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.
There is a chill in the air and snow on the ground, and you want to watch something that reflects that. There are so many Christmas horror movies, but you're not ready for the commitment that comes with opening the Christmas flood gates. Maybe you just don't celebrate Christmas, so those movies don't do anything for you. No matter what your reason to skip the killer Santa Claus movies, this list has you covered with plenty of winter horror movies sans elves.
1. Jack Frost
If you are not familiar with the Jack Frost films, you better buckle up. These low-budget snowman movies have developed somewhat of a cult following. This original entry stars Shannon Elizabeth before she was known as the topless foreign exchange student in American Pie, as well as a few other character actors that you may recognize but not be able to place.
A serial killer is finally caught and brought to justice by a small-town cop. On his way to the big house, the jail van crashes with a chemical truck and, in a stroke of dumb luck, our serial killer binds with the chemical and the snow to become a serial killing snowman.
If this sounds ridiculous to you, don't worry, it gets worse. The movie is full of corny one-liners and massive plotholes, but that is what you would expect from a film about a killer snowman. It all culminates when a small town sheriff saves the day once more by discovering Jack Frost's only weakness.
If you make it through the first movie, there is an even worse sequel with worse production and an even less believable plot to which you can subject yourself. Just don't say I didn't warn you.
2. Frozen (2010)
Before the word frozen became synonymous with Disney, Adam Green brought this movie to life. Green is a horror fan that makes movies for other horror fans, and I love his body of work. Frozen is probably my least favorite work of his, but a lot of people seem to love it.
Three 20-somethings head up the ski lift for the last run of the day, but thanks to some trickery on their part, the operator doesn't realize that they are on the lift. Suspended in the air halfway up the mountain, the lift shuts off, and the lights go out. The trio quickly realizes that they have accidentally been left for dead, and what follows is nothing short of a nightmare. I don't want to ruin anything for the reader, but I often describe this movie to my friends as Open Water on a ski lift.
Frozen is a slow burn movie that has extended periods of little to no action. When things do happen, they are brutal and borderline hard to watch. Make sure that you bundle up when you watch this one because it will make you shiver one way or another.
3. Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings
After writing themselves into a corner at the end of the third installment of this franchise, writers chose to take the easy way out with a prequel. Anyone who has heard the Speaking of Scary podcast knows that I am a sucker for a prequel, so even though this movie is low budget, it is my opinion that it still has its merit.
If you are familiar with the series at all, you know that the main antagonists are three inbred cannibal brothers that live in the Virginia backwoods and hunt unsuspecting victims. They often catch their prey by setting up booby traps on the road, which we know from previous installments. What this movie does is shed light on the brothers' early years and how they managed to escape detection for so long.
This movie is shallow when it comes to plot, and there isn't a lot of suspense. What it does offer is a lot of the gore that this series has come to be known for. If you haven't seen at least the first Wrong Turn, you should watch it before enjoying this one.
4. Tremors 6: A Cold Day in Hell
It boggles my mind that more people don't know about the Tremors movies. They are one of my many guilty pleasures, and Burt Gummer is a personal hero of mine. Those who have not followed the series closely are probably wondering how a tremors movie is on a winter horror movie list, but trust me, it belongs here.
Tremors 6 finds Burt Gummer in the Arctic, where climate change has caused ice recession, which has released possibly the ancestors of all Graboids. This time it is not only the Graboids that Burt has to face but his real archenemy, the government. There is a colorful cast of characters in this film, along with a link to the past that true fans will enjoy.
You will need to have seen the other movies to understand what's going on completely, but you can jump into this movie and have a firm grasp of the critical points. This is also a fantastic movie for lightweights as the deaths are pretty PG-13.
5. The Thing
There is no denying the genius of John Carpenter, and when it is matched with the talent of Kurt Russell like it is on so many occasions, what you get is downright legendary. Whether you are a horror fan or not, you have at least heard of this movie.
Just like the previous entry, The Thing takes place in the snow-covered Arctic. A research team discovers mysterious rubble and with it a living creature that they wish they wouldn't have. There is more than meets the eye, and the crew starts wondering who they can trust.
This film is the epitome of body horror with plenty of tension throughout. If you haven't seen The Thing yet, this winter is the best time for it. Even if you have seen it before, winter is the best time to revisit this classic.
6. Ice Sharks
Ice Sharks took me by surprise because I did not expect a movie that was part of SyFy's Sharknado week to be as good as it is. I was dumbstruck while watching this movie when it came to my attention that I was actually watching the movie instead of writing or screwing around on my phone.
The first thing that struck me in this movie is that they did not use one of the tried and true shark tropes like "OMG this Great White somehow adapted to the cold!" Instead, they chose to go with the Greenland shark, which everyone outside of marine biologists has never heard of. What is even more impressive is that they did their research about the shark, so much of the movie is consistent with reality.
If you are a big creature feature guy like I am, this is the movie for your winter enjoyment. It is far from perfect, but the acting and story are above average for a direct to television movie.
7. 30 Days of Night
30 Days of Night reinvigorated the vampire genre for a short period. They made vampires scary again and then took it a step further by turning them into savage beasts.
The movie takes place in Alaska, where night lasts for 30 days once a year. Vampires wreak havoc on a small town, ripping the inhabitants to shreds. The movie is based on a graphic novel of the same name and keeps with the ultra-violence of the book. What surprises me more looking back on it is how many recognizable actors are in this movie, including the highly underrated Ben Foster.
30 Days of Night is probably the most mainstream movie on this list, but it is not for everyone. It is extra bloody and incredibly dark in both tone and cinematography. There is a sequel to this movie, but it was a largely ignored direct to video movie, so it's probably best to stick with the original.
8. The Shining
From cozy turtleneck sweaters to the chilling ending, it is easy to see why The Shining is a great winter horror movie. Though Stephen King has gone on record as saying that he hated the film adaptation, it is one of the most famous films based on his books. With the visionary Stanley Kubrick behind the camera, this movie was destined to be a classic.
The Shining follows a mom, dad, and son as they move to be the caretakers of a hotel. What seems like a dream job quickly becomes a nightmare as things get strange fast. Most people will recognize the movie from the famous, "Here's Johnny!" scene, but there are so many iconic and downright terrifying scenes in The Shining.
If you are in the mood for an authentic classic, this is where I would start. It is an excellent mixture of suspense, gore, and cheap thrills that is sure to warm your night so much you may sweat a little.
Are you ready to get weird? This is another Steven King film adaptation, but it makes The Shining look tame in terms of weirdness. The first time I watched Dreamcatcher, I hated it, but the second time it grew on me. It has a surprising cast of big money actors who read this script and still signed on.
A group of friends who have grown apart go on a getaway to an isolated cabin in the woods. When one of them takes ill, the past starts to come into focus, and we find out that the friends are more than they appear. Dreamcatcher has its moments, both good and bad, but it is definitely worth the watch if you haven't before.
10. Snow Beast
10. Snow Beast
If you want a B movie you can have playing in the background, this is your movie. It stars John Schneider, an actor who has become synonymous with B movie shlock, and Jason London, who is one of the B movie twins that no one can tell apart. Don't go into this movie expecting much and you will be pleasantly surprised.
Snow Beast is your classic tale of a giant ape-like monster tearing apart people on a mountainside. It is full of a lot of bad acting and a terrible plot but that is half the fun. There is plenty of blood in Snow Beast, but it is about as fake as you can get, even the Snow Beast is obviously a dude in a suit.
Sometimes all you need is a bad movie with good people to have a good time. Enjoy some mindless bloodshed and know that you will be able to sleep like a baby after this one.
More More More
Just because you are not feeling the Christmas spirit doesn't mean that you should have to sacrifice seasonal horror. I know that these are not the only movies set in the snow, but they are the ones that I felt were most suited for this list. Grab a blanket and some hot cocoa and let the fun begin.