie, the original (1974) and the reboot by name only (2019), but neither holds a horror candle to this one.
8. A Creepshow Christmas Special/Tales From the Crypt: All Through the House
I'm going to pull a sneaky on you because these are technically TV episodes, but if you watch them in the same night, they take up as much time as a feature film. The first is a Christmas special from Shudder's reboot of Creepshow, which has been going swimmingly. The special is a little bonkers but still fun; it takes place on a single night when a group of shape-shifters (werepeople) has a support meeting. It turns out that Santa and shape-shifters are mortal enemies and a group of mall Santas shows up to attack the group before the real Santa shows up. As he is often portrayed, Santa is 10 feet tall with mechanical claws, and he dukes it out with the werepeople as they transform into their wereanimals.
All Through the House is a classic Tales from the Crypt episode from early in its run. A lunatic escapes from an institution and terrorizes a woman and child while dressed as Santa. While the woman tries to hide her own dark secrets, her daughter is intent on meeting Santa Claus.
9. All the Creatures Were Stirring (2018)
All the Creatures Were Stirring is an admittedly low-budget film, but they did the best with what they had. While the acting isn't great, the vignettes are well-written, and the over-arching story is so weird it will keep your attention just to figure out what the heck is going on. Again, I am a sucker for an anthology, but I believe this diamond in the rough is worth checking out.
I have mixed feelings about ending with this movie because I don't love it, but it is about as mainstream as they come. If you are looking for an entry-level Christmas horror movie, this has got to be it. There is some suspense and dark humor, but it is severely lacking in any true terror. Most of the deaths happen off-screen, and there is little blood to be had. The demon Krampus is summoned to terrorize a family who has forgotten the true meaning of Christmas, and they are dragged away one by one by different symbols of Christmas like gingerbread cookies, elves, and toys. In the end, there is an important moral and blah, blah, blah.
There are plenty more Christmas horror movies where that came from, but maybe you don't celebrate Christmas, or maybe you are just not in the Christmas spirit quite yet. In that case, make sure to check out Thankskilling, an off-the-wall student film that has somehow become a cult classic despite being unconditionally terrible. There is also a single Hannukah horror movie called, you guessed it, Frank Stallone...I mean Hannukah. Another promising movie to bridge that Halloween to Christmas gap is Black Friday (2021), but that remains to be seen. So, from mine to yours, happy horror-days and, I hope you get a chance to enjoy all of these movies this Christmas season.